Michael J. Neff
Bartender and Consultant in Los Angeles, California
Michael J. Neff is a bartender, mixologist, entrepreneur and spirits professional whose purpose in life is to make great bars and to help people drink well in them.
With the modern Mixology movement and the surge in interest in all things related to cocktails and spirits, bars have again become central to cultural life in cities around the world. Cocktails are culinary, and the range and quality of spirits available today is staggering. Great bars have been the setting for this revolution in libation and continue to force innovation and creativity on an industry that was compelled for decades to let the lowest common denominator dictate the direction of an entire industry. Those days are quickly being put behind us.
The digital revoltion that helped fuel this resurgence in interest also highlights a more pressing need that great bars fill. While many of us process a good portion of our world digitally, there is a vital need for people to sit in each others' company. Bars are some of the last physical places designed specifically for groups to congregate, individuals to mingle, and strangers to participate in the rituals of group interaction that are essential to the well-being of each of us as human beings.
At once a functional space, the heart of a neighborhood, the seat of a community and a fantastical escape from the ravages of everyday life, a great bar balances the function of business with a strong sense that anything is possible within its confines.
The bartender is essential to creating this environment. The best cocktail program in the world is only as good as the men and women tasked to implement it, and teaching the Craft of Bartending is the next great challenge of the Mixology movement. Great bars are run by bartenders with the correct proportion of showman, counsellor, chef, bouncer, host and confidante. The time and training needed to create these people is an investment that bar owners and brands are well advised to make.
Please visit the links at the bottom of this page for press coverage, interviews and my particular views of what makes a bar great.
Holiday Cocktail Lounge: