Last week I met Dale DeGroff who was in town promoting his new book, The Essential Cocktail. While Dale spoke to me about creating his cocktails I thought of how similar it is when I create recipes for food. A well-crafted libation is like a great dish: Start with quality ingredients, use a little imagination, and don’t mess with it too much.

As I watched him breeze around the kitchen snatching lemons, pepper jelly, sugar, and other ingredients, all the while relating cocktail facts and stories, it reminded me of something: One sign of a good chef is to be able to chat while effortlessly concocting, and a good bartender is no different. And though I’m no expert when it comes to cocktails, Dale and I share a basic philosophy: The best results seem to come from doing something you love.

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