Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Another kind of failure to communicate

In recent weeks I have remarked on here upon the strange failure of nightclubs Lan and Le Zazou to advertise (adequately, or at all - as I was taught to phrase it in my lawyering days) their discount promotions over the holidays, and on the discrepancy between the amount of publicity solicited by Obiwan for its change of ownership/image in December (lots) and the amount given to the fact that it was going to be closed for a month for refurbishments (none).

A little while ago, I came upon another rather striking breakdown in communications...

Chad was making some changes to the drinks menu at Fubar just after Christmas. He was only just out of hospital (after having a nasty spill on his motorcycle), so was still a little groggy from painkillers, and not fully on his game. He therefore asked his graphic designer buddy who was reformatting the menu for him to invent some amusing names for the new collection of cocktails. Said buddy was distracted by an imminent change of apartments and...... forgot to do so. The new menus came in from the printers with the twenty new shooters on the back page all labelled simply as 'Drink Name'.

The curious thing, though, was the complete blind spot the Chinese staff had about this. Dr Manhattan and I tried repeatedly to explain the problem to them, but no-one - no-one, not even the new bar manager or Chad's Chinese partner - seemed to grasp it. "Yes, yes, new drinks - very good. Yes, yes, 'drink name' - good." "So, if I ordered a 'Drink Name' - which one of these twenty different drinks would I get?"

Really - the penny was dropping in slow motion. In fact, I'm not sure that it ever really did drop.... because at that moment Chad showed up, and promptly had a coronary.

It's OK. The drinks have been named now. Luckily, printing costs in China are very low.


The British Cowboy said...

I find the concept of cocktail menus somewhat odd. Sort of a TGI Friday's feel to it. Though in Taiwan they seemed commonplace.

Is it usual in a bar there you can just go up to the bar, order a cocktail, and expect them to (a) have the ingredients and (b) know how to make it?

Froog said...


Outside of a few, upscale, specialist cocktail places. And even there, it's probably only the manager or the head barman who's really going to know what's what. Most of the bar staff will be having to follow a recipe - and are likely to get confused if you don't know what the drink is called in Chinese.

Besides, these new drinks at Fubar are novelty shooters of the (American) owner's own devising rather than standard cocktails - so you do need a menu.

The British Cowboy said...

Post some of them. I maintain there is nothing new in the alcohol world, just revisits to the same old though maybe forgotten friends...