Thursday, May 15, 2008

An open apology to cocktail enthusiasts

I realize some of my writing recently may come off as a little cranky. I know I've been hammering the professional stuff recently, and its been due to some cocktail enthusiasts (I'm not naming names here) repeatedly asking me for access to things and jumping into some conversations I've had with other professional bartenders about technique. Sometimes, as a bartender, I really need to just discuss things with others who work in similar situations. Some of the things that happen in a bar may not be the perfect way to do something, but they are the best technique possible given the volume you need to produce. Having someone jump into the middle of a conversation with a lecture about how they do something at home can be really frustrating when I'm trying to talk with another pro. That said, 99% of the conversations that I have had with cocktail enthusiasts have been nothing short of wonderful. I love almost all of you and I think that you raise the bar and contribute very good information and help this become a community that grows.
I've just been frustrated by a couple of people yammering on constantly about things and sidetracking some conversations that I've had. Its not a big deal, but I realize that I probably owe the rest of you cocktail enthusiasts an apology.
I'll make it up to you soon. I've got my bacon bourbon ready, which I'll post here, plus some other interesting projects coming up. Thanks again for reading, and I'll look forward to hearing from you.


gilrain said...

I think your concern for separation is merited, actually. As an enthusiast, I have a different set of priorities and, thus, techniques. I can spend fifteen minutes putting together a single cocktail, and, at the end, it only needs to be tuned for my palate. That is far different from bartending, where one is concerned with quality, yes, but also speed and the more general palatability of their cocktails.

In the end, of course, enthusiasts and their interest and excitement will bolster and improve the art of bartending. I think the "problem" with bartending is/was a lack of appreciative clientele and, thus, the creation and employment of so many bartenders who know nothing of the craft.

Let's hope your new website will change that for the better, even if we must observe its progress from outside!

T. Mixeur said...

In a noble and valiant effort to bridge whatever gaps may exist between enthusiasts and bartenders, Charles and I will once again step behind the bar (actually a kitchen counter) this Saturday to get our ASSES KICKED by the thirsty masses at Le Mixeur Quatre.

Despite these always being fun, and despite having the sweetest clientèle imaginable, I'm sure the evening will serve as solemn reminder of why we are not bartenders - we simply can't hack it over the long haul.

5 hours, every 2-3 months. That works for us. Then it's time to plop our butts back onto some bar stools and pontificate.

C'est la vie!

Tikimama said...

I think it is important to keep in first and foremost that those cocktail enthusiasts are the ones that you're behind the bar for. Without them, it would be vodka crans and Miller Lites all night long.

I don't know if you read a lot of food/chef/cooking blogs, but the exact same divide gets discussed a lot there. It's really just practicing the same craft in different countries.

I'm always reminded of my feeling when people ask me about computers (what kind should I buy, what do I think about this or that) and I usually say "I hate technology." Those of us in the trenches have a different viewpoint.

Lance J. Mayhew said...

Actually Tikimama, I'm behind the bar to serve all of my guests, even the vodka cranberries, cosmos and Miller Lite crowd. While I may not personally enjoy a kamikaze or a cosmopolitan, when I'm behind the bar, its my job as a professional to craft the best cocktail that I can that my guest chooses to consume. I try not to pass judgement, sometimes, people choose a drink because thats all that they know. Some drinks are annoying to make during rush (let me clarify, I consider some drinks annoying when it takes more labor to produce a drink that I find either unbalanced or one dimensional) or inappropriate to choose at a given time (Bloody Marys in the evening perhaps) but I'll smile and make one for you if thats what makes your experience better. And I don't mind popping a few bottles of Miller Lite either, its a nice break, and beer can be a great accompaniment to food.
In fact, if anything, I might be behind the bar less for the enthusiasts, and more to use a term Robert Hess likes, to be a "cocktail evangelist" to the masses. I don't think there is much that I enjoy more than introducing people to the joys of well crafted cocktails.

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