Our parents had neighborhood bars. If you entered one the day you turned 21 your eyes would have had to adjust to the darkness and the clouds of stale cigarette smoke. One long row of swivel bar stools turned just enough to view neighbors on either side hunched over grimy glassware. Cracked red vinyl made a valiant attempt to stretch over the short row of booth seating, each centered by the brown Formica table and its single adornment: a glass ashtray filled with wet butts.
How could that have been attractive? What did our parents want with that? It was a place for drunks.
By the time we were ready for bars, lucky for us, John Travolta brought us neighborhood discos instead. Harvey Wallbangers and Tequila Sunrise and the Sloe Comfortable…forgettaboutit. The only reason to order a glass of white wine was because it would last longer if mixed with soda over ice; as the white wine spritzer was what all the serious disco ladies drank. (At least those of us that only rested between sets.)
Fast forward to the wine bars we now enjoy. No need to adjust our eyesight. We can look at an array of wines brightly lit by our educated proprietors. Bar stools matched by equally tall clean glass or real wood tables. No dark booths hidden away but instead, open, patio seating. Ash trays were replaced by bud vases.
I’d like to believe that drinkers, and drinking, has evolved. Even 21 year olds just starting out seem to be mesmerized by educating themselves about wine. It’s not remotely tacky to have enjoyed a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon when you compare it to a bottle of rum. Yo – Ho.
But, have we, the drinking consumer changed? Do we still have a Kirstie Alley managing the place? A Ted Danson breezing about? Have I morphed into a postal worker or, gasp, resident psychiatrist? I’m curious Dear Wine Friends: Are we the same and our bars have changed or, have we both grown up?