While this is not officially an event for bloggers who are left handed, bloggers who are redheads, bloggers who own uteri, or bloggers who only drive hybrids -- or, for that matter an event for bloggers, per se -- it is, by all indications, an event geared almost exclusively for people whose unexpressed motto runs along the lines of "Nothing is more fun than fun."
There is, of course, the merest veneer of seriousness. Seminars aimed, ostensibly, at For Real Working Bartenders and other industry professionals. But even those relatively few symposia are more than a little leavened by the fun. Most of the time, it's a few souls making glorious cocktails, and multitudes of other souls absorbing them.
Let other events try to lure you with near-pornographic enticements such as "Utilizing Social Media To Market Your Writing." The utterly earnest folks here must make do with dry and dispassionate fodder such as "Art of the Aperitif: Exploring Pre-Prandial Spirits, Wines and Cocktails" or "Civilization Begins with Distillation." Also, strictly in the name of science, there is serious tippling going on well before noon, to say nothing of 5pm. (In fact, if you make it a serious point of going out to drink, you will probably collapse into an ethanolic coma. The smart thing to do is just sample a little bit, and you may escape with but a mere intoxication.)
Me, being the high-minded and terribly serious individual, will be reporting on one the events most closely approaching seriousness. Such as that is.
The first one I bring you is the recentky concluded, if rather unfortunately named, "Bartending Fun-da-mentals."
Here is a recap, based on my notes:
The premise of this one is "To put the fun back into bartending." (Because we all knew what a meaningless nightmare of despair it is?)
The two presenters (hosts? guys in the front?) are "Jacob" and "Angus." Never heard of 'em before today. Jacob dons a horse head, Angus makes a couple of insider-ish wisecracks. They suggest bartenders are in it for sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
Then! Actual content!
I Make the guest smile
II "Optimize the Guest Sale" which, unless it has to do with how the Royal Navy used to recruit with the aid of unscrupulous pub owners, I have NFI what that is.
III Give people reason to come back, by making them feel
c) welcome, and
They talk about how "customer time is 5x normal time." Also have NFI what that is, but it sounds completely true. "Always smile," is another.
Aha! Some real wisdom for schleps like me: Ask your guests questions about how they want their drinks." That is, don't just make a "Manhattan" but try to get guidance from your guests to see if they want it with rye or bourbon; dry, sweet or perfect...that sort of thing.
More "interesting" than strictly informative, Angus (or possibly Jacob) starts rattling off the "ages" of bartenders. Currently, says them, we're in the 2nd Golden Age (I'm waiting to hear the 1st.) The 1990s started the Age of Ingredients (fresh lemons and limes, say, or herbs, spices, aged spirits) followed by the Age of Technique ("molecular mixology" for example).
That, in turn is followed by what they call "The Age of Scrutiny and Authenticity." The hallmark of this is going back to cocktail history, old cocktail books, bartenders who look like "Winky" from Disney's Wind In The Willows. We also see ingredients that are resurrected (eau celeste, anyone?). The problem says Jacob (althought it might have been Angus) is that all of these Ages are "serious." Not a whole bloody lot of fun.
Oh, look, a lovely beverage...a Corpse Reviver #2 but made with blue curacao. Not bad, although I'm not so fond of blue drinks.
And then...the rules! What's good and what's bad. (I'm more the sort who focuses on the drink in hand. I'm a baaaaad boy.)
I- Small is good: big is evil. (No, GOOD is good, bad is evil. Sheesh.)
II- Vodka is evil. We drink vodka wrong, we don’t drink it like the Poles or the Russians.
III- Commercial is evil.
IV- Not obeying rules is evil.
Another good bit of advice: You can’t truly resurrect ancient recipes. Everything is different now. (Spirits are different, mixers and modifiers are different, etc.) No harm trying, though.
(Hey! Another drink came and went! I didn't get to taste it! I'm sure another will be by soon. Aha. A drink here with rosemary in it. Interesting, but I'm not REALLY convinced by it.)
Some examples of serious-with-a-side-of-fun drinks are mentioned, including one served with some sort of S&M accessory.
The next one I bring you, is the most-talked about one thus far: "The Smooth and Creamy History of The Fern Bar."
For those of you who have NFI what a Fern Bar is, just think back to the hit show Three's Company
. In that show, set and produced during the woefully lamentable ghetto-of-a-decade 1970s, the characters' watering hole of choice was a place called "The Regal Beagle." Men in polyester suits with condor-wing lapels, Qiana, disco, Farrah Fawcett hairdos. THAT kind of bar.
The panelists, Martin Cate & Jeff Berry are two of the funnest and most charming guys around. It's impossible to not be when your careers are devoted towards a fanatical pursuit of perfection in the realm of tropical drinks, and when you make a detour into the slushy ones of the 1970s, it's even more delightful. This was, by everyone's estimation, the one nobody should have missed. I hope against hope some or all of it finds its way on YouTube. It was that fun.
Then of course, there was the Spirited Dinner mentioned yesterday.