It's been a long time. I have learned ALOT. Where do I begin? Well for starters, I will give you a brief summary of my growth. I no longer drink vodka. That pretty much sums it up. (jk) I suppose this was destined for me. In my beginning bartender days no one understood why I opted for fresh lemon juice instead of sour "mix". I always knew fresher was better. And fast forward until now..... I am in the stage of my development where I stalk the isles of farmers market(s) in search of inspiration. I say all that to say, historically speaking, mixologists preceded bartenders. IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS.....fresh ingredients.(amongst other very important things such as premium spirits and cordials, homemade tinctures, bitters, and syrups......you get the idea) So what happened? Prohibition and the Great Depression is what. Prohibition brought upon (understandably so) cheap spirits made from inferior ingredients produced in an "underground fashion" (i.e. bathtubs). Only the wealthy and elite could afford to obtain quality from outside the country. Almost immediately after Prohibition ended then the Great Depression hit. With that came an overwhelming demand for packaged food, powdered beverages, processed food, and all things kool-aid, tang, and t.v. dinners. As a result Americans lack a taste for flavor. We actually think McDonalds tastes good. All of this has birthed the modern day Bartender. With canned juice, fake grenadine (full of high fructose syrup) and a love for all things overly candy sweet. Vodkas are flavored using chemicals and nobody knows WTF bitters are. Quality drinks and cocktails are meant to be balanced, interesting, unique, classic and should soften the spirit, not hide it under a mask of skittles and jolly ranchers. Just as you wouldn't expect to go to Bones or Ruth's Chris and receive a frozen, inferior cut of steak, the same should be for paying $10 for a drink that was slapped together with artificial mixers and sour mix from a "gun". Alot of people think of "Mixologists" as glorified, elitist, pretentious bartenders (and some are), but those that are truly passionate about the craft are raising the bar (no pun intended) and bringing quality and taste back to your libation experience. You have to know where you came from to know where you are going. I don't know about you but I prefer a filet mignon over a Big Mac any day.