In the world of Lego where ‘everything is awesome’ and everyone from Gandalf to Batman are represented, I can’t help but wonder, where’s the hipster?
Sitting somewhere in between a bottle of craft beer and too much facial hair is arguably one of the biggest male statements since Magnum PI pulled off the mustache and sandals look in the 80’s (my mancrush). Born in the 1940’s on a jive vibe and given rebirth in Brooklyn around the late 90’s, the arty East Village ‘hipster’ is far from new. Fueled by small-batch coffee, craft IPA, alternative music and badly matching tattoos, the modern hipster has evolved into a movement of “progressively political millennials living in urban areas” with a penchant for knitwear, rural beekeeping and taxidermy with the need to cycle everywhere in rolled up jean shorts (what’s that about?).
Yet far from only confined to the realms of independent Wi-Fi free cafe’s, one can also often be found grazing among the homemade tinctures, craft beers and boutique bottles of the modern bar. This is the new breed of bartender. One that when entering cocktail competitions, delivers a drink in two minutes but takes a further 10 to arrange their Siberian cod roe on a wafer of freeze-dried hops displayed on a tray made from a piece of the Space Shuttle.
In an effort to further shed light on the emerging socio-demographic sub genus that is the “hipster bartender”, we have understandably elected to represent ourselves through the medium of Lego.
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In 2009, Time Magazine covered the re-emergence of the hipster by stating, “Take your grandmother’s sweater and Bob Dylan’s Wayfarers, add jean shorts, Converse All-Stars and a can of Pabst [craft beer] and bam — hipster.” While that may have been accurate in the States five years ago, here in the UK it’s somewhat less Bob Dylan and little more Mumford & Sons. Once behind the bar our hipster morphs into either one (or a mixture of) three primary camps as displayed in the infographic below.
It’s usually at this stage that one must ask themselves, “Am I a hipster?”. The problem is that the term has become as badly abused as an Old Fashioned topped with soda. But thankfully the geniuses at the Guardian Newspaper published a series of mathematical formulas to help identify the probability that you’d fallen into the trap;
“(Percentage area of upper torso covered in tattoo ink) / π + (Number gears on a bicycle + average number of days without a shave) x 100
Percentage chance of being able to hold an informed discussion on the gross economic impact of supplying direct trade coffee beans into Pyongyang.”
While I can think of at least five hipster bartenders I know who would place Pyongyang just outside of Milton Keynes, they are all obsessed with coffee, carry more ink than the Bible and have beards dense enough to host their own biome. So I think they qualify well.
And while there are clearly many highly experienced bartenders carrying the torch for hipsters, it’s in small batch coffee, vegan salads and stupidly named beer (eg ‘Dead Pony Club’ & ‘Black Jesus’) that they mainly confide.
Whether it’s a cup of wet dried, single origin, corn-fed, free-range coffee beans from the Alpen Sahara tundra of Icouldntpinitonamapistan or boutique IPA brewed 12 times in the bladder of an Alaskan salmon from wild yeast grown on the back of a Antipodean goat, it’s all porn for a hipster. Which says a lot about me since I’m sitting here in a waistcoat sipping my third medium-roasted Botswana flatwhite of the day in a rustic independent coffee bar. And I admit to perfectly fitting the stereotype of a hipster bartender if only I could grow a beard. I got close for a while but once I realised I have crap taste in music, uneven facial hair and prefer to wear socks with my shoes, I concluded I was just an impostor.
Thankfully while I may be left with little more than a pubescent face to define me, my bar it seems is 100% hipster. It’s small, has an even smaller menu with overly verbose descriptions, homemade bitters, shrubs, barrel aged cocktails, an awesome rye collection and nothing but local boutique beers. Cocktails come over ice balls, I stir more drinks than I shake and write specs accurate to 2ml.
And so to Lego, where ‘everything is cool when you’re part of team’ I say ‘nay’, the team is not cool because if it was there would be a hipster barman in the box right next to Batman. He would come with a selection of beards, waistcoats, a login code for an online German music player and a Czech girlfriend named Anastasia.
If you are a hipster or close but no e-cigar like myself, I say eat more halloumi, drink IPA and be proud. We’re the new old anti-establishment establishment and if anyone is interested in buying some of my homemade quinoa beard balm, be sure to let me know.
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Written by UK based barman, Ben Leggett of DrinkingCup.net. An active brand consultant, ambassador, trainer and all-round self confessed drinks geek.