Editorial: It’s a sad thing when you walk into a bar and order a highball, and the bartender says he’s never heard of one. Yet, this is exactly what happened to my 23 year old daughter recently, when she went out with some friends to one of the better stocked bars in Central New York. I mean, this place has cachaca, mezcal and genever. When a simple drink of a spirit and a mixer that has been around for a century is unknown to someone who is in the bar service industry, something is wrong.
In spite of all the cocktail books, training programs, and mixology videos available today, it seems that an extremely small percentage of working bartenders are taking advantage of them. Is this the fault of the bartender, or bar management? I’d say it’s both. If you only want to earn a few bucks slinging poorly made drinks, then fine; just do the bare minimum. But, if you want to be a craftsman, then learn from the vast resources available to you. I’d hazard a guess that if every bar manager required their bartenders to take a training course through BarSmarts or the USBG, that 90% would fail. And that’s why in my part of the country, 90% of cocktail bars fail within the first year.
It is my hope that bartenders and the owners/management will seek to hone their skills behind the bar in order to achieve success in their work and businesses. I’m doing my part, apparently. My daughter went back to that same bar recently and ordered an Aviation from a different bartender. He’d not heard of it, but when she gave him the recipe, he asked her, “Are you by any chance related to Blair Frodelius”? Totally surprised, she said yes, and he said that he regularly reads Good Spirits News. I guess, I’m doing my part, in my own small way to bring about a cocktail revolution. You can too, wherever you are! Challenge your local bartenders to up their game!
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Interview: David Cordoba
New Spirit of note: Bacardi Oakheart
Cocktail of the week: Backyard Bluegrass punch by Dominique Gonzales (Shady Lady)
Barware: Zyliss All-Citrus Juicer
Books For Your Backbar: The PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartender’s Guide from the Celebrated Speakeasy
Photo of the week