When did a drink get so complicated?
Gone are the days when my idea of a mixed drink was a rum and coke or a gin and tonic. There’s a new bar in the ‘hood and mixology has been spreading faster than you can say, uh, mixology. The term itself eludes me. I mean, the last time I checked, the person behind the bar mixing me some rum, lime juice, and mint leaves was called a bartender. So, when does the guy behind the bar earn a license to be called a mixologist—if there’s a license at all? To be a professional bartender, the one responsible for managing everything behind the bar and ensuring that customers are happy—and behaved, often entails completing a bartending course.
Many professional cocktail mixers are uncomfortable with the label mixologist. Regardless, the fact remains; mixology is complicated. And no mixologist in their proper mind would say, “I’m just mixing things along, I really have no idea what I’m doing.” Nobody just takes the classic margarita and hands it over in foam/gel/mist form without trained calculation and a creative imagination. Mixologists go beyond the aesthetics of a pretty drink; they dive into the human experience by digging into the chemistry (especially in molecular mixology) of spirits, playing with flavour, touch and texture, and provoking a myriad of senses that are often roused by memories and emotions.
On top of the world’s highest open bar and the tallest in Bangkok, I had the opportunity to learn about the art and science that goes in a glass. After years of honing his craft all over Europe and Dubai, Philippine-born Ron Ramirez is back in Southeast Asia and is the resident mixologist of lebua’s Sky Bar at Sirocco. As he blended one spirit with another and traced glass rims with herb-infused salts, Ron shared his creative inspirations and gave a peek into a regular workday of a mixologist.