New York Mixologists Sound Off: What Makes a Cocktail Special?

by Emily Bell and Will Blunt
Will Blunt, Shannon Sturgis, and Emily Bell
August 2011

There’s a kind of drinking that focuses on sensory deprivation (by way of finale blackouts) and there’s a kind that aspires to something more … memorable (we know; we’ve experienced both). Professionally speaking, anyway, we’re focused on the less blurry side of the drinks world, the side that strives to provide more than well-crafted booze and/or a vested shoulder to cry on. And this year especially, we’re keen on the Sixth Sense, that extra effort or element of experience, that soupçon of service, savor, or sensory input that vaults hospitality to another level entirely. Even if it’s typically associated with variously deconstructed, nostalgic, and disorienting culinary concoctions, the Sixth Sense is as much the province of the beverage industry as anything else. So we decided to add another installment to our bartenders-behind-the-camera series (shaking styles and guilty pleasures are covered), to ask the men and women of New York City mixology the unasked, unanswered question behind every drink: what makes a cocktail, any cocktail, special?