Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | December 3, 2012

Publish your recipes!

Via Jacob Grier, Jim Meehan of PDT in NYC talks about his philosophy of publishing his recipes.

Do you think the cocktail world sees publishing recipes as revealing secrets? Or more as a way to share and communicate?

I think they fall on both sides. Certainly some of my colleagues are not as giving as others as far as recipes go. Some people proudly consider some of their recipes to be things that they developed over years, they spent a lot of time and energy and resources on them and don’t see the need to just give them away.

But I think there are others, like myself, who are on the complete opposite side. It’s more along the lines of publish or perish. Maybe not perish, but become irrelevant. Maybe it’s because I live in New York, but I find that in New York when you think of a great idea, if you don’t act upon it someone else is going to be acting upon it. I feel like great ideas are more the result of intelligent people putting different things together. So do you want to be remembered, do you want to at least document that when you did it? Or do you want to rely on the oral traditions to verify that? I personally prefer to stake claims. I’d rather document it.

Jacob goes on to write:

A cocktail might appear on my menu for just a few months before it’s replaced with something new. A recipe only lives on if other people make it, and hearing that other people are enjoying my drinks is gratifying. There are merits to making complicated, ephemeral cocktails that only last a season, but it’s also nice to see them proliferate.

I’m with Meehan and Jacob. I’d hope more bartenders share their original cocktail recipes, as a way for helping them spread beyond their own bar. It’s a hell of a lot easier to visit a bar and ask for a modern creation from another cocktail bar if you know the recipe and don’t have to guess at the proportions of ingredients.

But more importantly, one of my favorite things when I go to a craft cocktail bar is seeing them include contemporary recipes from other bars. Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco is the one who always comes to mind when I think of this phenomenon, but others do as well. And when I belly up to the bar and dream about opening my own joint some day, I would absolutely plan on including a section of the menu dedicated to the brilliance and creativity that currently exists in the cocktail world.

There are scores of cocktail bars in America today and hundreds of talented, creative bartenders, coming up with thousands of new cocktails every year. The odds are only a couple of these cocktails will survive the test of time and still be around in fifty or one hundred years. But (essentially) the only way that’s possible is if the bartenders who created them are publishing their recipes. So I’m all for publishing of recipes and helping spread the good ones around. Hell, that’s a big part of what I want to do with this blog.



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