Monday, 5 March 2018

Think Globally, Act Locally

[This article previously appeared in Barlife Magazine.]

by Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown


Back in the Sixties an acquaintance of mine and his band released their second album. The title song was a rock version of the Pete Seeger’s classic “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)”. Although the lyrics were an almost verbatim transcription of a passage in the Bible (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8), the words resonated a message to Kerouac’s post-war Hip Generation and the Hippie Movement that immediately followed. Believe it or not, this same song reminds us that even the bar industry follows a natural cycle, revisiting viable concepts in a different light.

The Sixties generation wanted to get back to the earth. Diet for a Small Planet and Food for Free were just two epistles that heralded a return to old ways:  a time to plant, a time to learn how to make liqueurs, syrups, and homemade wine. Individuality was the axiom. The young searched for the natural, the rural, and the local whether it was in the Canadian Rockies, Rajasthan, or the Patagonia.

Disco discarded all that comfy goodness for throughout the Seventies for glitter and polyester. The soda gun dispensed the only mixers used to make a litany of tall drinks. Reconstituted juices and foaming agents fuelled Travolta moves wherever TV delivered coolness in a recessed economy. It was a time to cast away the old in favour of the instant. 

Globalisation was the click word of the Eighties. Reganomics, Thatcherism, yuppiedom, big hair, power lunches, and excess. It was a time when gainers globe-hopped, leaving a huge carbon footprint and immense loss. Who cared if your Vodka Martini was garnished with Ossetra caviar? Wasted fuel, a depleted fishery that is now facing extinction, and unsustainable lines of credit were the decade’s poor harvest.

A ground swell movement to revive old recipes TO THE LETTER announced the Nineties. A new and curious audience were told a Manhattan could only be made one way regardless what the customer wanted. Homogeneity of cocktail classics spread like wildfire in North America. Then its disciples carried their gospel to an emerging cluster of bar shows: London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Tokyo, New Orleans, Las Vegas.

But why can’t local ingredients offer the flavours and textures that appeal to a local audience? Why can’t bartenders learn new techniques and tastes around the globe, returning to adapt them to a local audience? Urban gardens, allotment gardening, farmers markets, and a new mantra—“love food, hate waste”—are taking hold with Millennials. Vintage cookbooks offer up alternative techniques that pair efficiently with improved technology. Thanks to the digital world, the search for this knowledge can be done on a mobile, a laptop, or a tablet instead of a passenger jet.

To everything turn, turn, turn. There is a season, turn, turn, turn. And a time to every purpose under the heaven. We have come full circle in a mere fifty years, looking to make the best out of what we have at home and what we discovered in our global travels without losing sight of our responsibility to sustainability.

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