Some years ago, the craft and classic cocktail resurgence hit its stride. This welcome revolution came with an entrance fee though, as most cocktails found their home on menus with a number value affixed beside them, obviously. For argument's sake, let's say that number is now 13. The reason being is its the most common price I've seen on menus, and, 13 was also my jersey number, so in the words of every member of The Iron Islands ever – what is dead may never die. I take massive umbrage with this number when it comes to cocktail menus, however. The fact of the matter is there is a large swath of cocktails out there that have no business costing as much as the quality ones other bar programs are producing.
It should be noted that we live in an extraordinary time when it comes to drinks. The sheer number of high-quality products available to put behind a bar, paired with a wealth of knowledge available to bartenders means there is no excuse for sub-par drinks. However, there is a lack of education on the part of some bar managers, simply because they were never adequately taught themselves. Not their fault, but facts are facts. Cocktail culture has been on a massive uptick the past decade, with a vast roster of industry vets to thank. There is no reason to pay $13 for a completely average drink, when you can do five minutes of research and get something ethereal, not just to your pallet, but to your soul.
Ultimately, it is on consumers to vote with their wallets. The development of flavor, technique, creativity, and balance are not skills you learn overnight. If you do find yourself lucky enough to be seated in front of one of Southern California's many talented bartenders, for god sakes, order a real drink. Yes, you like the Old Fashioned. Thanks to Don Draper, we all do now (seriously, why did I wait till Mad Men to discover this classic staple?). But what about something with an Amaro? Mezcal instead of whiskey? Various bitters? Even the sugars in the syrup can create new levels of intrigue. Not that there is anything wrong with an excellent Old Fashioned, but if your bartender reaches for an orange for anything other than the rind for garnish, I personally say run.
The point is, if you're the type of person who cares enough to ask the chef what local farm your dinner comes from, don't bother asking if you are sipping a $13 Tito's and soda.
To further torture the Game of Thrones call back – shame.