According to Amanda, there are a number of reasons why New York City has always been a titan in the cocktail scene.
First off, it’s America’s most important port when it comes to the importation of both cocktail ingredients and the people who would meet and enjoy them.
Because of its prominence and sheer size, a number of really prominent bars began to spring up in the mid-1800s, and some of the earliest “startenders” became famous behind the stick. These include such noteworthy characters as:
In addition, there has always been a connection in New York City between fine dining and cocktails, which is not necessarily the case elsewhere in the United States.
When asked about how to “do cocktails” in NYC, Amanda recommends starting off at a neighborhood or hotel bar that has been operating for quite a while. This is a great way to see how the locals drink and to soak in New York culture. After that, try a newer place, and see what’s on the cutting edge of cocktail culture.
NYC and the Cocktail Renaissance
Back in the 80s and 90s, there was this idea that a cocktail bar was a place where people go to shout over loud music and spill things on one another.
Sometime in the late 90s and early 2000s, a number of important bars and bartenders started to spring up and influence how cocktails were served and consumed. Some of them even enforced rules for proper conduct. Here’s a copy of the house rules from Milk & Honey:
- No name-dropping, no star fucking.
- No hooting, hollering, shouting or other loud behaviour.
- No fighting, play fighting, no talking about fighting.
- Gentlemen will remove their hats. Hooks are provided.
- Gentlemen will not introduce themselves to ladies. Ladies, feel free to start a conversation or ask the bartender to introduce you. If a man you don’t know speaks to you, please lift your chin slightly and ignore him.
- Do not linger outside the front door.
- Do not bring anyone unless you would leave that person alone in your home. You are responsible for the behaviour of your guests.
- Exit the bar briskly and silently. People are trying to sleep across the street. Please make all your travel plans and say all farewells before leaving the bar.