Guest post by Josh Augustin, Söntés Bartender
Who doesn’t enjoy a nice drink? We drink to celebrate, to relax, to enjoy, to socialize, and to escape. Sometimes the simplicity of a cocktail and the reasons we enjoy it gets lost in the mix (pardon the pun), and the whole thing becomes too complicated and too pretentious. Sometimes the more simple the cocktail, the better.
Cocktails should be tailored and designed for the individual drinking them. Of course, this leads to the most important ingredient of the cocktail: the bartender. There is great demand now for bartenders, or ”mixologists” if you will. The latest creation whipped up by the mind of a skilled and talented bartender can garner the creator fame, publicity, money, and glory. However, none of this matters if that bartender can’t make you, the guest at the bar, a drink you find worthy of drinking.
I have had many failures at creating that perfect drink for a guest, and I have had many successes. Many of the cocktail lists I have helped develop are just a starting ground for guests. If there is something on the menu that interests them, perfect—the hard part is done. If not, a little more work is needed to help tailor a cocktail to that specific guest and his or her needs and wants. Sweet, sour, salty, fruity; which of these things does the guest want?
Of course it would be difficult to create things on the fly all the time, so every good bartender should have resources available to help tailor that drink. Old recipes, the Internet, other bartenders, and experience all are good sources for creating that perfect cocktail. A skilled mixologist can create drinks all day long, but it takes a great bartender to create those drinks and tailor them to individual needs.
Cocktails can be complex or simple. There are some mixologists who would shun the guest who orders a vodka and soda. Others would see this as an opportunity to perhaps guide and steer the guest in a new direction. It doesn’t matter how great a mixologist you think you are, you will never be a great bartender unless you make your customers happy. Cocktails can do this.
Creating that perfect drink for a guest can be rewarding in so many ways. Not only does it make the guest happy, but the satisfaction of doing a great job and satisfying someone with a well crafted drink is why many of us are behind the stick, doing what we love. Not to say that pushing the envelope and creating new flavor experiences in the glass isn’t fun, but it shouldn’t be the most important thing to a bartender.
I recently had the pleasure of attending a bartending convention in New Orleans called Tales of the Cocktail. It was a celebration of all things involved in making cocktails. From informational seminars, to tastings, to parties, the mixed drink in all of its great forms was celebrated. Enthusiasts and professionals mingled for four days of celebrating the thing that they all loved most: the cocktail.
I had the chance to attend some seminars while in New Orleans. From the wonderfully complex to the simplistic, cocktails ruled the day. I attended seminars on service and what service means to both the guest and the staff at a restaurant or bar. I attended a seminar that had a panel discussion about the love/hate relationship with cocktails that many of us have, industry professionals included.
From all of these things—the seminars, the tastings, and the parties—I learned that the cocktail is what you make of it. If you are in the mood for something simple, by all means, indulge. If you are looking for something more complex, seek out something new and different. But the most important thing to remember is that the guest rules the day, and as a bartender, I am here to provide that perfect cocktail experience, whatever it may be.
Be sure to join us on August 10th as we celebrate the new drink menu that Josh helped to craft! Come in, stay awhile, and try out our fresh, handcrafted cocktails—some new recipes, some classic, and all fantastic.