Peter Jahnke’s Ramos Gin Fizz Marathon Turns 1

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Peter’s Ramos Gin Fizz Marathon

How one quits a job will tell you a few things about a person.  Fired? Quit? Walk out in the middle of a shift?

Phone in and report to have been abducted by aliens?  Ive witnessed all of these, but what I haven’t seen is someone put in an incredibly courteous (two month or so) notice and on their final day make it a point to work harder that day than any day prior, to the point of near collapse.  That was until I worked with Peter Jahnke, who on his last night at Anvil, set out to shake 100 Ramos Gin Fizzes, and succeeded.

It was an amazing feat, and as the one year marker of that date approaches (June 27), I’ve decided its the single most impressive thing I’ve ever seen a bartender do.  Flamed orange peels and behind the back elbow stalls are cool and all, but this dude literally shook RGF’s for nine hours straight, simultaneously building seven more at a time, and slowly marking each one with a chalk hash mark.  Keep in mind, there were no blenders used, no dry shaking, no little metal cheater tins, he never dismantled a

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Hawthorne strainer and stuck its spring in the drink and he’s working with Kold Draft ice. To complete the task in time,  he had so increase the speed and force of his shake,  to bring the shake time down to around  five minutes (instead of seven- do the math). In all, he made 102 of the refreshing classics, went through 408 drops of orange flower water and 51 ounces of cream.  There were literally people running eggs and cream to his station in waves that reminded me of the way people bring water to marathon runners, or how a NASCAR pit crew changes a tire.  Peter later told me that he physically couldn’t move at all that next day.

After Anvil, Peter went over to Revival Market to focus full time on butchery and charcuterie.  He had been there since before the opening, while also working full time at Anvil, and pulling weekly shifts with the Houston Dairy Maids.   There were countless times when he would leave the bar at four a.m. or later, be at the butcher shop by 7 a.m. that same morning, then back at the bar that night for another eight hour closing shift.  Working with him made me think twice before complaining about a long shift or working on a day off.   Peter brought a “back of house” mentality to the craft of bartending that I strive to maintain in my own work today.

And now Mr. Jahnke is leaving the butcher room of Underbelly, where he’sbeen  in charge of maintaining their ambitious whole animal program, setting out for the Mediteranean, a cross country motorcycle ride, and finally San Francisco.  Like a drummer, hes content to rock out in the background  and avoids any sort of self promotion.  He will probably be slightly annoyed when I show him this post, but what are friends for?  And here’s to you old pal, Houston’s gonna miss you.  Readers: Keep an eye on this fella, he’s definitely going big places in the culinary world, and if you happen to find this guy behind a bar in Houston, the Texas Hill Country or San Francisco, you already know what to order (don’t worry, he actually enjoys the pain).  And for you bartenders out there, remember this story next time you put in your two week notice and start planning a Fernet-palooza, you might decide to leave a more lasting  impression.

Cheers!

photos and post by Alex Gregg

psst! you can find more photos of that night here

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