Robert Ferrara is an odd bird. There he is, head down, more immersed in the task at hand than in chatting up the pretty girls who sip his drinks at the upstairs bar inside Swine Southern Table & Bar. That is, of course, until they ask him what's in the rose-hued cocktail they're savoring. Suddenly, Ferrara's eyes light up as he describes in loving detail the ingredients in his Mexican State of Mind. "I use fresh-pressed watermelon and some jalapeño for heat," he beams. "It balances the tequila and mezcal. Do you like the watermelon radish?" Ferrara, you see, is a bar geek — that rare breed of mixologist who exists for the cocktail itself. While some barkeeps are in it for the tips or the broads or the ego trip that slinging drinks can afford, Ferrara is a purist. For him, making the perfect libation is tantamount to climbing Everest — legendary and worthy of the sacrifice. And like a climber prepping for the summit push, Ferrara takes meticulous care in the making of his cocktails: collecting the perfect vintage glassware for each drink, procuring bourbon barrels direct from Kentucky so he can hand-age custom concoctions, making his own tinctures and infusions, and bottling his own sodas. Quiz him about that curious bottle on the second shelf to the far right and you'll get an education in the history of vermouth. Ask for a drink and he'll weave a tale about the evolution of the old-fashioned. After all of this bar trivia, you're thirsty. The wait is worth it, because Ferrara's cocktails — whether you indulge in one of his unnamed barrel-aged science projects ($13) or a Swine old-fashioned washed with bacon fat and made with Ferrara's own bitters ($15) — are complex, bold, and surprising. In the end, whether you're trying to get to the top of the world or the bottom of a barrel, obsession drives success. And geeks always win. Just ask Bill Gates. Or Rob Ferrara.