A Curious Cocktail

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Photo by K. Cassady.  Ingredients by the Heights.

The best things are often a mix of something old and new.  A familiar, tried-and-true flavor with a fresh twist.

That’s kind of our dynamic:

We’ve got a experienced bartender and man-of-world putting together a podcast to enlighten, to entertain, to sate the masses. He’s seen things, he’s read things, he’s learned things.  And Bar None is the culmination of this man’s journey.  He’s the old favorite, the sure bet, the classic.

The making of Bar None is the start of my own.  A jack-of-all-trades by nature, nurtured on by the most addictive spirit of curiosity, I am crafting a world around this podcast.  While his job is to craft the firewater, mine, dear horses, is to bring you to it.  Years of experience in theatre and education, sales and marketing, fundraising and networking, have led me to this point: a wild and fresh frontier on the rolling audio waves.  I’m the wildcard.

He’s an old hand, and expert and a craftsman.  I’m more the travelling salesman, armed with my charm, my wits, and my will.

 And this time, I think I’m finally peddling something more than snakeoil:  I’m peddling gold.

We’re mixing this thing now, but when the order’s up, I think you’ll like what we have to serve you.

-K

Semi-Social Media

So a bit about what we’re gonna track here, in this podcast, in this little movement we’re making with our…media… we’re gonna cover the social scene that comes with the movement of cocktails.  Or the movements cocktails moved.  Or the…

Anyway.  We (Americans, anyway) have gone from a home-grown house-party culture to a out-at-the-bar, not-in-your-car drinking culture, to a social media driven hybrid phenomenon that, one drink too many, posts one tweet too far.  And this, by the way, is written here in broad historical strokes that only seem short in the life of a cocktail recipe.

So yeah.  As we cover the change in social drinking, we kind of get to do so while following some new rules of social media etiquette.  Because wherever we’re drinking, we’re drinking online.

So here we are.  Blog two.  A month later.  We’ve got our social media up.  Twitter and Instagram are growing (they’re very phone friendly).  Facebook‘s saving face.  And now we’ve got our latest player in the game up: Our site.  /blog.  /site.

Okay, we’re still working on the youtube channel (note the lack of link)  We’re talking through when that’s gonna come up.

But people might ask me, might ask Greg, where’s your site been?  What took so long?

Honestly, it was that donate button.  We had to decide on our business status, if we wanted to do this nonprofit or whatnot, and how that button was going to work.

So for now, I want this site up.  So that button exists, but it’s WIP.

Because it’s April.  And we’re testing our pilot at the end of the month.  And I think you all are going to like that more than you’ll like a working donate button (though if you wish we had one, just message us…)

So while we get the ingredients together for the pilot, and get ready to release a draught at the end of April, we hope you don’t mind some lack of sheen on our site.

In fact, if you see something, say something!  (Oh god, that recalls the metro in DC… ugh)  We want your feedback, your critique, your input.

We’re brewing up a fresh podcast for you all, so in the meantime, let us know if there’s anything you’re peckish for… and we’ll see what we can’t do.

– K

Keys to the Kingdom

It’s a weird question to ask of anybody you’re interviewing, but certainly an odd one to save until last. On the tape you can even hear me stumble through it, not quite sure exactly how to put this strange, unanswered bit of information:

 “Umm, so what… Actually one thing I’m kind of curious about, this place that you’ve built here, sort of, how would you describe it?”

 In layman’s terms, run through a bumble-removal filter: “What do you do?”

 

For the previous thirty-five minutes I’d been talking to Greg Boehm, the founder and CEO of Manhattan’s Cocktail Kingdom. Sitting in his office surrounded by books, mountains of vintage cocktail accoutrement and several bottles of liquor that predate my grandparents we’d covered topics ranging from the circular nature of history to the NBA and after all that I still needed clarification; what is this place exactly?

I’d found cocktail kingdom almost on a lark earlier that month. Stuck in Manhattan with an inconvenient amount of time to kill I decided to check out this little place that had gotten a shout out on one of my favorite podcasts,Gastropod. They’d described it as a “mecca of all things cocktail,” so I figured it would be worth checking out to get some color for our upcoming pilot. I didn’t really have any idea what I was getting into. I figured I’d just poke around what I’d assumed was a showroom for a little bit so when the cheerful woman at the front desk asked if I was there for the library I think my response was a very poorly masked “The huh? What?”

For Greg, the library was where it had all started. As a young man his family had owned a publishing company which, among other things, published cocktail books. Through that he met a man named Salvatore Calabrese, a world renowned bartender who at the time worked at London’s esteemed Library Bar. According to Greg, his travels would bring him to London two weeks out of every year, leaving him a potential fourteen days annually to soak up Calabrese’s work. He capitalized on every single one.

Thanks to Calabrese, Greg says, his love of cocktails quickly ceased to become passing. “Being a book nerd I turned to books.. and then I amassed a huge collection of antique cocktail books and then I started meeting bartenders because ‘I heard you have these old books,’ and they wanted to come take a look, and from that I realized it was difficult to get proper barware in the US so I started importing barware and then the imported barware wasn’t exactly what people wanted, some of it was some of it wasn’t, so then I started cocktail kingdom.”

There you have it. A jump from a friendship with one of the old masters to book collecting to barware importing that I don’t think I ever would have made in a million years but is in itself the bare essence of what makes cocktail kingdom tick. It’s many things all at once but every aspect of its eclectic nature is taken seriously; it’s all built to work.

The showroom I was expecting the first time around is there, sure, along a giant wall on the southern side of the building that holds just about every piece of bartending equipment imaginable. The latests from Cocktail Kingdom’s publishing arm, Mud Puddle Books, are laid out opposite the shaker tins and hawthorne strainers but the library I’d stumbled into earlier is separate. Rather, I should say libraries because there’s two of them, a paper one and a liquid one. In addition to a number of rare first editions Greg has amassed an impressive collection of antique spirits which he assures me are for drinking first and looking second.

Today Greg says, Cocktail Kingdom’s mission is twofold: Doing exact facsimile reproductions of antique cocktail books and manufacturing quality barware. The originals in Greg’s collection are still available for perusal in the nicest six-foot by six-foot windowless square I’ve ever seen, housing hundreds of original cocktail books going back over a century and a half. I’ve spent many hours there already preparing our pilot episode, and with a full season ahead of us I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Not that the staff at Cocktail Kingdom minds at all. To them, the knowledge is there to be shared.

-G

 

Hear more from my interview with Greg Boehm and my findings in his fantastic library in the pilot episode of Bar None, a podcast where we explore the history, recipes and style behind some of the world’s most classic drinks, coming next month right here on our website. In the meantime if you’re in New York why not pay Greg and his wonderful staff a visit on the fifth floor of 36 West 25th Street in the Flatiron District? They’re friendly, they’re helpful and they’re ever so knowledgeable; I’m sure whatever your cocktail needs may be, they’ve got just the thing.

 

Stay tuned here on the blog for more on the run up to our first episode!

Better by a Site

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Photo by K.Cassady. Keyboard by Acer

So we’re playing a bit fast and loose here.

The last site we had was… well it looked kind of… I mean…

It looked like an early 90’s website.

Boo hiss.

And we’re not about the early 90’s.  Well, not the 1990’s.  Not yet, anyway.

So we’re still mixing up the medicine (the tune in my head goes to Chumbawumba)

Here’s the deal.  I’ve spent the last two hours playing around on weebly, on wix, on wordpress, and frankly, I like wordpress best so far.

Not just because it’s my roots.

Not just because it uploads images without crashing (weebly!).

Not just because it links to social media automatically (wix!)

Not just because it lets me post from my phone (wix again!)

But because it just looks better with my photos.

So far it’s been the best site to show off our upcoming podcast on. Bar None.

So tell me, midnight readers… what are your thoughts on the various platforms?

– K