The Craft Cocktail scene is getting bigger and more intricate, and equally pretentious and almost snooty with ingredients.
I have been reading a lot of Bar Menus and new age bar books lately, and one of the many items bothering me is all the “Craft” Syrups going on (and the “infusion” of different liquors – but saving that for later), and just how it keeps showing up in nearly every drink. Why do we need all these Syrups? Lime Syrup? Okay maybe, but Tonic Syrup? REALLY? Ginger + Something else Syrup (lemongrass I have seen paired, along with the listed Lime).
Where did this path start? I remember Craft Cocktails started with just upping the ingredients of the Cocktail itself (Tequila Sunrises with House-made Grenadine, Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice and High grade tequila with a fancier cherry garnish), but now we expand that further and have to add Tonic Syrup infused with Lemongrass and Club Soda for our Gin and Tonics.
I know this has a place for high-end restaurants but at the same time, why do Cocktail books do this to the reader? It is not easy for most to get started making cocktails at home, and then to introduce anything involving the stove, just makes things more difficult (not to mention that you now need to bottle said syrup and of course you only made it for 1 single cocktail).
Shows like Bar Rescue, the short lived On the Rocks, and to some extent Restaurant Impossible tried hard in my eyes to keep it simple, and reachable to the viewer, so that it could be replicated – ultimately because going to bars and restaurants is a communal experience and where people want to be when they drink. Most people do not create cocktails at home for themselves, and stick to parties only – and thus the frustrating part of cocktail books pushing craft syrups, and now my local mid-level restaurant following suit (and not doing a very good job), or just using Torani, heh).
Now, being that I myself make Custom Cocktails, I tend to sometimes venture in to thinking about craft syrups to make the cocktails taste, but mostly sound better – which is the goal I believe of many Bar Managers and their design of the Cockail Menu…..if it sounds Sexy and/or Cool, then people will order it, despite that it might not taste that great.
During my World Cup Drink Run, I tried very hard to stick with creating recipes using alcohol within the realm of obtainable at local liquor stores and not getting all craft cocktail on the whole thing, but I did go off the ranch and out on the edge and made Wine Syrup (a 1st I believe, because I have never seen it anywhere else before), which I felt I had to hold my nose on because it is extending a little too far out of the realm of true cocktails, and sticking to the basics…..BUT IT WORKED OUT GREAT! – Hypocrite? No, definitely not. But I would certainly like to see Cocktail books go back to maybe sticking to fun, creative cocktails, and then have anecdotes much like Cook books do.
As for the bars out there? Well, if you can pull it off, that’s all well and good – but not every damn drink needs to have a specialized ingredient. We have 40+ classic cocktails for a reason.