Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tip to you, mixologists: the backlash has arrived

Saw two things today that lead me to believe that the inevitable brute-stupid journalistic backlash against the cocktail revival has begun. First, this sidebar of duh-obvious "you cocktail drinkers think you're so smart" horseshit in PhillyMag's best bars cover story. this Lillet-and-Aperol-soaked age, it seems we’ve forgotten the delight of drinking simple cocktails. Of drinking the way our grandparents drank. Grandpa wouldn’t just have looked down on the lavender-hued Aviation, with its whiff of Granny’s soap. He would have done so only after smashing it on the ground in a profanity-laden tirade. Too fussy. Too frilly. Now bring me a CC and soda, kid, and don’t skimp on the pour.

Nice. Grandpa the barbarian.Whatsamatter, buddy, bartender cut you off after one too many Ketel and tonics?

Second, I saw the Michael Imperioli 1800 tequila ad in Wine Spectator. You know the ads: douchey-looking guy in an expensive plain black suit, white shirt, skinny black tie, with a glass of 1800, and the caption "DO I LOOK LIKE I WANT TO SEE THE COCKTAIL MENU?" No, you look like I'm going to be calling you a cab in about five more shots, actually.

Sigh. Why do we have to kill everything when we're done with it? Why do we have to race off to the next thing, or cling to the old thing? Cocktails are good. Sure, we got carried away, but there's some good in the carried-away part, too. If you can't appreciate a properly made Manhattan, or a French 75, or a Sazerac, and would rather have a shot of tequila, or a CC and soda...what da hell, buster? Go drink that, but don't convince yourself that you're "right" by crap-bombing something good.

No, we get all caught up in the nastiness of it all, and we can't just enjoy something else. So we tell each other that's so over, and done, and how could anyone be dumb enough to like that. You know what? That's what people told me about non-mainstream beer back in the 1990s. That's what they told me about Scotch in the 1980s. That's what they told me about steak, for Christ's sake, in the 1990s! Idiots. You don't want what I'm drinking, fine. Drink something else. But it's like gay marriage: how's it hurting you?

Lose the attitude. Grow beyond having to piss on someone else's parade to make yours convincing. Walk away from people like that. And let's all have a drink...whatever you want.


Stephen Beaumont said...

Well put, Mr. Bryson, very well put!

sam k said...


I see cocktail recipes containing ginger infused simple syrup and pear puree and think, "Hell, I could never make that at home," but it wouldn't stop me from trying one if it was the barkeep's specialty somewhere, either.

Lew Bryson said...

I can't even seem to make a good Manhattan, Sam, so I'm with you 100% on this. Bartenders/mixologists are my best friends: they do something I love...that I just can't seem to do.

The Professor said...

Very eloquently stated, and right on the money.
I love a well made cocktail just as much as I like a glass of whiskey 'neat'.
The time, place, and mood dictate the choice.

Todd said...

Two things - as a beer lover who also digs the cocktail revival - awesome post!

And, sam k - it's surprisingly easy to make an infused simple syrup. I'll admit, I had help - my girlfriend's a pastry chef - but once she showed me how, it's amazingly easy. I'd bet a pear puree isn't that insane, either.

Pete said...


Sarcasm has become so common it is difficult for some to recognize and is often mistaken for fact. There is clearly nothing wrong with pushing the boundaries and experimenting with new versions of cocktails everyone wins; new drinks are created and old standbys revived. But when change become pretentious and the focus perhaps it is time for a return to the roots to regain some perspective which is what I believe Victor intended.

LyleB said...

The first thing I thought when reading the comments is, "Pear puree? I have some of that in my pantry - it's made by Gerber's, and my 8-month-old loves it!"

That said, I'm with you, Lew. Well put. I just don't get why people need make themselves feel better by putting other people's hobbies down...

Lew Bryson said...

"I was being sarcastic!!!" The Oldest Internet CYA Of All. Said something stupid and got called on it? "I was just being sarcastic!" Say something offensive? "That was ironic, stupid!"

Not buying it. Even if it was, it was way over the top, throwing the baby out with the branch water, and besides, there are PLENTY of places to get a simple cocktail, like Bob & Barbara's, the opening shot of the piece. Don't want "fancy" cocktails? Don't order one. Don't like the bartenders where they serve "fancy" cocktails? Don't go there.

But don't cry and stamp your feet and make out everyone who does like them to be limp as day-old garnish...just because your editor thought, hey, we oughta do some contrarian horseshit to stir people up. Pathetic.

Pete said...


I agree that many hide behind the lame excuse of being sarcastic or ironic when called on something they wrote. I will go even further to state that sarcasm has been overdone to the extent it has lost its effectiveness if it ever truly had any. But in this case I pointed out the sarcasm, not the author, which may have been a bit presumptuous on my part given I know very little about the article's author. My final position is an author has to consider his target audience which I believe you do. Should we meet in one of the many fine Pennsylvania establishments you write about I hope you allow the next drink to be on me.

Lew Bryson said...

Oh, hey, Pete, I apologize. Truly and sincerely, because that little tirade of mine was not aimed at you. I reckon I just did the same thing -- went over the top -- but I'll own up to it. I was still pissed about the original piece, and was really responding to that. Did NOT mean to imply that you were covering anyone's ass, though I can certainly see how you would infer that, and again, I apologize.
You can certainly buy me a drink -- the second one, because I'm buying the first. Cheers.