My Dad used to tell me, “To go to hell on Delta, you have to go through Atlanta.”
My pop sold life insurance, so he was on the road a lot throughout the south, during most of my youth, in and out of Louisville, Kentucky. Naturally, that meant flying the dominant southern airline, Delta. Even then, Delta sucked. And just as in the 1970’s and 80’s, everything Delta sucks is sucked through Georgia.
Last week I flew to Rome on Delta, and sho'nuff I had a connection in Hotlanta. After finally being assigned a middle seat on the overbooked flight to Fiumicino, I settled into the 20-year old seat and flipped open the Delta mag. I had plenty of time to kill.
As I read the back pages of the magazine, I found out that in an effort to alleviate the horror of being stuck on trans-Atlantic flights without individual seat-back monitors, Delta has introduced two new “signature cocktails" : a “mojito” and a “margarita,” each painstakingly fine-tuned by Cindy Crawford’s husband and Stone Rose bar owner Rande Gerber.
They sell for 7 bucks each, or 7 Euros , if you don’t have dollars or happen to be really bad with money.
What’s amusing about these “signature” Rande Gerber cocktails is that they’re nothing but the same mid-shelf liquor you’d normally get for $5 on the same flight, mixed with shitty corn syrup-based cocktail mixes with flavorings intended to replicate those of certain popular cocktails.
How did this come about? I imagine a phone conference between Mr. Gerber and Delta ‘s VP of in-flight services. I imagine this discussion taking place between Delta food and beverage personnel on a speaker phone, and Mr. Gerber, consulting mixologist, at home in New York, slightly hung over.
Delta: Thank you for meeting with us today, Rande. As I explained to you earlier, We’ve had you on retainer for about a year now, and with your help, we’d like to co-brand a couple of these new ‘luxury’ cocktails for Delta’s domestic and international flights. Something we can sell for a little more scratch. I understand people are paying top dollar for fine cocktails these days.
Rande Gerber: That’s true! I have tons of great cocktails that I’ve been developing using top-shelf liquors and all kinds of exotic bitters, botanicals and infusions that I think your clientele would really appreciate.
Delta: That’s exactly what we’re after, Rande. Now my wife, Rande, she loves these moHeetos. Apparently everyone is drinking these moHeetos.
Rande Gerber: Oh, sure, mojitos are terrific cocktails, and sure, they’ve certainly become popular
Delta: Even my daughter is drinking these mojito things. I’m telling you, Rande, she can’t get her fucking homework done…
Gerber: So you want to do a mojito on the plane? I mean, they’re kind of labor intensive…
Delta: We have to have mojitos. They’re HUGE. Whatever it takes, we need to have Mojitos.
Gerber: First you have to muddle the mint with cane sugar… so you’re going to need muddlers and fresh mint. Lots of crushed ice, too. You can use regular pint glasses in coach right?
Gerber: Then you add crushed ice and Matusalem Platino, top it off with soda…
Delta: Rande… Seriously, where the fuck are we going to get fresh mint at 25,000 feet? And we have a longstanding relationship with Bacardi. They’re the only company that makes rum in single-serving bottles.
Gerber: Ok, so you don’t intend to actually muddle the mint with the sugar, or for that matter, actually use fresh mint, right?
Delta: Sheesh, Rande, I’m not sure we have time for all that stuff. We have to serve a whole plane on a 40-minute drink service schedule.
Gerber: It’s true they do take a while to make, but that’s kind of what makes them a ‘fancy’ drink, right.?
Delta: How about if we just do them with a mix of some kind, you know, like a bloody mary!
Gerber: Fuck… I’m not sure that’s still a mojito. I’m not sure I’m comfortable associating my name with something like that.
Delta: Don’t worry – we’ll pay you more. It’ll be a lot easier this way, and it’ll be a hell of a lot cheaper to double your consulting fee than to put cane sugar and mint on a friggin’ airplane!
Gerber: Mmmm, ok, I guess.
Delta: Now how about a margarita! Something for all these latinos that are buying stuff these days.
Gerber: Well, how about we take some kind of tequila and then mix that with tequila mix in a plastic cup full of ice?
Delta: Done and done! Rande, you’re a fucking genius!
[I hereby dedicate this blog to my father, a perpetual hustler, who always preferred following his own nose to burying it in someone else’s ass for a short term paycheck. Once again I find myself in a position of either continuing to do what I have done, for half the wage, or to strike out on my own, just like my dad did. I choose the latter.]