Getting back to your favorite bar after months away is a special kind of joy and a total sensory experience. There's the clink of bottles, the feeling of holding a beautiful coupe glass in your hands and the taste of a complex cocktail you could have never made at home. After all, there's nothing quite like having someone else – a real-life bartender! – fix you a great drink.
And the feeling's mutual: After a rollercoaster ride of closures and restrictions, bartenders and bar owners are happy to get back to doing what they love most. Like many of us, they’ve been through some changes over the past 18 months, too. We chatted with 25 of the world’s best bartenders, bar owners and drink experts about what’s different at your favorite bar. There are carryout cocktails, Instagram Live classes and QR code menus, sure – but there’s also stuff happening behind the scenes, like an investment in mental health and work-life balance.
Take a look at the many ways your favorite bar may have changed – and next time you’re grabbing a drink, be sure to tip these folks generously.
Some quotes have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Thirsty for more insider insight from the world’s best bartenders? You’re in the right place. Running throughout August 2021, Talk to the Bartender! is a weekly series that taps into the minds of drink pros around the globe. The conversation changes often, and we'll chat with bartenders about everything from underrated cocktails and must-have bottles to top drinking cities.