“Hi! I’m JaNee, from Mahalo dot com.”
October 30, 2019 2:43 PM   Subscribe

Despite evidence to the contrary, JaNee Nyberg knows how to make a proper Old Fashioned.

In 2010, Nyberg was a bartender and aspiring actor when she was hired to shoot a series of videos on how to make popular cocktails for the short-lived search engine Mahalo.com. She was provided almost no bar tools and just one bucket of ice, she gamely plowed through more than 100 cocktails in two days — including an infamously odd old fashioned recipe that eventually went viral. Today she's high school AP history teacher, and she's well aware of how bad that drink looked.
posted by me3dia (50 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
She's like a proto Alan Resnik!
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:58 PM on October 30 [1 favorite]


I like her!

And I do like a good Old Fashioned.
posted by suelac at 3:03 PM on October 30 [5 favorites]


Like so many things that go viral, it's often years later that you learn the "truth" behind it all and the context that lets you know your gut reaction is often wrong. It's why I'm glad I'm mostly off of social media these days.

I'm glad she was able to tell her side of the story.
posted by Fizz at 3:06 PM on October 30 [9 favorites]


a nearly full pint glass of Jim Beam—which Nyberg describes as “three ounces of bourbon,” but, without the benefit of a pour spout, ends up closer to 12.

I'd love to find a bar that poured alcohol like that.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:12 PM on October 30 [11 favorites]


(Oof, just noticed some rather glaring syntactical errors in my post. Apologies; I should have paused to proofread with fresh eyes before hitting post.)
posted by me3dia at 3:18 PM on October 30


$2000! No wonder she was such a trooper.
posted by Bee'sWing at 3:21 PM on October 30


As an ex-bartender the sound of her using a glass to scoop ice gave me the chills. If the glass breaks, all the ice is disposed of. The ice bin thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, and refilled. All this time you are not making drinks.
posted by Splunge at 3:43 PM on October 30 [11 favorites]




But despite her apparent inexperience, Nyberg did, in fact, know what she was doing.

“To be fair, I was a good bartender,” says Nyberg, who worked at the trendy West Hollywood restaurant Katana as well as Eva Longoria’s restaurant, Beso, to supplement her burgeoning acting career after college.

Honest question, my mind reels at the amount of mint she uses in this mint julep; is there precedent for this, or was she just over this ridiculous shoot by this point?
posted by vverse23 at 3:54 PM on October 30


I definitely have been aware of this and interesting to read about the background.
posted by Carillon at 3:55 PM on October 30


Honest question, my mind reels at the amount of mint she uses in this yt mint julep; is there precedent for this, or was she just over this ridiculous shoot by this point?

How it's properly done.
posted by dobbs at 3:58 PM on October 30 [12 favorites]


How it's properly done.

I think I just found my spirit bartender.
posted by vverse23 at 4:12 PM on October 30 [1 favorite]


Holy shit she looks exhausted though
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:34 PM on October 30 [5 favorites]


How it's properly done.

Oh my! That is incredible.
posted by bz at 4:36 PM on October 30 [1 favorite]


How it's properly done.

I'll be in my bunk.
posted by Splunge at 4:48 PM on October 30 [6 favorites]


Woman's employer gives her an impossible job and no resources to do it with. She manages to more or less do it anyway. The internet roasts the woman for this.

Yeah, sounds about right.
posted by tobascodagama at 4:49 PM on October 30 [45 favorites]


So she did these all in two days and with just a single take for each one? Also she was improvising, since there was no script or recipe list?

That. Is. Fucking. Impressive.

Seriously, anyone who has had to record something on video knows how hard it is. There is no room for error. If you screw up, or forget your lines, or lose your train of thought, you start over.

She gets huge props in my book, 99% of the population could not do what she did. It's pretty easy to take potshots from a distance, but having this context is awesome, thanks.
posted by jeremias at 4:52 PM on October 30 [18 favorites]


I like her.
posted by darksong at 5:04 PM on October 30 [2 favorites]


Man, there is no event too small to not get an "Oral History Of..." article these days.
posted by GuyZero at 5:21 PM on October 30 [2 favorites]


Mahalo was one of Jason Calacanis's longer running scams. One of the people who showed us, in a small way, how the early web could open up new forms of exploitation.
He was a pioneer. A visionary. A disruptor.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 5:25 PM on October 30 [2 favorites]


I was thinking the same thing as jeremias - one take, improvised, both in terms of script and how the drinks could be made, her performance is impressive as fuck. The woman keeps talking, coherently, not an umm or ah to be heard, through each video.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:44 PM on October 30 [1 favorite]


I want, like, An Oral History of the Video You're Currently Watching, and it's all just people saying "And then I put one of those little pop filters on the microphone" while putting one of those little pop filters on the microphone.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:44 PM on October 30 [6 favorites]


I want, like, An Oral History of the Video You're Currently Watching, and it's all just people saying "And then I put one of those little pop filters on the microphone" while putting one of those little pop filters on the microphone.

I move away from the mic to breathe in
posted by grouse at 5:49 PM on October 30 [6 favorites]


it's all just people saying "And then I put one of those little pop filters on the microphone" while putting one of those little pop filters on the microphone.

Here it is.
posted by sjswitzer at 5:50 PM on October 30 [5 favorites]


HOORAY MY WISH IS GRANTED
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:51 PM on October 30


I mean "somebody was trying to churn out bartending Content as quickly and cheaply as possible" is not too far from what I guessed was going on watching these. But it's nice to know the presenter was aware she was being asked to do something ridiculous.
posted by atoxyl at 6:44 PM on October 30


She doesn't seem to say outright that she was taking thing to the point of absurdity on purpose but if she was she deserves credit for that.
posted by atoxyl at 6:48 PM on October 30


An old fashioned with mezcal. It’s the perfect drink. I’ll come back and elaborate later, but I’m telling you. It’s the perfect drink.
posted by panama joe at 6:54 PM on October 30 [6 favorites]


I can see why these videos have outlasted Mahalo; she's great! She's clear, slightly funny, talks like a normal person but also is pretty enough to be a TV star. Also what a fucking professional: she literally mixes purple grape juice and spiced rum and calls it a cocktail with a straight face. (Hello, where's the sizzurp?)

Mahalo was indeed a dumb scam, a content farm churning out garbage to attract Google ad revenue. Google killed it pretty directly with an anti-content farm update and it never recovered. Sadly that same shift in Google ranking was also the start of Metafilter's long slow decline in ad revenue. Ask Metafilter had the happy side effect of also being a content farm good for advertising, albeit a legit one with useful content (unlike Mahalo). RIP easy money.

The other great cocktail content farm site was Hotwired's Cocktail Time, only now available in awkward Wayback snapshots of unlicensed archives. That site was a big part of helping educate people about good cocktails, what became hipster mixology. I still give out copies of Harrington's book as gifts.
posted by Nelson at 6:57 PM on October 30 [3 favorites]


Boy, that guy making the mint julep is quite the showman. Must be an expensive drink, though--he can't make more than ten of those per hour.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 8:05 PM on October 30


Tell me more, panama joe.
posted by grouse at 8:13 PM on October 30


"I don't have much time, come closer." (whispering) "For the perfect Old Fashioned, go to Zombo.com. Anything is possible at..." (dies)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:28 PM on October 30 [2 favorites]


An old fashioned with mezcal. It’s the perfect drink. I’ll come back and elaborate later

Tell me more, panama joe.


I'm sure they'll be back after they recover from what was clearly an enthusiastic over-indulgence in the indicated beverage.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:47 PM on October 30 [1 favorite]


Boy, that guy making the mint julep is quite the showman. Must be an expensive drink, though--he can't make more than ten of those per hour.

He doesn't have to. He just needs to make mine. And he can take as loooooong as he wants.
posted by vverse23 at 8:54 PM on October 30 [1 favorite]


Being a bartender at a busy nightclub is a completely different skillset from being a craft cocktail maker - neither would be very good at the other's job.
posted by splitpeasoup at 9:08 PM on October 30 [6 favorites]


So, an old fashioned is very close to being the perfect beverage. But sometimes whiskey can be too sweet, too viscous. A good mezcal is crisp, smokey. A mezcal old fashioned is everything a cocktail should be. Bold, spirit-forward, refreshing. But with a little bit of complexity. Sure, its official name is “Oaxacan Old Fashioned,” but don’t call it that. Nobody will know what you’re talking about. Ask for a mezcal old fashioned.

A few months back, I ordered one, and the bartender said “one Oaxacan old fashioned coming right up.” I gave him a little nod.

He knew.
posted by panama joe at 9:30 PM on October 30 [7 favorites]


Also a fan of the mezcal old fashioned here.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:31 PM on October 30


The video is 500x funnier, knowing that she knew what she was doing, but was in full-on "fuck it" mode, because her employer had given her a ridiculous task.

Also, can you imagine what that casting call must have looked like? Looking for a low-cost actor.... with bartending experience.... in Los Angeles!?!?!?
posted by schmod at 5:53 AM on October 31 [2 favorites]


Now I want a Dr. Kevorkian.

I mean, who doesn't love Dr. Pepper?
posted by chavenet at 5:57 AM on October 31


Don't sleep on absinthe old fashioneds, either.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:43 AM on October 31


Sure, its official name is “Oaxacan Old Fashioned,” but don’t call it that. Nobody will know what you’re talking about. Ask for a mezcal old fashioned.

A few months back, I ordered one, and the bartender said “one Oaxacan old fashioned coming right up.” I gave him a little nod.
I think if you see mezcal on a bar, order a Oaxacan Old Fashioned, and the bartender doesn't know what you're talking about, that's a pretty reliable warning sign right there. Sometimes you're better off just ordering highballs or beer. On the flip side, I once asked a bartender friend for a Cuba Libre, and as she set it in front of me she looked me in the eye and said, "fancy rum & Coke." Bluff: called.

On the FPP: we fell down that well on YouTube years ago ("oh my God, there are more, so many more!") and we quickly realized they were all shot in one day. When we finally got to one from the second shooting day (and thus featuring the second outfit) we were both amazed and a little bit sad for her.

And she wasn't even the only one doing this sort of content-farm cocktail video. This "mint julep" is a classic of the genre (the genre, in this case, being unintended horror). It's not JaNee, but it does make her Mint Julep seem almost respectable by comparison.
posted by fedward at 7:52 AM on October 31 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Don't Forget to Add Your Sprite
posted by Nelson at 8:38 AM on October 31 [1 favorite]


All y'all are conspicuously avoiding the fact that a proper Old Fashioned has brandy. BRANDY.

Hello from Wisconsin!
posted by St. Hubbins at 9:08 AM on October 31 [1 favorite]


Learning that my AP History Teacher was a viral video sensation would have been a real highlight of sophomore year, let me tell you.
posted by zeusianfog at 9:44 AM on October 31


I once asked a bartender friend for a Cuba Libre, and as she set it in front of me she looked me in the eye and said, "fancy rum & Coke." Bluff: called.

I had European friends who were perplexed by me telling them that what they call a "Cuba Libre" is usually called a "rum and Coke" in the U.S.
posted by grouse at 9:56 AM on October 31


It's a completely different drink. Cuba Libre has a lime.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:37 AM on October 31 [7 favorites]


My first Old Fashioned, which I ordered because of the name, was at Bourbon & Branch in SF for a work event. I loved it and was hooked. Since then I have had many, and boy howdy there are as many ways to make an Old Fashioned as there are bars that serve them.

IMO, the best type of old fashioned is:

- Large tumbler
- Single, oversized ice cube
- Bourbon (Woodford Reserve, Eagle Rare or Basil Hayden)
- Some bitters
- Just a hint of simple syrup
- single cherry & orange peel for garnish

The worst, on the other hand, is muddled orange & cherry in a tiny French cafe glass with crushed ice, Jim Beam, a sugar cube and fizzy water.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:12 PM on October 31 [1 favorite]


In Wisconsin, Old Fashioneds are often made with brandy! I am not a fan!
posted by grouse at 12:41 PM on October 31


Oh my god that mint julep video, I'm dead. And the culprit is that clump of mint sliding into a full cup of bourbon as she "mixes" it.
posted by BeginAgain at 1:40 PM on October 31 [1 favorite]


Old Fashioned 101 (dot com)

...


This is my favorite drink and I have people make it for me everywhere I go. Yes, I am a pain in the ass.

Two-Legged Dog

1.5 Tequila
0.5 Rye
0.5 Punt e mes (or sweet vermouth)
0.5 Cointreau

Stir vigorously with ice for 13 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass with a single large cube. Garnish with orange peel.

You're welcome.
posted by dobbs at 3:39 PM on October 31 [1 favorite]


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