Charlotte Voisey: On Molecular Mixology and Being a Bartender

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Charlotte Voisey
Chef Salad takes a detour this week and next, interviewing four of the country's leading beverage industry experts, all of them speakers at upcoming seminars held at the Hotel Valley Ho for the second annual Arizona Cocktail Week, February 16-22.

See also:
--6 Don't Miss Events During AZ Cocktail Week
-- Citizen Public House Plans to Unveil Carbonated Bottled Cocktail on New Year's Eve
-- Dwayne Allen of Rum Bar Gives a Tasty Tutorial on Rum

Today, you'll hear from Charlotte Voisey, Best American Brands Ambassador and two-time Golden Spirit Award Winner at Tales of the Cocktail. If you missed Steve Olson's erudite list of trending wines and spirits -- and those destined to be hot in the very near future, read it here.

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OPUS Hotels
Charlotte Voisey may be a Brit born and bred, but she fell in love with America's cocktail culture after guest bartending at Aspen Food & Wine in 2005, moving to the States a year later to represent Hendrick's Gin. These days, she speaks at industry events around the world while managing the spirits portfolio for Grant & Sons USA.

You were in London when cocktails took off. Can you tell us about cocktail culture in England and then the U.S.?: Well, there's about 200 years of cocktail history in the US and 400 to 500 years in Britain, where punches were first made. But the modern-day resurgence in cocktail culture started four or years earlier in London than it did here in the States. Because I'd been bartending there for years, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. When I came to the U.S., I could see what was going to happen because it had already happened in London. In 2006, things started to simmer up and then they just exploded. London's cocktail renaissance had begun in 1999-2000, but the U.S. has caught back up now, and that's as it should be. The cocktail is from America. It's an American institution, whereas England is historically known for its spicy, warm bowls of punch.

How did the U.S. get behind the curve?: When Prohibition hit, it damaged the bartender's skill sets in this country. All the famous bartenders left for Havana, Paris and other cities in Europe. Bartenders in Europe in the 20's were learning skills, while American bartenders were losing them. It took until the late 90's -- or later -- for all that to come back, for people to care. People are beginning to realize that a cocktail is so much more than a drink. There's sociology behind it; it's part of culture and human history.

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Hotel Valley Ho

6850 E. Main St., Scottsdale, AZ

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Charlotte is wrong on a couple things. She says that our cocktail culture is only 200 years old, which is true. Cocktails were invented here just over 200 years ago. But she says Britain's cocktail history is over 400 years old because they were drinking punch. First of all, punch is not a cocktail and secondly, Americans were drinking punch just as much as Britain was before the invention of the cocktail. As long as America has been around, whether as a colony or a nation, we have been drinking--and much the same was as our motherland. We have been drinking since our birth as a nation and that's a lot longer than 200 years. I know she is proud of her country, but that doesn't mean that she should spread misinformation. 


Hello.  I apologize for the confusion and reading back can see that it might be interpreted as misinformation.  What I meant to allude to was the nice, neat defined cocktail history we are afforded from the USA thanks to the 1806 definition and how that kicked off the individual, iced, cocktail that America gave to the world, thank goodness.  Before then lots of folk were drinking punch on both sides of the Atlantic, ceratinly.  Often Briain is thought of as not having any kind of cocktail drinking culture until modern day so it is just nice to include the punch story, but I certainly didn't mean to exclude America from historic punch culture.

Hope you all enjoy Arizona Cocktail Week!


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