Bartender of the Month: January 2005
Saturday, January 1, 2005;
Where:The Town & Country Lounge (Inside the Mayflower Hotel)
Why we like him: A legend on the Washington bar scene, Sambonn "Sam" Lek came to the United States from Cambodia in 1974 and got a job as a dishwasher at Blackie's. Two years later, the Mayflower Hotel's Town and Country Lounge hired him (straight out of hotel/motel school); and he's been behind the bar ever since, welcoming a steady stream of regulars. (Sam says he sent out about 3,000 Christmas cards to customers last month.)
Personally, I drink very little, but when I'm out with my wife, I'll drink a little red wine. But I don't drink -- my body doesn't like it.
A lot of Sam-I-Am (Ketel One Citroen, cranberry juice and Amaretto), Cosmos and the Apple Tree, which is my version of an Apple Martini. We make mojitos, too -- we use the right sugar, which is why it tastes differently than everywhere else.
It's hard. We had a customer from California who asked for something, but let's put it this way -- If you go to California and ask for a Sam-I-Am, they won't know what it is. But I like to learn from my customers; if they like something, I like to learn how to make it.
Have too much to drink. But I usually just tell them, "Sir, you've had too much, let's have some coffee."
Actually, I can usually tell, "Oh, you like her," or "You like him." So I'll ... do a magic trick and it gives them something to talk about.
[The piano player] doesn't bother me. They usually don't repeat too many songs. The thing that bothers me are customers' cell phones, when they ring and they don't answer them.
Blurred red eyes, the way they talk, they spill drinks.
Oh no, I can't. A lot of women love me a lot, but I can't do it. I'm married.
You get rich people and poor people. I say: You win some and you lose some. But I treat them all the same.
Be friendly, be courteous and be honest.
We all have good and bad days. After rain, we can have a beautiful day.