The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2014

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Page 4 of 128

4 / the tasting panel / march 2014 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR The nanny society has really out- done itself now. As of January 1, 2014, California bartenders (and chefs) are required to wear disposable plastic gloves when handling uncooked food. The state, the euphoric domain of Governor Moonbeam, which banned plastic shop- ping bags because they are environmentally damaging, now mandates thousands of pounds of unsightly plastic gloves to take their place in landfill. WTF? The impact of this boneheaded law on mixologists is devastating. Crafting drinks (and making sushi) is a tactile endeavor. It involves the intimate and precise connection between the craftsman or crafts- woman and his or her creations. Doing this with gloves on is kind of like shooting baskets in the dark. Unfortunately this Big Brother kind of legislation is becoming common across the country. Responsible people who handle food on a daily basis are care- ful about washing their hands regularly. There are already laws on the books that mandate that they be mindful and fastidious about cleanliness. The brain-dead legislators who passed this law are, in effect, saying, "We don't trust you to wash your hands, so now you have to wear gloves." Actually, plastic gloves are less hygienic than a regular program of hand-washing, especially if the bartender is handling money between drink orders. Is the sponsor of this law in the pocket of the plastic glove industry? It would seem so, since this law serves no useful purpose except to flood the world with millions of dollars' worth of non-degradable plastic gloves. Restaurants and bars have been serving people for decades; why do we suddenly have to be protected from them? This is helicopter parenting brought to the marketplace. Why do some elected officials feel that they know better than us poor schnooks? In order to justify their own sorry existence, they cast themselves in the role of savior to the masses. Leave us alone! We are grown-ups and we have gotten along just fine without gloves up to this point. Repeal this stupid law! Hands Off! PHOTO: DOUG YOUNG CONTRIBUTORS Robert Plotkin is a judge at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and author of 16 books on bartend- ing and beverage management, including Secrets Revealed of America's Greatest Cocktails. He can be reached at or by e-mail at Mark Ryan is a James Beard award–winning video director and photographer based in Los Angeles. When he is not filming Mark enjoys cooking, eating out and all things wine—especially Burgundy. Emile Wamsteker got his start in photog- raphy working as a stringer for the AP in New York City, and has 20 years' experience shooting features for the likes of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Food Network and a range of corporate clients from GM to Cunard. A devotee of "maker DIY culture", his most recent projects include building a custom-built PC and a motion-controlled camera slider. He lives in a Sears kit house with his wife, two children and a rescued black cat named Lucky, in West Orange, NJ, former home of inventor Thomas Edison. Xania Woodman is an impassioned nightlife and beverage writer, editor, blogger and proud USBG Nevada member. She has written for myriad publications including 944 and The Los Angeles Times and appears annually in The Unofficial Guide to Las Vegas (Menasha Ridge Press). Woodman has judged countless mixology competitions, including Throwdown with Bobby Flay.

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