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Why Is Everyone So Passionate (and Pissed) About ‘Throwing’ Drinks?

Every so often, Long Island City, Queens bar Dutch Kills drops a cranky Instagram post. Their captions can read gruff and a little curmudgeonly, a disposition somewhat befitting of an establishment known for its throwback, no-nonsense vibe as much as its hand-cut ice. But for some folks in the hospitality industry, the message the bar left on their grid on January 25 hit a particularly sensitive nerve: it came for cocktail throwing.

In the post, an anonymous bartender is shown with a smiling clown emoji over his face while sending a stream of liquid airborne from his shaker’s top half to its bottom half. He’s throwing a drink, a trending yet historic technique behind the stick. The caption below calls out the practice as “stupid,” “a waste of time,” and “a ridiculous display of pageantry.”

The post’s comment section quickly made it clear that this wasn’t just shots fired — this was a cannon blast, and the industry volleyed. Some agreed wholeheartedly. Others voiced disapproval. Some of the pushback from bartenders and bar owners came from practical places: Detailed explanations of scientific principles like aeration; the history of thrown drinks; the defense of its entertainment factor and how it adds to the guest experience. Others simply asked, “Who hurt you?” One commenter even invoked the name of the late Sasha Petraske — who co-founded Dutch Kills with Richard Boccato in 2009 — claiming he’d once said one of the best Martinis he’d ever had was thrown. For some of the bartending world’s pros, the unserious jab at an old-school technique — particularly the use of the word “stupid” as opposed to weird or silly — was more than that: it was a mean-spirited swipe at those that like what they like.

To Each Their Own

“To be honest, it wasn’t necessarily about throwing cocktails,” says Kate Gerwin, owner of Happy Accidents in Albuquerque and one of the thread’s scientific-minded commentators. “There was a ‘Mean Girls’ level of arrogance going on. It was this super weird flex, and it felt like bullying to me. Calling others in the hospitality industry stupid clowns like that when you’re also in the hospitality industry is completely out of line.”

“It felt gross,” adds Ramsey Musk, Beverage Director of Accomplice Bar and Little Fatty in Los Angeles who, along with Gerwin, brought science into the discussion. “It perpetuated the stereotype of bartenders being dumb and brainless. It also created this aggressive environment that we’re trying to remove from the hospitality industry. I’d like to feel like we’ve come a long way, but something like this makes me think, ‘have we not learned anything?’”

“Nothing good comes from shaming. If you’re getting that angry over something, it’s probably better to get off the internet instead.”

Musk’s participation in the thread put him in a somewhat unorthodox situation. It came just one week after he got flak in some industry circles for publicly extolling the merits of Stoli Bluberri as a bartender’s handshake. He recognizes the sheer weirdness of getting swept up in two different viral bartending controversies in successive weeks, but such rapid-fire debates also provide him with perspective on the ordeal.

“It’s really the same side of a different coin,” he says. “The Stoli thing comes down to the philosophy of drinking what you like and having fun with it. Throwing the drink is the same way. If you think throwing a drink is fun for you and your guests, then go for it.”

To Throw or Not to Throw

According to Boccato, Dutch Kills pays someone to post and govern their social media accounts, including Instagram. This reveal wasn’t a dodge or a blame shift — “I stand behind everything we post,” he says — but it did allow Boccato to provide a little more context behind the message. “We don’t find throwing drinks practical,” he said. “From our perspective, it wastes time when we’re dealing with a round of ten cocktails. It also tends to be a little boisterous, which runs counter to our ethos.”

Boccato also noted the post’s intent was meant to be satirical in tone. He specifically mentioned that the use of “stupid” was in reference to the act of throwing drinks and not meant to insult the people deploying the technique. “If throwing drinks works for your bar, and you feel that it can conjure up better cocktails, then I respect your decision. More power to you.”

This context makes the initial statement less restrictive, which is what context is designed to do. Still, there is often little room for it on social media. Without it, these drinks-related hot takes can present as confrontational and exclusive.

“Instead of calling each other out on the internet, we should figure out ways to call each other in to have productive conversation face-to-face, me included.”

“Just like there are different genres of music, there are different styles of bartending and bars,” explains Izzy Tulloch, head bartender at Milady’s, Julie Reiner’s acclaimed Manhattan bar that currently has a thrown Apple Martini on the menu. “You may like one more than another. You may even dislike some. But if you’re the kind of person to shit on other people for what they enjoy or what they’re good at, I’m simply not interested in what you have to say.”

“Nothing good comes from shaming,” adds Max Reis, Beverage Director at Mirate in Los Angeles. “If you’re getting that angry over something, it’s probably better to get off the internet instead.”

Throwing Forward

While it will fade from public memory as most social media controversies do, the drink-throwing post is still fresh enough to allow for introspection about how those in the industry can better talk about these opinions, which can include stepping away from the keyboard — or just taking hot takes for what they are.

“We were all so brutal in the thread,” Gerwin said. “Even though I felt bullied, I bullied them right back. There’s no place for that in the industry. Instead of calling each other out on the internet, we should figure out ways to call each other in to have productive conversation face-to-face, me included.”

Of course, in-person chatter isn’t always possible due to the realities of geography and logistics, And the next social media dustup may already be lurking in the shadows, whether it’s a TikTok technique embraced by the next wave of bartenders or the pleasures of shooting a long-vilified spirit. When this moment arrives, the best move for industry pros may be to reserve their online energy for more important matters instead of adding fuel to a viral fire.

“Why are we even arguing about this stuff online in the first place?” asks Reis. “We should be using our platforms for bigger conversations instead of getting riled up over a technique. Think of what could happen if we directed that energy into something truly impactful.”

The article Why Is Everyone So Passionate (and Pissed) About ‘Throwing’ Drinks? appeared first on VinePair.

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