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A Letter to KGB Spirits of New Mexico

February 10, 2012
I rarely write letters in response to newpaper articles, however I felt thisa one needed to be responded to from an expert in the field and respected memeber of the Bar community of Santa Fe.
I would like to comment on a statement made by John Bernasconi in the February issue of Local Flavor. Bernasconi states,”Bartender’s tell me,”Let’s make up a cocktail”. They miss the point. Cocktails were invented during Prohibition to mask the flavor of lousy booze. Why distill layers of complexity and wonderful flavors only to have them covered up with passion fruit puree and flambeed/”

First, John learn your history. The word ‘cocktail’ was first published in 1806 not during Prohibition and was defined as any spirit with sugar bitters and water. It has nothing to do with passion fruit puree and flambe.Second, coctails were (and are) meant to be an enhancement of the flavors of the base spirit, and not meant to cover poor distillation or lousy booze. I think you are confusing your days in Art School and pounding drinks to get drunk versus the enjoyment of as well made and balanced cocktail. A great cocktail or any mixed drink in the hands of a skilled bartender should enhance and be a complement to the distillate. Your statement is like saying that Kobe beef too good to made into steaks and seasoned with salt.

Third, I have met distillers form all over the world and never have I heard a statement like that from any of them. They are proud of their product, and appreciate not only those who are aficionados of a spirit but also those who drink the spirit it mixed. Quite simply those who are buying your booze, no matter how they drink it, are paying your bills, and to ostracize an entire profession or drinking class for what they do is simply arrogant and obsurd.
Lastly, if you don’t want bartenders to mix you product, why are trying you selling to bars? Why has your salesmen repeatedly approached me to buy knowing who I am and what I do??
In closing, I think your juice is great, and I wish you the best success you can after alienating the bar coimmunity.
(The letter was first sent directly to KGB Spirits and submitted as a letter to the Editor of Local Flavor)
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Justin E. Doak (J.D.) permalink
    March 2, 2012 9:27 am

    I do not know the origin of cocktails, nor how that topic relates to prohibition. What I will say is that my personal preference is not to drink spirits by mixing them with anything else. I always drink them “neat”. I would also like to comment that I was stunned at how good the Taos Lightning bourbon whiskey is. I had just finished a bottle of Blanton’s, and the Taos Lightning is at least as good, in my opinion.

    On a final note, my feeling is that the Santa Fe Barman’s reaction to John’s comment seems a little over the top. I’m sure it was not John’s intention to alienate the Santa Fe Bar community. And since the stores in town can’t keep products from KGB Spirits on the shelves, I wonder how much he has really alienated them.


  2. March 2, 2012 12:12 pm

    Thank you for the comment! I enjoyed drinking spirits neat as well. And I enjoy them in well made cocktails

    My point simply is that I felt his comments were out of line and out of touch.

    I enjoy Taos Lightning as well as the other spirits that KGB makes. It’s good stuff. But dictating what u do with it as a consumer is inappropriate. In reference to Johns original comment: I as a bartender am not missing the point ….he is

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