NPR recently ran a story called “What America Spends on Booze.” They say “out of every $100 American consumers spend, about $1 goes to alcohol. That hasn’t changed much over the past 30 years.”
So people spend the same on booze that they always have, but they found out that the vast majority (76%) of booze purchased in 1982 was bought to be served at home. That number is now approaching half, though, and I imagine it will continue to drop. Thirty years ago people primarily drank and served drinks at home, but that’s not true anymore.
Our cocktail making is increasingly falling into the hands of bartenders. Now, if every bar were Canon or Clyde Common, I wouldn’t be as concerned. But they’re not. Applebee’s and Chilis have bars, too, and I’m certain that folks are increasingly drinking poorly made cocktails from poor ingredients, like the high-fructose nightmare “Sour Mix.” That crap is $7 a gallon.
Let’s get back to home bartending, which my area of expertise, and it’s clearly where the crisis lies. When was the last time someone served you a martini or old fashioned at their house? I realize that as readers of this blog, you’re probably the exception to the rule. I started thinking, though, and I am willing to bet that in the 5 miles surrounding my house, there may only be 2 or 3 people (including me) that have a bottle of cocktail bitters in the cabinet. When I buy bitters at the grocery store, they’re on the bottom shelf and covered with dust. Doesn’t this mean that no one who lives near me can make a proper Manhattan or an Old Fashioned at home?
I started Simple Cocktails because I believe strongly that serving people drinks in our homes is becoming a lost art, even though it can provide massive joy. The graphic and story above tell me it’s true! As a culture, we are losing the community that once accompanied the cocktail party. I’ve found dozens of books at thrift stores about how to party, how to drink, when to drink, how to serve, but you know what? They’re all from the 60’s.
Here’s where we team up, dear readers: as I teach you how to do this stuff, will you commit to do it at home? Don’t spend $30 at Applebee’s – spend $30 on a bottle of bourbon and consider it an investment in your community. Then invite some whiskey lovers over and drink it! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.