Bartenders used to take requests from regulars to create new cocktails. But an emerging trend -- dubbed user-generated cocktails -- has bartenders finding partners on the other side of the bar.
The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported on how speakeasy rules are giving way in bars designed to encourage input from drinkers. As bartender Josey Packard explains to The Chronicle, it's a dialogue about what cocktail is right for this moment:
"I walk into a bar and I need something, I want it to do something for me specifically, and I tell the bartender what my needs are," she says. "I need a pick-me-up, for example, and the bartender comes up with a solution."
In that scenario, you're putting yourself in the hands of a bartender -- much as you might a chef at your favorite restaurant. And good bartenders will usually find out what you're in the mood for through a subtle series of questions that might not even touch on spirits, but instead are about the kind of night you're having.
Cocktails then become a way for you to have a dialogue with your bartenders and discover drinks that you might not have known that you liked. After all, drinks can be habit-forming and it's easy, particularly when presented with an extensive drink menu, to simply utter the words, "Jack and Coke."
A note of caution to amateur mixologists: A great cocktail takes time
to perfect. By the time it reaches a drink menu, it has likely been
through dozens of iterations. So before you ask for the drink
equivalent of a quesadilla without the cheese, take the bartender's
effort into consideration.
But keep in mind, there are no awkward moments when you have to admit you're not sure what a menu item is or whether you'd actually like sweet-potato infused vodka. The next time you're in a bar that is not slammed, try telling the bartender your mood and asking for a drink to fit how you feel. And just like that, you're a part of the user-generated cocktail movement.
[Image via Flickr: stewart]