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I have a friend, an office friend who’s really into mojitos. Like super duper into them – the sun rises and sets on this damn drink for her. I get that. I have my own faves this just isn’t one of them. I’d drink it all the same. Now, with that in mind we formed a mojito drinking club. Officially we are the Mojito Summer Club. The goal being to go out once a week in search of the bar making a perfect mo. We got a small pile of co-workers together for our initial outing and we started with the few places near the office…

I don’t have a problem with an average drink but I do have a problem with one that flat sucks, independent of price. But I do get more pissed off when it’s pricey. In the one case we were at an actual Cuban place and the mojito was… ok… just ok. Maybe toothpasty and too seltzery. Indifferent. At a Cuban place that even had a cigar bar on its top floor. Really, isn’t this a Cuban drink? Shouldn’t it have been outstanding? I’m not going back there for any reason if they can’t make a staple like that great. The next location was called something or the other Grande and they didn’t have mint I think so we ended up drinking other stuff. Someone in our group recommended we do shots of Patron tequila coffee liqueur so I tried it. To each his own but it was coffee flavored cough syrup so if you like drinking cough syrup somebody’s got a product you can overpay for. A bit too medicinal for me though. I might’ve liked it more if I also had a bad cough AND wanted some booze. At one point I gave the bartender a recipe for a cocktail I make at home (truth be told, my gf can crank this out in high volume faster than I can write this post). Then I watched her proceed to try to make it. Now, this ain’t a rocket science kinda drink, there’s no egg white in it or other foaming ingredients, it’s just three kinds of liquor and you top it with beer. There, see, I even wrote out their measures figuring she would use a shot glass or some other convenient form of bar measure because, why give her room to mess up making a requested drink that she can get a decent tip for? Anyway, she winged the measures by eye and it came out like crap. And it was more like she was humoring me than actually trying to do something right. Or maybe she had no talent for it and she wanted to go back to opening beer bottles and using branded mixers. Surprise. In the multi-billion dollar earning Jersey City Financial District. I guess it’s just a good place to get a beer and move on.

Unfortunately these two bars cater to different crowds so don’t compete directly.

People and businesses have some similarities. Without competition both can get pretty slack in the quality department. The real tough part is figuring out how to drive yourself in the absence of pressure. As a business that may not make sense from a day to day cost perspective but the last thing you want to have happen is have another place open up nearby that offers exactly what you do but it’s better. Or the same but cheaper. I think when you’re excellent at doing something you only have to worry a bit about the value proposition but if your product is also weak…

In the case above I was asking waaaay too much – luckily, I frequent and get served by some really excellent mixologist type bartenders (Manhattan, Brooklyn, San Francisco) and it really sets an expectation that can’t be met when I drink anywhere else. At any cost point. They are individuals operating at a high level of quality and they are part of the tone that the establishment is putting forward. I don’t always find them affordable but I’m always looking to get back there as quickly as I can. That’s some excellence right there.

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