The following letter is a guest post by Zahra Bates, bar manager at Providence and co-founder of Art Beyond the Glass. Following Zahra’s post is a set of some of her favorite ABTG photos, taken by Eugene Lee (Big Bar), Tatsu Oiye (A-Frame) and yours truly.
By Zahra Bates
When I think about what “Art Beyond the Glass” means to me, I can only say community. I am so very lucky to be involved in the LA cocktail community and my biggest hope for the event was that we could celebrate this community properly.
LA is unique in many ways, but for me Sporting Life is what has set us apart from most other cocktail communities. This is why we wanted ABTG to be an extension of our monthly meeting. Sporting Life has given us an opportunity to get together, share information and support one another in our endeavors for four years. Most important in our endeavors is the inclusiveness of our community; bartenders, barbacks, writers, media and anyone who loves a well-made drink and a damn good time.
This love and support that we channel into each other has also been an inspiration to me personally, and my friends from out of town can rarely have a conversation with me without me waxing lyrical about what is happening in our fair city. We show up for each other, we push each other to do better and we share everything without fear or jealousy. There is the understanding that there is room for all of us; like every art form there are millions of different ways of expressing the same thing, and if one of us does well it means we all do well. This is not something that can be taught but must be experienced.
People are always giving seminars on what drinks are good or bad, what the trends in the industry are and why we are right and you are wrong. There are articles being written about what bartenders are lacking today and why you should be ashamed to be a mixologist. While some of this conversation is important, some of it is counterproductive and divisive when it could be creative and show a concrete example of why we do this thing called service. I am going to take a stand here and say we do it for love.
We love this life, this world and the possibility of expression that it allows. We love what we put in the glass and give to our guests, but more than that we love the person that sits before us. To be clear, I am in love with what we do together, I am in love with how we do it, and I am in love with the unintended outcome of what we do.
Yes, this is a love letter to my city, to the people I work with and my community at large. I have never experienced such joy, such beauty or such love all in one day, all in one room and all for one thing. Art; in and beyond the glass is the celebration of…well, of everything.
Following are some of Zahra’s favorite ABTG photos, as well as her comments (in bold).
“I love this, calm before the murder on the dance floor, Fernet then dancing.”
“The love, the love and the love; see words.”