C'est Si Bon Has Been Slinging Drinks Since the Eisenhower Years
The Midnight Gin Mary
[Editor's Note: We all know local music and dive bars go hand-in-hand. So in the interest of merging the two together on Heard Mentality, we bring you our nightlife column Dive, Dive, My Darling. Read as our bold web editor Taylor "Hellcat" Hamby stumbles into the dive bar scene every week to find crazy stories, meet random weirdos and guzzle good booze.]
"There's some great shit about this shithole," the brunette young lady yelled out the door to the man in the bright-green tee and giant black cowboy hat as he walked to the parking lot. "And I'm one of 'em!"
Welcome to C'est Si Bon, the Westminster watering hole that has slung stiff drinks at blue-collar prices since the 1950s, as the city transformed from farmland to tract homes to Little Saigon. The liquor selection is ample and stored on shelves above the bar, and though there are no beers on tap, the offerings lightly flirt with the craft-brew world. Fresh coffee is always kept brewing, perfect for when they open at 6 a.m. or to keep you going until last call at 2 in the morn'. Manning the bar for the past 11 years has been Susan, a blonde well-known and loved by the die-hard regulars. She's polite, attentive and knows when you're ready for another drink, often before you realize it.
When I last visited, I sat in the coveted "Horny Corner," located on the right back corner of the bar top. It's called that thanks to a wooden plaque that says--you guessed it!--"Horny Corner," with a picture of a devil carved in. Susan politely offered me a beer--Blue Moon, of course, served cold as hell. It was about 7 p.m. on a Tuesday when someone began trolling the jukebox. It started with "Bye Bye Bye" by 'N Sync, then Backstreet Boys. The 1990s-era boy band nostalgia session went over surprisingly well with the crowd--mostly 30s and 40s and white--or maybe they were too enthralled in their 50-cent pool games or analog darts to mind.
Though I am far from a C'est Si Bon regular and I had just met Susan, she was more than willing to chat in the few spare moments she had while serving the rather-busy bar single-handedly. As the beers went down and my buzz went up, I started showing the guy sitting next to me pictures of my dog, like the proud drunk dog mother I am. "Susan will love this," he said. "Show Susan. Hey, Susan!"
"Awww," she responded after seeing them. She quickly showed me pictures of Scout, her cute doxie-Chihuahua. We totally bonded, gushing over each other's furry children. "Hey, Susan," said the regular to my left. "You know, I'd like to have one of your famous Bloody Marys, but I don't like vodka. Could you make me a Bloody Maria?"
"You ever try a Gin Mary?" she asked.
"No, but I want one now," he replied.
"I mean, I'll make you one with tequila . . ." she offered in vain.
"I'd like to try one, too, but do you think it's too late for a Bloody Mary right now?" I said as it neared midnight.
"It's not too late to do anything until it's 1:59," Susan replied with a wink. Good point. She returned with the Gin Mary. It was good--really good. "It's the co-mingling of the flavors," she said. "The juniper from the gin, the way in which it compliments the tomato--it's unlike any other flavor."
She then let me in on one of her secret ingredients: Cimino's Pepper Sauce, apparently a local concoction sold here by the bottle. I picked the toothpick of olives out of my cocktail and bit into one.
"You know you have to have your olives in threes for good luck," Susan said with a knowing smile. "One olive is simply not done."
BEST LINE OF THE NIGHT: "My favorite thing about working here is the customers. The best thing is the surprises. The worst thing is the surprises."
FAVORITE PIECE OF FLAIR: The retro marquee out front.
C'est Si Bon, 6638 Westminster Blvd., Westminster, (714) 379-9934.
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