"Cocktails can be intimidating," said Nick Fisher, who hosts Cocktail Chemistry, a YouTube show that teaches people how to make cocktails at home using affordable equipment. Fisher said people usually avoid making cocktails or stick to staples like rum and coke.
"I'm trying to show people how easy it is to make quality cocktails at home," he said.
Our conversation with Fisher is the latest edition of Ask a Genius, our regular series of talks with brilliant people.
What do you tell relatives who have no idea what you do?
People stare at my torso online while I make drinks for myself. That sounds bad. Most people get what YouTube is, so it’s not a hard concept to grasp, but some just see YouTube as a place for viral cat videos and not a new form of media like TV. They ask for my channel name and I tell them to check it out and click on all the ads. Gotta pay that rent in San Francisco.
What part of your work are you a natural at?
I think I have a good sense for keeping people’s attention during my videos, and do this by maintaining the focus on the product and tightly editing my shots. I’m also a natural procrastinator, so I’ve found a content style that doesn’t require much planning ahead of time.
What part of work doesn't come easily & how do you do it?
Showing my personality in my videos was always a challenge since I wanted to keep the focus on making the drink itself. If you look at some of my earlier videos, they are very serious and hard for me to watch. I think once I got more comfortable in front of the camera, I loosened up a lot more and started to bring more of my sense of humor into the show.
What's your secret time- or money-saving tip?
Making your own cocktails at home will save you a ton of money! But more generally, trying to batch your work in spurts of productivity has worked great for me. Specifically, I will shoot two to three videos at a time, since it takes at least an hour to set up and break down my set (aka turn my kitchen into my bar).
What's your hangover cure?
If it’s my head hurting, taking Excedrin and a long shower. If it’s my stomach, hair of the dog! If I know it’s gonna be a big night out, I switch to vodka sodas pretty quickly — free hydration.
Outside of work, what are you an expert at?
Cocktail Chemistry technically is my “outside of work” skill, but outside of that I’ve perfected the perfect pour-over cup of coffee.
What's the best online comment you've read about yourself? What's the worst?
I read all my online comments and do an annual “Nick reads mean tweets” video so I see the good and the bad. Let’s start with the worst. The trolls I don’t mind, but the comments that annoy me the most complain about how these drinks are too much work, or, “I just drink a glass of whiskey, it’s much easier.”
That misses the whole point of the channel. A person wiser than me once said “drinking to get drunk is like having sex to get pregnant”. So I guess what I’m saying is, I’m not trying to get you pregnant with my channel. OK, moving on.
My favorite comments are the ones where people talk about how the channel got them into home mixology or when they share their creations with me. It’s super rewarding and I never get tired of it. Fortunately the good comments far outweigh the bad.
What's one fact or idea you think more people should know?
There are plenty of ideas I think more people should forget, like mixing alcohols leads to worse hangovers, or that “premium vodka” is actually a thing. One fact most people don’t know is that an estimated 130 brands of whiskey (many of which you’d recognize) all source their product from the same mass distillery in Indiana called Midwest Grain Products (MGP). Doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact they make a fine product, but often times those bottles are misleadingly labeled as “craft distilled”.
I'm giving you a cell phone that can send one 140-character message to yourself at 18 years old. What do you say?
Learn to dance. Just like, three solid moves. It’ll pay off I promise.
As you know, the apocalypse is coming in 2028. What do you want to accomplish by then?
Ten million YouTube subscribers, a mezcal farm in Oaxaca, Mexico and a seat on the SpaceX rocket that will flee the apocalypse.
Who do you think is a genius & what’s one thing you would ask them?
The person who invented Pedialyte, one of few products helping kids and adults recover but for very different reasons. I just looking him up, Dr. Gary Cohen of Swampscott, Massachusetts. You guys should talk to him next and ask him if he wants to sponsor an episode of Cocktail Chemistry.
This interview was lightly edited for clarity.
Do you know a genius? Want to see them in this space? Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image: Nick Fisher