A few weeks ago, Blair and I were listening to This American Life on our drive back from Portland. The episode detailed the humble beginnings of a variety of well known institutions. In this episode, the broadcasters also explored the revered myth of the origin story- our collective expectation that when someone starts a company or a successful venture, there has to be some sort of quaint yet romantic account of it’s inception. Perhaps the most well known of the origin stories is “the garage.” Apple was reportedly started in garage. Google was reportedly started in a garage. And Amazon. And Disney. And Mattel. The nuances or more detailed accounts of these early days seem less important to us as we get swept away by the myth and romance of that dusty, unassuming, modest structure. Because if a dream as big as Google can start in a garage, then isn’t there hope for us all?
The episode got me thinking though. I too have my own fascination with origin stories. I am curious about process and struggle and journey. But perhaps what is most foreground for me these days is the question of how. How does one move from their 9-5 desk job to courageously taking the leap to make some lofty, hair-brained passion into their new full-time gig? And why is it that we as a generation have allowed ourselves to want more from our jobs than a paycheck? That we want and deserve to feel passionate and inspired and excited about what we do within those required 40 hours/week?
But I don’t want the myth. I don’t want the garage or the romance. I want the subtleties. I want the nuances, the grit. I want the struggle and the sacrifice. I want to know what it truly takes to move from passion project to a brand new career.
Now let me be perfectly clear. I still have a 9-5 job. This blog, this space, continues to truly be my passion project. I have in no way made this into a new career. But it has it’s own origin story that is very close to my heart. Because regardless of whether or not this turns into something bigger or remains a humble space for me to share with you all, it has changed my life. So in the interest of reciprocal exchange and honesty, I thought I’d share the origins of Two For the Bar with y’all! There is no garage. But there is a bar (go figure).
When I was in my 20’s I didn’t drink that much. I just didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t love the taste of wine or beer or mixed drinks and to this day, I despise the feeling of intoxication. I was often DD and I remember nights when my friends would encourage me to leave the car at home and join them in drunken debauchery (despite my reluctance, I was a rather entertaining inebriate…and by entertaining I mean wildly conceited and self-absorbed).
Fast forward to February 2011 when I made my fortuitous move to Vancouver. I hated it. HATED IT! So much so that by the summer of 2012 Blair and I were planning our exodus back east. On a warm Sunday evening in June, as we sat contemplating our next move, I suggested that we head to a restaurant across the street for some dessert and conversation. A mere 200 feet from our front door, we had never set foot inside West before. I thought it only sensible to at least try the place before we left the city for good.
We decided to sit at the bar- an odd choice for Blair and I as we most often preferred a table. The place was empty save for the bartender, another couple seated at the bar and a young woman who we learned was a bartender-in-training and was earnestly studying a set of cocktail recipes (Sidenote: This bartender-in-training is now a dear friend, an amazingly accomplished bartender and a recent interviewee for The Bartender’s List).
As it so happened, the other couple there that evening was getting married in just over a week. The bartender- a close friend of theirs- had kindly agreed to batch cocktails for their reception. They were spending the evening sampling cocktails and finalizing their menu. While I ordered a Pimm’s O’Clock and Blair a Vieux Carre, the bartender generously allowed us to sample everything that he made for the bride and groom to be. We tried syrups and bitters and spirits- many of which I had never heard of let alone tasted.
We spent the night talking of inspiration, technique, cocktail history, role models. It was the first time in years that I had thoroughly enjoyed a drink. And while it was the best Pimm’s cocktail I’ve had to date, it had more to do with the exchange than it did with the drink itself. The bartender treated his bar like a chemistry lab with beakers and tools, precise measurements and timing. Each movement was meticulous from pouring to mixing to shaking. It was all so beautiful and full of purpose.
As it turned out, our bartender on that serendipitous Sunday evening was none other than David Wolowidnyk. A quick Google search will reveal that David is a very accomplished bartender. He has countless accolades to his name including Bombay Sapphire’s World’s Most Imaginative Bartender in 2012. He is an encyclopedia of knowledge. But to me, David is the man that gave me my first oak barrel. He taught me that there’s more to a cocktail experience than the drink that’s put in front of you. His bar is the one I want to sit at after a rough day at work. He is the man that introduced me to a world I didn’t know existed.
And that, my friends, is my garage story. Long-winded, I know. But that was the evening that started it all. It inspired curiosity, an earnest hunger to know more and planted the seeds for what would eventually become this blog. And in the name of ongoing curiosity, please come back soon. Two For The Bar has an exciting lineup of Small Batch Origin stories coming your way! Cheers!