Cocktail culture is thriving in large part due to a passionate contingent of exceptional bartenders and mixologists. This feature places a spotlight on the craftspeople behind the bar, and not just the structure itself. Bartender Thad Vogler co-owns Bar Agricole in San Francisco.
1. Do you consider yourself a bartender or a mixologist? What’s the difference?
A bartender. I don’t know many people with any humility who would want to be called a mixologist.
2. How did you become interested in tending bar?
Like most, I fell into it. I’d always hoped to do something else – write novels, make films, anything.
3. What’s your first cocktail memory?
In high school in the eighties my friends and I would have punch parties, making the recipe on the back of the Bacardi Silver bottle. Ironic because there is probably no brand of liquor I like less at this point.
4. What’s your current favorite spirit or liquor?
5. Which cocktail is past its prime?
6. What’s the cocktail of the future?
7. Describe one of your original cocktails. What’s it called and what was your approach?
Agricole Mule. I stole Audrey Saunders Gin-Gin Mule and substituted aged agricole rhum.
8. Do you have a cocktail mentor, and what did they teach you?
MIchael Musil taught me most of what I know. The most important things are being clean, polite and humble.
9. Outside of your bar, what’s your favorite bar in town and why?
Heaven’s Dog. My best friends work there.
10. Who’s another mixologist you respect and why?
My friend Erik Adkins was the first guy in San Francisco I know who went to the great New York bars and started using good ice and jigger pouring and executing at a high level. Before that we were all free-pouring vodka drinks.
11. What’s the best simple cocktail for people to make at home, and what’s the recipe?
Probably a sidecar. 1.5 oz brandy, .75 oz lemon, 1 oz Cointreau. Shake well and strain.