From Blogs to Booze and Back Again...

Tomorrow afternoon, I'm delivering a presentation which supports blogging. I'm offering this brief presentation to the Food & Beverage Association of San Diego (FBASD). So, I'm gonna try and convince a group of restaurant, bar, nightclub, food and liquor purveyors, etc., that blogging leads to healthy business.

But, I don't wanna talk about that. I wanna talk about what I wanna talk about!!

Sound like a brat? Well, maybe... I'm just really excited about some recent experiences. I'm also really excited to discuss my recent experiences! However, I'm siting at my desk... It's 3am (actually, 6am after my final edit)... Who am I gonna talk to? Nobody is on AIM or Facebook/Twitter... I suppose this blog post should suffice. If you don't mind, I'd like to tell you a story about the last couple days of my life ~

The story begins with a recent trip to Starlite. I was attracted to this Cocktail Lounge/Restaurant because I received a tip that they feature one of San Diego's best bourbon portfolios. Why am I interested in Bourbon? Following a brief education on the background, development, and recipes of the various bourbon and rye whiskey variations, I began understanding and TASTING why Bourbon is so delicious. Therefore, after a lovely lady friend suggested we share conversation and cocktails, I suggested Starlite... (Enter Bar) After enjoying an Old Fashioned, I noticed they offered some unique bitters. In fact, they claimed to craft their bitters in house! For those curious why I'm so interested in bitters, you only need a taste of a classic Rye Old Fashioned to understand that bitters enhances the enjoyment of a good whiskey. However, Starlite up'ed the ante by creating a modification - brandy cherry, vanilla bitters!! Can I just say: GOOD!!! It's awesome! And needed to know why... so, I inquired. When the bartender noticed the depth of my curiosity, he introduced his manager – a more established wealth of information. This manager - we'll call him George - was well-versed on the art of the bitters recipe. Then he offered a taste of another house concoction: Velvet Falernum. AWESOME!! I was in "manager-question-mode" heaven! My reaction to these concoctions, sparked George's curiosity, "Are you a bartender?"
"No... but..." I hesitate, suspecting a distasteful remark, "I'm the general manager at El Dorado."
"Really!! Well, why didn't you say so!?!"
I was drastically wrong. My suspicion was 100% unwarranted. I thought communicating my status as a manager of a competitive business would cause George to reserve his commentary from the enemy. I was so wrong! He opened up MORE!! We discussed more recipes, shared tastes of several great bourbons, as well as a couple nice gin variations. We discussed some interesting cocktail recipes, and future menu directions. In the end, we agreed that the health of our industry – demand for high-quality cocktails made from fresh juices and fine spirits – depends on our ability to work as a creative coalition. After some ingratiations and a sturdy hand-shake, we parted ways. I walked out of the bar full of optimism (and chatting my GF's ear off!).

In the days following my experience at Starlite, I found myself digging deeper into the cocktail world. My research brought forth all kinds of new questions. I found some amazing cocktail blogs, and discovered cavalier bars/bar owners who pride themselves on reviving classic cocktails alongside contemporary beverage concepts (see my bar/blog hit list below). I sought out a brief training on tequila and gin (a couple of my other favorites). As recommended by both blogger and business owner, I bought recommended books about the craft and the history of cocktails and spirits. I would have lengthy conversations with several brand representatives and mixologists. Through these conversations I would come to know some awesome tricks, like undoing the spring on a cocktail strainer and using it in a dry shake (no ice) when trying to emulsify egg whites (note the spring in the middle of the cup):

I also learned how to extract juice from a RASPBERRY!!! Ever try juicing a raspeberry? It sucks... But what if it didn't? And raspberries is only one example – Imagine kiwi juice as a replacement for simple syrup (sugar water) in a whiskey sour! Um... YES!!!

Finally, with all this great new knowledge, a couple friends suggested I join them on a trip to Los Angeles... The purpose of the trip was to experience all LA had to offer in terms of the craft cocktail industry - Perfect, right? It was so great, people!! It's why I'm still up typing this post out! I felt the need to share, like so many great people have done for me in the past couple days... At one point, the people who answered my questions asked the same questions from their teachers. That was a special time for them, too. The people I've recently met sincerely enjoy learning and teaching about something they love! That seems to be the case in most endeavors that focus on the craft or mastery of an activity.

By no means am I a master of my craft. Regardless of diploma, degree, or accreditation - I will always be seeking that goal. However, before I pledge to become a monk at the high craft cocktail monastery, I should keep my business' best interests in mind. As EL||D's identity is molded by its community/culture, I'm beginning to feel the craft of the cocktail isn't EL||D's craft... We can surely make a tasty beverage – one that our regular patrons would argue to be a quality cocktail – but, Mastery? hmmm... This creates a bit of a dichotomy. Mr. manager is seeking something that would redirect the flow of progress. It would appear as though entertainment/music/dancing is our most effective current motivator for revenue. But, I'm learning so much!?!...

Could my personal progress help our business model? Why?
Should I continue learning about the past, present, and future of the craft cocktail?
If you answered yes to either of the above, should I be teaching EL||D's customers about my new knowledge?
Should I instead focus on the research and development of our entertainment?

Regardless, I've found something I enjoy learning and sharing. It's a luxury in that "something" happens to be the same thing we sell at EL||D. If anything, a basic knowledge about the history of American/International spirits, and the establishments who distribute them, can only improve my ability to serve a safe and authentic product.


When I first sat down to prepare my blog presentation, I intended to review an outline I created for my argumentation students. As I stared at the outline, I couldn't help but want to write about my new experience – openly discussing something I'm excited about, like my gracious new friends offered! In a way, this is the essence of blogging: Sharing experiences so others might gain insight and the ability to grow into something greater... Hopefully, others would realize the benefit in reading, then share some writings of their own, be it critique/comments in this or other posts, not to mention posts of their own. Through such tools, the many crafts of the world will live on and evolve. So, what the heck am I gonna say 2mrw?!? Well, I think I'll start with this: Write on something you're passionate about... Write, Write, Write... walk away from it, then come back to it... now edit, edit, edit... Finally, ask yourself if that's how you wanna say what you wanna say. So, that's what I'm gonna with, I guess... real professional, huh? :)

Thanks for reading and have a great day!!

- A


PS: Incase you're curious about learning more about cocktail culture, I've added a bunch of great links on the sidebar. Enjoy

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