I started behind the bar in 1996, which, in bartender years, is a very long time ago. I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go over the past 20 years, but one trend that will never die is grown men’s desire to lord their superior drink of choice over everyone else in the bar. No, that one is here to stay.
The first trend I got to witness was the microbrew explosion of the ’90s — when you, the OG booze fetishists, got things started. In a room full of people drinking yellow fizzy beer and having fun, we suddenly had to listen to you drone on for hours about how everyone should be sipping and savoring chocolate stouts and pumpkin pale ales. As if the only reason you left your house to come to the bar was to make people feel bad about the beer they were drinking.
Then came the single malt a-holes. You smoked cigars while you droned on and on about the Macallan and sermonized to anyone within earshot about how 18-year-old single malt was intrinsically better than 12-year-old blends. The rest of us tried our best to ignore you while we enjoyed Johnnie Walker and played pool while still being forced to inhale your foul Nicaraguan perfume.
You glorified rye, inspiring dozens of get-rich-quick schemers to flood the market with subpar whiskies that we’re going to be stuck with for longer than we should.
Suddenly we were crushed by a tidal wave of vodka. As if driven by some sort of degenerate health initiative, we had to listen to you disparage the scotch people and their brown-liquor hangovers. Sure, your $45-a-bottle vodka wouldn’t dare hurt you, because it was distilled five times like some sort of fucking angel. Sure, you bored the pants off of everyone in the room, but at least you did us a favor in the long run: These days only a fool would dare throw away money on “ultra premium” vodka. So, thanks?
But then you had to go and try to ruin gin for everyone. We were subjected to your botanical counts and your “Vodka is just unflavored gin, so why drink it?” rhetoric. You informed us that your gin, made in the middle of the desert, came from superior ingredients that those “big guys” in London didn’t have access to, while you gestured to the corner of a warehouse where stood a copper pot still that you never used.
Then came your bourbon fetish. You tormented us once again with age statements and announced proudly that real bourbon only comes from Bourbon Country (it doesn’t). Then you hounded us about rare whiskies, quoted top ten lists from online clickbait about which bourbons you needed to cross off your bucket list, and suddenly the world was running out of these long-forgotten gems (some of which deserved to die). But still, if the sole reason some of these treasures disappeared was so some guys could assert bragging rights over the other guys in the locker room, maybe you all could have dropped the towels and spared us the loss.
But you weren’t done with American whiskey. You glorified rye, inspiring dozens of get-rich-quick schemers to flood the market with subpar whiskies that we’re going to be stuck with for longer than we should. You attempted to shame anyone in the bar who deigned to order a Manhattan with anything other than your latest discovery, as if you could truly tell the difference.
And now you’re plowing through Japanese whisky. It raises the question, what are you going to guzzle down next, and for how long are the rest of us going to have to listen to it? The one silver lining to all of this is that despite your long-winded rants and misinformed sermons, we’re left with some positive change in your wake. Craft beer has never been more widespread or regarded with as much legitimacy as is it today. Scotch whisky is being appreciated by more people from all walks of life. Vodka has finally leveled out and can be enjoyed for what it is. There are some wonderful craft gins made by people who know what they’re doing. Bourbon hasn’t seen growth like this since before Prohibition. There might be more rye whiskies available now than at any point in history. And Japanese whisky is finally being appreciated outside of Japan. Once you move on from your latest infatuation, the rest of us are blessed to be able to enjoy it. But could you please just shut up about it?
Please. Just stop.