I think most of you know that I like to shake things up in restaurant land with an assortment of rogues and characters who are as excited as I am about celebrating life. You may have to deal with guests who make you wonder how they even got themselves dressed in the morning, but thankfully, I do not. Many of you have spent your entire lives creating an environment for people to flat out enjoy themselves, and for that I thankfully take advantage of all you offer.
None of this above rambling has anything to do with the point I’m eventually going to make, I’m just feeling particularly affectionate toward you. You make me happy (more often than you’d guess from my columns). With that said, I have an observation or two made during a run through a wide assortment of restaurants, many of them visited during my duties as a judge of Restaurant Hospitality’s recent cocktail contest.
I’m more of a classic cocktail guy, though in the hands of a great bartender, I will follow him or her off a cliff. And plenty of times I do, trying out new cocktails on a list. Here’s the thing: Sometimes I’ll try a new cocktail and absolutely love it for two or three sips. And since cocktails can cost up to $18 and beyond, I’m staying with that baby until it’s drained. And herein lies the problem. Some cocktails just don’t have staying power. By the time you get near the end, it becomes cloying or simply tiring.
Now that you’ve muttered to yourself, “Oh, brother, what a tool this guy is,” allow me to continue. A truly great cocktail— including many of the classics I love—gets better as you drink it, not worse. This leads me to believe that what looks good on paper is not always a winner. It also leads me to believe that many cocktail creators are not taking the time to drink their creations from beginning to end. If everyone did, a lot of cocktails that make it to a list after a few sips would fail to do so.
These cocktail missteps are somewhat understandable. Classic cocktails usually have a few ingredients, most of them traditional. After looking at the entries in our recent cocktail contest, I was surprised by the huge number of ingredients used. And I’m pretty sure a lot of the ingredients weren’t used years ago—not that there’s anthing wrong with that. However, hundreds of entries in RH’s cocktail contest never made the cut because they contained far too many ingredients that comingled into an incoherent mess. Other entries had less than a handful of ingredients, but unraveled as I mentioned above.
Keep in mind that taste is relative. As a group, RH editors ware not fans of overly sweet cocktails. Yet, often the workhorses of many cocktail lists are things like the Cosmopolitan and the Moscow Mule. I understand that you have to capitulate to this crowd for business reasons. I’ve spent way too much time to make a simple point: Cocktail creators, make sure your works of art have staying power from beginning to end. What do you think? Please email at [email protected].
Michael Sanson, Editor-in-Chief
email: [email protected]