A common question for bartenders: “What is your favorite cocktail to make?” My response: an old fashioned. This answer is normally received with surprise, suspicion, and it normally follows a request for an old fashioned cocktail, as if my bluff is being called in a poker game.
Some might find this pretentious and cliché. But I find this to be the cocktail which earns me the trust and loyalty of patrons. With ladies, I will normally earn this trust with a properly crafted cosmopolitan cocktail. I personally find this to be a cliché myself, but not many bartenders understand that you barely splash cranberry on a cosmo. I’m basically making a vodkaRita with a trace of pink, and they think it tastes like magic. Also, all you men drinking vodka and cranberry are drinking basically cosmos on the rocks. #cosmosforall
In contrast, when I get asked a more personal question like “What do you like to drink?” My response is always a good tequila, neat. No salt, no fruit. I then follow: Would you like that? Percentage of guests saying yes so far: 0%.
Back to the old fashioned. With men in suits, I often get a “really? Ok, let’s see what you can do”. And in this line of business, I have learned that the recipe to success is 50% knowledge and 50% confidence with a smile. We are not only spirit pharmacists, prescribing controlled doses of soothing libations, but we are also entertainers. Our power is the trust patrons put in us.
I work at a bar where I get many businessmen, who on first impressions don’t show any interest or respect for a female bartender. But when I say the magic words, “let me make you al old fashioned, with a Rye whiskey for a bit of spice, or a nice bourbon for a more rounded sweetness”, their eyes widen, their curiosity awakens, and the expectation is vibrant to see if I can earn their trust.
Ironically, I can never indulge with an old fashioned myself. My body rejects whiskey like the plague, and if I happen to take a Jameson shot (the favorite thing to shoot when a round of shots is offered), the blue demons come to make me pay the price. I can be in the best mood with rum or tequila or even gin all night long, but just let my lips touch or smell whiskey and my night takes a dark and destructive turn. #whiskeynotforall
So how do I craft such a good old fashioned? I am a skinny baker. I follow the recipe, let them taste, get feedback, tweak it, perfect it, make it again, observe the results. I never taste it, but I always make it with the confidence that it is made for the pleasure of the ones graced by whiskey’s kindness to them.
What is your favorite cocktail? And how do bartenders make it great or mess it up? Feed my curiosity with a comment below.
Until next time 💋🍸
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