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Catherine Downes The stage at Smyth is set for the cocktail of your dreams, or a complete disaster.
I had my first "custom cocktail" about four years ago. I was at new bar in D.C. called The Passenger, where, along with doing untold things to hot dogs, they served drinks few others in the city were making at the time. A man named Tom Brown was behind the bar, and a friend beside me mentioned I could order a customized cocktail -- something whipped up just for me, based on my tastes.
I remember Brown's hulking figure turning toward a wall of spirits, one hand wrapped around a stainless steel shaker and the other near his face, finger tapping his lip in deep introspection. He'd just asked what kind of base spirit I liked and a few other questions about sweetness and flavor preferences, and was presumably was using the information to create something that had never been created before.More »