Man. Magician. Mixologist.

Man. Magician. Mixologist.

Here is a man whose sole occupation was to mix outlandish drinks.  He was the bartender – equal parts chef, juggler, magician.  The unsung hero of the cocktail’s golden age.

-William Grimes “Straight Up Or On The Rocks

The Chef, the Juggler, and the Magician

Many of today’s leaders and thinkers have a quote from the past that inspires them in their work. For me, this quote from William Grimes book “Straight Up or on the Rocks” highlights the three main roles of the person tending to the bar.

And over the years, it has become the core of my philosophy for my craft.

Here is my interpretation of the quote.  

The Chef- The Traditional Mixologist

The Chef has the ability to bring individual edible/drinkable ingredients together into a final finished presentation. The Chef, in our case, has an incredible knowledge of all liquids and fruits that can be used to make a drink. To me, being described as a traditionalist is a good way of outlining the attention to the original recipe and the interpretation of said recipe. Here we might explore techniques or find ways to use ice and garnishes that affect the taste of the drink. The Chef cares more about the origins of a cocktail and the way that it is suppose to be created than the time it takes or the money that can be made from it.

The Juggler– The Working Bartender

Francis Grunde (from William Grimes “Straight Up Or On The Rocks”) suggests that the use of this word is not translated into the flair bartender or the entertainer. This is more about the celerity of motion behind the bar. The juggling of tasks, the efficiency of movement and precise control the bartender has over the tools. A ‘juggler’ has the ability to provide clean pours and cuts, while showing some eye candy that makes your guests want to watch you create drinks instead of watching the TV in the bar.

The Juggler in my mind’s eye is the bartender that has a specific place for everything. He is juggling tasks, sticking and moving conversations. Pouring a draft with one hand while stirring a drink with the other and welcoming a guest with his eye, all at the same time. The Juggler is the bartender that is efficiently serving all of his guests by tending to the bar with deft skill.  

The Magician –The Host- The Personality

In the 1830’s, the Magician would describe a man of considerable stature that could command the attention of a room just by standing in it. He would be a charming, quick witted conversationalist with interesting stories told with dramatic inflection. The Magician of the era could do miraculous things with everyday objects. Imagine an impeccably dressed man in the bar taking 3-5 otherwise regular ingredients and combining them in a way that you have never seen, producing a piece of artwork we now call a cocktail. Simply magic.

Our Magician is an entertainer and the center focus of the room that creates a reason for people to applaud, laugh and otherwise create a memory. Insert flair, bar tricks, singing, dancing, and percussionists. The Magician creates reasons for people to talk with friends and co-workers about the experience they had at the bar the night before. This is intended to draw more people to the bar and also allow you to build a reputation for your entertainment and personality.

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