Well its been well over a year since I last posted on here. I can say that it has been one helluva year indeed. This time last year, I was ankle deep in sawdust with sheetrock dust filling the air and my nasal passages, gearing up for an opening in a new market (Downtown Houston) with a concept that had no precedent in the Greater Houston Area. Just prior to that, I left a job that I was extremely passionate about at a concept that I adored, but alas, things just weren’t working out (sometimes that beautiful girl with a brilliant mind and a similar world view just isn’t the one, for whatever reason); then I went through a break up with my girlfriend of six years; contemplated leaving Houston; but eventually came to my senses and stayed, teaming up with Brad Moore, Ryan Rouse and Josh Martinez to run the bar at Goro & Gun.
From there, my life has been an amazing roller coaster with peaks and valleys and unexpected whip turns followed by twists and loops. In mid March of 2013 Goro & Gun opened its doors. We didn’t have a phone much less a website during that first week or so, and we weren’t sure that the people were even gonna show up, but we all had faith, and fortunately, they did show. Since then some really awesome people have come through the doors and moved on to other things, some not so awesome people came and went, drink menus changed regularly, food menus changed almost daily, I’ve decided there is no such thing as a printer I actually like, just printers that are tolerable. I have been the creator of many documents and implemented systems in place on the fly, things we never thought we’d need like: requisition sheets, write up forms, code of conduct, telephone etiquette, and most recently, my pride and joy, my baby, a weekly ongoing educational series for the bar. Initially, the classroom was mandatory for all Goro & Gun bartenders and optional for the rest of the staff. Eventually a few friends and extended family members expressed interest in attending, and in they came. That interest has begun to grow significantly, and starting next week the series will expand beyond Goro & Gun employees, taking on a name of its own “PERCIEVED EXCLUSIVITY,” (more on the name later) and will be open to all Houston Chapter U.S.B.G. members as well as folks who I invite through my Facebook group, also called “PERCIEVED EXCLUSIVITY.” (Get in touch with me if you’d like to know more.)
The point of all of that is not to brag or boast or pound my chest and say “look how awesome I am,” it was to give insight as to why in the hell I haven’t taken an hour or so to sit down and update the blog. So, sorry for the lengthy intro, now on to the actual post…
I’ve been sitting on this post for about a year now, and have even sat down to type it multiple times, but scrapped it each time, however, since it is still the topic that I feel like I have to get off my chest, here it is. There’s no delicate way around this one….
BARTENDERS- STOP TRYING TO DESTROY THE NEGRONI.
Remember back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s when every high end bar or restaurant was either a “Martini Bar,” or had a “Martini List,” and not a single item on the document was actually a Martini? We laugh about those times at seminars at national conferences and conventions, and pretty much all agree that there is very little wiggle room, from a proportion and ingredient standpoint as to what can be in a glass and have the right to call itself a Martini.
Why then are we bastardizing one of the finest, most perfect cocktails known to man, with the same behavior we make fun of? When I moved to the craft bartending arena, one of the very first things I was taught was that “If you change the ingredients of a drink or significantly alter the proportions, it becomes a new drink and therefore warrants a new name.” Furthermore, I gotta say that naming drinks is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the craft; its this microcosm of creative writing that can give the end user an insight into your personality, be culturally relevant, or just weird for the sake of being weird, and I absolutely love that. As I type this, I am stumbling upon the real issue at hand, LAZINESS. To name a drink a “something” Negroni, is just outright egregious (the exception I might be willing to make is the Negroni Spagliato, which is actually a thing), get it together guys and girls and have a little confidence in your own creative powers. Geez!
Now am I against Negroni variations? Absolutely not! I wanna put them into my mouth and swallow them constantly. They do need new names though. Everything is a variation on something else which in turn got its moves from somewhere else. This is true in almost all creative fields- music, painting, architecture, graphic design, poetry, prose, food, and yes cocktails. But come on, the Rolling Stones didn’t call themselves “Vanilla Muddy Waters” nor did Screeching Weasel call themselves “Suburban Midwest Ramones” even though, in both cases, that’s exactly what they were.
Before I go I feel the need to call out the worst offenders in this category- those who don’t know their Negroni (or any classic cocktail for that matter) variation is actually another classic. Case in point, while doing research on a sunny afternoon, I stumbled across a cocktail menu for a Harlem restaurant owned by a James Beard Award winning celebrity chef, which has, on the menu a “Bourbon Negroni.” Now I don’t fault this chef in the slightest, and I don’t know who is running that program, but I cant help but wonder why, if you are working at that caliber of a restaurant, haven’t heard of the Boulevardier (I can already here it, “but a Boulevardier isn’t 1:1:1”:.. now now, I said “significant” changes to the proportions…), its mind baffling. Morale of the story is, go grab some classic cocktail books, along with contemporary books on the subject, read them, learn the cocktails, then grab your creativity by the horns and have a blast, but please don’t stop when it comes to the name.