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Bartenders Too Snobby? Says Who...


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Why would you even go to a bar described in the article as "Apothéke, a faux-secret bar in Chinatown with a 19th-century-pharmacy theme" and order a tanquery and soda water?

Because it's much easier to be offended for the confrontational article you've decided to write if you set the stage so that you're sure you'll be offended.

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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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to constructively tackle problems that arise from having only one vodka i want to start a formalized adopt a distillery program.

instead of having only one choice which can come across as aimless, decadent, hipsterism bars could tell their patrons they are part of a program to support the local distilling industry.

the media would probably want to write about it as a trend and could elaborate on all the positive reasons why it is a good idea. that way patrons encountering the phenomenon would have background, see it as a positive, and not be shocked or annoyed.

i win as a bar manager because it is so much easier to manage.

local distilleries win.

patrons will slowly realize they also win.

Edited by bostonapothecary (log)
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abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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to constructively tackle problems that arise from having only one vodka i want to start a formalized adopt a distillery program.

instead of having only one choice which can come across as aimless, decadent, hipsterism bars could tell their patrons they are part of a program to support the local distilling industry.

the media would probably want to write about it as a trend and could elaborate on all the positive reasons why it is a good idea. that way patrons encountering the phenomenon would have background, see it as a positive, and not be shocked or annoyed.

i win as a bar manager because it is so much easier to manage.

local distilleries win.

patrons will slowly realize they also win.

This is great. Well done.

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Just a new perspective here, but I long for a snobby bartender. I would love just one bar in my area that did not stock vodka or would not serve ridiculous drink ending in tini. Though there are a few places that are finally embracing good cocktails, even the good bars still have vodka drink taking up half the menu. My town need a good kick in the pants from some snobbs if you ask me.

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Just a new perspective here, but I long for a snobby bartender. I would love just one bar in my area that did not stock vodka or would not serve ridiculous drink ending in tini. Though there are a few places that are finally embracing good cocktails, even the good bars still have vodka drink taking up half the menu. My town need a good kick in the pants from some snobbs if you ask me.

This is a good point...no one was complaining about the snobs behind the bar when these serious cocktail places started opening. We who are fond of well made food and drink were cheering loudly.

It's only when the masses started showing up at the serious cocktail places that we heard from the masses that these places are snobby.

As I said above, plenty of places to drink if you need a vodka/soda.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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I'm not saying I disagree with you. Far from it. But there is a way you can promote your own drinks ethos without a bad attitude.

Boston apothecary gives much better examples than my post-shift ramblings.

This, I think, is exactly it. Have your ethos but figure out a way to have it without being a jerk. A consistent issue a cocktail-focused bar will have to learn to handle, however, is patrons who are there to get loaded, and believe bars are valued for the "scene," and will take it amiss if they don't get exactly what they want. This goes directly to the below dialogue between Brown Hornet and Tri2Cook...

Why would you even go to a bar described in the article as "Apothéke, a faux-secret bar in Chinatown with a 19th-century-pharmacy theme" and order a tanquery and soda water?

Because it's much easier to be offended for the confrontational article you've decided to write if you set the stage so that you're sure you'll be offended.

Indeed, one wonders why someone would go to a supposedly "serious cocktail spot" and order a vodka soda or a "serious beer bar" and order a Michelob Ultra. But it does happen, and in my opinion it happens because some people like the idea of a hip "serious cocktail bar" and cocktail culture, and want to participate in the superficial trappings of that "scene." This is the same reason why "-tini" drinks became so popular, and why the fruity, sweet, vodka-based drinks that previously would have been served over ice in a rocks glass started to be served in V-shaped "Martini glasses." Understanding this, it behooves a would-be "serious cocktail bar" to develop some practices for dealing with these sorts of customers, and different strategies work for different bars. Ultimately, however, some people are just going to get offended and decide they are being talked down to if they're told that the bar doesn't serve what they want.

--

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I’ll throw this in just out of curiosity…how about non-alcoholic offerings in a craft cocktail bar? When drinks are painstakingly created around a particular spirit, I’d like to hear any opinions or experiences about removing alcohol altogether and what the realistic expectations should be. Is asking for no booze any better than asking for “bad” booze?

I was still drinking when the speakeasy/craft cocktail trend started, and I would enjoy one or two just to be sociable when in NYC or Chicago, but it was always just to prime the pump for bourbon consumption on a scale little seen in the modern age. Now that my drinks are soft and purely about enjoying the flavors, I do appreciate a well constructed non-alcoholic beverage, and generally find that the bartenders who make the best “fancy mixed drinks with custom ice” fall into one of two camps as far as non-alcoholic offerings…..they love the challenge and will leverage elements of their shrubs and mixtures to come up with something truly unique and delicious, OR they have one or two canned recipes, usually citrus based.

Now, I’m not too emotionally invested one way or the other….I don’t take offense if a serious bartender isn’t dying to entertain me with their skills, but at the same time I’m someone who will happily pay what a liquor drink would cost me if they put out something like, for example, an onion based shrub someone made for me in the last year or so to pair with my steak. Just curious if this subject is even on the radar in popular establishments. And if you have examples of specific drinks with which I can challenge my favorite local bar folk, then bonus.

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Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

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My town need a good kick in the pants from some snobs...

Which town?

Fargo-Moorhead. A smallish area between North Dakota and Minnesota. We have one bar with a smattering of craft cocktails, but it is really more oriented as a restaurant. Other than that, my nearest option for true craft cocktails is Minneapolis, which is 3.5 hours away.

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The opposite problem seems to me more annoying, as a customer: servers and bartenders reacting poorly when the drinks described by their over-aspiring bar menu don't meet those descriptions' promise(s). For example:

I'm at a restaurant in Denver with friends a few nights ago. At first blush, it doesn't strike me as a cocktail sort of place, but it's got a list of house specialties, and none of them end in "-tini." In fact, though none of the specialties really speaks to me, there's some creativity with ingredients. I settle on the margarita, which the menu lists one as "Patron Silver, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, agave nectar." I order one, asking the server to ask the bartender to please go easy on the agave nectar, or even leave it out altogether if that's easier.

Five minutes later, the server comes back with a big grin and the margarita, in a Collins glass, on the rocks. My first instinct is, "My fault; should've asked for it up." Then, as he puts it down, he informs me, "Sorry, but the sour is premixed, so the bartender couldn't do anything about the agave nectar." I smile, trying my best to look überfriendly as I ask, "I thought the drink was made with fresh lime juice and agave nectar?"

He replies, "Oh, I don't think the lime juice is fresh. Why did you think it would be?"

I point to the description on the menu.

He ponders that. "Maybe the mix is made with fresh lime juice?"

"Do you think it is?"

"No," he says.

"Ah. Then why does the menu say it is?"

"Well," he responds, "our menu says a lot of things that aren't quite the case in reality. I know how all the food is made, and I can tell you if you're allergic to onions, you shouldn't order the mac-and-chicken dish, because the sauce is full of them. But the menu doesn't mention that."

I nod, take a sip of the drink, and wince: there's nothing but the taste of very sweet sour mix. I try a little light sarcasm: "Right, and if you're susceptible to hyperglycemia, you might want to stay away from the margarita, eh?"

He says, "Margaritas are always sweet like that."

I smile and offer to mix him a decent margarita one day. He raises one eyebrow and repeats, "Decent margarita?"

"Yes," I say.

He leaves the table. When he comes back to take our food orders, the margarita is still sitting there, untouched since my first sip. After two friends order glasses of wine with their food, I order a draft beer along with some baby-back ribs. "The sauce on those ribs is pretty sweet," he smirks. "You might want to stay away from them."

"Thanks for the warning," I say. "I'm sure they'll be fine." (Aside: they are.)

He leaves the table again, and comes back with the beer and wine. I thank him and take a sip of the beer. It's good. He looks at the margarita, still untouched, and then around the table, asking, "Is anyone going to drink that margarita?" Negatives around the table. He stands there for a bit, and then asks me how the beer tastes. "It's good," I reply.

"Isn't it?" he asks.

"Yes," I say.

"OK." He stands there a bit longer. "Well... how 'bout I take that margarita off the table and your check?"

"That'd be very nice," I say.

We get along great after that, and I leave him a nice tip.

Edited by Snark (log)
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I’ll throw this in just out of curiosity…how about non-alcoholic offerings in a craft cocktail bar? When drinks are painstakingly created around a particular spirit, I’d like to hear any opinions or experiences about removing alcohol altogether and what the realistic expectations should be. Is asking for no booze any better than asking for “bad” booze?

I was still drinking when the speakeasy/craft cocktail trend started, and I would enjoy one or two just to be sociable when in NYC or Chicago, but it was always just to prime the pump for bourbon consumption on a scale little seen in the modern age. Now that my drinks are soft and purely about enjoying the flavors, I do appreciate a well constructed non-alcoholic beverage, and generally find that the bartenders who make the best “fancy mixed drinks with custom ice” fall into one of two camps as far as non-alcoholic offerings…..they love the challenge and will leverage elements of their shrubs and mixtures to come up with something truly unique and delicious, OR they have one or two canned recipes, usually citrus based.

Now, I’m not too emotionally invested one way or the other….I don’t take offense if a serious bartender isn’t dying to entertain me with their skills, but at the same time I’m someone who will happily pay what a liquor drink would cost me if they put out something like, for example, an onion based shrub someone made for me in the last year or so to pair with my steak. Just curious if this subject is even on the radar in popular establishments. And if you have examples of specific drinks with which I can challenge my favorite local bar folk, then bonus.

I know that in Chicago, Sable, The Violet Hour and Aviary will all get creative with non-alcoholic drinks if asked. I don't know that Toby's still around and providing recipes, but...

(Also, Next has worked up some very creative non-alcoholic pairings for its menus; the drinks for "The Hunt" menu, for example, got great reviews from a number of folks, including my wife and me. I don't have any of the recipes at hand, and they were often as complicated as Aviary's cocktails -- but some Googling might yield results?)

Edited by Snark (log)
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Well

The opposite problem seems to me more annoying, as a customer: servers and bartenders reacting poorly when the drinks described by their over-aspiring bar menu don't meet those descriptions' promise(s). For example:

I'm at a restaurant in Denver with friends a few nights ago. At first blush, it doesn't strike me as a cocktail sort of place, but it's got a list of house specialties, and none of them end in "-tini." In fact, though none of the specialties really speaks to me, there's some creativity with ingredients. I settle on the margarita, which the menu lists one as "Patron Silver, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, agave nectar." I order one, asking the server to ask the bartender to please go easy on the agave nectar, or even leave it out altogether if that's easier.

Five minutes later, the server comes back with a big grin and the margarita, in a Collins glass, on the rocks. My first instinct is, "My fault; should've asked for it up." Then, as he puts it down, he informs me, "Sorry, but the sour is premixed, so the bartender couldn't do anything about the agave nectar." I smile, trying my best to look überfriendly as I ask, "I thought the drink was made with fresh lime juice and agave nectar?"

He replies, "Oh, I don't think the lime juice is fresh. Why did you think it would be?"

I point to the description on the menu.

He ponders that. "Maybe the mix is made with fresh lime juice?"

"Do you think it is?"

"No," he says.

"Ah. Then why does the menu say it is?"

"Well," he responds, "our menu says a lot of things that aren't quite the case in reality. I know how all the food is made, and I can tell you if you're allergic to onions, you shouldn't order the mac-and-chicken dish, because the sauce is full of them. But the menu doesn't mention that."

I nod, take a sip of the drink, and wince: there's nothing but the taste of very sweet sour mix. I try a little light sarcasm: "Right, and if you're susceptible to hyperglycemia, you might want to stay away from the margarita, eh?"

He says, "Margaritas are always sweet like that."

I smile and offer to mix him a decent margarita one day. He raises one eyebrow and repeats, "Decent margarita?"

"Yes," I say.

He leaves the table. When he comes back to take our food orders, the margarita is still sitting there, untouched since my first sip. After two friends order glasses of wine with their food, I order a draft beer along with some baby-back ribs. "The sauce on those ribs is pretty sweet," he smirks. "You might want to stay away from them."

"Thanks for the warning," I say. "I'm sure they'll be fine." (Aside: they are.)

He leaves the table again, and comes back with the beer and wine. I thank him and take a sip of the beer. It's good. He looks at the margarita, still untouched, and then around the table, asking, "Is anyone going to drink that margarita?" Negatives around the table. He stands there for a bit, and then asks me how the beer tastes. "It's good," I reply.

"Isn't it?" he asks.

"Yes," I say.

"OK." He stands there a bit longer. "Well... how 'bout I take that margarita off the table and your check?"

"That'd be very nice," I say.

We get along great after that, and I leave

him a nice tip.


Donde Denver? Going Next Week.
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