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    Episode 216 – Why I Like the Term “Mixologist”

    What’s shakin, cocktail fans?Happy New Year, and welcome to Episode 216 of The Modern Bar Cart Podcast!Featured Cocktail – Naked and FamousThis episode’s featured cocktail is the Naked and Famous. To make it, you’ll need:¾ OZ. MEZCAL¾ OZ. YELLOW CHARTREUSE¾ OZ. APEROL¾ OZ. FRESH LIME JUICECombine these ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, give em a good, healthy shake until all the ingredients are properly chilled and diluted, then strain into a stemmed cocktail glass and enjoy.This is another one of your “Modern Classic” cocktails, like the Penicillin, the Revolver, the Jungle Bird, and pretty much anything else invented in the latter half of the 20th century or during the Cocktail Renaissance. The Naked and Famous was created by New York bartender Joaquín Simó, who basically thought of it as – his words here – the “bastard love child” of a Last Word and a Paper Plane.It’s got that lovely perfect ratio and acidity from both of those drinks, as well as the Last Word’s herbality and the Paper Plane’s slight bitterness and rosy hue. And if you take a step back just to admire the flavors in this sucker, there’s a lot to appreciate. You’ve got multiple sweet modifiers, but only one citrus juice, which might make you think that the drink would be out of balance, but the malic acid in the lime juice and the mineral and smoke components from the Mezcal are both pulling double duty to make sure that all the various flavors and tastes remain in tension, without one completely taking over.This is my takeaway for the Naked and Famous cocktail: a truly talented mixologist (and yes, I’m using that word intentionally) can achieve “balance” in a drink by going beyond taste. In simple, 3-ingredient classics like the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and Martini, balance is an agreement between sweet, boozy, and slightly bitter tastes. Too sweet? Use less of the sweet thing. Too boozy, use more of the sweet thing, and maybe an extra dash of bitters. This move generally works across base spirits, across sweeteners, and across bitters.But once you escalate to four extremely complex, unique, and assertive ingredients with TONS of flavor and texture working above and beyond the sweet/sour/bitter and boozy realm, the stakes are higher: more can go wrong – i.e. there’s more ways to mess up the drink. But with great risk comes the potential reward of realizing something so complex, unexpectedly harmonious, and noteworthy that it earns itself a spot on cocktail Olympus. That’s what the smoke, minerality, malic acid bitterness, and herbal complexity are doing here in the Naked and Famous Cocktail, pushing balance beyond mere taste and into the realm of complex flavor.Why I Like the Term “Mixologist”The idea for this episode came when I happened across an interesting thread on the friendliest and definitely least polemical place on the internet, where everyone treats each other with respect, cites all their sources, and never treats an opinion like a fact. So anyway…I was browsing Reddit, and I came across a conversation on the “cocktail” subreddit where someone posted a picture of an orange with one thin strip of peel taken out of it where someone had clearly used a channel knife to create a nice, thin orange twist. The title of the post was something to the effect of: “Tell me you live with a mixologist without telling me you live with a mixologist.”The top comment sort of side-stepped the point of the post, which was: “hey guys, anyone ever encounter this common phenomenon that we may have in common?,” instead saying:Am I the only one who hates the term mixologist? No offense to OP (which is reddit speak for “original poster”), I think this is a cute post, I’ve just always hated the term and wonder if anyone else who has tended bar for a living agrees.If you’ve spent much time around cocktails at all, you’ve probably heard this conversation – hell, you’ve probably even engaged in it yourself. The term mixologist is one that seeped its way back into public hospitality discourse at the same time the Cocktail Renaissance began around 20 years ago, and since then, people have generally either gotten behind the term wholeheartedly, or slammed it for being pretentious. This is not a new debate, but I don’t think I’ve ever really weighed in on it here on the podcast, so I figured this would be a great time to make my stance known.We’ll do this by first taking a good, hard look at this word, “Mixologist,” both in terms of its historical usage and its various meanings and connotations. Then, we’ll size it up compared to other words used to describe bartenders, and finally, I’ll make a case for why I think it’s a pretty good one – maybe not without fault, but certainly worth keeping around.The History of the Word “Mixologist”I feel like one consistent moves I make in these audio essays is to quote from David Wondrich’s book, Imbibe!. It’s almost comical in its consistency. But blame Dave for writing such a useful and definitive text. As long as it applies, I use it as my North Star.On page 55 of the “Updated and Revised Edition,” he lays out the first textual usage of the word “mixologist.” He writes:“In France, it takes an academy of intellectuals to modify the language. In America, all it takes is a guy with an idea. The term [mixologist] first appeared in the Knickerbocker Magazine in 1856, in a humor piece by Charles G. Leland. In it, the narrator overhears a sport in the hotel room next door referring to the bartender as a ‘mixologist of tipulars’ and of “tipicular fixings’; Leland’s coinage caught on, first humorously and then […] as a way of referring to a bartender who was, as the Washington Post later phrased it, ‘especially proficient at putting odds and ends of firewater together.’ […] By the 1870s [less than 20 years later], saloonkeepers were using it in their advertising, with only a hint of a smile.That’s what I love about Dave’s writing: you get so much nuance in so little space. That “only a hint of a smile” shot at the end really gets me.Regardless, my most important takeaways from this blurb are as follows:First, the word “mixologist,” like the cocktail, is an American invention. Why is that? Well, it’s because in other countries, you need an academy of intellectuals to change the language, whereas here in the U.S., all it takes is a guy with an idea. This raises a second and closely related point:“Mixologist,” is what we’d call a “neologism,” (literally, a new word). The people of the Gilded Age (both in America and abroad) were as fond of such things in the age of the telegraph as their Elizabethan forebears in the wake of the printing press. And guys, I hate to break it to you. You’re listening to a “podcast,” which was itself a neologism not all that long ago. It seems that during periods of technological disruption, these funky, hybrid words and phrases come crawling out of the woodwork.The last important takeaway from Imbibe! Is that the word “mixologist” went from a term used for shock effect in a humor piece to widespread acceptance in less than 20 years, and that was in an age before the telephone, which means it could spread only as fast as telegraphs, steam engines, and stagecoaches could transport people of means and their ideas from place to place. There must have been something to it back then, because otherwise it wouldn’t have reappeared in our midst as if summoned by the libations we rediscovered after almost a century of obsolescence.So, if I had to just end this episode here…full stop…and make a single, elegant case for why the term “mixologist” is just fine by me, I’d simply say: well, the word “cocktail” is also a neologism. So how come you’ll order a “cocktail” one minute and complain about the “mixologist” who made it for you the next minute? It’s logically inconsistent.Etymology of the Word “Mix”But as you know, our fancy drinks don’t necessarily inhabit the realm of logic, straight lines, and clean mathematical proofs. They are as mongrel as the word “mixologist” itself, and to understand why, it might help to pick apart the roots of this word and think about their connotations through history.Let’s start at the beginning, with the term,”mix.” If you’re looking to check my work on this, I use a source called (my favorite source for word origins). Here’s the first and most relevant portion of their entry for the word “mix,” which comes into English parlance in the 1530s. It means to:unite or blend promiscuously into one mass, body, or assemblage,” […] from [the] Middle English myxte [meaning] […] “mingled, blended, composed of more than one element, […] from [the] Latin mixtus, […] “to mix, mingle, blend; fraternize with; throw into confusion.“Promiscuously.” “Fraternize with.” “Throw into confusion.” Not only do we get the cut-and-dry denotation that entails combining multiple parts into a larger whole, but we also get these slightly tawdry connotations – these ideas and activities that tend to blossom in bars and other such dens of ill repute.When you look at the etymology of the word “mix,” you get the distinct sense that these “parts” we’re talking about aren’t naturally designed to go together. It gives you the feeling that if things are chaotic, confused, and naughty when they’re combined, then it’s probably better to leave well enough alone and NOT tempt fate by putting them into a cocktail shaker.Part of the history of the word “mix,” clearly has to do with the simple, material process of putting things together, but the rest seems more concerned with the aftermath…the volatile outcomes that occur when the drink hits the glass, and the drinker proceeds to empty that glass. “Mix,” ultimately, is more at home in the cluttered den of the wizard or the alchemist than it is in the sterile lab of the particle physicist.Etymology of the Suffix, “ologist”But then, does that mean the second half of the word “mixologist” is in direct tension with its bedfellow? We all know that the common suffix “ologist” has a pretty formal and “sciencey” feel to it, so what gives?According, once again, to, this suffix is derived from the Greek word, logos, meaning “word, speech, statement, discourse.” It’s that last term that’s particularly relevant to us because the people who drive the discourse on a certain subject become – formally or informally – the ones who control it and share their knowledge with others; The Academy, if you will.Logos also has a quasi-mystical variation in tone if you track it through the backwaters of Stoic philosophy and Christian theology, but for our purposes here, logos is the jurisdiction of scholars and people of wisdom.Taken together, the two linguistic components of the word “mixologist” present us with an interesting tension: mixing different ingredients (as in a cocktail) seems to trigger certain unexpected, racy, or wayward results, but if such an action must be undertaken, perhaps our only hope for a happy outcome is to turn to someone who has managed to tame the lightning through wisdom, craft, and study.This is the dual nature of the word “mixologist.” To me, it perfectly refers to the volatility and destructive potential of the ingredients that constitute its domain, yet also the hidden, ancient wisdom that the only difference between poison and medicine often resides in the dosage.Alternatives to the Term “Mixologist”Now that we’ve looked into the bones of what “mixologist” means, let’s take a quick spin through the musculature and outer appearance of the debate as it applies to our current moment, focusing in especially on the OTHER words we use (or prefer) in place of it.Going back to that Reddit comment that triggered this whole thang, you may recall that this person claims to have “tended bar for a living.” So we’ve got a bartender who doesn’t like the word “mixologist.”At this point, we need to face up to the strongest case against the word, which is: it makes bartending sound way fancier than it is most of the time. And by way of illustration, let’s look at the words “bartender” and “barkeep,” what I would estimate are the two most-used synonyms for “mixologist.”Immediately, one thing becomes glaringly, screamingly clear: bartenders and barkeeps are servants who perform a duty or job that is firmly grounded in a place – that place being the bar. They are servants OF the bar. In the same way a peasant shepherd “keeps” or “tends” a flock, a bartender or barkeep maintains a tavern, public house, or drinking establishment, and those who patronize it. This stands in stark contrast to the word “mixologist,” which focuses on the act of mixing drinks (rather than the place where those drinks are mixed) and the wise person (the individual genius, one might say) who does the mixing. The wise sage behind the bar – someone who might deserve a name like, in Jerry Thomas’s case, “The Professor.” Such a person doesn’t sound like a servant to me.Perhaps the trouble here is that the term “mixologist” is in direct conflict with cleaning puke out of the bathroom sink for the 2nd time in a shift. It’s incompatible with customers who don’t tip, or (worse) who dine and dash. It’s anathema to programs where most drinks are served from a bottle or a tap. Masters of the mixological arts don’t participate in such common drudgery. It is beneath them.On the other hand, there’s great value in learning a craft or a trade (and bartending is certainly both of those) and performing it willingly, with a smile, as your profession, and nothing more. There can be great pleasure in clocking in and clocking out without having your trade tied to your identity and your value as a person – in essence, allowing a job to merely be a job.When you look at things this way, the term “mixologist” does kinda seem a little big for its britches. It gives you the sense that people who use it to describe themselves, are probably too busy preening and fussing over obscure recipes and picayune flourishes to do the actual hospitality work of taking care of people. And at the end of the day, whether you walk into the dingiest dive bar or the most elevated cocktail den, you simply want to feel taken care of.I think this is the underlying truth that people are trying to articulate when they bash the word “mixologist.”Why “Mixologist” Should StayAs I teased at the beginning of the episode, and as the title suggests, I personally am a fan of the term mixologist. I think it should stay, for reasons that affect both the private and public good. Let’s start with the public case.You just heard me mention the notion that “mixology” as a high art and “hospitality” as a humble trade seem to be somewhat in conflict (that you shouldn’t expect first-rate hospitality from a mixologist, and you should get your hopes up for a well made cocktail from your barkeep). AND YET, when you look at the bars and cocktail programs that are vaunted as the “World’s Best,” you so often hear how good the hospitality is in addition to the drinks. At Tales of the Cocktail a few years ago, I remember attending a talk where Micah Melton, the beverage director over at the Aviary in Chicago, was talking about this concept of invisible hospitality – hospitality so good you hardly even notice it. So clearly, the present discourse has even the fanciest venues – places that could be said to employ mixologists – thinking and talking about hospitality.Here in DC, there’s a lot of talk about transitioning from a tipped model at bars and restaurants to one that incorporates a flat-rate gratuity and involves fairer, more consistent wages for front-of-house staff. This, of course, provides more stability, but it also eliminates the opportunity for some bartenders at some establishments to make gobs and gobs of cash. There’s legislation actively on ballots to enact this sort of thing, and people are still a little fuzzy about if it’s ultimately going to be a good thing for the service industry.It just so happens that the programs that are voluntarily exploring this type of non-tipped model are primarily places with high end bar programs, places that care enough about their teams and the quality of the work that they do to protect them with things like solid healthcare, retirement benefits, and paid leave – you know, things most of us take for granted. Personally, I think there’s a correlation between someone who cares enough about spirits and cocktails to call themselves a “mixologist” and the genuine impulse to try and move the entire industry forward. Instead of accepting the system as it stands and finding ways to squeeze every bit of juice out of a tipped payment model, they’re looking to rebuild the system in a way that works better for everyone – in a way that eliminates that “servant” status from the bartending trade and infuses more dignity and respect into the role.While I know it’s a weird way to look at things, I like “mixologist” precisely because it indicates that someone is invested enough in their work to ask tough questions and get their hands dirty with the details. I think these are the people we need leading positive change in the hospitality industry, and if “mixologist” happens to be a little indicator of that passion and that seriousness, I’m all for it.My private case for liking the word mixologist isn’t nearly as noble.I like it because it’s like that one friend in your extended friend group who always makes things interesting. Maybe not always the good kind of interesting – but reliably and sometimes hilariously interesting. The mixologist rarely plays it safe. They’re the ones trying to bottle the lightning; the ones brave enough to ask, “what if we added fernet to this?”; they’ll see your bet and raise you a bottle of Chartreuse; and then they’ll run behind the bar and shake you up a Ramos Gin fizz with a full three inches of foam above the rim of the glass.Will you still run into the mixologists who maybe should have spent more time learning the basics before painting the town purple with butterfly pea powder or black with activated charcoal? Oh for sure. I can’t browse Instagram or YouTube for 5 minutes without running into one of these jokers.But in the end, I will always be more interested in people who are brave enough to risk being the failed alchemist or the magician who uses the wrong spell than I am in the folks who are content to play it safe. To me, this is precisely the allure of cocktails and other such tipicular fixings – they push the envelope. And if I can get more envelope pushing by hanging out with mixologists, then that’s where I’ll be.So next time you hear someone self-identify as a “mixologist,” even if you don’t think they have the skills or the experience to justify such a lofty title, I hope that, like me, you can at least give them a little bit of love for owning both the seriousness and the risk involved in putting the “odds and ends of firewater together.” Maybe that person will serve you a drink that makes you yearn for a glass of wine or a humble pint of Guinness, but personally, I’ll take the risk of promiscuity, fraternization, and confusion over the certainty of a boring drink any day of the week. LEGGI TUTTO

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    Episode 215 – Last Call 2021

    What’s shakin’, cocktail fans?Welcome to episode 215 of The Modern Bar Cart Podcast!Thanks for joining me for this year-end recap episode, where I take a few moments to zoom out and appreciate the highlights from 2021, then take a quick peek into the crystal ball to anticipate what’s coming down the pike in 2022.Featured Cocktail: The Millionaire CocktailThis episode’s featured cocktail is The Millionaire cocktail. To make it, you’ll need:¾ oz of either Jamaican rum or bourbon (which is…a weird way to start a cocktail recipe. Don’t worry, we’ll get into it)¾ oz apricot brandy (which, in most cases, is going to be a flavored liqueur)¾ oz sloe gin (which is a berry flavored gin liqueur)¾ oz lime juiceCombine these ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, give them a good, hard shake until the ingredients are properly chilled and diluted, then strain into a stemmed cocktail glass and enjoy.Like the “corpse reviver” cocktail family, which doesn’t seem even remotely concerned with sticking to a set ingredient or flavor template, the millionaire cocktail family seems to pair a spirit with a couple different fruity liqueurs that somehow produce a pinkish color. Sometimes you’ll find egg white. Sometimes you’ll find a citrus juice. But none of these things are a given in the millionaire cocktail family.Personally, I think the Jamaican-style rum is the way to go here. It just has so many more fruit-friendly flavors than most bourbons do, and it’s probably one of the best spirits to counteract what I’ll call this recipe’s problem child: apricot brandy. With only a few very rare exceptions where you encounter a true apricot eau de vie, apricot brandy refers to a sweet, often artificially-flavored liqueur. It sits on liquor shelves in the “sour mix” section and is often frowned upon for its cloying sweetness.In the 1930s when the Millionaire cocktail was popular, were bartenders infusing actual grape brandy with apricots? Did they have access to a supply of actual apricot eau de vie that has since vanished? It’s hard to say. But next time you’re in the market for an equal-parts sipper that goes down easy and is absolutely bursting with fruit, you’ll know exactly what to pick up at the liquor store.So, now that you’re equipped with an affluently-named, yet elusively formulated cocktail that will most certainly impress your guests this holiday season, let’s turn our attention back to the rollercoaster of a year that was 2021.2021 By the NumbersDownloadsStarting off here, I always like to begin with the numbers, which is kind of like a statistical check-up or wellness visit that looks at the vital signs of our weekly spirits and cocktail show.In terms of downloads, we rocked 67,000 of em, which is a full 10,000 more than we earned last year. So thanks to all the new listeners who represent those 10,000 extra downloads. I’m so glad that you’re part of our growing community, and I can’t wait for you to see what we have in store next.Most Popular EpisodeOur most popular episode by sheer quantity of downloads was Episode 188 – Reviving Ancient Stills with Dr. Eric Stroud, which clocked in at over 1,500 downloads by itself! It was a really eye opening interview for me personally, so I’m not surprised that it was so popular with our audience. If you haven’t checked it out yet, hopefully this is all the incentive you need.TOTC Spirited Award FinalistAnd I’ve got one final number I’d like you to consider: 10. That’s the number of podcasts that were finalists at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards ceremony, and we are so honored to have been one of them. Unsurprisingly, David Wondrich and Noah Rothbaum (who graced us with their presence in episode 200) were the recipients of that award for their show, Life Behind Bars, but I and the rest of the Modern Bar Cart team are just so unbelievably honored to have been among the finalists, and we’re super flattered that you all took the time to nominate us.Improvements Made in 2021PR PartnershipsNext up, I want to share some of the more qualitative things we’ve improved on over the course of the past year – the strides we’ve made that are hard to measure in terms of raw downloads. I kind of view this as a mini “shareholder’s meeting,” since I think of all our listeners as having a stake in what we do. So let’s look at a few KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that I think are really important to our show and its ability to keep thriving.The first one is something that’s very evident to me, as the person who does most of the leg work for the show, but it might not be super apparent to you, as the listener. But the thing I’m probably most proud of in 2021 is how we’ve been able to leverage partnerships with PR firms. I know it doesn’t sound all that exciting, but let me break it down for you.Our inbox ([email protected]), as well as a couple other email addresses I maintain, have been flooded over the past several years with pitches from PR firms and publicists trying to get us to feature their clients’ products, books, and brands. I get dozens of pitches each month, all of which take time and energy to sort through. From the beginning, I’ve been super picky about who comes on the show, and I’m very clear that I’m not in the business of running an hour long infomercial. I’m here to provide real, nutritious content that makes you, the listener, a better drinker and home bartender. That mindset definitely narrows the field and ensures quality interviews for YOU, but it’s still a lot of work to wade through all those cold pitches from low-level PR interns and associates who get paid to blast out a generic pitch to as many email addresses as they can. This is the way that 95% of all PR firms go about business. I don’t understand it because it’s sloppy and a bit disrespectful, but it’s the norm.So this year, I focused on really pouring all my attention into a couple of really high-quality PR partners who pitch me directly and thoughtfully and offer incredibly high quality guests who all have something to say, rather than just a product or a book to pitch. Great examples of interviews that were placed on our show through these strong PR partnerships include Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head, Tim Warrillow, co-founder of Fever Tree Mixers, Ryan Christiansen, co-founder and head distiller over at Barr Hill Gin, and Ian Burrell, co-founder of Equiano Rum.It felt like, in the years leading up to 2021, I spent most of my time squaring off against the inbox noise and waging an active battle against these PR firms, but by changing my approach and partnering with only a few of the best-run shops, I think I was able to really bring on some top-notch guests.Interview QualityThis leads me to the next item I’ve been working hard on since – if we’re being honest – the very beginning: becoming a better interviewer. This past year, I really made it my focus to make the interview process an engaging and rewarding experience for our guests, which almost always leads to a better quality interview. What does that look like?Well, partly, it looks like asking more open-ended questions and making sure I don’t interrupt the guest while they’re communicating the information that they’re uniquely qualified to share with you. Again, this might not be something you notice. It’s actually designed to be invisible because when i’m doing it correctly, I’m more of a facilitator that pushes the conversation from one bread crumb to the next until we eventually reach our destination. But if you want to sanity check this whole interview quality thing, just pick an interview episode, and as you’re listening and find a segment that you really enjoy, and ask yourself the simple question: how much “Eric” is there in this? Chances are, you’ll realize that the best moments are when I’m mostly invisible except to ask for clarification or elaboration on the subject at hand.The other way I’ve really doubled down on interview quality is in the research and question writing department. I send out interview questions to all our guests before the recording so they can prepare and figure out what I’m most interested in discussing. But most of these folks – especially the heavy-duty guests who come to us through our PR partners – are interview veterans. They’ve been asked the same handful of questions a zillion times, so if I’m not careful, they’ll just spit out the same canned response they give every other interviewer. That’s not useful to you. That’s doesn’t extend the conversation or add value in any meaningful way. So this past year the two main improvements I made in this arena were to make sure I read or listened to other interviews with my guest to see what a “baseline” set of questions looked like, and then intentionally avoid those surface level questions by figuring out what the true heart of their brand or their product or their story seemed to be.In my conversation with Sam from Dogfish Head, the heart of the interview was about maintaining creativity at a truly large scale. In my recent interview about American Whiskey with Eric Zandona, the heart of that conversation was identifying the historical and regional forces that are responsible for a lot of the whiskey trends we’re seeing in today’s market. And when I interviewed Dave Wondrich and Noah Rothbaum in episode 200, the real story turned out to be how different it is to research and report on spirits and cocktails in the 2020s, compared to 15 or 20 years ago.There’s always something a little deeper, more complex, or just plain beautiful behind each guest, and I’ve been trying to make all the good interviewer “moves” to try and pull those out for you. I think it’s what sets us apart from more casual or banter-driven shows in the space, and I hope you’ll let me know if there’s anything else you think I can do to keep becoming a better interviewer.New Co-Host (Kind of)Finally, I have one big “improvement” to share on the personal front. All of a sudden, one day earlier this month, I became a dad! Occasionally you’ll hear me mention little tidbits from my personal life when I’m on the air, but this is a huge event for my wife and me, so I thought I’d give it more of a formal announcement.Our daughter’s name is Ivy – she joined the human race as a happy, healthy bundle of joy, and she and her mom did great throughout the entire pregnancy and birth process. Luckily, the timing of her arrival was pretty good because I’ve been able to take the last couple weeks of December to have a little mini-paternity-leave away from the podcast to bond with her and give my wife a hand around our home as we adjust to the new routine.This does, however, present the following question: What does the arrival of a newborn mean for the podcast? To be honest, I’m still figuring that out. I record most episodes in my home office, and I do make at least a token effort to keep my audio quality reasonably high, so there might be some logistical bugs to work out on the recording front. When a screaming baby isn’t yours, it tends to be a negative audio presence, and I’m working to avoid that.Originally, I was thinking I might need to drop back to a bi-weekly publishing schedule (rather than our current weekly routine). But now I’m not so sure. I’ve got some really fun interviews and no-ABV spirits and cocktail content coming for Dry January, as well as a few other interviews in the hopper that I’m super excited about. So for the moment, we appear flush on content, but a change in the publishing schedule may still be necessary. This could look like a bi-weekly show for a period of time, or it could simply mean we publish episodes as they’re available, as opposed to being married to that Thursday drop every week.So, moral of the story – I’ve got a baby – woohoo! So if you see our publishing schedule change in any way without warning. Don’t worry. I’m not intentionally ghosting you, I’m probably just engaged in a tricky juggling act as we try to get into a more stable routine with our girl Ivy.Looking Ahead to 2022Next up, let’s talk about things to get excited about as we enter the year 2022.As you long-time listeners out there may know, I’ve been a bit skeptical about all-or-nothing booze-free initiatives like Dry January or Sober October, which seem to operate more on the basis of convenient rhymes than anything else. BUT, I realize that I’m in the minority on this, and I’ve had several requests asking for more alcohol-free spirits and cocktail content. So, I’ve been in touch with some of the best no-ABV spirits brands and authors I can find, and we should have plenty of product review and interview content on that front throughout the entire month of January.We will, of course, also have plenty of full octane spirits and cocktail content for ya as we make our way through Q1 of 2022.More Video ContentAnother thing I’m excited to do in 2022 is try to give you more value. And a very significant portion of me thinks that I can best do this by leveraging video and trying to give our listeners more and better ways to engage with us.We did try our hands at this about a year ago with a couple live streams of the podcast, but that initiative suffered from a couple few major flaws: First, with the emergence of Tik Tok and Instagram Reels, so much video content is making the switch from horizontal to vertical and from long form to short form. For a podcast that usually runs about an hour, both of those are the complete opposite of what we want.Second, trying to attend a live podcast recording is complicated. It’s hard enough for me to coordinate with a guest across time zones, let alone the fact that we most often record during business hours when our listeners aren’t able to drop everything and tune into a live stream, let alone ask questions and actively engage with us. At the end of the day, listening to the podcast should be easy and fun – not something you need to put into your calendar.Like I said, I do think video is going to be the best way to give more value, but I want to hear YOUR thoughts and opinions about what that looks like. I don’t want to deal with the headache of starting a Patreon so that only our premium subscribers can access video content because A.) I don’t like charging for content, and B.) that sounds, again, like more of a headache than it’s worth for you, the listener.Similarly, I want to find a way for our listeners to participate more in the show. For a while, I thought Clubhouse was going to be that solution, but I see that platform kinda fizzling out. There’s also the option of creating a “Slack” or “Discord” channel, but that still seems to create more noise than value, at least initially. So please, if you have a great idea about how we can do more to engage with our listeners and create a space where you can interact with guests and with each other about spirits and cocktails, please send us a DM on Instagram @modernbarcart, or email [email protected] 2022 Live and In PersonThe last frontier of listener engagement, it seems, is the domain of real life. And being that our cute, little pandemic has now transformed into more of a big, sloppy endemic, we need to approach the topic of being together in-person carefully and with lots of flexibility surrounding change and unexpected contingencies.But, having put out those disclaimers, I will say that I am fully planning on attending Tales of the Cocktail 2022 in New Orleans, LIVE AND IN PERSON FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 3 YEARS! That event will take place from July 25 – July 29, 2022. I’m working on some educational seminar-related stuff, so stay tuned on that front, but if there’s enough interest from folks, I’d be happy to try and organize some sort of meet-up for our listeners – something to make your trip extra special. Maybe we can all walk into the Sazerac bar and order Ramos Gin Fizzes at the same time, maybe someone will challenge me to an alligator hotdog eating contest at Dat Dog.  I dunno…we’ll figure something out. But please do reach out to let me know if you’re interested in attending this 20th anniversary Tales of the Cocktail conference in July.Fill Out Our 2022 Listener Survey!I know  I’m asking for a lot of feedback here, so what I’ll do is put together a short survey that you can fill out in less than 5 minutes. So if anyone out there is interested in really having your voice and your opinions guide the decisions I make as we continue to grow the podcast, please reach out to me however you’d like and I’ll send that your way.ClosingI’m Eric Kozlik, CEO of Modern Bar Cart and host of this here podcast. Thank you for making 2021 a great year in podcasting despite the uncertainty that seems to dominate the rest of our shared world. And I can’t wait to see you very soon, when the year ends in 22, which is my lucky number. Hopefully that means great things for me and for you as we continue to grow and improve in our knowledge of delicious spirits and cocktails.Cheers. LEGGI TUTTO