A full blown epidemic.
This is going to be a short anecdote about an experience I had at a bar last week. I was out on the town with the intent to chat with my friend about her recent breakup, and order a Negroni. For those of you who don’t know about this blessed beverage, I’ll tell you: It is exactly one ounce Campari, one ounce gin, one ounce sweet vermouth. Any other proportion then perfect three’s, and this cocktail is kiboshed.
So, I was sitting at this very “hip” west end bar, and I order a Negroni. The bartender (a Mixologist With A Beard), began to ask me if I had any “preferences”.
I said, “What do you mean?”
He said, “Perhaps a different artisanal gin, or have you ever tried a white Negroni?”
I said, “Oh, no what’s the gin, Tanqueray?”
He said, “Yes.”
I said, “That’s fine.”
He said, “Any preference on the vermouth?”
I said… “No.” Because no, I don’t need to re-invent the wheel here, buddy. I ordered and enjoyed a Negroni from Fran’s diner last week, so you’re not in competition with the crème de la crème. Just put three shots in a glass, toss some ice on it and call it a fucking day.
So he makes the Negroni, I have a sip of it, it’s good, and he walks away to try make a molecular experiment of the next patron’s cocktail. After he walks away, his friend, Mixologist With Beard Number 2 walks up to me, and I shit you not, he says “I saw how he made that Negroni, he didn’t stir it properly. Take a sip and tell me if you want me to remake it.”
I took a sip and was like, “Tastes like a Negroni to me!”
I’ll also tell you that at this point the friend I went for drinks with was trying to tell me (through tears), about how her psychopath boyfriend just dumped her for “dropping too many crumbs” while she ate, and for being a “skinny-fat gangly walker”. I do not have the attention span for this much debauchery at once.
But, Mixologist With Beard Number 2 refused to believe that this drink, this pathetic work of art, was made properly, and insisted on re-stirring it. He poured my Negroni back in the glass and started stirring it with this weird wrist motion, which I didn’t have the heart or energy to tell him was NOT different from how Mixologist With Beard Number 1 stirred the Negroni. He poured it back in my glass and waited while I tasted it, as if he was a raw Italian cook in a back alley rotisserie, and I was Anthony Bourdain. I tasted it and said:
“It’s a little watered down.”
BECAUSE YOU STIRRED IT TWICE ON ICE YOU DAMN FOOL! Every bartender knows that you build a drink quickly, and only if you’re doing it in front of someone, do you put the ice in first because it immediately dilutes the beverage!
Anyway, what’s my point? Oh yeah, I was posing the question: when did Mixologists With Beards become a Toronto epidemic? Like a real job that required a specific amount of skill and prestige? I creeped the first Mixologist later on Instagram, (before Instagram, I think these folks were just called “Bartenders”), and his bio was beyond something mildly annoying like, “Whisky Enthusiast”, it was “Cocktail Chemist”. Like, shut up! Give me a computer, a few testosterone pills, and I’m a cocktail chemist! I’m a Mixologist With a Beard! It’s like when you see ads for GP8 Water and the tagline is that it has “more oxygen than regular water” and you’re sitting there scratching your head like, NO, it doesn’t, because the molecular structure of water is H2o — and H30 or H40 or even H2.50 would make it NOT water, FFS, when did this world become so GOD DAMNED complicated? Back in my day, water was water, a Negroni was a Negroni, and a child’s bus fair was 25 cents!
I think I’m done with this rant, but you have not heard the last of Mixologists With Beards because they are EVERYWHERE, I promise, if you have not encountered one yet, YOU WILL. And you will wonder: how many of you can exist? The answer I offer you is scientifically proven, and scary: infinity. Infinity Mixologists With Beards. And I’ll leave you with that spooky thought this Halloween weekend.