It seems lines are getting drawn between those who find “mixologist” an unacceptable label and those who use it.  I have now seen an article and several comments attacking the title.  It gives me pause because I wonder what’s behind it.  I find making a distinction between “bartender” and “mixologist” as useful. 

Ever since 1875 a particular Saturday in May is set aside to run a horse race down Kentucky way that attracts a lot of attention.  The traditional beverage for that annual race is much older than that – by at least 100 years or more. 

The first Saturday of May now holds a special place in our herb garden.  It’s the day that demands picking bouquets of fresh, young mint.  Though the race lasts barely over two minutes – rarely less – the mint lasts the summer and throughout the fall.  There’s not a good reason in the world to hold the venerable Mint Julep hostage to a single day each year.  And, indeed, there’s even less reason to make it a shotgun wedding with Kentucky’s other pride and joy:  Bourbon. 

With the proliferation of classically influenced cocktails spreading like a stadium wave throughout the hinterlands of America and beyond, I have moved away from the reason Guerrilla Cocktails got started to begin with, which was the general unavailability of a decently concocted classically influenced drink.  This has freed me up to spend more time in my own bar at home exploring my liquor cabinet and various drinks, some of which are stolen recreations of delectable crafted drinks I got at a local joint. 

Ann and I have traveled a great deal more than usual over the past year and as a result, we have visited a number of restaurants and other watering holes that we may never pass through again.  As a result, not only have we had the absolute pleasure of some fine eats and tasty tipples, but it has also created an equally significant backlog of Guerrilla Cocktail posts.  Quite frankly, it overwhelmed me, freezing me in written time, and no matter how many notes I have about all those various experiences, I felt that the moments had passed, the iron had gone cold, I was lost in my hesitation.

So, I have a choice.  Leave this time warp of a gap and move on, or in the spirit of better late than never, crank out those oldies that were mostly goodies, which can set me further behind in presenting any new experiences.

Or, just do it all.  In random order.  As the mood strikes me.  A stream of consciousness.  Off the cuff.  Guerrilla style.  Just set thought to paper … uhhh … screen

Here goes.

By the time history got to the latter quarter of the 19th century, American barkeeps were quite comfortable with vermouth. Indeed, so much so that the Vermouth Cocktail is the final entry on my list of the Five Archetypes of Classic Mixology.  Early on, it was the Italian stuff – the red, usually sweeter vermouth – that commanded the lion’s share of mixological attention.  But the French, white, dry version wasn’t far behind and would, perhaps, have a greater impact on mixology through its use in the now ubiquitous Martini.  Regardless, this post is about is that evolutionary leap from the Manhattan to Martini.

For a discussion on how to properly handle vermouth, check out The Classic Mixer Facebook page

Somewhere at the height of one of my careers I had the great fortune to attend a customer service training provided by the folks at Disney.  Mickey is one smart SOB when it comes to marketing.  If there was nothing else I could have taken from that experience it was this:  when it comes to customer service, sweat the details.

It’s the details that separate a great bar from the run of the mill.  Those bars attending to all the details are offering well-crafted cocktails and are doing so in an environment that has been created with the guest in mind.  And that’s why there are so few truly great bars; most places fall flat because of a few critical details. 

I recently celebrated my birthday and was overwhelmed with warm wishes from friends and family the world over.  Among the wishes was something my brother said that struck the chord for the name of this Guerrilla Cocktail.  “Boy, you’re gettin’ old!”  And he’s a whole lot older than I am!  But it gave me images of walking into a bar using a walker – a tool that might have come in handy any number of times during my wayward youth. 

Okay.  That button has been pressed … again.  It’s an issue that’s been bugging the hell out of me for a long time and now I’m going to call out a whole lot of folks I don’t even know on this one. 

There is dry vermouth – aka, white vermouth; aka, French vermouth – in a Martini.  I don’t care if it’s a vodka Martini or a gin Martini.  Unless otherwise specified by the customer, it has enough dry vermouth in it to be noticeable.  It should be no surprise just how surprised any number of bartenders will be about such an idea.

The 60’s Yippie, Abbie Hoffman, once noted that history doesn’t repeat itself in circles, but rather in a coil and rarely returns to the exact same spot.  It is my own observation that this coil will return to a spot slightly above or below the previous spot, depending upon whether the spiral is one of growth or one of regression.  It is such coiled cycles that come to mind for this post. 

We were spending a Sunday in early January at our granddaughter’s house.  Oh, our daughter and son-in-law were there, too, but as any newly minted grandparent will tell you, it’s all about that grandchild.  In the midst of our doting on this two-week-old work of perfect beauty, my cell phone rang.  The number displayed was not one I recognized and I was about to ignore it when … wait!  There were too many numbers and the first two were 3-5 … Fritz! 

“Some nights I go out and play a piece perfectly.  Then, the next night, I play it better.” 
    - Flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal as quoted by Dale Dauten, which inspired his book, Better Than Perfect.  Without the influence of writer, columnist, and all around corporate creativity consultant, Dale Dauten, I might never have pursued my true calling as The Classic Mixer. 

There are several ways a local watering hole can get better with each of them separated by the finest of lines.