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Crafty or Crappy?


EvergreenDan
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Tri2Cook,

Here, Gary Regan wrote an article about it:

2 oz Grey Goose

1/2 ounce Laphroaig 10-year-old single malt scotch

2 to 3 drops Pernod

1 lemon twist, for garnish

In the article, it quotes not only Audrey as saying that the vodka's a blank canvas, but other bartenders saying that it will 'sooth the soul' of the scotch. To me, that cocktail is a Laphroaig-flavored vodka-tini. But what problem does it solve? Getting people to drink Islay scotch that's been 'softened' to the point where they can drink it? That's not a problem. I still don't think this counts, though I'd love to hear Audrey's intent (uh-oh) behind the creation of it.

Thanks,

Zachary

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I didn't think of it so much as softening it so they can drink it as much as softening it so they can learn to enjoy it. I'm not doubting there are plenty of people who took their first taste of a powerful Islay single malt and thought it was a thing of beauty... but I bet there are at least as many or more who were completely overwhelmed and wrote off the region, and maybe even the spirit, completely. If spreading it out a bit allows a person to begin exploring what's in there that otherwise would simply write it off as tasting like bandages then it seems to serve some sort of purpose. I have no way of knowing if serving that purpose had any part in it's creation but it certainly played that part for me. As a scotch neophyte, my first instinct when I opened my bottle of Laphroaig was to say money be damned and pour it down the drain. I'm glad that particular drink was created regardless of whether it's craft or crap. As I basically said before, I think that's pretty much where I stand on the whole subject. If you like something, does it really matter if someone else is looking down their nose at you because it doesn't conform to certain standards?

Just for the record, I'm not being argumentive. I really am a novice when it comes to this stuff. I have my own ideas on how to approach it which are largely based on how I approach cooking other peoples recipes... do it their way once then do what you need to do so it tastes good to you. I don't pretend to know that it's the correct way to do this and I'm more than willing to learn otherwise if there is reason to.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Tri,

Everyone was a novice once, and while I'm fairly new to the world of spirits (my background is wine, so I come at this a different way), part of being new is wanting, sometimes overzealously, to put things into boxes to understand them.

That being said, I have no problem with Audrey's drink. If it gets more people drinking Islay scotch, that's great. My approach to the peaty stuff was Oban, then Highland Park 12, first at higher dilutions, then using about half an ice cube. Now, give me Lagavulin 16 and Supernova, still with a small piece of ice.

I think that a good example of a craft cocktail that eases people into what can be a challenging spirit is the Intro to Aperol. Here we have a drink that's spirit forward, sweet-and-sour balanced, and is a thoughtful use of other ingredients to soften Aperol's slight bitterness.

The problem is that the OP asked for a definition of "Craft" cocktails. If you're wanting to drink a cocktail, drink whatever you like. But if you have to start sorting them into boxes, it helps to have consistency.

Thanks,

Zachary

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The problem is that the OP asked for a definition of "Craft" cocktails. If you're wanting to drink a cocktail, drink whatever you like. But if you have to start sorting them into boxes, it helps to have consistency.

Thanks, that makes sense. I think that's where my confusion comes from. The sorting into boxes. That hadn't occured to me as an approach yet other than the boxes "I like this" and "I don't like this". I suppose the other boxes will begin to present themselves further along in the journey when "Do I like this?" is joined by "Why do I like this?". Discussions like this will save me some trouble when those boxes arrive.

Edited by Tri2Cook (log)

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Tri -

Look... the boxes are only there if you want or need them to be. Everyone can say "I like this cocktail" or "I don't like this cocktail". The trick starts to come in when you start asking "What do the cocktails I like have in common" and once you figure that one out, it comes down to knowing and thinking about ingredients and building cocktails around what you know.

Let me give you an example of my thought process with something I created recently (not saying that it's great, but it has what I like about craft cocktails). Upthread, I mentioned the Bengal Cocktail, which is a brandy based cocktail with a full ounce of pineapple syrup. The drink as written is super-sweet, but it's pre-1940's, and things were different back then.

In order to make the drink, I had to make pineapple syrup, and I was sitting there making the stuff and realized that it's not just pineapple, but it's hugely flowery and musky. I've got a decent rolodex in my head of other funky cocktail ingredients, and thought of the Smith and Cross rum, which is 114 proof, and smells like Bananas Foster and musky/funky stuff. The two together needed clean acidity, so lemon instead of lime, then it smelled great, but wasn't coming across as complex, so in went a bit of Cynar, which is made from artichokes, but smells like honey and tobacco and slight bitterness. So....

Honeymusk

1 oz Smith and Cross rum (Jamaica)

1 oz lemon juice

3/4 oz pineapple syrup

1/2 oz Cynar

Shake, double strain, serve in a coupe.

The high alcohol of the rum means you don't need a lot of it, and I tested a couple of variations using teaspoons for ounces. The name is an homage to the Monymusk sugar plantation, which is one of the oldest in Jamaica. It smells nice, works in a couple of dimensions, and has enough acidity to have a firm backbone.

Thanks,

Zachary

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i don't know how serious people are about this topic, but if anyone wants to learn about judging art i'd recommend reading Leo Steinberg's essay "Other Criteria" or even his entire anthology of criticism which bears the same name.

i'm pretty sure it might lead people out of the "art for art sake" and into art doing something like solving a problem. i guarantee everything steinberg says about painting can be reapplied to the culinary arts. it will change the way you rank and put importance on the work of chefs, bartenders, bars, and restaurants.

another good place to learn about what art does is dave hickey's "the invisible dragon: four essays on beauty" (hickey won a macarthur genius award for art criticism)

i'd like to think the cocktails i make do a variety of things and solve a variety of problems. a lot of subversive things can happen when you teach people to value and acquire acquired tastes.

abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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I think that craft bartenders can make non-craft cocktails, but the drink you describe is a shot and a beer, since you wisely kept the liqueur and stout apart from one another, which is not in the original recipe. Again, intent asks if those flavors work together, and whether or not you want your customers to drink a curdled cocktail. Personally, the answers are no and no, so it fails my definition of craft. It might be delicious, but in my mind, that's not enough. The vest is a red herring, as is whatever facial hair (or ego) they might have.

Actually, I did say the whiskey/cream/Demerara mix was "inserted" into the stout, as in not kept apart at all.

But again, I'm puzzled. You say that this "might be delicious," but that's not enough to make it "craft" because a) the flavors don't work together and it will be curdled. But take the ingredients of this "Buama Gluaisteán" (that's 'car bomb' in Gaelic, since we're being fancy here). Irish whiskey and Demerara sugar work together, right? Irish whiskey and cream do, too, as proven by the Irish Coffee (and if you say that's not a craft drink I throw my hands up in despair). There are any number of classic recipes for Posset that involve sugar, ale and cream. Irish whiskey and stout are certainly considered a good pairing by people who like to drink one of each side by side, and that group includes pretty much everybody I know. That leaves the curdling question, which is avoided by keeping the supplement in a little test tube inside the pint. (I think--I made this drink up for the purpose of example and have not actually mixed one up.) So if you're going to exclude this from craft drinking, it can only be because it's an echo of an Irish Car Bomb, which is vulgar. In other words, you're relying on the same on-the-fly, case-by-case aesthetic judgment as the rest of us do when evaluating drinks, and those boxes--"craft" and "not craft"--are merely personal. There's nothing wrong with that.

i'd like to think the cocktails i make do a variety of things and solve a variety of problems. a lot of subversive things can happen when you teach people to value and acquire acquired tastes.

Totally agree, both about problem solving and in particular about acquired tastes. But you have to start with yourself. Case in point. A number of years ago, when I was quite new to the professional booze-taster gig, I got sent a bottle of this new rum called Sea Wynde. I tasted it and almost spat it out. It was harsh, burnt tasting, sulfurous. If that was rum, everything else I knew as rum wasn't. Clearly defective.

But it did intrigue me. It had Jim Murray's name attached to it, and it claimed to be a Navy rum, two things not to be ignored. So I did a little research and also started keeping an eye out for other things in that class, just to see if I was missing something. I tried Pusser's. A little of that stank in there. I got my hands on some Lemon Hart. More. El Dorado. Also more. Woods's Navy Rum, even more. I went to Jamaica and drank a lot of Wray & Nephew, which had a lot of it in a different way. Then we got Inner Circle, also different but a lot. By now, of course, I had learned to appreciate this stuff and was actively seeking it out. Then Eric Seed asked me what spirits I'd like to see available, and I told him a real, old-school Jamaica rum. I'd never had one, but I was sure it was big in that stank, which by this point I had learned to call "hogo." Next time I saw him, he had samples, and by this point I was able to tell what I was looking for in such a rum. With that input and input from some other people who had come to appreciate this style (Audrey Saunders, for one), Eric put together Smith & Cross.

Things like that don't happen if you compartmentalize your input.

In other words--Dan, I think you're screwed. Whether you know it or not, I think you're going to end up evaluating your submissions subjectively, and if that's the case I think it's best to keep your criteria as loose as possible. That way, you might get something truly interesting.

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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Dan--just wanted to add that I reread some of your comments above and that your approach doesn't seem so rigid as I thought. Discretion is everything, and you realize that.

As long as I'm correcting myself, I also want to add that in no way am I against homemade ingredients, hand-carved ice, Chartreuse, Pimiento Dram or vests. Some of the best drinks I've ever had have been in bars that deploy copious amounts of all of those, and some of the best times, too. I just don't think their use exempts one from normal judgments of quality.

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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David,

The way I read your original post was that the liqueur was kept in a test tube, and not mixed into the stout. If you're mixing the liqueur and the beer, it's going to curdle (again, without having made it, but the Irish Car Bomb recipe says to drink it quickly or it will curdle). I think that curdled cocktails are definitely not craft, and while the mythical bartender's intent in making a craft Irish Car Bomb might be to solve the curdling problem, it still says "shot and a beer" to me, not "cocktail".

I certainly agree with you that it's difficult to put things into boxes. On one end, we could all go on Youtube and find people making cocktails poorly, with little thought other than an alcohol delivery system and neon liqueurs. On the other hand, there's some guy somewhere who has magnificent facial hair, wears a vest, and all of his cocktails are works of art. Some cocktails are easy to put into the craft or not-craft box. Others are difficult, and some may not be able to be categorized. It's been enlightening having this discussion with you.

Happy Easter,

Zachary

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I think the difficulty I'm having as a novice is understanding how the lines are dictated. Just for fun, I'll temporarily ignore words such as classic and traditional and stick with craft or not craft regardless of who created it or when. To say that a craft cocktail is defined by this degree of sweetness, that particular balance and the other ratio of spirit to other ingredients and if you make something that doesn't conform to that, no matter the care and ingredients involved, you have made crap, seems like a pretty narrow box to me. Granted, it could be a deep box, but narrow nonetheless. Maybe I'm completely missing the point of what's being discussed here? I'm ok with saying "If a drink is this, it is a craft drink" but I'm not sure I'm ok with the then-assumption that "if a drink is not this, it is crap". The only way I would be comfy with that is if we each build our own box but that completely kills the idea of defining a standard... which I assume is the point of all of this.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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It's not every day that David Wondrich says I'm not screwed after all. Happy Easter to me!

So Irish Coffee is crafty, huh? Irish Coffee combines two things I love into one thing I don't. It's unsweetened and whiskey and coffee are both acquired tastes. It's stood the test of time (although I have no idea of its origin). It certainly can be made with very high quality ingredients. David thinks it's crafty. OK.

As for Coffee and random-liqueur-from-dessert-menu-laundry-list? I hope not.

Kindred Cocktails | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

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Do you mean to say you've never had a real Irish Coffee? The kind where you dissolve a half teaspoon or so of raw sugar in 3 or 4 oz hot black coffee, add a shot of Powers and top it off with half an inch of unsweetened heavy cream that you have lightly whipped by hand? I envy you.

And, Zachary, for my phoney-baloney for-the-sake-of-philosophical-example crafty carbomb, I did go so far as to suggest that the replacement Irish cream be encased in a test tube before being dropped into the stout so that theoretically it won't curdle and it will release itself depth-bomb style as you approach the bottom of the glass, giving you a layered drinking experience just like the molecular guys do. I did not, however, go so far as to test it, which I now must do.

As for whether it's a cocktail, where do you draw the line? If we're talking strictly about cocktails, then anything with citrus is out. If we're willing to expand to include sours, then do we draw the line at the Singapore Sling? The Moscow Mule?

In general, the world of mixed drinks has grown up and thrived in the absence of disciplining authority; its speech is pidgin, not classical. If you want to convince people to give up that freedom, you have to offer them something equally worthwhile.

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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David,

I think I was unclear as to the execution of your updated Irish Car Bomb. I'd love to see how that actually works. But I'm not trying to say what a cocktail is or isn't. Personally, I have an idea (which includes sours), I don't think that any alcohol is a cocktail. Vodka in a glass isn't a cocktail, nor is a pint of beer.

Luckily, I don't have to solve the unsolvable. Dan wants a definition of craft cocktail so he can curate his website (which, in the interest of full disclosure, I help out with). He's said that he doesn't want to end up as a place where people have to wade through a lot of drinks called Sex With an {insert animal name here] to get to a Singapore Sling. His carrot, so to speak, is a database that focuses on what he thinks are craft cocktails. His stick is that he's not going to allow drinks like Sex With an Alligator. I suppose that users of the site will ultimately decide if it's a good strategy or not.

Thanks,

Zachary

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No accounting for my taste. I'd much rather have your Irish coffee in a whiskey glass, a coffee cup, and a dessert plate under some mincemeat pie. Or maybe use bourbon and some pecan pie. ;-)

For the purposes of Kindred "Cocktails", I use the contemporary/casual historically-inaccurate definition meaning any mixed drink, rather than an old-fashion or cock-tail definition. I know, god kills a kitten every time I use it in that sense. ;-)

Kindred Cocktails | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

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i'd like to think the cocktails i make do a variety of things and solve a variety of problems. a lot of subversive things can happen when you teach people to value and acquire acquired tastes.

Totally agree, both about problem solving and in particular about acquired tastes. But you have to start with yourself. Case in point. A number of years ago, when I was quite new to the professional booze-taster gig, I got sent a bottle of this new rum called Sea Wynde. I tasted it and almost spat it out. It was harsh, burnt tasting, sulfurous. If that was rum, everything else I knew as rum wasn't. Clearly defective.

But it did intrigue me. It had Jim Murray's name attached to it, and it claimed to be a Navy rum, two things not to be ignored. So I did a little research and also started keeping an eye out for other things in that class, just to see if I was missing something. I tried Pusser's. A little of that stank in there. I got my hands on some Lemon Hart. More. El Dorado. Also more. Woods's Navy Rum, even more. I went to Jamaica and drank a lot of Wray & Nephew, which had a lot of it in a different way. Then we got Inner Circle, also different but a lot. By now, of course, I had learned to appreciate this stuff and was actively seeking it out. Then Eric Seed asked me what spirits I'd like to see available, and I told him a real, old-school Jamaica rum. I'd never had one, but I was sure it was big in that stank, which by this point I had learned to call "hogo." Next time I saw him, he had samples, and by this point I was able to tell what I was looking for in such a rum. With that input and input from some other people who had come to appreciate this style (Audrey Saunders, for one), Eric put together Smith & Cross.

Things like that don't happen if you compartmentalize your input.

do you think you've taken any of the possible lessons of these acquired tastes to the other realms of your life?

perhaps less afraid of change? maybe more able to find beauty in the world? do you understand any other art mediums better that also lie in the realm of acquired tastes?

what do people take out of all this drinking?

abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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do you think you've taken any of the possible lessons of these acquired tastes to the other realms of your life?

perhaps less afraid of change? maybe more able to find beauty in the world? do you understand any other art mediums better that also lie in the realm of acquired tastes?

what do people take out of all this drinking?

Actually, I think it was the other way around. I used to be a musician and always liked stuff that broke boundaries--e.g., Funkadelic, where funk met acid rock. Then I studied literature and specialized in things that were difficult to categorize and took some getting to know. It just took me a while to apply the strategies and aesthetics I had learned in those fields to this one. 'Cause you know, 'I drink that and not this' is pretty ingrained.

(And no, I still don't regularly drink Irish Car Bombs, Chocotinis or any of 'those' drinks; but I don't have a rule against it.)

All art is universal; all crafts are specific. I don't know if that's true, but it's worth thinking about.

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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All art is universal; all crafts are specific. I don't know if that's true, but it's worth thinking about.

That strikes me more as an algorithim working backwards to leverage the relative power of the word 'art' over that of 'craft:' "What you are doing is not universal, so it can't be art." Ultimately the judgements of 'specific' and 'universal' become subordinate to the pre-conceptions of what is art and what is craft.

A.

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do you think you've taken any of the possible lessons of these acquired tastes to the other realms of your life?

perhaps less afraid of change? maybe more able to find beauty in the world? do you understand any other art mediums better that also lie in the realm of acquired tastes?

what do people take out of all this drinking?

Actually, I think it was the other way around. I used to be a musician and always liked stuff that broke boundaries--e.g., Funkadelic, where funk met acid rock. Then I studied literature and specialized in things that were difficult to categorize and took some getting to know. It just took me a while to apply the strategies and aesthetics I had learned in those fields to this one. 'Cause you know, 'I drink that and not this' is pretty ingrained.

(And no, I still don't regularly drink Irish Car Bombs, Chocotinis or any of 'those' drinks; but I don't have a rule against it.)

All art is universal; all crafts are specific. I don't know if that's true, but it's worth thinking about.

universal across all art mediums is that something is made special, extraordinary, or supernatural. we have an appetite for the extraordinary. in a culinary context i'd say probably even more so than our appetite for alcohol, sugar, acid, and dissolved aroma.

what is proprietary to a craft is the abstraction techniques that create the extraordinary. i'm not just talking about aesthetic-sensory aspects either, symbolic aspects can also be extraordinary like exemplary service. if you get deeper into abstracting symbolism and have a good sense of what is going on you can get away from that Emily Post sort of cookie-cutter service and tap the power of ironic, gruff, desirable-surliness (maybe we could just call it S&M style service). for those who appreciate it, S&M style service is very conducive to acquiring acquired tastes...

funkadelic is some good stuff, but which boundaries do they push more? the raw auditory harmonic boundaries or the symbolism and meaning of the whole thing. i'd say they enfranchise you with an extraordinary, but easy to accept auditory harmony which gives you a motivational drive to accept their silly yet profound message.

David, next time you are in boston on a tuesday, skip the cocktail bars and come out to wally's jazz club for tuesday night funk. it is one of the greatest art experiences the whole city has to offer and it boggles my mind that so few culinary arts industry people ever go.

abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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An interesting topic, this article was recently brought to my attention. It contends that it is not really possible for "crafts" like cuisine and couture to be "serious" art.

Food for thought ... Why cuisine or couture can never equal great art

Art is of the mind; it is ethereal. Everything it gives us it gives to our brains. Fashion and food fail to be serious art because they are trapped in the physical world. Compare a still-life painting of food – one of those rich, laden Dutch images of lobsters and lemons – with a real plate of food. The painting is very obviously not food – it does not give what food gives. But it does nourish something deeper instead. It reaches the parts of us that chefs and couturiers cannot reach.

I kinda agree, kinda don't, but ultimately think it doesn't matter much either way. Or maybe I just don't care much for "serious" art.

(OK, that was a lie, I really love serious art, but I don't like some aspects of the culture surrounding art which sometimes take it too seriously.)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Ultimately, I agree with Andy above, while writing a recipe may be a craft unto itself, it is not the written recipe itself which is intrinsically "crafty", but the interpretation and preparation of the recipe.

More often than not, it is the execution of said recipe and presentation of the result which raises what is often a mere list of ingredients from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Interesting that the question of architecture is simply ignored.

Not to mention other transitory, sensory, or experiential forms of Art.

His argument seems to boil down to rather pedestrian and classical definitions of Art.

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---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Yeah, not the most useful or sophisticated definition of art there. In my understanding, art is whatever human creation that transports you out of yourself and into another person's way of seeing, whether it's Michelangelo showing you how he sees Mary cradling her dead son or the Ramones helping you imagine what it's like to be a juvenile delinquent out of a 1950s pulp comic. There are some chefs and drinks-mixers who can do that, others who are equally fine, or better, craftsmen and craftswomen but who are uninterested in doing that kind of heavy lifting. Given that, for me the culinary "arts" straddle the border of "high" art, if you want to call it that, int he same way that architecture and, say, dance music does. That doesn't mean it can't be art, just that it doesn't always have to be.

But this is pretty much what bostonapothecary has been saying all along, in this thread and others. A lot of people are looking for this kind of transcendence through a deep immersion in craft and technique, but that's not the only way to get there, or even the most interesting.

And yes, Stephen, sign me up for Wally's. I bet there are a few Funkateers who would join us.

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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An interesting topic, this article was recently brought to my attention. It contends that it is not really possible for "crafts" like cuisine and couture to be "serious" art.

Food for thought ... Why cuisine or couture can never equal great art

Art is of the mind; it is ethereal. Everything it gives us it gives to our brains. Fashion and food fail to be serious art because they are trapped in the physical world. Compare a still-life painting of food – one of those rich, laden Dutch images of lobsters and lemons – with a real plate of food. The painting is very obviously not food – it does not give what food gives. But it does nourish something deeper instead. It reaches the parts of us that chefs and couturiers cannot reach.

I kinda agree, kinda don't, but ultimately think it doesn't matter much either way. Or maybe I just don't care much for "serious" art.

(OK, that was a lie, I really love serious art, but I don't like some aspects of the culture surrounding art which sometimes take it too seriously.)

i haven't read the article, but the quote is sort of silly. food is not trapped in the physical world. a drink or a dish exists within the mind's eye just as much as anything else.

i do not think the author of the quote understands that there are multiple motives for consumption. coffee is not consumed just for the caffeine, or a sandwich for its nutritional content.

"serious" art differs from other forms that some might call "decorative" in that they are more likely to be a "text about a text" and therefore require education to interpret and "appreciate". for example, the impressionist movement was a reaction to some other movement. for some reason people think art cannot generate a lot of change unless it is this 20th generation parody of something else.

maybe the decorative arts should be called something like "aesthetically detached" (from symolism) arts. they haven't accumulated much symbolism and instead are reliant on raw-sensory-aesthetic appeal. the fact that chartreuse is made by monks pales in comparison to the aesthetic olfactory tension it generates with maraschino liqueur in the Last Word and yet i'm still drawn to it... i also don't have to understand that a shirt is a fifth generation removed parody of something a 19th dutch cheese monger would wear to enjoy it. constantly encountering awesome "aesthetically detached" art can probably have more cumulative impact on our lives than a piece of "serious" symbolically driven art so it probably shouldn't be scoffed at.

i would argue that culinary art is an easy candidate for the most "significant" form of art (whatever that means).

culinary is easily aesthetically detached (or not if you are a "modernist" text about a text chef) which is awesome.

culinary is also far more multi-sensory than other arts which gives it amazing potential. if according to painter Hans Hoffman "a plane is a fragment of the architecture of space", being so multi sensory, culinary art can have more planes than a painting and therefore a richer sense of space. (believe it or not, jug wine makers know more about these planes and manipulating them than anyone else in culinary)

culinary art also has an easier time putting beauty to work than other forms of art. if beauty is a composite of extraordinary sensoriality and positive symbolic value, more so than in any other art, can you manipulate and enfranchise people with either side giving them a motivation drive to accept the other and therefore enact change. its a mouthful of concepts but i'm sure its true and its astounding to watch in action. so beauty in culinary is a busy two lane street of harmony in flux while in other arts it is one way with a few people going against the grain.

one of my long term goals is to serve cocktails at the MOMA. i think a lot of the aesthetic explorations that we see in cocktails closely paralleled other major art movement in painting and the tale should be told right along side the paintings.

for example, Mondrian tried to explore the sense of motion created by intervals of colors in his painting "boogie-woogie" just like the sense of motion created by distinct intervals of aroma in the Aviation when you consider it within the mind's eye.

the one thing that the "modernist cuisine" movement really lacks to me is any aesthetic exploration (and articulate explanation) of what renders food compelling and attractive within the mind's eye. culinary can't be taken seriously until we explain these things which also cannot be done until we take it seriously.

abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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i'd like to think the cocktails i make do a variety of things and solve a variety of problems. a lot of subversive things can happen when you teach people to value and acquire acquired tastes.

Totally agree, both about problem solving and in particular about acquired tastes. But you have to start with yourself. Case in point. A number of years ago, when I was quite new to the professional booze-taster gig, I got sent a bottle of this new rum called Sea Wynde. I tasted it and almost spat it out. It was harsh, burnt tasting, sulfurous. If that was rum, everything else I knew as rum wasn't. Clearly defective.

... Then we got Inner Circle, also different but a lot. By now, of course, I had learned to appreciate this stuff and was actively seeking it out. Then Eric Seed asked me what spirits I'd like to see available, and I told him a real, old-school Jamaica rum. I'd never had one, but I was sure it was big in that stank, which by this point I had learned to call "hogo." Next time I saw him, he had samples, and by this point I was able to tell what I was looking for in such a rum. With that input and input from some other people who had come to appreciate this style (Audrey Saunders, for one), Eric put together Smith & Cross.

Things like that don't happen if you compartmentalize your input.

My first thought on reading this was, "Gee, I hope I don't have to acquire a taste for Bundaberg yellow label. So how do you decide which tastes you want to acquire? I suppose one way for me would be to listen to the opinions of the writers, bartenders, and historians.

As I think about it, perhaps it is better to think about evolving tastes rather than acquired tastes. There has to be a way to get from point A to point B. Maybe you decide the endpoint would be better hit by an asteroid and left to the fossil record. Or you get side-tracked on the way and end up somewhere exciting and unexpected.

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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