Here is an article from Esquire magazine.
It is an interview with Joy Perrine who has been dubbed Best Bartender by Louisville Magazine.
Unlike other things I've read about today's hip "mixologist" MS Perrine has a historical view on cocktails and a no non-sense style of mixin' them up.
Her takes on bourbon are very interesting, here's the article.
Bartender Wisdom: 'I Am the Bad Girl of Bourbon'
Five decades of bartending — twenty-three at Equus Restaurant and Jack's Lounge in Louisville, Kentucky — gives a girl a certain perspective on the business, and Joy Perrine is not one to suffer fools lightly on either side of the bar. Named best bartender by Louisville Magazine, Perrine is co-author, with food writer Susan Reigler, of The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book, so there's not much she doesn't know about the old-fashioned and new styles of theAmerican spirit that went from a slow fade to a fine sweet burn over the past decade.
ESQUIRE:How do the new young bartenders differ from your generation's?
JOY PERRINE:I started bartending in the 1960s when there were very few female bartenders. It was groundbreaking to be a woman working behind the bar. Now, we represent more than 50 percent of the industry, but back then the only women working in bars were cocktail waitresses, or their families owned the bars. It wasn't women-friendly, but I was very lucky to work with the old-time guys who started their careers at the end of Prohibition.
ESQ:So you weren't hired to wear a tank top and flirt with the customers?
JP:No, it wasn't sexy to be a bartender like it is today, and you certainly didn't call yourself a "mixologist." You were just a gal behind the bar who was slinging drinks and trying out recipes to make the whiskey taste better. I loved those tough old guys because they taught me how to make all the classics.
ESQ: Do they cut too many corners today?
JP:The old-timers taught me how to do it right: Don't use cheap vermouth, and use fresh juice, not bar mix. I grew up in the business when you made everything from scratch, but then that terrible period in America happened when the food industry went to hell and everything was pre-made and pre-mixed. But over the last twenty years, the food revolution came along and it has rolled over to the bar. The bartenders now have fresh, new ingredients to play with and to create these amazing drinks. It is so much fun being a bartender these days. I love to research and tinker with recipes. I think bartenders are developing cutting-edge beverage programs that match what the chefs are doing in the kitchen.
ESQ:What are the six drinks every bartender should know how to make?
JP:I would actually like to give you seven: Manhattan, mint julep, whiskey sour, margarita, daiquiri, martini, and rum punch. It just baffles as to why people screw up a good cocktail like a daiquiri or margarita using pre-made mix. I may be an old dog, but I am a big one. And what is the saying? If you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the porch. I want to say to these guys who are still using pre-made stuff in cocktails: I have been making drinks longer than you have been breathing and you can't call yourself a bartender still using that junk.
ESQ:How important is it to be fast?
JP:It makes me crazy to have to wait twenty minutes for someone to make a cocktail. You don't have to have fifteen ingredients to produce an innovative drink. Some people just go to extremes. I want to tell them to read the book Three Bottle Bar, which was printed at the end of Prohibition. It is amazing, the amount of drinks this guy made with just scotch, white wine, and gin.
ESQ:Is it criminal to mix premium bourbon with other ingredients?
JP:I am the bad girl of bourbon. The good ol' boys cringe with some of the things I do with bourbon. I like to create bourbon cocktails for people who say they don't like bourbon. Trust me; I can make a bourbon cocktail that will put a smile on your face. Just like you wouldn't make steak tartare out of hamburger, you shouldn't use cheap bourbon when you are making a cocktail. I love a good steak tartare. Plus, it goes great with bourbon.
ESQ:What brands do you use for different mixed bourbon cocktails and why?
JP: Different blends have different flavor profiles. It depends on the drink, as to which bourbon I use. Some of my regular go-to bourbons include Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey, 1979, Bulleit, Jim Beam, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Old Fitzgerald Prime, Maker's 46, Basil Hayden, and Old Forester. I am looking for a specific flavor profile such as heavy, light, sweet, or spicy when I make a drink. Basil Hayden is lighter bourbon so it is great in a whiskey sour. Bulleit is heavier and darker bourbon, so it makes the perfect bourbon Bloody Mary.
ESQ:What's the recipe for a perfect mint julep?
JP:You have to use spearmint and not peppermint, sugar, water, crushed ice, and good bourbon. Combine the sugar and water and muddle with the mint. Add the crushed ice and pour over the bourbon. Stir well and add a sprig of mint.
ESQ:Where did the idea of using a silver cup for a julep start?
JP:Glass as we know it today wasn't very common in the 1700s. Most of the drinking vesicles in colonial times were pewter, ceramic, and wood. Silver was used for the upper class so that is my guess as to why it became a tradition.
ESQ:How many types of bourbon do you carry at Jack's?
JP:We offer more than 55 types of bourbons.
ESQ:How much difference is there in bourbon proofs?
JP:Proofs can vary greatly from batch to batch. Many bourbons start around 86 proof but you can go all the way up to 120-plus, such as a Booker's.
ESQ:Are you suspicious of bourbon distilleries that come up with a new "small batch" every year?
JP:No, because distilleries have product stored that they need to use. It is a way of keeping the brand fresh. The consumer really wants to learn the difference between profiles.
ESQ:How do you feel about vintage-dating bourbons?
JP:It can be hard to pinpoint an exact year that the bourbon goes from the barrel to the bottle. Aging can differ due to the elements of nature and also the distiller. For example, a four-year-old can be superb and a ten-year-old not very good. It really depends on a lot of variables. Most bourbons are rectified, meaning different barrels are blended to come up with a specific flavor profile. The only bourbons not blended are the ones that say "single barrel."
ESQ:How do you tell a regular customer he's had enough?
JP:Politely and discreetly, with a light touch. Also you might mention it to him or her the next time they're in and sober. Never try to reason with a drunk.