Utne Blogs > Literature

Shut Up and Pour

by Will Wlizlo


Tags: mixology, alcohol, bartenders, great writing, The Threepenny Review, Will Wlizlo,

red-cocktail“People want their sin the way they want it,” writes The Threepenny Review’s Sarah Deming in a spirited screed against crème-brûlée-tinis, glow-in-the-dark Jell-O shots, and all things mixology. “This is something every drug dealer and pornographer knows, so why can’t today’s upscale bartenders understand? To the so-called mixologists, I say: Pour up and shut up.”

Mixology—the creative pursuit of making ever-more complicated and obscure alcoholic mixed-drinks—has been gaining cultural and commercial steam for decades, but has been lambasted since its inception. H.L. Mencken is credited in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate dictionary as the first to use the word “mixology” in writing, notes Deming. Mencken dismissed the word as “silly” and proof of drink-slingers’ “meager neologistic powers” in his 1948 essay “The Vocabulary of the Drinking Chamber.” Is it so hard, Mencken and Deming wonder, for a person to drink some plain old, unpretentious booze?

Deming recounts a particularly frustrating exchange when she brought her father out for a drink in Tribeca:

Reservations aside, Deming ultimately calls for compromise: “Drinkers should try new things, even if they aren’t ‘the usual.’ Bartenders should honor the spirit of the public house, a place with wide-open doors.”

Source: The Threepenny Review 

Image by Dana Moos, Realtor, licensed under Creative Commons.