If you're curious about how to make a well-crafted cocktail, try watching a professional mixologist making a drink. This might not be so hard - celebrity mixologists could be coming soon to a bar near you! Guest bartending is a hot trend-drink experts spend time at their primary bar, but visit other cocktail havens on request. The world of serious mixology is small-in this community, dedicated bartenders work hard on honing their craft, collaborating with each other and sharing drink secrets.
Philip Ward owns Mayahuel, a tequila and mescal-centric East village bar. But Ward frequently makes guest appearances at Dram in Brooklyn and 1534 in NoLita. For the mixologist, a guest gig is like a vacation, while the host gets publicity and free advice. "It's about the cross-pollinating dynamic of the cocktail scene right now," Frank Bruni writes for the New York Times. Unlike chefs, who are more actively competitive and have a harder time adapting to foreign workspaces, bartenders can easily use another bar's ingredients.
"Brand ambassadors" also encourage guest bartending. Liquor companies frequently sign experienced, well-known bartenders on to promote a particular spirit. The "brand ambassador" travels on company dime to make drinks using the company liquor. But many bartenders participate in exchange programs that don't involve special brands. For instance, Death & Company, another East Village hotspot, switches bartenders with Chicago and San Francisco bars.
Photo: mountainhiker on flickr