Night Watch: Wild Olives by Todd English
5050 Town Center Circle, Ste. 245, Boca Raton.
Call 561-544-8000, or visit here.
Wild Olives by Todd English: The best of Boca's booze-slogging crowd comes out to sip wine, sample flatbread, and shoot the shit. Possibly, they also come to peek at the epic cleavage that belongs to the blond bartender who came limping in shortly after I'd taken a seat at the big wooden bar to stare pensively at the cocktail menu.
"What happened to you?" a regular slouched over his drink asked her immediately.
"They're rough on me here!" The bartender, Anne, laughed and put her crutches down. She was slender with a magnificent rack and the kind of face you can stare at for awkward lengths of time. "I think it's time to quit your part-time wrestling gig," he joked.
"No, I broke my foot," she complained. "It's a stupid story too: I was in these new five-inch heels -- wedges, of course -- and I missed the sidewalk. And I wear heels all the time!"
"You need to get someone to carry you around," the regular decided. "I'd volunteer, but I can barely carry myself around."
Jazz played airily overhead. The bar itself boasted elaborate paneling, white pillars, big wooden dividers to separate the bar from the restaurant, and artistic overhead lights. The place had a calm, laid-back hotel vibe; the shelving boasted scores of back-lit, carefully turned bottles of expensive booze. Vertical mirrors and candle-lit tables created a classy, intimate feel. Noah, the slender, suit-clad manager, told me about Three Olives' ultimate patio-bar plan.
It went something like this: Step 1: Move to the empty restaurant space next door. Step 2: Open a classy patio bar like the one Town Center Plaza-mate Rocco's Tacos has (and keeps consistently packed). Step 3: Serve frozen drinks and make boatloads of money. "Our clientele is classy," Noah informed me. I thought I heard a bit of distaste in his voice as he eyed my flip-flops and jeans. (A minute later, I managed to drop the contents of my purse onto the slick, polished floor. Classy? I don't do classy.) "We go for upscale -- we get the country-club members for dinner and a fun crowd for happy hour.
"People come here for the Todd English name," he continued. (Apparently, people will travel long distances and spend lots of money at a bar if it has the name of a world-famous chef in the title.)
"But we specialize most in shots and martinis."
It was true -- the martini menu was to die for. It boasted classics like the Espresso, Italian Kiss, Appletini. There were also SoFla specifics: the Bocatini (Three Olives mango vodka, Cointreau, grenadine) and the Florida Sunset (rum, pineapple juice, grenadine). Specialty shots included poisons with names like "Jose Meets Grandma," "Pineapple Upside Down Cake," "Watson Shot," and "Bartender's Choice" (actual listing on the menu) -- if you can't make up your mind, trust the bartender to decide. (And you can trust me, with girls this hot, you'll put in your mouth whatever they tell you.)
My new metatarsally challenged friend, Anne, assured me that cosmos and appletinis were the usual favorite drinks and offered to make me a pretty potion. "What do you like?" she asked.
"Sweet things," I said. "I'm kind of a pussy when it comes to alcohol."
"I'm going to whip you up something special," she promised and limped away.
"This place has the best bathroom I've ever seen," Mel told me. He was a rotund, aging man who comes to Three Olives because it's close to Rocco's Tacos and, evidently, because the urinals are spic- and-span.
He introduced me to his friend, Ed.
"We met in college," Mel said. "First class of FAU -- the two of us, plus our friend Sam, who passed away not long ago."
They used to party. A lot. "Once, to celebrate one of Sam's divorces, we partied for 12 hours straight," Mel said. "We ended at Molokai Bar -- it was open till 4 a.m. back then. You know, there's a fine line between passing out and going to sleep."
"Oh, I am well aware," I said.
"We always come here because the happy-hour prices are good, and now that we're retired, we can come out to drink whenever we want," Mel said.
"Forget being retired," said Ed. "If I'd have known what I know now, I would have just stayed in college."
A few minutes later, Anne plopped down a beautiful pink concoction in a long-stemmed glass.
"It's a citrus cosmo -- a regular cosmo with a twist," she told me. It was delicious, and soon I was looking at the bottom of the glass.
"Have another one," Mel egged me on from his spot down the bar.
"Are you guys trying to turn me into an alcoholic?" I asked.
"You know the difference between an alcoholic and a drunk?" asked Ed. "Alcoholics have to go to meetings."
I'll drink to that.
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