Peche Hospitality App Announces Huge ‘Barchive’ Cocktail History Update

The Peche ‘Barchive’ project goes live on August 1st, 2024. You can join the waiting list via a link in this story

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There are many ‘two types of person’ statements that can be used the bisect the bartending community – Gibson VS Martini; jigger VS free pour; flair is lame VS flair is cool, for instance – but today we are concerned with those who are interested in cocktail history VS those who are not.

While some bartenders aren’t really fussed about cocktail lore, others find the origins and history of cocktails to be fascinating, and use the things they learn to inform how they make classic and modern classic drinks, and shape how they go about creating their own, original recipes.

The latter group has a huge array of books, blogs, videos, and websites to consult as they research cocktail stories, and this presents a problem, especially for historical accuracy purists: how can a bartender be sure what one resource claims as ‘fact’ isn’t refuted or superseded by another they aren’t aware of? This is where the Peche Barchive project comes in.

The Peche hospitality app was launched last year by bar veteran and developer Morten Kjærulff. We interviewed Morten when it went live and you can read the full story here, but essentially until now, Peche has been a team training management app. Behind the scenes however, Morten has been building and beta testing the Barchive project, which goes live on Peche next month.

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The idea and vision of the Barchive is quite simple; I want to create a central source of truth for cocktails, with references from books, articles and other trusted sources throughout history. A non-biased, non-branded library of recipes with information about their origins and variations through time.” says Morten, adding: “The problem and concept was actually quite well summarised more than 100 years ago in the Preface to the 1913 Bartender’s Manuel by the Bartender’s Association of America – “There is no actual code universal, either in name or formulas for mixing drinks. A concotion in one city may be, in fact, is called by another name somewhere else, although containing the same ingredients. Our endeavor is to assemble the various names and methods of concoctions so as to prevent confusion.“”

By focusing on ingredients rather than cocktail names, Barchive is able to track the parallel development of a cocktail concept as it evolves at the hands of bartenders who work with it over time.

The most famous example of this is probably the Breakfast Martini, a gin sour style drink with orange flavours added to it. While the modern credit goes to Salvatore Calabrese, cocktail nerds know there’s the “Marmalade Cocktail” on page 102 of the Savoy Cocktail book that looks dangerously similar. This isn’t to say it was a case of stealing the recipe (Unlikely), but the fact that gin, citrus and orange already existed across many drinks before (Maiden’s Prayer, Pegu Club, White Lady, etc.) it was a natural step to swap the sweetener from a syrup/juice/liqueur to the use of marmalade. A bit similar to the Mr Potato Head idea from Death & Co where you take an existing template and swap one ingredient.

Morten describes this function as ‘layering modern technology’ on top of the mountain of existing cocktail writing and research:

Currently, the authorities of cocktail history are single authors, blog owners or creative writers from media sites such as Difford’s Guide, Punch Drink, VinePair etc. Very few of these are looking through historical books but instead rely on trusting each other for references. An example I found the other day is the origins of the Palmetto cocktail. The Rum Manhattan style drink has been credited to Harry Craddock across all aforementioned sites, yet there are at least 6 older references in books before 1930, going as far back as 1906. They’ve even missed it from the very popular 1917 Recipes for Mixed drinks by Hugo Ensslin.

The Barchive currently references thousands of entries from resources that span centuries, and the knowledge pool will grow as Morten continues to expand the app’s horizons.

Ultimately, the goal is simply a reference source for where to learn more about drinks…” Says Morten. “I would have loved to have this tool when doing competitions!

You can join the Barchive waitlist here.

And you can learn more about Peche and get in touch with Morten Kjærulff here