There is nothing more annoying than a bartender who doesn't know what he or she is doing and who refuses to do research or learn about the products being served.
Bartending is an art and should be treated as such. It's not just going through the motions and preparing the standard drinks and pouring beer one has no idea about. Many of the common liquor, beer and drink recipes have a long and intriguing history, and a professional should know not only the history of the products one is working with, but also the care, time and procedures that went into making these products.
Not everyone has the space or the finances to have a complete library on cocktails, beer and spirits. The Internet, however, is a great resource for information on bars, trends and beverages of all sorts. Here are a few of my favorite sites that I have found interesting and informative:
www.worldsbestbars.com is a virtual gold mine of trends being set around the world. The site gives one a look into what is happening, and is a great travel resource for people who enjoy nightlife. Usually, I am put off by Web sites that are sponsored or associated with a particular liquor brand, but World's Best Bars keeps it professional and on the level. It uses feedback and a rating system to level the playing field for its top 100 bars. I notice Juneau is still not on the city list. The closest city on the list is Seattle.
www.moderndrunkardmagazine.com is another great site that features booze reviews, drinking commentary, historical facts and even drunken poetry. This Web site is a great study in bartending with a lot of humor and history thrown into the mix.
www.winexmagazine.com is not just a site about wine. The wine articles tend to be a little more modern and trendy than other wine publications. This site also has a lot of information on spirits, beer, products and trends. This Web site is a great read and offers plenty of information to digest.
www.ratebeer.com is for the beer lover in all of us. This is the site for anything relating to beer. It uses a 100-point scale based on user feedback to rate the beers and has a list of top-rated beers along with tasting notes and beer articles. It even has ratings on sake and meads.
For a regional approach to beer tasting, one might look into www.drfermento.net, known as Alaska's best beer news blog. The site is packed with statewide information on the goings on in the Alaska beer world.
www.drinksmixers.com is an amazing collection of drink recipes to either use outright or for inspiration in creating one's own amazing drink recipes.
www.drinkjockey.com is another great collection of drink recipes. It offers a good selection of archived articles and a basic overview of the most prominently used spirits.
These are just some of the many resources available to the professional, novice and home bartender. Bartending doesn't start and stop at the time clock. It should be thought of as a profession that demands education. One should always remember that a profession without passion is just a job.
Safe and happy drinking, and stay warm.
Keith Crocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.