You may recall a few weeks ago I wrote a piece for the San Francisco Chronicle about bartenders being less snobby that proved a bit controversial. Now a few others have taken up the conversation.
My initial story had the following quote from Erick Castro of Rickhouse that touched a few nerves:
"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."
So then I wrote a blog post called, "Why Can't I Get a McDonald's Hamburger at Chez Panisse?" and that gave birth to more discussion.
The Paul Clarke picked up the topic at Serious Eats in a post called "Serious Cocktails: Is the Customer Always Right?" In it he asks:
Just as it'd be ridiculous to enter a dive bar and ask for a Last Word, isn't there something at least slightly wrong with going to a bar with a spectacular selection of spirits—an ambitious and balanced cocktail menu and a carefully developed mixological aesthetic—and asking for the bibulous equivalent of a baloney sandwich?
This story picked up another 67 comments so far.
Then Lauren Clark picked up the topic on DrinkBoston.com in a post called "We've Seen This Before" and adds a very good point- that this whole debate is nothing new and has been seen in food, beer, and wine.
I experienced this kind of change first-hand during my brief stint in the craft brewing industry in the late ’90s. Even though craft beer had been proliferating for over a decade at that point, people would still walk into a brewpub and order a Miller Lite. The bartender would explain that there was no Miller Lite on tap, that the establishment sold only beer that was made on the premises, and he would suggest a golden ale — milder than the pub’s other beers but still way more flavorful than mass-produced light lager. The customer would either leave or try the golden ale. If he tried it and liked it enough, he might get adventuresome later on and order an IPA or a porter. It was a process, and it didn’t happen overnight.
This is fun. I hope this discussion continues on and offline.