Mixology is Dead; Long Live Mixology!
Every second and fourth Wednesday night of the month, legendary bartender/chef/restaurant insider Dave Mau hosts Dinner with Dave at Memphis at the Santora, where he treats drinkers to a free meal and live music as the evening progresses. To remind ustedes of this great night, Dave treats us every Wednesday morning that he's on to a random OC food or drink musing of his choice. Enjoy!!
My wife just loves it when I'm wrong. She's kinder about it than most and would never admit it anyway, but I can tell. When I put my foot in my mouth she cradles my idiocy like a warm cup of coffee on a crisp fall morning, savoring every molecule of my shame.
The good news is I'm not wrong very often but, when I am, look out, 'cuz it's usually a doozy..... So what have I been wrong about most recently? I was wrong to think what is currently termed "mixology" was bad for cocktail culture. It isn't....completely.
Now, bear in mind I hate anything trendy or overblown. My favorite steakhouse is the Tartan Room on Tustin Avenue and if that makes me the trashiest of white trash so be it.
I have been tough on the whole mixology/craft cocktail thing and have caught a lot of flak, even from some very close quarters, but I'm not some sort of cocktail history hater. In fact I have a fairly formidable collection of vintage beverage books, most notably, two rare Esquire treasures from the '40s that are the Terminators One and Two, respectively, of spirit scripture. I have a few contemporary ones as well, but they generally strike me as fairly pedantic. A notable exception is Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails which, in this case, is the leper with the most fingers. The long and short of it is I'm a "just put the booze in the f'ing glass" kind of guy.
What I wasn't wrong about was finding the whole mixology thing kind of irritating, because it is. I don't get the Dungeons and Dragons-esque cocktail history revisionism which may or may not be as accurate as portraying Abraham Lincoln as a vampire hunter. The whole thing smacks of the Society for Creative Anachronism without the wacky foam swords. Hanging around people who drone on and on for hours about tinctures, herbal-infused aperitifs and house made tonic water just gets plain old boring. I think world class ice programs are silly and you can argue that if you need one of those orb ice cubes you're taking too long to drink your drink (but they do look cool, don't they!)
I understand some guests and peeps in The Biz like "the show" as they term it, with jiggers-a-flying and bartenders taking five minutes to make that perfect drink. But the same was said many years ago during the "Flair Bartending" era. If you don't remember it don't feel bad, it was pretty forgettable. It did, however, leave us with an epically crappy Tom Cruise movie, 1988's Cocktail, which is a must-see if you want to understand misguided booze trends, like the early's 90's shooter phase. That was another annoying one, with a slew of shots like the "Skylab Fallout" and "Deutschland Reunited." Yep, that really happened.