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Here is my latest story in the San Francisco Chronicle, December 27th 2009 edition.

Bartenders shift from lecture to nurture

Camper English, Special to The Chronicle

Friday, December 25, 2009

A common sight in the nation's speakeasy-themed bars is a list of rules about what one can and cannot do - and can and cannot order. But among a newer batch of bars, the trendiest design feature is dialogue.

"Three years ago it was OK to be rude. It used to be 'I'm not making a cosmo and you're a horrible person.' Now we say, 'I'm not making a cosmo, but I'm making you something better than a cosmo.' And if they like (the drink) they trust you for the whole night," says Erick Castro, general manager at Rickhouse in San Francisco's Financial District.

Bartenders at top cocktail spots have shifted from a lecturing mode into more of a nurturing one, and Castro says the strategy has paid off.

"The same people who used to complain that we didn't have Bud Light and Grey Goose are now our biggest customers, coming in three times a week and ordering rye Manhattans," he says.

speakeasy rules cocktail bar with rules

Read the rest of the story here. The story centers on how bartenders are trusting consumers to trust them more, instead of focusing on lists of rules of behavior. The story namechecks Heaven's Dog, Bourbon & Branch, Rickhouse, The Alembic in San Francisco, Copa d'Oro in Santa Monica, Drink in Boston, Klee in Singapore, and door74 in Amsterdam.

Yeah, I get around.

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