coronaman.jpgAs health-code inspections in bars and restaurants continue apace in the wake of The Great Rat Rodeo of Aught Seven, strange, unheard of violations are coming to light: a bartender at Red Hook’s Moonshine bar was recently cited for “having bare-hand contact with one slice of ready-to-eat lime while placing on top of beer bottle for patron in bar.” In other words, every time you see your bartender poke a wedge of lime into your Corona, you’re witnessing a criminal act. (Call 311 to report!)

In the “nice work if you can get it” department, Times reporter Michael Wilson conducted a thorough tour of several city watering holes to get bartenders’ reactions to the violation (“asinine”, “ridiculous”). Tom Carney, the recently retired Elaine’s barkeep, reminds us of the importance of lime in beer: “It’s got a skin on the back of it that takes scurvy off parts of your body.” Indeed, British sailors were called “limeys” because of the use of limes by the Royal Navy.

The approved Health Department method for getting the lime into the bottle is with a tong or plastic gloves. But as Wilson notes, “tongs are to a bartender what work boots would be on a ballerina.” Smith & Wollensky's Patrick Ford, the Baryshnikov of bartenders, futilely searched for a pair of tongs behind the bar. Finally, to the amusement of the regulars, he speared a lime wedge with a fork and delivered it to the bottle, surely cursing himself to years of hygienic Corona requests. “Hey, Patty,” Wilson reports one man bellowing. “Give me a Corona over here! Be sure to use a fork!”

Photo from Lindsay Fincher.