Share and Share Alike

by The Bon Vivants

Where would any of us be without the shoulders we stood on to get to where we are?

We work as craftsmen and women creating good times and good cocktails.  Other craftsmen would be furniture builders, masons, chefs, glass blowers, and so on.  We have had a few conversations over the last week about this subject - and on the heels of last week's praising of the generosity of the bartender, we want to speak about how we as a group share or don't share our "secrets." 

Coming into the game, there is such a huge amount of information to absorb.  It’s not really any different than "immersion learning" of a language.  You manage to bullshit your way, or charm your way, or sycophantically bully your way into a job behind a bar, probably as a barback.  Then in a deluge of words and actions it all falls into place around you during a shift, and you do your best not to piss off one of the fast moving, confident staff members for fear you will be deemed unworthy or uncool.  You do your best to see things that need to be done, and do them.  You listen to all these new words and phrases, and you see all these strange things like people smelling clean glassware, everyone touching everyone else and muttering things under their breath, like "behind," or "move you shit ass," or "did you see that blond at the end of the bar and the turd on her arm?"  You see things like raw eggs being cracked into drinks, and little mini baby measuring cups used obsessively to get things exact.  Learning this means learning a language of movement, of intuition, of olfactory and auditory awareness.  It also means learning all the technical aspects of tools, recipes, and all the product on the backbar from all over the world.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Fast forward >>>>> Maybe then, you want to open your own bar, or someone asks for your help on a menu, or a brand comes knocking on your door with you in mind for a new, hot product about to hit the market.  How do you learn to maneuver all of these challenges?  Simple, you call anyone you know that has any experience and ask for help.  You read and study.  But this is a craft, and in craft there are apprentices, there are journeymen, and there are masters.  But those who are masters rarely ever, if ever at all refer to themselves as such.  Come humble, come hard working and willing to learn, and you will succeed in this game absolutely. 

This brings us to the subject of the teacher.  We feel that it’s all free information to share, that there are no secrets.  The understanding of how this craft works is only as deep as what you do with it.  Luke and Darth, Frodo and the Ring, Harry and Voldemort.  Yes, that is all modern heavy handed modern reference to make a point, but knowledge is not only (absolute) power, it is a power to be shared.  It is imperative that that knowledge be inclusive, not exclusive.  We know as much as anyone, how hard sharing can be.  You come up with a good new technique, or a great recipe, and your inclination is to own it - to make it your "precious."  It does only you good and only for a short amount of time.  The secret will get out.  You may or may not get credit for it.  The ego bleeds and sits in the corner and pouts.  "Wah!" 

Fast forward >>>>> Some new light bulb of genius sparks off, "Share it!"  Strengthen the craft that we dedicate so much of our lives to.  So many people have helped us along the way answering questions, providing counsel with big deal decisions, or just giving the right proportions on liquid to gelatin two hours before an event.  To those teachers, we are eternally grateful.  We each come from our own schools.  Our lineage in this business is built on all those who have helped teach and guide us to where we are.  We humbly ask of all of you new to the craft, and all of you veterans in this business, "Share."  Teach, and be excited to learn from others.  If something doesn't work great, speak up... if it does work great, speak up.  Don't let your ego get so wrapped up that you lose the forest through the trees.  This craft is fun and full of love and friendship.  When it stops being these things, "what’s the point in doing it?"  Share what you've learned, and in doing so, strengthen the personal bonds that make this business special.  Play a real part in the continuing innovation of our craft and help ensure the longevity and relevance of what we all love doing so much.  In the words of the great Yoda, "No, no no, stay and help you I will!  Hehe!  Find your friend, mm?"