Mar 25, 2018

Publisher’s Letter

don billings

March 25th, 2018   |   By Don Billings

don billings - in the mix magazine publisher

COCKTAIL CULTURE – What is it and how do we define it?

I could not find a definition in any dictionary including Urban and Wikipedia. So, I thought I would combine their attributes.


cock·tail (käk´tāl) noun

Defined as any alcoholic mixed drink, cocktail may mean any beverage that contains two or more ingredients if at least one of those ingredients is a distilled liquor.


cul·ture (kəl´chər) noun

Defined as characteristic features of everyday existence (shared by people in a place or time); popular culture with a set of values, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic. The integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to others.

The cocktail culture has evolved considerably in the past few years. It can also be very confusing if you observe the various propositions that describe the current status of the culture. Depending on whom you follow, we are either in a rebirth of the American cocktail, or we have already gone through a rise and fall of the craft movement. There are different camps that say the craft movement is alive and well, or that it has run its course and simplicity is back. And we are in the middle of a “classic” cocktail resurgence.

According to some, the craft “revolution” movement, which started about 10 years ago, is over. Others say it’s simply evolving. In any case, it created more demand for cocktail programs for independents and restaurant groups alike, which is a good thing. The cocktail revolution, in part, was unlocking history, improving ingredients and mastering techniques.

Here are some recent books on cocktails and spirits for your reading consideration that help define where cocktails have been and where they are going.

  • “3-Ingredient Cocktails” by Robert Simonson
  • “The Way of Whisky” – A journey around Japanese Whisky by Michael Beazley
  • “Mescal: The History, Craft and Cocktails of the World’s Ultimate Artisanal Spirit” by Emma Janzen
  • “The Southern Foodways Alliance Guide to Cocktails” by Sara Camp Milam and Jerry Slater
  • “Meehan’s Bartender Manual” by Jim Meehan
  • “By Smoke and the Smell” – A search for handmade spirits around the world by Thad Vogler
  • “And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails” (Revised and Updated) by Wayne Curtis


People who wonder if the glass is half empty or half full miss the point. The glass is refillable.

– unknown author