Even for Goldstein, a master of the Instagram form, there's room on the bar for both the ‘gram bait and the simple classic. At the end of the day, he says, his job is to make customers happy, whether they want the newest trendy cocktail or a Martini in peace far from flashing cameras.
Wainwright also admits that, while he tends to wax poetic on the subject, he doesn't want to be on the wrong side of progress. He points out that every wave of new technology is accompanied by critics who foresee the destruction of civil society, like the opponents of TV who thought it would rot everyone’s brains. This same argument will repeat itself with the next new tech to hit the bar too, he predicts. For now, he’s made his peace with IG, putting his photography skills to work on The Ponte’s account with photos of minimalist, elegant cocktails.
Meanwhile, Instagram is opening new doors for bars and bartenders. Goldstein has perhaps used the platform to its fullest, promoting his work to brands and bars, allowing him to form new creative partnerships in the spirits industry and push his craft forward. He encourages others to follow suit.
Good-looking drinks have always sold. Instagram has simply raised the stakes and turned the bar into a highwire act, forcing bartenders to perform a careful balancing act. They have to make drinks look good—but also taste good. They have to outdo the bar next door, but their cocktails have to remain cost effective. They have to make drinks look intricate, but also have to reach every drinker in a timely manner. They have to drive interest with extravagant displays, without destroying ordinary bar culture altogether. It’s exhausting.
So the next time you’re out at a bar, do your bartender (and yourself) a favor: Whether you order a mountainous, rainbow concoction or a dark, stirred lowball, sit back, take in the whole scene—and keep your phone snuggly in your pocket. Try enjoying your drink by drinking it. You can snap a pic of the next one.