Ryan Tatsumoto

Hawai‘i Herald Columnist

Bartending has evolved quite a bit from the days when barkeeps stood behind the bar, simply pouring draft beer and slinging whiskey shots. Even the name of this now-noble profession has changed. Most of those holding court behind the bar are no longer just “bartenders” — these days, they are known as “mixologists,” and they create craft-infused liquors, house-made shrubs and their own bitters. In fact, national craft cocktail creators Dale DeGroff and Tony Abou-Ganim have their own cocktail books and James Beard awards, and they are featured guests at local and national dinners and are promoted and highlighted like celebrity chefs. It’s a major step up from simply slinging beer.

This trend also includes 50th mixologists Chandra Lum-Lucariello of Southern Wine & Spirits, Kyle Reutner of Hawaii Bitters Company, Dave Newman of Pint + Jigger and Christian Self of Bevy. These local mixologists are usually featured at food and beverage events in Hawai‘i and it’s not uncommon for them to also create cocktail lists for establishments that do not have their own in-house mixologist.

By now you know that I love all things wine — red wine, white wine, sparkling wine, fortified wine, even foods that pair well with wine. I also have an affinity for wine glasses, wine carriers, wine chillers, even wine art. You get the picture.

But I also enjoy having a cocktail occasionally — something like a perfectly shaken Negroni to put a wrap on a nice Italian meal. Or a perfect Manhattan to start off a meal at a steakhouse, or something that is the perfect mix of sweet, bitter, sour and liquor.

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