We normally try to coordinate the theme of this blog with the delicious recipes our Cocktail Ambassador features on these pages every month, but in traditional fashion, other things than the perfectly measured ingredients inspired us. As much as we love a good Paloma, the combination of Tiki and Tequila in the Fresh Start got us to thinking…If imitation is the best form of flattery, how do innovation and adaptation make others feel? In the month when we celebrate American independence, it is only fitting to look back before we can move forward.
Often considered the father of American literature, Mark Twain is quoted as saying: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” This could not be more apparent than in the drinking habits of Americans, especially when it comes to the cocktail movement, beer in cans and realizing that Tequila is not something to be scared of because someone ordered a round of shots. You have heard it before, “everything has already been done, there is nothing new out there”, or “don’t try to reinvent the wheel” or even worse “just keep doing what you’re doing”. Twain would probably respond by pointing out that finding the rhyme of what has already been done is the key to innovation, to pushing the envelope and to defining a new status quo each and every day. And keep in mind; change isn’t always on the surface.
Two recent conversations with spirits professionals highlighted these sentiments. An importer of micro-production artisanal Cognac likened what is happening in the Charentes district to the grower-producer phenomenon that started in Champagne in the late 1990s. Farmers traditionally grew and sold all of their grapes on long-term contract to the larger houses, until they realized they could make their own wine that would express individual terroir. The same is currently happening in Cognac; houses that traditionally sold their unfinished eau-de-vies are now aging them in family-owned cellars, producing aged brandies beyond any legal minimums. Then we come to the American craft distilling movement, where a Brooklyn-based (amazingly the 4th largest city in America) producer was waxing poetic about small-production spirits: “The craft distilling movement is here to stay, whether anyone likes it or not. Everyone thought Apple was crazy when they released the first clunky iPod. Now everyone has one.” We think that’s an amazing comparison. So in the spirit of independence, celebrate innovation, adaptation, forward thinking while still knowing how we got here, competition keeping us on our toes and learning from our mistakes so our successes can be even sweeter.
“Here’s to the crazy ones.”
And here’s to smart drinking.