The latest issue of Bon Appetit, which has so much rehashed wine and spirits information and unusual ads in it that it might as well be called Salut, has me thinking: Can a lot of spirits-oriented writing look like anything at all to a cowed public other than as a way to push brands?
(It also calls LA a "vodka" town, but never mind that for the moment...)
The whole fixation on inventing new and ever more elaborate drinks is lost on me; most of the time it looks like naked commercialism. Worse, there are so few classic cocktails that are poured well that it would seem essential to get these down first before venturing into the unexplored terrain. The narratives surrounding our best drinks are mysterious, even mythical; the idea that a bartender can suddenly discover something venerable, present it to a few patrons, and ultimately say something about alcohol that we don't already know is nearly ludicrous.
I've personally had almost the precise opposite experience when dealing with spirits distributors that most have: I've had the most fruitful and polished dialogs with the diabolically large companies, and found most of the smaller companies stand-offish and aloof. The larger companies are receptive to criticism, even curious to hear it; smaller ones sulk when you give less than wonderful feedback.
But why have a publication at all if you're simply re-printing press releases?
Here's some crit I hope someone is receptive to: in that same Bon Appetit, I am really stunned that Antinori is using the words "Super Tuscan" in an ad. That seems like a throwaway and an invitation to cynicism. Many people who know Italian wine simply bristle at the term to begin with. Would you see an ad for some wine claiming it was first of the "fruit bombs"? I think even Robert Parker would be embarrassed.