Some bars are cozy dens, built inside caves of paneled wood. Other bars are sleek and modern, cold castles of marble and steel. There are bars with windows, views, skylights, and there are those with only the glow of burning candles and the occasional ray of light from a streetlight across the street.
The two "bars" where I create cocktails and Sammy photographs are all and none of these things.
The kitchen counter at home is cold, hard stone, but the walls are bright and warm like mustard seeds. The north-facing window allows some light in during the day, and at night we can see lights from the train, cars, and lamps outside.
At Oriole, the bar space is tucked away, out of sight. Once ready, cocktails, wine, and spiritfrees are served on tables cloaked in white, in a lofty room with natural beams of light before sunset and the bright glow of lamps after dark.
Sometimes it is good to move away from the usual. Dim the lights and see if the cocktail is still as striking when the visual elements are blurred. Raise the lights. Is the sprig of mint fresh or withered? Are there brown spots on the twist, or is it curling, dried out from being cut hours ago and left out? These are all details that may be missed in the dim light of the bar, which are put in focus with the flash of a camera. Let the drink be camera-ready, in any light. It is important to take a moment to acknowledge the ambiance which the bar environment creates, and explore how to use that to highlight the drinks in the most effective way.