It's a natural progression I suppose. First came the rebirth of cocktails in the 1990s. Soon to follow came the "mixologists", because obviously who would want a mere bartender mixing their drinks? Besides me, I mean. Now we have celebrity mixologists, because why should Food Network chefs have all the fun? And with celebrity, as we know all too well, comes freedom and license to create. Whether what they're creating needed to be created is debatable. Of course the same could be said for most of the consumer goods we're told we can't live without.
This all comes to mind because of this article I read in last weeks NYT. We've all heard of barrel aged bourbons. Now, taking it to its next logical step (this is where the "does it need to be created" part comes in), bartenders at trendy (read high $$) bars are now barrel aging whole cocktails. That negroni I dearly love, which I consider a perfect drink, apparently isn't good enough. The new alcohol alchemists behind the bar are throwing it and other drinks into small barrels and aging them for up to 3+ months. Supposedly this adds complexity and character as the ingredients oxidize (particularly vermouths and other botanicals). Not to be a closed minded old barfly, but please would you just give me a fresh, well-made drink. The old classics are classics for a reason. I really don't think a light will go on in some unknown darkened corner of my liver if I drink a 3 month old Manhattan. To me a classic case of just because you can do it doesn't mean you should. Thoughts?
accompanying photo of Clyde Common bartender Jeffrey Morganthaler from the NY Times