I have a terrible weakness for young, handsome, cocky bartenders. Young and handsome alone don't do it, but add a little arrogance and I'm a goner. So when our young, handsome bartender said "Tsingtao is a Chinese beer, you moron, and we only have Japanese beers," I knew I was in trouble. He didn't really say "you moron," but he meant it with every fiber of his being. And to think that when I first walked into Sushi Den, I was so taken with the remodeling job that I didn't even notice him! After years of dealing with an enormous design flaw, this always-packed sushi joint has finally moved the bathrooms to the back of the restaurant, eliminating the small passageway that had separated the front and back dining rooms. That hall was usually a clusterfuck of people trying to get drinks or get to the bathroom, and waiters just trying to do their jobs; now one side is a center dining area with accordion windows that add light and dimension to the room, and the other is a revamped bar that's a real bar, not just a place to get bumped into over and over again. After he shot down my beer-loving friend, I asked Mr. Sassypants behind that bar for a drink recommendation. He suggested a Gin Margarita ($7), explaining that he doesn't drink tequila (everyone has their story), so this is the next best thing. I couldn't believe the combination of Bombay Sapphire, Grand Marnier, lime and pineapple juice would be palatable, but once he challenged me to try it, I couldn't turn him down. Since I happen to like tequila, this will never replace my favorite margarita, but it makes a commendable alternative for anyone who hates tequila but loves margs. And while I didn't think there could be any dessert better than Sushi Den's banana cream pie, Sassypants surprised me again with a China White Shooter ($6). To make it, he grabbed a maraschino cherry, dusted it with cinnamon, poured chilled DeKuyper white Crème de Cacao over the cherry, then poured Baileys over it -- ever vigilant not to let the two alcohols mix. With a knowing look, he then popped the cherry in his mouth and chewed enthusiastically. I enjoyed that so much I almost forgot to try the drink -- which, by the way, tasted like delicious cinnamon-chocolate cake.
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