I think the author is speaking to the large numbers of bartenders who are trying to start off "creative" and ending up with the expected result. This, of course, applies to many other creative endeavors in life beyond creating new libations.
This is it right here. One of the problems with some of the so-called craft cocktail bars is that they think the concept means that they are supposed to invent all their own cocktails and that they must be odd and unusual (in order to give the appearance of being innovative), meanwhile they've completely skipped over the part about serving classics and/or well-made cocktails.
There is a corollary that we would be better off if the drinking public spent more time learning about, drinking, and appreciating the classic cocktails.
If nothing else it would give bar tenders practice making them and consumers who would know when the new drinks just don't stack up.
Actually, I think what got lost is that "craft cocktails" should first mean well-made
cocktails, before it means classic cocktails or new "innovative" cocktails. The drinking public doesn't necessarily need to learn about classic cocktails if they go to a place where the drinks are well-made. Once someone tastes a perfectly made classic, they suddenly realize what a good drink really is. If they are served something bizarre and don't like it, they might be soured on the whole concept of craft cocktails and go back to the sea of flavored vodka swill that they are more comfortable with.
I agree with a lot what both Derek and Zach had to say--I don't think their ideas are diametrically opposed. I bet it's safe to say that they both want the same thing from a bar or bartender, but have taken different approaches to delineate the reasons that so many of them are failing to grasp the craft cocktail concept. I think most of us just want to be able to walk into a bar and simply ask for a Manhattan or a Sidecar or an Old Fashioned and have it well-made. I would love to be able to order a Martini and not have to specify that I want gin. No, I don't want "your twist" on a classic. Well, maybe I do, but call it something else, don't use the name of a classic to sell me your pet project. When I look at a cocktail menu for the first time, the first thing I do is look at all the base liquors. If there are plenty with whiskey or gin and at least a few with brandy or rum, I know that there is at least some potential here; someone's thought about
this. Then I scrutinize the supporting ingredients and go from there.
Edited by brinza, 13 February 2013 - 11:40 AM.