When approaching this task our first and foremost aim was to showcase the art behind bartending – this being synonymous with capturing as many sexy shots mirroring the aesthetic of the craft to which we chose – Cocktail Bartending.
Aside from being aesthetically pleasing for B-Roll purposes, this subject proved to be especially intriguing due to the Passion, Time, Experimentation with Trial and Error and involved nature of mixing, shaking and constructing the final product – this physical involvement with creation of product is what sparked our interest and attributed to us wanting our final media piece to showcase this.
The growing prominence of Cocktails within bar settings is increasing hand in hand with the emergence of counterparts like craft beers – this ideology of “artisanal techniques” (Ocejo, p.181) attributing to a cycling popularity that only continues to evolve as the demand increases, in turn putting more of an emphasis onto attention to detail within the beverages which we are consuming, and further their construction.
When approaching this project something that proved problematic was sourcing a subject that was able to give a definite answer to when we could lock in an interview date, due to the Bartenders we contacted typically were working under management with strict venue rules in regard to promotion, a few were the venue managers and found themselves in a peak season with minimal time to spare, or generally just ghosted us with fake enthusiasm (albeit with good intentions all the same).
Weeks of no answers to emails, annoying fellow Bar staff on their hospitality weekends through a barrage of emails, and more PM’s on Facebook – left us a little short on time for the actual interview, but with plenty of time to nail down some super good group meetings hosted by Asian Beer Café. $120 dollars of research funds later, we found ourselves with at the bare minimum a strong B-Roll to enforce a feeling of productivity.
If we were to change the approach to this assignment at all my main point of change would be to as a group each put out 5 calls to different craftsman and not get so affixed on a particular craft due to it causing quite a bit of stress when it comes to organising interviews and filming rights when the people are working underneath others. One benefit of bartenders notoriously being hard to lock down interview time with, was that we had plenty of planning time in regard to shot style, and B-Roll collation which made for a well curated final video that showcased vibrant colouration, interesting cross cuts and worked in turn to enable an informed use of establishing footage.
Putting out more calls through various different bars, as a group of second and third-year university students we have come to know (for completely unrelated reasons aside from numbing the accumulative debt we are amassing), we finally found our subject Kona venue manager at The Resistance Bar and Café in Hawthorn.
Due to the nature of the venue, we were able to draw on pre-established aesthetics by the business – The Resistance, being a reggae style bar with an overarching endorsement for this feeling of unity. Their drinks on offer are consistent of various vibrant cocktails that have involved construction processes, which made the filming experience rich with possibilities for shots and establishing the environment.
Utilising the environment to the best of our advantage we felt it important to not only encapsulate the craft of the drinks but establish the environment to which they are made to be consumed within. Drawing on this we set to work lighting our shots through the natural ambient lighting as opposed to drawing on excessive flash and lighting rigs as it accentuated the overall vibe the place is cultivating.
Within the interview and general interactions with Kona six prominent elements of the craft emerged; Passion, Handmade Construction, Time, Experimentation, Trial and Error and Precision. Each of these identifiable with not only the motive behind the craft but actual technique – if you aren’t passionate about the product you are making, not only is it probably not going to look good/taste good but it will lack precision and further if you lack passion you are going to be less likely to play with experimentation within concoctions.
While it can be seen that passion is a major motivator and definer of whether someone is just an okay vs a great bartender each six elements of the crafting result in the culmination of it as a craft. With much of the demand of Cocktails being the handmade and time heavy nature of their creation, it also leaves room for much trial and error when learning the ropes – each cocktail improving with the more you allow to educate yourself on flavours within the final drink.
When looking at Passion, Time and Handmade in particular as standalone elements it can be to carry over and play an important role in the production physical mixtapes (see Nick and Norah’s infinite playlist for example). Production of physical mixtapes can often be seen as an act of passion toward both music as a form and the selected recipient of said mixtape. Whether the creator is curating various songs together in a certain order so to tell a larger story within a CD format, or the physical recording on a two track tape recorder of songs at certain points, mixtapes are an iconography of passion – combined with time poured into the production and physical traditionally handmade design of artwork.
Forward while sharing similarities with Cocktail bartending it can be seen that while both bartending and old forms of music media require levels of Passion, Time and Handmade elements to inhibit the creation and culmination of them as a craft. While cocktails are made for enjoyment, similarly too are mixtapes while simultaneously encapsulating the point of time of their creation (Jansen, 2009). Whether it be the nostalgia associated to sipping on a Mojito on a sweltering summer’s day, or drinking Fruit Tingles in some shitty dive bar surrounded by fellow Aussies migrating north for the winter in Bali – similarly too Mixtapes and cocktails are able to encapsulate a point in time, crafted with careful consideration, handmade, emphasizing the time taken to craft, inform and create the final product.
Within cocktail bartending, similarly to when one creates a mixtape or any other form of media, the audience/demographic it is for can be seen to be the first and foremost concern at the point of creation (Beaumont, 2010). Attention to detail proving to be a defining point of across almost all forms of the craft when developing and distributing a product (Beaumont, 2010; Jansen, 2009). It can be seen that a certain emphasis is held throughout the development of a craft, ensuring that all elements are crafted with the best equipment accessible, with a premeditated sense of what you are hoping to achieve (Beaumont, 2010) from taste to final aesthetic.
From taste to video – it can be seen that quality is achieved through taking as much time as needed to ensure that care is present within imagined final product. Whether this is ensuring the ingredients for the cocktail are fresh, and made with a quality product to achieve the best tasting final concoction – through to ensuring you are using the right camera, sound recording equipment, and editing style to achieve your final footage (Jansen, 2009). It can be observed that just like video editing, cocktail bartending as a craft is definitive of the passion to which you invest into it, and the conscious creation of audience needs/wants.
This task has not only enabled me to strip back a craft that I am passionate about (cocktail bartending) and enable me a new found appreciation for it but additionally has informed my direction as a practitioner and where I might further apply the knowledge I gained through this project. Aside from learning quickly that not all group assignments will be awful (probably the most notable piece of insight I took from this – collaboration can be seamless even when your subject bails), (four times). Additionally, I have a greater interest in exploring old media forms and the way in which craft combines with a form within old music mediums and in turns flows onto new technology within the form, particularly how associative memory changes between forms, and how audience reception is manipulated by medium consumption.
Beaumont, S. (2008). Simplicity in festive cocktail recipes can evoke special holiday memories for guests. Nation’s Restaurant News, pp.42-49.
Jansen, B 2009, Tape Cassettes and Former Selves: How Mix Tapes Mediate Memories, Sound souvenirs, 1st edn, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, pp.43-54
Ocejo, R.E, 2010, What’ll it be? Cocktail bartenders and the redefinition of service in the creative economy, John Jay College of Criminal Justic, CUNY, Department of Sociology, New York, NY, pp.179-184.