Many a long year ago, we decided that when we bought our home and finally managed to empty all the tools, metalworking equipment and assorted junk out of what was whimsically referred to as the garage, we would turn the space into a bar. It would never really work as an actual garage, due to the placement of the house and driveway making it a practical impossibility to actually drive a car up into it. But you don’t really want to read about the physical dimensions and limitations of our property’s orientation and structures, do you?
Plus, we care a lot more about drinking than we do about keeping our pansy-arse car (which, incidentally, finally put us out of its misery and died so we could go looking for a new one) warm in winter. Man up, Fritz.
Fuck you, Fritz. Just fuck you.
Well, we bought the place in 2007 and have been steadily ferrying screwdrivers, mallets, aerosols of gun oil, motorbike pieces, bottles of turpentine with a half-inch left in them and a bizarre assortment of client gifts from my father-in-law’s travelling salesman days across to a new manly-man’s graveyard in the old Helenius-Palokas farm shed row, ever since. And in August sometime, we finally finished that job and got to work on the main event.
Well, my father-in-law, the erstwile Äijä, got to work.
(I should add a little background here, for various levels of understanding in the audience. Äijä is a Finnish word that essentially translates as geezer, in the “he kicked a bear in the balls and then stole its vodka? What a fucking geezer” sense (not so much the sense that it is also synonymous with “coot” or “codger”). The Äijä is The Man, The Dude, the patriarch … and it’s also what our daughter Elsa decided to call my father-in-law from basically the moment she learned to talk, because apparently it was easier to say than ukki, which means grandpa and was what we intended for her to call him. Because that’s just nuts.
I’ll see your batshit-insane double-consonants and raise you a couple of the vowel combinations the word äijä has at its disposal, motherfucker.
So anyway, the Äijä did pretty much all the work. Our esteemed cousin Jani patched up the walls and painted them, then the Äijä installed flooring, lights, and an awesome set of wood panelling and shelves around the walls at about eye-level. The wood, incidentally, came from the collapsed wreck of one of the family barns, kindly donated by uncle Tomppi, hereinafter the Tomp. It wasn’t exactly the wood he’d thought he was donating, but by the time we realised this we’d already taken it and cut it up, so he let it slide and was basically a good sport about the whole thing.
The wood was also riddled with woodworm so each piece had to be scrubbed and hacked clean before installation. The Äijä did most of this but I helped for the final stretch.
After all that, it seemed only fair that we name the bar after him. So Bar Äijä’s it was. Other names included The Next Book Inn, The Buggy Bar, Slappers Sotunki, The Plastered Bastard, The BARDIS (Booze And Roleplaying Dungeon In Shed), and Pints and Arseholes.
Had to scrap that last name when I had mine removed. *cough*
So, the bar was ready, its cabinets stocked and everything in place. Time for a grand opening.
In honour of the supplier of our fabulous wood panelling, I created a cocktail named Da Tomp. It proved to be the run-away favourite drink of the evening.
All in all, I didn’t get much chance to talk to many people. Well, that is to say I did, I got to talk to pretty much everybody, but it was strictly barkeep-style. I shall bestow awards as follows:
Best on Ground Award: This is a tough one to make, and I can really only base it on the people I saw most often. Lars was his usual heroic self as he carved out a spot by the bar for himself and proceeded to stay there all night and drink many a shot and cocktail until the time came for him to tumble onto the oh-so-convenient 742 bus and roll home; and The Äijä himself finished most of a bottle of 12-year-old single malt and was exceedingly pale the next morning, so what the fuck, let’s give him the award.
“I’m very concerned at your vodka levels. Let me give you a top-up or you will never achieve maximum performance.”
Last Men Standing Award: It’s a tie this time, between Antti and Aleksi.
The Getting Into The Spirit Of Things (Do You See What I Did There) Award: Mr. Fahrenheit has to carry this one home, although many of the Lionbrides and ex-Lionbrides did themselves proud. Love a heavy-drinking technical documentation crowd.
In terms of drinks, I have to say the runaway winner for the night was Da Tomp, of which I poured at least 20. Kudos to Mister Fahrenheit for inventing a couple of shots that may also find their way onto the menu. At least the Dagobah was neat. The less said about the Rusty Saw Blade And Chains, the better. I’m pretty sure he was just naming shots according to the last thing he saw by that point.
Mrs. Fahrenheit permitted a certain amount of silliness.
Honourable mention should also go to my cousin-in-law Ville for his own great performance, for stamina and for outstanding courage in the face of a weird-arse drinks list. He was, for example, the only person to order one of my “don’t ask what it is, just drink it” offerings, the Sotunki Iced Tea.
He regretted nothing.
Even young Elsa got in on the action, enjoying a sweet bar-adjacent position and a couple of the more child-friendly shots.
At least so they told me.
My esteemed lanttumies Vuta and our cousin-in-law Pete were also good customers, although they did err on the smartarse side of things (as is their wont). Now don’t get me wrong, I understand and appreciate attempts to educate me in the ways of being a barkeep, and accept that I am just a pretender until such time as I earn my wings. I make no claims to expertise. However, if you are going to order “two browns” and then tell me “any real barkeep would know what that is”, you need to remember that a) I am not a real barkeep; b) I have been a pretend-barkeep for approximately 12 minutes; c) in Australia, “brown” means “Newcastle Brown”, not “whiskey”; d) next time you order a “brown” from someone with a colostomy bag, I’m not going to play the guess-what-the-fucking-smartarse-wants game. You’re getting exactly what you ask for.
Although their complaints about the long wait for drinks were well-taken. Always the way with fancy new trendy nightspots, though, innit?
So, many a drink was served and much fun was had by all. My cousin-in-law Sebastian brought along a fantastic sign for us to hang up, Bella’s medieval handicrafts buddy sent us an awesome leather guestbook, beers and wines and cocktails and shots were poured and consumed and thoroughly enjoyed, and I learned a lot about being a baarimikko.
For example, did you know that the reason your stereotypical barkeep is always shown polishing a glass or wiping down the bar is because basically that’s all you ever fucking do?
At one point in the evening, I was amused by my aunt-in-law who wanted some rum in her alcohol-free sangria.
“Sure,” I told her, “we have … let’s see, we have this awful Baltic, or we have Captain Morgan, which might be somewhat nicer…”
“No no no,” she said, and pointed to the top shelf behind the bar, where a couple of bottles of 80%-alcohol-content Stroh were sitting.
So yeah, she got a nice heady pint of sangria.
She then ate two-thirds of a deer.
All in all, a great night was had by all.
We’re working on a Cheers-style theme tune.
 The Dagobah is made as follows:
- 2cl Malibu coconut liqueur
- A dash of Mozart chocolate liqueur (needs to be on the bottom, there’s some experimentation still to perform as to whether this can be added second or needs to be put in first, then the Malibu spooned on top)
- A dash of Midori melon liqueur (will settle on top of chocolate)
The Malibu forms a clear top, the Mozart forms the ground, and the Midori is poured gently down the side of the glass to form vegetation.
This was attempted with Baileys, but Baileys was not thick enough. The result was a Misty Dagobah. And besides, without Mozart, you don’t have Yoda’s trademark “MMM”.
 Lankomies. Long story.