For awhile recently, and these things are hard to quantify coming off the Covid shut-downs and slow-downs, it appeared that many mixologists overrated themselves. 

They had no respect for the by-the-book recipes, either for the specific ingredients or the specific measurements. When a patron orders a particular drink by name, there are reasonable expectations. The drink needs to be served in the correct glassware, have the correct amount of ingredients, made with quality spirits, properly measured, and be “battle-tested” as to flavor and palate-feel. 

There seems to be a rather large group of bartenders/mixologists who consider themselves outside the rules. These arrogant people don’t use measuring devices, don’t respect the stated ingredients in a generally industry accepted recipe, and have their own ideas as to how to present the final product.  

I don’t mean for this epistle to come off as an anti-creative diatribe. I am all in favor of creativity behind the bar. Many times the resulting drink is quite good and worthy of praise. 

But when a patron orders a specific and named cocktail, there are expectations. Most named cocktails have recipes which are based on history and/or generally accepted definitions. Those specifics are to be respected. There is a reason they are in place. They work well and are good. An added benefit is that in theory, a named drink should have a certain universality in characteristics. You can order a Cosmo in California or in New Orleans, and they should be darn close in every measurable aspect. 

If a mixologist wishes to add his or her own touched, wonderful. But they have a responsibility to let the patron know of the deviation from the generally accepted recipe. No one wants to stifle progress or creativity. Most of us embrace the changes, if not for the sake to variety, maybe just curious about the alteration. 

Yet, we deserve to know if the generally accepted recipe will not be followed. We can be directly informed at the time of the order as to where the mixologist is taking our taste buds. A change of usual spirit. A change of quantity. A change of auxiliary ingredient. A change of presentation. A change in the construction of the cocktail. Or any of a variety of deviations from a stated recipe. We need to know before the product is delivered to us and we are expected to enjoy it (hopefully) and to pay for it (necessarily). 

It is the responsibility of the bar/restaurant to inform us should the end result not be what we have ordered. The problem often comes into play when bars do not know what the original recipe is and they think their presentation is well in-line with the historical understanding of what the cocktail is. 

On more than one occasion, and I am certain this has happened to you, on tasting the drink delivered, I have noted that the cocktail is not what I ordered. More often than not the response is, “Well, that’s our version.”

Before we reach that point together, the patron should be informed that the Sazerac ordered is not the traditional creation. That change information can be done verbally, or notes on a menu, or even by a name change with a reference to the original version of the cocktail. But communication needs to take place after the order is placed and before the delivery of the cocktail. 

As in all matters, this is not Rocket Science. It’s easy. It’s necessary. And it shows respect for everyone involved. 

Yet, ersatz forms of cocktails keep being made and placed in front of the patron. I hate to send drinks back but when I receive no respect from an establishment which is what this is, I am left with no choice but to refuse a drink which I ordered. 

The problem is that I did not order the drink placed before me.