Updated: April 1, 2007

It’s exciting to see classic mixologists like Dale DeGroff and Tony Abou-Ganim getting more and more media exposure for their master mixology… and Flair bartenders like Tobin Ellis getting recognized not only for his Flair bartending skills but also his skillful mixology as well.

Bar_ChefCould it be because of the extensive media exposure Flair bartending has brought to the masses that bartenders are being looked at as “bar chefs” or celebrities in a sense and that has overlapped to trend setting master mixologists? Do we now tend to look at bartenders with professionalism and respect like we do a top chef? We both use recipes, proper ingredients and take care in our finished products… So why now are we earning respect for something we have been doing for so long? I can remember when I used to feel looked down upon for being a bartender and kept being asked, “What else do you do beside bartend? or “Are you in school for anything else?”… Or my personal favorite “When are you going to get a real job?” A real job…? As my good friend Joey Lenz once put it…“What is not real about the money we make?”


My dad gave me some great advice growing up; He said “Whatever you decide to do for work when you grow up, make sure it is something you enjoy doing… You want to look forward to going to work everyday and not bitch and moan about it!” Or an even shorter version I heard used recenty by Christian Delpech “My first day of Bartending was the last day I worked”. I highly enjoy my profession and yes I called it a profession, I make real money, The more work I put into it the more money I make (talk about motivation), I get to travel the world meeting interesting people abroad and right at my bar, I make peoples lives a little more happier, I take pride in my work and I get paid to party!


Mixology_segmentNow we ask… “What is Mixology”? Mixology simply put is the art of making a cocktail. Now that covers a broad spectrum of things. From recipes, ingredients, tools, preparation, presentation, taste, look, smell, etc… Now that you realize how broad it is you might start to understand why there are sometimes variations of recipes depending on where you order your drink from? A “Sex on the Beach” might be made with base liquors such as Skyy Vodka and Peach Schnapps at one place and at another it might be made with Chambord, Mindori and Finest Call Premium mixes. Which is the correct recipe and why? I definitely agree with paying homage to the classic cocktails and recipes but I also agree with experimenting on your own and putting a new “twist” on things.

My opinion would be if you do change a “Classic Cocktail” or veer off from the original recipe… then why not call it something else? I mean you are putting a little bit of you into that drink so why not name it something new and personalize it even more. Now this is where we can run into trouble… What I don’t want to see is thousands of bartenders going up to a bartender at his or her bar during a slammed shift and asking if they know how to make a “Purple Monkey wearing Diapers” or a “Helium Rainbow over Kentucky”. Or handing them a bevnap with the recipe scribbled on it. Obviously if you just made up the drink they are not going to know how to make it!!! What I suggest is trying it out your own bar. Make a “Signature Drink Menu”… like we discussed in the last issue. Establish your drink first and give it and yourself credibility before you start sharing it with the your competition.   Then when you have built up its reputation and are ready to share it with everybody else… go to another bar when it is slow and the other bartender will have more time to talk and be more receptive to “your new drink”. Who knows maybe we will see you on the next Food Network Special


To Flair and Friends,



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