So it's February 2014, and here we thought the days of receipt sermonizing and high-stakes tipping controversies were past us, but no, here's a new one: Las Vegas-based writer Xania Woodman was apparently served an Old Fashioned that was shaken instead of stirred over the weekend, so she posted a photo of her receipt. In it, in place of an actual tip, was the simple admonishment "Don't shake Old Fashioneds." And some commentary: "It's a shame, too," Woodman wrote. "His bartender outfit was so promising."
Newton's law of Internet Receipt Inertia dictates that any time someone expends the energy to post a photograph of a piece of paper online, someone else will expend an equal and possibly opposite amount of energy being outraged about it. This one turned particularly vituperative.
Someone came across Woodman's posting and send it to If You Can't Afford to Tip, the online clearinghouse for service-industry grievances. Comments from readers include suggestions that Woodman "needs to be slapped." Another wrote that he hopes the writer "chokes" on her next drink. Other readers posted Woodman's contact information online — nasty business.
Yet other, less bullying comments called the receipt's authenticity into question, pointing out that Woodman's photo was of the bar's "Customer Copy," the implication being that she actually did leave a tip and that her posting was meant only to be taken as a cheeky cocktail-culture joke. In the meantime, Woodman has apparently deleted her Facebook account and protected her Twitter account.
We asked New York Times spirits writer Robert Simonson, who has a book devoted exclusively to the subject coming out in May, if there would ever be any real-world scenarios where a bartender might want to shake an Old Fashioned instead of a good stirring. Here's what he had to say about that.
You don't shake an Old-Fashioned, any more than you shake a Manhattan or a Martini. It's a stirred drink. Moreover, an Old Fashioned is built in the glass it's served in. That said, while I admire the writer's standards regarding this excellent cocktail, I don't endorse her making the point by denying a bartender a tip. If you're unhappy with your Old-Fashioned because it was shaken, say so, and ask for a new drink.
Two things we learned today: It's always okay to send a drink back to the bartender, and maybe it's time for everyone to go paperless with the receipts, just so we can all stay level-headed out there on both sides of the bar.
Cocktail Expert Xania Woodman Brags About Stiffing Bartender [If You Can't Afford to Tip]