March 7, 2019

"A Qantas flight attendant who got blind drunk on peach martinis in a New York bar during a layover has lost his appeal to win his job back."

"Luke Urso, 24, claims he drank just 'two peach martinis and three gin and tonics' at the 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar in New York in 2017 but due to the bartenders 'free pouring' the cocktails, he ended up collapsing in the toilet and being rushed to hospital. Mr Urso believed that while he thought he was drinking five drinks, he had really consumed the equivalent to 14 standard drinks - resulting in him unable to work his shift the next day and Qantas having to foot the $20,000 hospital bill.... [The Australian Fair Work] full bench said Mr Urso's evidence could 'simply not be accepted' saying he 'could not seriously have thought that a drink in the nature of a peach martini would only contain one standard nip of alcohol,' it said. 'The evidence tends to suggest that he had significantly more than five drinks, in which case 'free pouring' loses whatever capacity it had to exonerate him,' it said."

From The Daily Mail.

Are you familiar with "nip" as a specific small amount (like a "shot")? I see there's an old word "nipperkin":
Nipperkin was still around as the nineteenth century turned into the twentieth, but lasted little longer.... There are a number of references to it in books of the period, as in The Dynasts by Thomas Hardy, published 1904-8 but set at the time of the Napoleonic wars: “I’d sooner have a nipperkin of our own real ‘Bristol milk’ than a mash-tub full of this barbarian wine!” [Bristol milk = sherry.]

Its name is so intimately tied to English and Scottish rural and domestic life that it comes as a mild shock to learn that the word is probably Dutch in origin and is related to the German and Dutch verbs nippen, to sip.

We still sometimes speak of taking a nip of spirits, often notionally for medicinal purposes, as a character did in The First Men in the Moon by H G Wells: “He recommended a nip of brandy, and set me the example, and presently I felt better.” Nip here is an abbreviation of nipperkin, in the looser sense of any small quantity. However, nip has some more specific senses: it’s a legal measure in Australia and New Zealand, of size 30ml; in the USA in particular it’s usually one-third of a local pint, a bottle size for high-alcohol beers like barley wine.
And what is "free pouring"? Is it wild or careless oversizing of portions? That's not what I'm seeing:

73 comments:

rhhardin said...

The contrail is Qantas 108 from JFK to Los Angeles, 38000 feet, 415kts, a Boeing 744/Q passing over Central Ohio. Goes on to Sydney. (Flightaware data)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhhardin/3580263598/sizes/o

Thomas said...

I'm familiar with "nip" as in those small, "single serving" bottles of liquor. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miniature_(alcohol)

Original Mike said...

Qantas needs to buy a "U".

Wince said...

Mr. Urso couldn't "bear" his alcohol.

Maybe he's a small bear, like the koala?

"I hate Qantas."

Nichevo said...

Don't be naffy. Of course free pour is an ironclad defense. In European countries the pours are strictly regulated with one or another forms of mechanism.

At the 230 rooftop bar (rooftop parties are 'the thing' these days in NYC), for some kind of corporate catered party where everything is paid for and you're not even supposed to tip, the bartender will just give you a tumbler and fill it with Tito's if you ask nicely.

And no, free pours are not accidental, when not intentional they are probably closer to negligent or at least sloppy in some sense. Or it can be out of ultimate efficiency. Or just style. Any robot can operare a drink dispenser. One way to get a heavy pour is to order the last drink in the bottle...if you order a martini, and there's a martini and a half's worth of gin in the bottle, they'll just up-end it and give you the last drop. They won't half-serve the next guy.

You can also cajole them in various ways. Say you have ordered a gimlet. The old label, from the Raymond Chandler era, on the bottle of Rose's says that the gimlet recipe is half gin/vodka/etc and half Rose's Lime Juice. However, by modern standards that is far too tart. Order the gimlet, then taste it and say it's puckery, and they will dilute with more liquor as opposed to remaking the drink.

Or, just tip well, or otherwise charm the barkeep. They tend to hire pretty girls for this detail, and a friendly, patient, non-pervy mien is easy enough to maintain, if you're the sort who regards servants as people.

gilbar said...

I see what you did there EDH :)

MadisonMan said...

If you're drinking and have any kind of awareness, you can know when things are going too far and too fast. Mr. Urso must have really been slamming those drinks down if they put him down under like that.

Original Mike said...

I'm a Qantas frequent flyer. I've always been impressed at how upbeat the flight attendants are.

MadisonMan said...

Three other comments: The guy has had 4 heart surgeries (!!!) and he's out bar-hopping? Oy.

Peach Martini: Gag me.

His eyebrows are on fleek, as they might have said 5 or so years ago. Such grooming.

Nichevo said...

So, to sum from the previous, it's totally likely that the venue serves generous pours and that he never knew what hit him. Go to Peter Luger's and tell me the martini is the same size as at the...geez, who uses those little truncated cone stems like Tanqueray ads used to feature, some Euro restaurant s and fern bars probably. The Luger's martini glass is one of those charming full sized glasses, 6 or 8 oz, amd it is their pride to serve it to you brimful without spilling. You have two martinis at PL, not to mention three G&T, and you're ready.

gilbar said...

So, Luke Urso 'only' had FIVE drinks, and after the fifth one, had to go to the hospital for alcohol poisoning?
The drinks were SO STRONG, that the fifth one nearly killed him; but he didn't notice this before ordering that one (or, the one before it; or, the one before it; or, the one before it)?

Did he claim to drink them in a row? or, how about...
He drank FIVE drinks, and then blacked out; and drank Twelve more?

J. Farmer said...

Free pouring is pretty bogus. Using a jigger is the only reliable way to get consistent measurements, but bartenders frequently eschew them in a manner similar to the way non-pastry chefs eschew measuring ingredients. But of course, you have much more margin of error in savory cooking, and one of the keys to successfully managing a bar is inventory control. Anyone who has spent time in a bar knows that there are bartenders with heavier hands than others, and these bartenders are typically rewarded with repeat customers and good tips.

J. Farmer said...

@MadisonMan:

Peach Martini: Gag me.

My thought exactly. According to 230 Fifth's cocktail menu, it's "Rum, Fresh peach puree, peach schnapps and fresh lemon juice," and costs $14. I'm not sure how that qualifies as any kind of martini, but in today's era of "mixology" and "craft cocktails," pretty much anything poured into a martini glass is called a martini.

BidenFamilyTaxPayerFundedCrackPipe said...

5 hard drinks would land me on the floor. 12? I'd be dead.

PatHMV said...

My personal favorite use of "nip" is in the ballad of the Harper Valley P.T.A.:

Well, Mr. Harper couldn't be here 'cause he stayed too long at Kelly's Bar again
And if you smell Shirley Thompson's breath, you'll find she's had a little nip of gin
Then you have the nerve to tell me you think that as a mother I'm not fit
Well, this is just a little Peyton Place and you're all Harper Valley hypocrites

MadisonMan said...

5 hard drinks would land me on the floor.

Three is my limit. At that point, I can really tell I've been imbibing.

Oso Negro said...

@EDH - "Peach martini" says "cub" more than "bear", but we need Titus to be certain.

Paul said...

"Luke Urso, 24, claims he drank just 'two peach martinis and three gin and tonics'.

That would put me under the table...

gilbar said...

J Farmer does the research, and finds for us that Peach 'Martinis' are...
"Rum, Fresh peach puree, peach schnapps and fresh lemon juice,"

So, AT LEAST two shots (one of Rum, one of Schnapps).
I DO remember, this one time, at Cy's Roost*; back in the '80's, this girl came in and had a 'few' Long Island Iced Teas: it went bad for her

*actually, it happened at the Minski's Pizza in Nevada Iowa; where from then on Long Islands were referred to as "Train Wrecks**"

Train Wrecks** the CNW line (now Union Pacific) went right through town, you can fill in the rest.

Original Mike said...

" it’s a legal measure in Australia and New Zealand, of size 30ml;"

So it's an ounce.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm familiar with "nip" as in those small, "single serving" bottles of liquor. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miniature_(alcohol)"

I saw that when I was writing the post, but I have never heard those little bottles called "nips." I understand that to be regional slang.

Ann Althouse said...

But I am familiar with Nik-L-Nips!

Remember those little bottles??? Were they based on adults drinking alcohol from small bottles?

gilbar said...

But overpouring or multishots not withstanding; THIS is WHY you need to use your heroin usage experience while drinking. do NOT do the second shot; until you've determined the strength of the 1st

Original Mike said...

"Remember those little bottles??? "

I remember those! I didn't remember they had a name.

Ann Althouse said...

"And if you smell Shirley Thompson's breath, you'll find she's had a little nip of gin..."

That's the use of the word that I'm familiar with — not a specific measure (like shot) but just the equivalent of "sip." Sip + alcohol = nip.

Henry said...

I have to laugh at the defense of I thought I was only having five cocktails, pour sot.

Levi Starks said...

In my long past drinking days if you were dumb enough to drink a whole pitcher of Mojo at at Subic Bay bar you didn’t wind up in the hospital, your shipmates (or shore patrol) dragged you back to the ship and deposited you in your rack.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Free pouring is having your gal parade her pussy around to distract the keeper while you grab the tap and pull sans payment due.

Likewise sometimes a line of cocaine can net you $100+ in booze if you get 'em focused on the coke not the dough
flowing out of the booze bottles.

"It's chilly outside and it's Chile inside." - Ray "Bones" Barbone

Original Mike said...

"I have to laugh at the defense of I thought I was only having five cocktails, pour sot."

Well, they are Aussies.

Curious George said...

"Mr. Urso must have really been slamming those drinks down if they put him down under like that."

You spelled "dudes" wrong.

Scott Patton said...

It's the old, "I was overserved" defense.

rehajm said...

Unlike in the US in Australia bartenders follow strict measurements when mixing drinks. A nip is 15ml and there are government controlled devices which measure and regulate the dispensing. I suspect when the article refers to free pour they are referring not to an overly generous bartender by US standards but the departure from the strict Australian form of distribution. I could see how someone not accustomed to the American style of bar service could overindulge but this guy had five drinks, so even by the Aussie standards he'd had more than a conservative amount...

I don't know about this peach martini but with good quality liquor and the proper proportions its possible to craft a very boozy cocktail what crafty disguises the amount of alcohol you are consuming.

2oz high quality blanco or reposado tequila, 1oz Cointreau, 1oz real lime juice, 1/4oz light agave in a tub with ice makes a surprisingly deceptive margarita.

tcrosse said...

Peach martinis sound like the passport to a Lucky Jim style hangover.

rehajm said...

In Botswana you order your Gin and Tonic with two tots.

rehajm said...

Oops- a nip is 30ml I believe...

Henry said...

I think many people assume that drinks that taste like soda won't make you drunk.

I enjoy a good gin and tonic, but it's increasingly hard to find tonic that isn't overly sweet. Fever Tree and Schweppes are about the only two I will use that have widespread distribution.

stevew said...

"I saw that when I was writing the post, but I have never heard those little bottles called "nips." I understand that to be regional slang."

That's the word we use here for those little bottles of booze.

SDaly said...

Watch out for Chartreuse. Looks like your standard, relatively low-alcohol aperitif, but it is 94 proof! Made a gin cocktail with it recently, and couldn't figure out why it hit me more than I expected.

First Tenor said...

Two observations:
1. A bar in Manhattan that actually serves stiff drinks...interesting
2. An Aussie that can't handle drinking in public...sad

J. Farmer said...

@Guildofcannonballs:

Likewise sometimes a line of cocaine can net you $100+ in booze if you get 'em focused on the coke not the dough flowing out of the booze bottles.

True. I don't think the average person realizes how ubiquitous cocaine is in the bar and restaurant industry. I used to know a bar manager whose coke dealer would sit at the bar and drink for free for hours while he walked around with VCR all over his nostrils.

J. Farmer said...

@Henry:

I enjoy a good gin and tonic, but it's increasingly hard to find tonic that isn't overly sweet. Fever Tree and Schweppes are about the only two I will use that have widespread distribution.

Hendricks and tonic with a slice of cucumber and a squeeze of lime has been my go to drink for years. Fever Tree is a decent brand of tonic and the first to sort of define the "luxury" market for the category. Q Mixers is a more recent brand operating in the same space. But if you want to take it to the next level, try making your own. There are a lot of tonic syrups on the market, and you just have to mix them with a good club soda to get tonic water. Jack Rudy is probably the most popular, but there's a variety of different taste profiles on the market.

chickelit said...

...the word is probably Dutch in origin and is related to the German and Dutch verbs nippen, to sip.

My trusty Duden (Band 7), teaches that the verb nippen traces back to kneipen or kneifen -- words ultimately based on the pinching or pursing of the lips when sipping. The German word Kneipe (pl. Kneipen) is still in common usage in the north; it means pub.

Fernandinande said...

I used to know a bar manager whose coke dealer would sit at the bar and drink for free for hours while he walked around with VCR all over his nostrils.

I used to know a coke dealer (who died from alcohol) who said "If you need drugs in a strange town, go around the back of the restaurants and check with the cooks." 'Course he was fluent in Mexican, which would help.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

he drank just 'two peach martinis and three gin and tonics'

And he got blind drunk?

What a freaking light weight....or liar.

Francisco D said...

The guy needs to quit the frou-frou-frou drinks. They confuse your inner measure of alcohol consumed because of the sugar.

After a couple of Scotch and sodas at home, I can tell if I poured with a heavy hand or not.

William said...

When I was a drinker, NYC bars weren't famous for the liberality of their pours. Blarney Stone and White Rose bars, the exceptions, had some good bargains on Carstairs but you didn't go there to socialize or celebrate the glamour of life. Rooftop bars sound interesting in a trendy way, but they probably don't get the pub crawl customers. I wouldn't think their drinks are all that generous, but there's so much about modern life that I'm not conversant with.

Francisco D said...

I last snorted coke about 40 years ago when working in a restaurant.

If I recall correctly, cocaine mixes "well" with alcohol in that you can drink copious amounts of booze before you feel it.

The next morning isn't so good.

rehajm said...

What a freaking light weight....or liar.

A G&T in a highball usually has 2-3oz gin. I had to look up a peach martini- typical is 2oz vodka and 1oz of schnapps. So we're talking 12-15oz of booze for a bloke with a heart condition and is a bit of a Sheila.

SDaly said...

Here is a tonic recipe. There are a lot of ingredients, but it is worth the effort.

OT - has anyone ever successfully clicked on all of the traffic lights in a recaptcha?

J. Farmer said...

@Francisco D:

If I recall correctly, cocaine mixes "well" with alcohol in that you can drink copious amounts of booze before you feel it.

The next morning isn't so good.


That's what Xanax is for. It's the upper/downer merry-go-rounder.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Francisco: After a couple of Scotch and sodas at home,

True dat ;-)

A couple is all you need.

As scotch drinkers (hubby and I) why dilute the taste of a good scotch with soda? We either drink neat, room temperature, as the Scots would do....or with an ice cube. Blended scotch generally on ice and dilute with some plain ole water.

For the "good" scotch, we do use a vintage glass alcohol measuring cup that measures jiggers, and ponys That way you don't over pour.

rcocean said...

Sounds like the Hemingway defense. Driving under the influence? No your honor, I just had my usual 1/2 bottle of scotch.

The man, should have been fired for bad taste. Peach martini? Bleach. Oh well, that leaves more good Scotch for the rest of us.

John henry said...

Blogger Original Mike said...

Qantas needs to buy a "U".

Actually no. Americans need to learn to write it properly.

QANTAS

Queensland And Northern Territories Air Service

QANTAS capitalizes all letters.

John Henry

rcocean said...

I suppose if you're a heavy drinker, you could toss down 5 drinks without feeling it, until it was too late. The News had cases of young men, tossing down a bottle of vodka, seeming to be very normal, and dropping unconscious 10 minutes later.

John henry said...

Thanks for that about the legal definition of "nip", Ann. I don't think I knew that.

About 10 years ago I had an idea for a book on measurement and started collecting names of measurements. Common ones of course but there were also a lot of odd and obscure names. I've always been partial to the name "schooner" as a unit of measurement. A "firkin" has always sounded interested and slightly off color (When you are a celebrity they will let you grab them by their firkin)

I collected 150 or so which I can't find now.

I still think it would be an interesting book. Ah well, maybe after I get finished with my 3 current book projects.

John Henry

Caligula said...

"Mr Urso is still adamant it was not his fault he got drunk and he was tempted by the bar's special offer on alcohol."

So, see, it wasn't his fault and anyway the devil, oops the bar, tempted him.

Although apparently the AUS "nip," at 30ml, is essentially the same as the USA "shot" (one fl ounce = 28ml). And I'm surprised there are still any bars that permit their bartenders to free pour.

jimbino said...

One of my favorite poems The Man He Killed by Thomas Hardy begins:


Had he and I but met
By some old ancient inn,
We should have set us down to wet
Right many a nipperkin

tcrosse said...

We either drink neat, room temperature, as the Scots would do....or with an ice cube.

The Scots drink the stuff with a sparing amount of water, and never ice. Never drink your water without whisky or your whisky without water, they say. Sláinte mhaith.

Francisco D said...

As scotch drinkers (hubby and I) why dilute the taste of a good scotch with soda?

I would never put soda in a good single malt (e.g., Lagavullin), just a wee drop of water to cut the burn.

Soda is for the less expensive blended stuff.

Ann Althouse said...

@jimbino

That's one of the historical quotes listed in the OED for "nipperkin."

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The Scots drink the stuff with a sparing amount of water, and never ice

I know. No ice in the scotch is traditional. However, I like to sip good scotch with a slowly melting ice cube.

Never drink your water without whisky or your whisky without water, they say.

Whisky ..uisce beatha...literally means water of life. The Celts are so smart!

Back atcha Sláinte mhaith

:-D


J. Farmer said...

My grandfather was a Johnny Walker Black drinker. I never developed a taste for Scotch, and I have tried a pretty wide variety. I prefer good old American bourbon. I'll take a glass of Woodford Reserve with a cube of ice any day of the week.

gspencer said...

All this assumes that a pourer device is used on the bottle's neck. How about those free pourers who remove the cap and just pour?

Those are the ones to go to parties with.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

How about those free pourers who remove the cap and just pour?

Those are the ones to go to parties with.


That's right!!! Take off the cap and throw it away. You aren't going to need it anymore.

Thankfully, those days are long long gone...but I DO remember them. I think ;-)

gspencer said...

"Hey, look mister, we serve hard drinks in here for men who want
to get drunk fast. And we don't need any characters drinking peach martinis to
give the joint atmosphere."

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

The danger with alcohol is that once you have the first drink, there is now a drunk in charge of your drinking. You cannot trust that motherfucker. He will not be there in the morning to get you to work.

jimbino said...

@Althouse

@jimbino

That's one of the historical quotes listed in the OED for "nipperkin."


Are those of us too poor to afford access to the OED to be denied great poetry?

walter said...

But Mr Urso is still adamant it was not his fault he got drunk and he was tempted by the bar's special offer on alcohol.

'I got invited out by some friends and I thought, I'm in my favourite city in the world - why not?,' he told Daily Mail Australia.

'I got the house special, [the peach martinis] for $10 - I wasn't going to say no.'

'That's what you get for going cheap I suppose,' he added.

The full bench said Mr Urso's evidence could 'simply not be accepted' saying he 'could not seriously have thought that a drink in the nature of a peach martini would only contain one standard nip of alcohol,' it said.
<
Mr Urso, who has had four heart surgeries and claims he is always a responsible drinker, claims that he knows a lot of Qantas employees that abuse alcohol.Mr Urso said that due to his complicated medical history and Qantas previously footing the bills to surgeries, he believes the company just wanted to get rid of him and this was just great timing.
--
Missing here is the time window for downing the drinks.
That might be more important than the claimed nip slips.

walter said...

Speaking of slips, his putting NYC at the top of his world list might piss off the homies in Newstead:
http://www.ironfish.com.au/blog/2017/11/23/brisbanes-newstead-ranked-new-capital-cool/

Colonel Mustard said...

Without free-pours bars don't have regular customers. Their business depends on tourists and expense account types. Local watering holes sink or swim on how regulars are treated.

Bartenders work for tips (especially true in right-to-work states). If a bartender isn't making good money in one place he/she is going to work in another place soon. A competent, friendly bartender who shows up for work on time, every time, is worth their weight in gold. AND, don't overlook the fact that a free-pour can be short as well as heavy. It really is a good way to encourage creeps and assholes to drink elsewhere.

An owner absolutely must mind pour cost but jacking up prices a bit and giving the bartender some leeway is often a win-win.

themightypuck said...

This sort of happened to me. I was at a local bar where I knew the waitress but was deep in conversation and not paying attention. I am no lightweight but after 2 drinks I was messed up. I ended up walking the mile home in a daze but none worse for wear the next day. The waitress was pouring me quadruples.

Unknown said...

Measurements: The best speed of light is 1.8 terafurlongs per fortnight.

Measuring pours: I was shocked on my trip to Europe. EVERYTHING was precisely measured. I don't know that I've ever had an accurately measured shot in the US. Even if a shot glass is used, bartenders usually continue to pour into the glass while dumping the shot in.