Category: blogging
Rule 2, Tiki Month 2016

Fred Yarm, and the Mainstreaming of Modern Tiki

[caption id="attachment_11080" align="aligncenter" width="2000"]Fred Yarm Source—Eater Fred Yarm
Source—Eater[/caption] I call Fred Yarm (Cocktail Virgin Slut), The Hardest Working Man in Cocktail Blogness™, and if you disagree with me that he is the absolute king of cocktail blogging, I'll fight you. (Well, I won't fight you! But that other girl... looks like I could take her!) There are other bloggers who may get more hits, when they stumble around to actually posting (cough, Morganthaler, cough) but Fred produces quality content, day after day, month after month, and has done so, steadily, for years. In addition, he has taken over guidance for Mixology Monday, which keeps the blood flowing in the cocktailosphere. He is a treasure to the sometimes struggling world of cocktail blogging, so raise a glass, will you? I admit it seems a bit odd, even to me, that I am writing about Fred during Tiki Month. From his earliest days blogging, I always cataloged him in my mind as a "brown, bitter, and stirred" kinda guy. And that was true... to an extent. What makes Fred such a valuable resource for cocktail types in general is that he doesn't really make editorial decisions about what he blogs. He, for the most part, blogs what he drinks. Now sure, he decides from drink to drink what to have and to write about, but he chooses from what is out there in the vibrant, mainstream craft cocktail scene of Boston, and as I said, he blogs a lot... in statistically significant amounts. In aggregate, Cocktail Virgin Slut is a history of where the cocktail scene has gone, and where it is going. If you see Fred increasingly blogging about something, you can be sure it is a coming thing in the national cocktail movement. And what Fred has been blogging more and more in the last few years is Tiki drinks. Just so far this young year, Fred has written up at least seven certifiable Tiki drinks (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), with at least six more that are at a minimum Tiki Compliant (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 is there, can you find it?). Are there more? As I said, Fred blogs a lot. This trend in Fred's blogging kind of snuck up on me, and I didn't really twig to it until I was preparing for this year's Tiki Month. I actually gave thought to just throwing up my hands and re-blogging Cocktail Virgin as this year's theme. There were all manner of lame virgiin/volcano jokes in my mind. You are all quite welcome that I had a cup of tea and a lie down until the thought went away. But I have borrowed several of Fred's finds this month, either to blog to to serve guests. [caption id="attachment_11081" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Fred's first book, Drink & Tell. Unlike scores of other blog-inspired book authors, he's produced a mass of good content on his same blog since.[/caption] My main point to this post is that Fred is exhibit A among the evidence for what I've been talking about with the modern Tiki movement.
  1. Tiki drinks are coming back into favor with mainstream drinkers big time.
  2. Those Tiki drinks can increasingly be found happily being served in full Tiki style right alongside the Vieux Carrés and Negronis of "traditional" craft cocktails
Now, some people might lament that even a great Tiki drink is a little diminished when it is served in some Prohibition-themed speakeasy-style joint. And perhaps you do not get the full experience in that circumstance. But you still are exposed to the greatness of this style of mixed drink, and may well want to seek out one of the true modern Tiki dens that are flourishing around the country. Tiki is back. Fred Yarm is proof. Let's all make sure it stays true to what it is, and doesn't slide back into obscurity
blogging, Mixology Monday, Rule 2

The Mixology Monday Revitalization

One of the most important things in the history of the Cocktailosphere's development was Paul Clarke's establishment of Mixology Monday. The putatively monthly blog carnival helped foster a sense of community in the early online cocktail community and gave people an assist in maintaining posting momentum. In the early days, MxMo was an event, and a top source of traffic for many blogs. Over the course of several years, however, Paul (and others) became more involved in professional writing for more traditional outlets. The MxMos started being monthly-ish, and they did not spark the pre-event chatter and excitement, nor the number of participants, that they once did. Mixology Monday was withering on the vine. I actually hosted the last of Paul's carnivals that got off the ground right here, with the theme of Tiki. Paul finally announced that he was going to put Mixology Monday to rest around the same time that one time traffic king Darcy O'Neil was composing his darkly thoughtful post, Cocktail Blogging is Dead. Both are symptoms of the same very real phenomenon. And neither makes sense without the other. No, Darcy, this is not my support/rebuttal to your post. Expect that in November, when I have time to write thoughtfully about it. But this is by way of a preview. Because when Paul announced that he was going down for the third time, Fred Yarm, the Hardest Working Cocktail Blogger on the Internet™, stepped up to the plate and took on the task of reviving MxMo. (Oh, while we are talking about Fred, buy his damn book.) Things are going well. The second MxMo of the Yarm reboot (everything gets a reboot nowadays) is up this morning at Wordsmithing Pantagruel, with the theme of Bein' Green. Ed managed 38 entries for this one, a damn good number. Go to his site and get to exploring the world of green drinks, ingredients, and garnish. Mixology Monday embodies what cocktail blogging is really, sustainably about: Individuals writing about all aspects of drinks, out of love and a search for knowledge and entertainment. The posts are all over the place, and that's more than just a good thing. It's the thing.
Hey Doug! You're right. Ed's roundup looks great. But I think I missed something. Where is your MxMo post?
Shut up. abc
Bartenders, Rule 2

Mixology vs. Bartending, from the Bartenders’ Perspective

Everyone who in in the bar industry, or who simply orbit it as I do, has some vision in their head of the difference between Bartenders and Mixologists. Yes, I know there has also been argument over the term Mixologist in the past. But let's face it, we've all sort of settled on it as a term for craft bartender, at least in the professional context. Most of the folks I talk with who think about the distinction, do some from the perspective of the Mixologists. It's who we are, or who we most often are looking at over a bar. When we do talk about Bartenders, it often is in a lightly condescending fashion, as in this tweet of mine recently. The reason for this is simply that all Mixologists are pros. It is in the definition. (Not all are good, but all are over-trained pros.) Where as most Bartenders are not. Most Bartenders are transients, going with temporary employment on their way to somewhere else. But not all Bartenders are inexperienced amateurs. A small minority are serious pros in their own, different, right. But since there are so vastly more Bartenders than Mixologists, that small minority is likely much larger than the whole body of Mixologists. And some of those pros blog too. And do it entertainingly, with plenty of valuable things to say. I recently highlighted Tales From a Bar as one of these Old Pro Bartender Blogs. And that was all an over-long introduction to another of these Old Pro blogs, The Truth About Bartending. A recent post, Mixology vs. Bartending, is one of those funny reads I mentioned that has a lot to say. The post breaks down a lot of the key differences between established professional Mixologists, and established professional Bartenders, both from a customer's viewpoint, but also as a career choice for each. Each area he breaks down is a very valid point of comparison, and for his non-professional reader of either stripe, he has a good sense of which terms need definition to understand what he's talking about. I'll add that, like CaveMan of the above mentioned Tales From a Bar, "Freddy" blogs anonymously. If you look around at the Old Pro Bartender Blogs, you'll see that another difference Freddy doesn't mention is that Mixologists blog under their own name, while Bartenders blog anonymously. Read Freddy's About page for an in depth list of the practical reasons for this. Then read around his blog for lots more interesting stuff, including his excellent taste in cocktail pundits. To be clear, I recognize that you can in some cases, and to one degree or another, meld the two species. Take some talent, subject it to enough pressure for 16 years (as of this week), and you get a diamond like this