Up until recently, the craft of making cocktails had not been noticed in great detail, and certainly hadn’t obtained the buzz we see today. To some, the idea of mixology is a fad, and the job of a bartender doesn’t take much. To them, it’s a simple task of mixing random ingredients in a glass, and voila, you’ve made yourself a cocktail.
Contrary to this opinion, however, the practice of mixology has more to it than meets the eye. Mixology-or the art of bartending- has turned into a movement, and cocktail culture has brought the back of house front and center, with bar chefs learning, training, and becoming educated in ways that have truly elevated the craft.
This is happening in cities around the world, from Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and New Orleans, to Orlando, Detroit, Nashville, and many others. From a consumer perspective-getting a tasty, delicious, hand crafted cocktail from these ‘artists behind the bar’ enhances our drinking and dining experience, and brings an added level of creativity and skill to the process.
These artisans also feel a duty to push the envelope in more than just technique and methodologies. Haven’t heard of that ingredient before? That’s not a surprise, as fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices that once were used only by local chefs and artisans are now making their way into cocktails, syrups, jams, and ultimately, your drink. Ingredients are being sourced from places like Asia, Brazil, Indonesia, and tropical rain forests, as well from local farmer’s markets and food purveyors. In any case, take that first sip, and you’ll join the rest of us in scratching our heads, wondering why we hadn’t thought of this before, and vowing to find new and different ways to expand our (collective) palates.
So next time you’re in a restaurant, lounge, or cocktail bar, take a second look at the craftspeople behind the bar, and sip that drink a little slower.
Just like a chef who takes pride in his gastronomic creation, nothing pleases a mixologist more than to make a cocktail so good that people keep coming back for it again and again, and to hear you say ‘it’s the best thing they have ever had‘. For them, this is a career, driven by passion, and a desire to provide a great experience for you, their customer. Show your appreciation, your thanks…and maybe even challenge them to make something different and special, just for you.