as my friends and i get older, there seems to be an increased frequency of wine-based birthdays. this particular instance led our group on a jihad to oregon wine country, with a somewhat pre-meditated portland cocktail stop along the way (me: “do they even *know* what fernet is in salem??”) i’d been at the doorstep of teardrop three times before without avail, but fourth time must be a charm because i was finally able to get past the CLOSED sign and in through the front door. a crew of vested barkeeps manned the sleek, circular bar, inviting us to imbibe from their carefully curated list of libations. with a barracks built of small plates, we began to drink, like cocktail chipmunks storing up for the cold, cold winter. that’s when something strange struck me…why was every drink i was ordering from my bartender being made by another bartender? was this a pyramid scheme…or worse, was i being outsourced?? sure, the drinks were good, one such highlight being a fernet-based cocktail with a scotch wash, but i would hope for some level of loyalty and integrity when it comes to sitting at the bar. if i had wanted a middleman, i would have just seated myself at a table so that the server could have jumbled my order instead. ok, so maybe that’s a bit harsh since the drinks turned out fine, but i can’t help but feel neglected when the person in front of me is backed by a ghostwriter.