By Lillian Rizzo
Linda Mcinerney must shake the silver mixer 15 times before pouring the chilled liquid that is to become the Heavenly Pomegranate. She counts, “1, 2, 3, 4…” in her head as she shakes, never aloud.
She pours all five ounces of Absolut and pureed passion fruit into the martini-like glass. There is about an inch empty at the top. McInerney then gets a whip cream-like canister out to finish off the product. Nothing comes out.
McInerney is mixing a Morton’s Steak House signature drink: the Heavenly Pomegranate Mortini. The whipped foam at the top – a combination of raspberry puree, pomegranate juice and egg whites – makes it a Morton’s specialty, which costs $15.75. This is where the citrusy flavor lies. But even to an experienced bartender like McInerney whipping the foam is the hardest part.
“It has a CO2 cartridge and it got jammed,” she says. McInerney hands the device to Allison, a fellow bartender. Allison unclogs it and swirls the foam into the glass.
McInerney moves her stout body around to pluck a mint leaf from a jar a few feet away. Her short blonde ponytail bounces as she plops the leaf into the drink and slides the glass over with a smile.
McInerney never used the foam-maker until she started working at the Morton’s in Downtown Brooklyn. “We call it ‘Heavenly Foam,’” she says. “Is it easy to use? Psh, no.”
McInerney, who lives in Windsor Terrace, became a bartender as a side job. She says she had a job in sales and needed extra cash, but then, “I got tired of that sales/corporate grind.” She now works full-time tending bar. Morton’s is the first steakhouse she has ever worked in.
The Heavenly Pomegranate Mortini is one of the more exotic drinks she concocts there. Most patrons order a martini or double malt scotch with their steak. With those drinks she thinks less while mixing.
“A Manhattan is a Manhattan,” she says, “wherever you’re a server.” She peers through her square-framed black glasses to make sure everyone is being served in the bar area.
McInerney is actually a “captain,” or manager, at Morton’s. She handles both the bar area and the restaurant, which is right next door to The Marriott Hotel.
When drinks are ordered at tables the bartender’s process is different. There is no audience in the privacy of the kitchen. “We use jiggers in the service bar only,” she says holding up a small silver object that looks like a double-sided funnel. A jigger will never be seen at the bar, where the server has to eyeball everything that is poured.
McInerney pours some Absolut into a glass filled with ice. She slowly counts to three. That is how she can measure how many ounces she is pouring into the shaker without the help of a jigger. She does the same with an ounce of pureed passion fruit juice and half ounce of pomegranate syrup. She joins the glass filled with ice with the metallic mixer and begins silently counting to 15, making sure the two liquids are mixed.
Now comes the moment when she would add the “Heavenly Foam” and complete the drink with a mint leaf. Unless, of course, it jams.