I Just Discovered My Grandfather is a Mixologist!

Perhaps I'm just not that trendy, but this whole mixology thing has me in a twist. While I don't want to discredit anyone's interest in concocting creative cocktails (believe you me, I sure like drinking them), what is the difference between an inspired bartender and my grandfather?

They both have a large stock of distilled spirits housed in an antique wooden cabinet. They both have flavored bitters galore. They both enjoy any occasion that might call for smashes, punches and rickeys. Heck, they both even wear shirts made of ticking cloth, vests and suspenders!

Having been a pastry chef in my share of fine establishments, I've encountered several bartenders who fancy themselves one of these, so-called mixologists. And to take my gripe even further, they don't seem to have a clue as to what they are either.

Sure, they can come up with an interesting sounding drink, but why can't they figure out how to make it themselves. For all the dashing and shaking they are credited to stirring up, I am asked how, on a near daily basis, to make a blueberry syrup, peach water, a lemon-thyme infusion, a ginger-flavored sugar.

So, my question to this new profession is: if you are going to go so far as to give yourself this impressive title, shouldn't you endeavor beyond the heading and learn a bit of the craft? Because one fundamental difference between you and my grandfather is that I certainly don't remember him asking me for much more than an ice refresher in his nightly gin martini cap.

My Perfect Gin Martini

3 ounces Hendrick's Gin

1 ounce Vermouth

1 thin slice of cucumber

3 small green cocktail olives

  • Gently rub the rim of a chilled martini glass with the slice of cucumber. Discard the cucumber and set glass aside.
  • In a shaker, filled full with ice cubes, add the gin and vermouth. Shake vigorously for a few seconds. Strain into prepared martini glass.
  • Garnish with olives and sip while cold.
My favorite sources for recipes and tastes of truly inspired mixes, made those who can rightfully call themselves mixologists:

Employees Only

The Craft of the Cocktail, by Dale DeGroff

Jerry Thomas' Bartenders Guide