Does the ‘Times’ Cocktail Story Hold Water?

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The Times attempts to identify eight philosophies of mixology, and while it’s a noble effort, it’s also a bit of a stretch. Actually, author Oliver Schwaner-Albright admits that “there’s some danger to naming distinct schools of thought in an industry whose practitioners can’t even agree whether to call themselves mixologists, bartenders, bar chefs or some other name.” But the main problem is that, in New York at least, there aren’t all that many practitioners of these philosophies. Liquid locavorism? You certainly don’t see many, if any, local barkeeps pushing products from New York’s only whiskey distillery. And home-brewers? Presumably there are folks out there secretly making their own spirits, but as far as what’s for sale at the bar, even Apothéke’s “homemade absinthe” is basically just an infusion.

We’ve seen evidence of the so-called farm-to-glass movement here and there, at places like BEast, Back Forty, and Huckleberry Bar. But so-called neo-classicists (Death & Co., PDT) are just as inclined to focus on seasonal ingredients. And then there’s molecular mixology — it’s certainly an approach, but you can count its practitioners on one hand. And how many faux tropicalists can you think of besides maybe Junior Marino of Rayuela and Toby Maloney at the Rusty Knot (and would they really identify themselves as such)? Finally, how to classify the mixologists at places like B Flat, who make impeccable classic cocktails and killer Singapore Slings while also experimenting with shiso and calpico and such?

The piece’s title does imply that these philosophies are in bloom — and we suppose it’s useful to be able to tell bartenders to please, for the love of man, abandon the pre-repeal revivalist movement and get into more undertrafficked areas like molecular mixology. And by the way, if there are spades of home-brewers out there, e-mail us. And give us a taste.

Let 100 (O.K., 8) Bartending Philosophies Bloom [NYT]

Does the ‘Times’ Cocktail Story Hold Water?