Every bar has its own culture—a philosophy on how guests should be treated, how the bar itself is set up, how the cocktails are made, how employees interact with each other, and a million other details. As bartenders and other staff come and go, they absorb these details, then spread this culture to other bars in their region and sometimes beyond. An interesting example of this is the rise of Fernet Branca.
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While there were many new spirits and other products to discover at this year's Tales of the Cocktail, one of the most intriguing developments was the renewed emphasis placed by bartenders on service and hospitality—the very elements of the bar world ignored by so many frowning, arm-gartered bartenders during the recent speakeasy trend.
The dustup comes down to this: many customers wouldn't even dream of walking into a white-tablecloth restaurant and ordering something safe and pedestrian off-menu—such as a hot dog or cheeseburger—but the same customers might venture into a bar with a creative cocktail menu and order a Jack and Coke.
It wasn't until the 1920s, when the owners of then-illegal watering holes were less picky about who they let through the door, that a female presence started to become a somewhat regular occurrence in bars across the country.