Why Star Wars Will Make You a Better Cocktail

One big room, full of bad bitches. Image Credit: riptapparel.com

Feel free to disagree with me on this, but I feel as if it takes a certain person to fill the shoes of the craft bartender. I say “craft bartender” with a certain restraint, even going to such lengths as writing the phrase with the same case and intent as the great bell hooks: that the title is immaterial; it is the body of work which ought to be judged, that as long as there have been bartenders, even in the days of bottled sour mixes and tonic from a gun, I maintain that tending bar has always and forever will be a craft measured in sweat equity, satisfied guests and the pride in the product of one’s own hands.

I believe that, to a certain extent, there must be a certain obsessiveness about other, seemingly inane or otherwise nerdy things that somehow manifest themselves into an obsessiveness about ingredients, technique, philosophy and history. I may be wrong, but I think that the same curiosity which drives 2 a.m. Wikipedia click-fests about Halo mythology is the same curiosity which drives the same person to dig up and re-create recipes for Amer-Picon. Perhaps an uncommon fascination with LEGO is the same fascination which drives someone to improve the dry-shake and cringe at the sound of a shaken Manhattan Cocktail. I mean this in the best way possible, but maybe the same obsessiveness which allows an encyclop(a)edic knowledge of Star Wars (Canon and EU. You’re welcome, Dave.) is the same which allows an encyclop(a)edic knowledge of spirits, bitters and the history behind them.

In some circles, these personality traits are frowned upon, but shouldn’t it make sense that in this industry that we should be addicted to information, to continual learning, to innovation? Will the same person who takes pride in their vinyl make a quality gin & tonic, the ultimate test and the omelette of the bar trade? Well, perhaps- but I think that while many individuals may learn a recipe, this audiophile is more likely to elect to go a step further, and learn about quinine, how goddamn hard it is to find now that Medicare no longer subsidizes its production, find the appalling amount of sugar in one of the components, only to develop his own recipe for tonic water, find that London Dry is not the only style of gin, and nerd-jack more than his share of non-alcohol-related conversations to surprising disdain and blank stares.

There are drawbacks too. Do you ever find yourself more at home behind the bar than walking down the street? Personally, I’m far friendlier with a barrier of wood and steel between us. Some of us need that barrier in order to function socially, some of us don’t. But whether it is design, sci-fi or Russian literature you obsess over, I feel safe bellied-up to the rail. Not because the room has gotten good press, or because your washrooms are clean, but because I know you’ve studied exhaustively and loved every minute of it. I guess what I’m saying here is: Help us, nerds- you’re our only hope.


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Filed under Bartending, Cocktails

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