During the Juniperlooza seminar at "Tales of the Cocktail" I sat next to nice young man from southern California. Over the course of the event I learned he was a bartender at a high end place that subscribes to the all the recent movements and advances in the cocktail world.
He assured me his bar served only good stuff, and then added, "I won't serve any Cosmopolitans." I asked him what he would do if someone came into his bar and ordered a Cosmopolitan. He said he'd politely refuse and offer to make them something very like a Cosmo but more classic, such as Daisy using similar ingredients (though presumedly not Vodka).
I stress that this fellow seemed a very nice person in all respects. But his remark regarding Cosmopolitans was as fatuous as they come, and typified one of the more disagreeable aspects of the modern drink world. When I took the Beverage Alcohol Resource class in Manhattan (run by Dale DeGroff, Paul Pacult, David Wondrich, Steve Olsen and Doug Frost), the instructors stressed that bartenders, bar owners and the like are employed in a service industry. They noted a bar "not far from here" where customers asking for a beer will be instructed to take their business elsewhere, and made clear that they thought this sort of behavior the enemy of their cause.
What point could there be to refusing to make a Cosmo? I know the cocktail has become a bit of a punch line at this point, owing to it's use on "Sex and the City," but it's a perfectly legit drink, and one of the few modern classics of the past 20 years. I'd argue that it has, in fact, done a good deal to propel interest in the cocktail movement in recent times. I don't order them much anymore, but I admit freely that I still remember the first time I had a Cosmo, and it is a good memory.
I could see remonstrating a bit over a request for a Frozen Daiquiri or an Appletini, but preparing a Cosmopolitan should hardly ruin your day or your bar's good name. The customer may not always be right, but the customer is always the customer, and welcome to his or her tastes whenever they enter a public house. I, for instance, have never like Bloody Marys, no matter how well they are prepared. Am I right in my tastes? Arguably. Am I within my rights in my tastes? Undoubtedly.
For this young bartender, I quote a good rule of thumb of Kingsley Amis from the recent collection "Everyday Drinking": "Unquestioning devotion to authenticity is, in any department of life, a mark of the naive—or worse."