I recently read Cal Newport's new book, Digital Minimalism, and loved it. It reaffirmed some ideas I have tried to incorporate into my life over the last few years of social media mania. His explanations on why people are posting and waiting for likes, thumbs ups, and comments and how those things correlate to the apps that are designed to get deeply embedded in your brain and heart are fascinating. He also backs up his claims with historical information and scientific data. It's an all-around good read.
So what does this have to do with cocktails?!
A few years ago I fell into the depths of cocktail photography on Instagram. I then found myself joining in and taking photos of drinks in my kitchen to post so other people could see what I was drinking. I knew the best lighting spots all around my apartment, and I would spend more time setting up a shot than making the drink itself. Then I would take photos, edit, tinker, reshoot and then choke down a room temp cocktail while I scrolled. The sad part is my wife was sitting next to me the whole time. A person. A high-quality person. I was so concerned with a simple mixture of booze and sugar and how the online strangers that follow hashtags like #HomeBartender, #Drinkstagram, and #ClearIce would respond to it.
In his book, Cal talks a ton about high quality and low-quality experiences, leisure activities, distractions, and conversations. These low-quality digital distractions and experiences have become so ingrained in our lives that we have trouble moving on from them. As human beings, we need breaks to replenish and reset. Scrolling through a few lavish foodie hashtags on the 'gram while you are eating lunch out of the vending machine at your desk is a low-quality distraction. Taking the time to skip the scrolling in the morning and making a killer sandwich for lunch sets you up for a high-quality midday break. The same can be said for cocktails.
What do you get out of seeing someone else's drinks that your brain even knows is set up and not real? The answer is a tiny itty bitty dose of dopamine. Then you leave a comment like, "Mmmmm! That looks delicious!!! 🍸🙌🙌🔥💜" Then the person who posted it responds with "Thanks! 👌🏽😍💕💗💕💗" And you get another little shot of dopamine while you scroll to the next delicious image. Cal explains that this is a connection NOT a conversation. If we are supplementing conversations with connections, we aren't moving forward. There are much better ways to get your body to release the feel-good stuff than scouring Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for it.
I don't know about you, but I much prefer the high-quality approach of making a drink at home for myself or meeting up with a friend for a midweek happy hour to catch up face to face. We all love pretty shiny things and a beautiful drink in a crystal glass certainly checks those boxes, but cocktails should be fleeting and real. Here one minute and gone the next-- enjoyed. Taking a massive step back from all of it makes the whole thing seem weird.
If you are looking for inspiration, Instagram can be a perpetual source but can quickly turn into digital gluttony. As with anything in the food and beverage world: skip the low-quality and go high-quality. Until we get the kinks out of Smell-o-vision I will be laying off the scrolling and focusing on the person sitting across from me.
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Bar To Home
A simple translation from bar to home.