Outside of about a two week span in high school, I've never tried to hide the fact that I'm a nerd. Not just in the "Oh yeah, I read 27 think pieces about comics last week" way, but in a "Big Bang Theory isn't funny because physicists aren't represented well" kind of way.
These days, I stick to cocktails and reading a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. I'm an extroverted introvert, so I tend to prefer deep conversations to small talk. Bartending has helped partially overcome my aversion to small talk, and booze usually tends to lubricate the conversation (pun intended). Even four years in, I'm still trying to wrap my head around people wanting to hear about my nerd-dom.
And at cocktail parties and young professional events, that's my superpower. Not everyone likes reading the same things I do, but almost everyone has a favorite cocktail, mocktail, or flavor. Get on that topic, and I'm in my element.
Probably the greatest part of it is that cocktails are capital-c cool. People want to talk about what they like and dislike in food and drink, and love hearing how things fit together. Dive into the history of a spirit or cocktail? Your audience is usually captive.
My origin story thankfully doesn't begin with exposure to radiation or chemicals or science. When I started behind the bar, I spent almost all of my off-hours researching drinking history, lore, and recipes. I made dozens of flashcards to learn recipes for classic cocktails, and dove into it like I would have for a paper in college. My manager had provided links YouTube videos on bartending technique, and I practiced at home. When I was at work, I went through my flashcard deck of tasting notes as I tried new-to-me spirits, liqueurs, and tinctures.
No matter how far into it I got, customers at the bar wanted to hear about what I'd discovered. My friends were interested, and editors began accepting stories about the weirder aspects of drinking and bartending culture. Before, I had to rely on extensive web searches, tips from friends, or writing assignments to find topics to pitch, but in the bar world, everything was new and shiny and desirable.
I'm still finding things that keep it fun, but the shine has worn off for me. Cocktails are a big part of what I do, and until I find the end to all of the topics I have in my pitch ideas notebook, I'll keep digging. Right now, it's tequila and modernist authors, but in the next week, I'll probably start developing cocktails to submit for the winter menu at Marble Ring.
And until the day the drinking trend moves back to sugar-laden, day-glo club drinks, cocktails will be my superpower.
Want to claim a superpower of your own? Check out my online whiskey class! In 30 minutes, you'll zoom through nine videos and become a whiskey hero all your own.