We Don’t Do Mixology Here
Thus was the comment made to me while sitting at a local watering hole by a bartender who recognized my name after we introduced ourselves; reputation around Santa Fe preceeding me once again.
I smiled, ordered and sat quietly as I sipped my Manhattan. In between chit-chat with others around the bar, I kept thinking about the bartenders statement. “We dont do mixology here” rang in my head over and over as I watched the drinks being made, and the imbibers sucking them down like bubble gum punch at a frat party. Everyone was a little buzzed from the oversized cocktail glasses filled to the rim mass amounts of booze. MIddle aged men and women acting like they had never been in public before with the raging hormones of teenagers and over service guiding their unihibited behavior.
The bartender wasn’t lying. They don’t do mixology here. But this got me thinking. What exactly is mixology? Is it following ulara-classic recipes and knowing the intricate details of the entire history of a cocktail? Is it making sure the bar is stocked with as many of the new and trendy bitters available? Is it all fersh ingredients bought from the local farmer’s market displayed accross the bar. Is it foams, airs, gelatins, deconstructions, and competitons? Is it making a name for yourself and having a pseudo celebrity status so that when you walk in a bar the bartenders either praise you or cringe at your presence?
Well, maybe there a little bit of this in mixology. Ok, maybe more than a little. Yes, many of those elements exsist in my bar, and I am honored with some popularity around town. But that wasn’t what was eating away at my brain like the liquor was at my liver. “We don’t do mixology here.”
What IS mixology??
I hounded myself about this the entire time I sat barely finishing the poorly made, shaken manhattan with oxidized vermouth, light bitters, and a touch of cherry juice poured from the ganrish tray (unfortunately I had ordered before the “we don’t” statement was made. Maybe should have changed my order, but that would have been snotty on my part).
Mixology can involve the list of things I bantered on about before, but does it have to? Then it occured to me as I sat eating one of the best burgers I have ever had in my life. It’s was good. DAMN GOOD!
It was not made by Thomas Keller at a fancy big city fine dining restaurant. Nor did it have a list of exotic nad obscure ingredients from the far reaches of the earth that could only be found by a mutated ferret with one eye and three noses. It was just a burger: ground beef, and all the usual toppings cooked perfectly medium rare, thick and juicy.That was a tasty burger!
The answer hit melike a brick to the head with a lemon twist. Mixology is about making a great drink. Period. It is doing it right and doing it well. Some of us do like susing exotic ingredients and knowing the history and that’s cool too, but it’s not the core of mixology. The core is making a quality drink.
I’ll be back for that burger again: that was culinary genius! But I think I’ll have a beer to drink nect time assuming the bartender can open a bottle.