I remember many years ago when I was a bartender, and if you didn’t know how to make a cocktail there was this recipe box, circa 1985, filled with common cocktails noting the ingredients to make them, most which involved some sort of spirit (obviously) and mixer. We would make our “sweet and sour” by mixing water with a dried pre-packaged mix. On occasion I would get curious and start mixing A with B, and sometimes C to make some sort of crazy concoction, that was then often put into shot glasses and quickly downed by happy TCU students. There was no real training though…just that box of recipes.
Fast forward to today where the inventive cocktail, using real ingredients, is becoming as popular as a glass of Chardonnay used to be. On Monday afternoon 40 or so Dallas bartenders gathered at Victor Tango’s for an interactive seminar and conversation on how to truly hone your mixology craft hosted by St. Germain Edlerflower Liqueur.
While noshing on flat-breads and fried green beans, Jason Kosmas (now with Bolsa, recently with Neighborhood Services, but maybe best known for his role as managing partner for the ultra-hip Employees Only cocktail bar in New York and co-author of the recently published Speakeasy) took the group through a step-by-step on cocktails through the ages (that time when I was a bartender was referred to as “the second dark age,” when the pre-made mixer ruled. The first “dark age” was prohibition.) Additionally the group discussed changes in the industry, growth of spirits and cocktails on local menus, the need to be seasonal with ingredients, and the constantly evolving mixology trends.
Cocktails were tasted as well, with Kosmas masterfully teaching the group how to liven up some old classics, including an “Old Fashioned” recreated into his “New Fang” or new fangled cocktail of rye whisky, bitters, a single sugar cube and 1/2 ounce of St. Germain, stirred in the mixing glass for 40 rotations (essentially until cold) and served in a highball over ice. The St. Gremain’s citrus and floral characteristics soften the bold whisky flavor, transforming this classic cocktail into something new and interesting.
And that trend is growing in Dallas. Though some cities may be slightly ahead of us, like New York or Chicago, Dallas’ cocktail reputation is growing, with establishments like Victor Tango’s, Neighborhood Services, The Second Floor Bistro and Bolsa really putting us on the sensational libations map. Add in local spirits, like Deep Eddy’s Sweet Tea Vodka from Austin, De Los Vodka made here, and Balcones Whisky made in Waco, and we realize quickly that Dallas can compete with other cities for making great libations.