For a few weeks at the beginning of the summer, I was given a fun task: talk to bartenders across New York City about how cocktail culture is changing.
While the secret speakeasy has a certain allure, all the bartenders (and customers) I talked to noted that hospitality is back, that secret entrances and impossible reservation policies have been replaced with a warm smile and an enthusiasm to help you find your perfect drink. After all, at $12 (or $14, or even $18) a pop, cocktails today are an investment, and each drop should count.
This story — 10 Cocktail Bars in New York City, a web exclusive from Departures — sought to debunk several myths imbibers might have about the current state of the cocktail scene. Here are a few of my favorite pieces of advice:
- There are no wrong answers. When asked a question by a bartender, answer truthfully. About spirits you like, flavors you hate, what you want to try. Don’t be afraid of replying with a wrong answer.
- Seasons are only a guide. Think gin is the only spirit to drink in the summer? Bartenders across Manhattan were using brown spirits in refreshing, summer cocktails too.
- Speak up if you aren’t happy. The bartender aims to please, and if a drink is too sweet, too bitter, or too anything for your taste, the bartender wants to know. Just speak up politely.
- Frequent cocktail bars at less-busy times. If you want to learn about what you’re drinking, Friday or Saturday nights aren’t the time to do so. Stop in for a drink after work on a week day or on a Sunday afternoon. The bartender will have much more time to answer your questions.
- Ask for advice. Many enthusiastic bartenders are constantly working on new concoctions that aren’t on the menu yet. Be open-minded and ask if the bartender is currently working on anything new.
Photo Credit: Wha’ppen on Flickr
Featured image photo credit: Dinner Series on Flickr