The Iconic Spirits Blog

Tyranny of the Tastemakers

May 29, 2013

Tags: david wondrich

If you have a serious interest in the subject of alcohol, you’ve probably encountered the writings of David Wondrich. Mr. Wondrich is a cocktail historian, a subject that many people find interesting (or at least I hope so, having written a book on the subject myself). I’ve never met the man, and I’m sure he’s a delightful individual. He writes with clarity and does scrupulous research. The point of this piece is not to criticize him, but rather to use some of his theories as a departure point for a larger discussion.

In an Esquire article entitled The Imposters, Wondrich examines the ways in which some of our favorite cocktails have been debased over time, until they reach the point where they become objectionable from a taste perspective---not to mention virtually unrecognizable. It’s hard to argue with this. If you’re a fan of classic drinks such as the Manhattan, Old Fashioned or Singapore Sling, you’ve probably given up ordering them in most bars, since what you’re served usually resembles a cocktail made by an alien visitor trying to decode a recipe book. He blames lazy bartenders and “cheapskate bar owners,” and he’s largely correct. (more…)