In the digital magazine version of the new Drinks International, you can find my stories on trends in bars/cocktails in New York and San Francisco, including things like catering to Instagram, slushie-formatting everything, bars-within-bars, and absentee bartenders.
One of my favorite bartender-visionaries Thad Vogler released a book about learning/purchasing spirits by going to where they're made. While Vogler owns Bar Agricole, Canada's Jen Agg owns Agrikol in Montreal, and also has a book out from a very different owner's perspective, called I Hear She's a Real Bitch. Like Vogler, Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown travelled to Cuba to write their latest book (I think it's their third on Cuba cocktails and bartenders), while Brad Thomas Parsons wrote no doubt his most fun book to date, starring cats that live at distilleries. New Orleans rum legend Brian Rhea finally wrote a book that should be full of tales from his many years in bars, while for newbie drinkers we have Drink Like a Bartender and for sci-fi fans there is a whole book of out-of-this-world cocktails awaiting. Beyond that there's an American history and booze book, a book that tells bartenders how to win international cocktail competitions, a book on cider (and shrubs and vinegars), one on bar cart styling, and finally a brand book from Fever Tree Tonic Water.
While robots will eventually make all our jobs obsolete, they seem to be coming for bartenders first. Three robot bartender happenings have popped up on my radar recently.
When I'm talking to my bartender friends and mention making cocktails, they all say some version of, "Wait what? You're bartending now?" The answer is "sorta."
The owners of Range Restaurant announced that they'll be closing at the end of the year after 12 years in operation. Let's talk about how important this restaurant was for the world of San Francisco cocktails. This little restaurant was a surprising nexus of talented bartenders. I've been making mental notes of "nexus bars" for a while as I find it fascinating- the bars that see the most important bartenders come through them. Sometimes it's because those were the hottest venues in town, sometimes it's because everyone wanted to work with the bar manager, sometimes like at Range, well, I...