Letter from the Editor: A Second Golden Age for the Cocktail?
The fact that the industry is feeling more at ease with the title mixologist as opposed to bartender reveals how seriously the culinary world is beginning to take their cocktails. Just as a few years ago pastry chefs blurred the lines between the sweet and savory, mixologists are turning more to the kitchen for techniques, ingredients, and business opportunities.
To the delight of ambitious bartenders, forward-thinking chefs, and afternoon lushes everywhere, mixology has finally arrived as a legitimate, important, and noted culinary discipline. Responsibly sourced, high-quality ingredients, house-made infusions and liqueurs, and nuanced flavor combinations have combined to create the perfect gastronomic time for mixology.
In our last issue, we presented a roving group of mixologists from Holland as evidence. The Fabulous Shaker Boys represent one of the many developing niches within the industry. As new niches evolve, mixologists like Junior Merino of The Liquid Chef Inc. and Ivan Lemoine of iFoodStudios are branching out and creating successful consulting companies to set up the cocktail programs at New York bars like Rayuela and P*ONG. Jason Kosmas, of Employees Only, was the first mixologist StarChefs noticed and wrote about, 7 years ago, when he set up a cocktail consulting program in New York.
Celebrating the growing field, StarChefs raises its glass and makes a heartfelt, booze-fueled promise: we’ll be writing more about mixologists and their antics, creating an easy-to-navigate mixology archive, and, in two weeks, bringing together some of the brightest and most creative mixologists around to lead a series of intimate hands-on workshops at our second International Chefs Congress.
And these workshops aren’t just for mixologists — study the happy symbiotic chef-mixologist relationship in our Tales of the Cocktail feature. Chefs and restaurateurs are welcome to the industry workshops; after all, a well-run cocktail program can make up as much as 70% of the restaurant’s bottom line. Junior Merino explores the culinary-mixology continuum with Chef Maximo Tejada of Rayuela, defining a pairing philosophy that can heighten the entire guest experience (and has the potential to seriously increase revenue). Merino’s joined by an exciting group of liquor gurus, including Jason Kosmas, Todd Thrasher, Adam Seger, and Dave Wondrich, and Albert Trummer, as they explore the art of the cocktail – from the process of making tonic water and bitters to applying seasonal ingredients to mixology and pairing hard-to-pair ingredients. In Retro Cocktails, Mixologist Dave Wondrich will prepare “dead-on” versions of several key whiskey cocktails: the (original) Whiskey Cocktail, the Whiskey Sour (New York style), the Manhattan, and the Mint Julep: benchmark drinks, in other words, by which bars are judged. The focus in this case will be execution, rather than on creative variation – drawing from the cocktail’s first golden age to inform its second.