William Faulkner said civilization begins with distillation. What’s unquestionably true is that strong drink has evolved in parallel with mankind — growing more diverse, more adventurous, more nuanced. In short, more civilized. We’re long past hoping fruit ferments in a hollowed stump on a muddy forest floor; today, gloriously, we perch on barstools, and we drink cocktails.
Faulkner knew a thing or three about the cocktail — he mixed his own, even in bars. What he would learn about our current stage of civilization is that his beloved bourbon is becoming eclipsed by its older cousin, rye, and that the cocktail has entered a new golden age — one best not left to amateurs.