Eben Freeman Claps Back at the Bartending Community

On November 1st, 2017, influential industry luminary, Eben Freeman posted an open letter to the bartending community on Facebook.  This no-hold-bars statement was in response to the discussions surrounding Tales of the Cocktail.

Read the full thought provoking statement below, trust us, it is a must read.

“Remember that week when we were all outraged about Tales? While I hate to rehash ancient history, here is my two cents:
They are right, we are wrong.

Tales of the Cocktail were not the ones drugging each other, sexually assaulting each other, watching each other drink ourselves to death…that was us.
Tales was not the one getting thrown in the drunk tank or beating the shit out of some guy from a rival bar or doing coke in the bathroom, that was us and if it was your bar…you would have 86’d us years ago. Instead, we want Tales to hold our hair while we puke on the sidewalk.

The way I look at it is this, cocktail people are the most self-involved people in the industry. The fact that we are pretentious, precious and so self-righteous has been well documented in the pages of Social Media. The number one complaint about this movement is that it is so uptight.

Why do I say this? Because I have firsthand knowledge, I was once called a “Molecular Mixologist” for christ’s sake. The early days of Tailor, it was an amazing time. I had Don Lee and John Deragon sitting at my bar and we were talking hydrocoloids and shit and Dave David Arnold would come by and check out my force carbonation. Those are all great guys and great minds who were passionate and curious and eager to learn. I loved those nights.

Then the press starting coming in and people were wigging out about smoked Coke and absinthe gummi bears, things that Sam Mason and I just thought were funny. People were taking shit way more seriously than intended and all sorts of experts started coming out of the woodwork. At the same time, we were getting the TONY (a local magazine telling you where to drink) crowd and we had a line down the block. It was just what Sam and I had wanted, a bar that was four deep and people who were there to have a good time and possibly procreate, drinking cool shit or a Stella or a vodka freaking soda.

Then, there was a conflict between the two worlds. There was no longer open seats and time to talk. Don and John went off to open PDT and Dave went off to do whatever it is that he does and they were replaced by the garden variety cocktailian This cat expected you to stop what you were doing when you were four deep to make them a Last Word with Mezcal and then they wanted to tell you all about how they came up with the revolutionary idea. I would think to myself “Did you really come down from Canada make me fix you your own drink at my bar?” Not to sound even more like a prick but I had some cool shit going down there, are you trying to make a point with this behavior?

It was at this time that bartenders started taking sides, there was the purists at Death and Company and the like and there was a crew of people like Aisha Sharpe, Willie Shine and Tim “coming in hot” Tim Cooper who knew how to make good drinks and make them fast, filling the register and making bank without all the bullshit. You know how Milk and Honey stayed afloat? Toby Maloney came from that school and was the only person who could work that bar alone. To this day he still does not give a shit about rotovaps and he can run circles around your ass with T.J. Lynch.

This is the liquor business…business. Tales is business, they do not need you talking shit, they are four deep and we are just getting in the way. Sustainability Summit? They must have had a good laugh at that one. Tell you what will save the planet, stop dicking around with table scraps and making me drink without a straw. All the plastic cups, napkins and straws at Tales will fill a landfill. Do it like other trade shows, which is what it is now, give everyone a souvenir glass and let them have at it but no…we have to put our drinks in a unicorn horn and all that copper shit. You know how much energy it takes to make that stupid flamingo that sits collecting dust? Ridiculous.

I am not saying Ann Tuennerman and Paul are blameless in the debacle but they had one night out, did one fucked up thing and they are taking hell from some dude who, before he was 6 months “sober”, simultaneously threw up and took a dump in the Monteleone pool. Tales is a thriving business, brand money is all up in that and if you think it is going to grind to a stop because we are no longer prancing around the Quarter like show ponies looking for free shit, you are tripping.”

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