Departing columnist takes stock of changes on local booze scene | Drink | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Departing columnist takes stock of changes on local booze scene

"Thank you, bartenders, for educating and inspiring me."

I've written about drinking in Pittsburgh every week for over three years, sharing stories of the scores of brewers, distillers, bartenders, sommeliers, and wine/spirits importers and distributors who contribute to this citys booze culture. My biggest takeaway: Pittsburgh is a fantastic place to get a drink.

It's thrilling to take stock of how many breweries opened since I started writing this column, and good ones too. Bars are — quite rightly — moving away from domestic mega-breweries and dedicating more taps to these terrific local beers and ciders. We've also gone from one distillery to four, with at least one more scheduled to open next year.

When I moved to Pittsburgh in 2010, there weren't a lot of places where you could get a well-crafted classic or contemporary cocktail. Now there are so many choices; when people ask me for suggestions on where to go, I need to ask them what neighborhood are they going to and what they're in the mood for.

Pittsburgh's tight-knit bartender community is fast establishing a reputation for being as dedicated to its craft as any group of bartenders in the country. In fact, the city has enough respect among the greater bartending community that it was selected to host the first United States Bartenders Guild regional conference last year.

Thank you, bartenders, for educating and inspiring me. You're a real class act, the lot of you. I'm sure that anyone who's been reading my column knows that for many of these bartenders, this is a lifelong career choice. Give them your respect, and give them a tip.

This is my last "On the Rocks" for Pittsburgh City Paper. I'm moving on to other writing opportunities in town. As for this column, you've likely noticed the bylines of Drew Cranisky and Celine Roberts in recent weeks. Stick around; they're going to do a knock-up job.