The Allure of The Classic Cocktail

If your drink isn't up to your standards, send it back!


When I first started working in a bar, my first job was in a place that had a Speakeasy theme (back in the late 80s.)  I was in my late teens and it seemed very new and exciting and glamorous to be surrounded by all these fancy cocktails with names like: “Golden Cadillac,” “Iron Butterfly” and  “Mexican Ferrari.”  Thankfully you never really hear about those cocktails anymore. There were, however, certain drinks that seemed to have an almost hallowed status: the Rusty Nail, Manhattan or Old Fashioned.  Almost thirty years on,  just like the thirty years before, these cocktails still hold their place on cocktail menus around the globe.  Honestly, I think it was being exposed to this world of “fine drinking” that gave me the hospitality bug; the handsome Bartenders loved making these drinks because they appreciated the opportunity to employ their skill at making a perfect cocktail. 

With the reemergence of  Cocktail Culture, there are still lots of people who look down on “mixology”.  However, when you have worked alongside bartenders who can barely open a bottle of beer as I have, you really grow to appreciate the bartender who has an informed repertoire, who can modify an ingredient, or ingredients , ultimately creating something  special and memorable .

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Maybe you should just head straight to the bar for your next team-building event?


Click here to watch a team-building workshop in action:

Is your workday in need of more open communication, creativity and positive motivation?
Are you looking for new ways to spark innovation and strengthen team dynamics?
Would you like to know how to spread the happiness of happy hour throughout your whole organization?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re probably ready to introduce a little happy hour into your 9 to 5! 

Bar Chefs know that different spirits, liqueurs, sweeteners, and citrus combine to make a mouth-watering cocktail, just like different personalities, skill sets and expertise combine to make up a successful team.  Understanding these synergies, and how the ingredients in a cocktail (and a team) work harmoniously together have tremendous parallels when you consider why a well-made cocktail tastes so delicious, and how the strengths of each team member combine to achieve a common objective.

When you motivate people to pool their talents in a team environment, they will perform at their best individually and as team players.  So whether you’re launching a new product, tackling a difficult company transition or building a perfect martini waterfall, you’ll want to make sure the team is as strong as possible!  Here are some of the reasons that building and strengthening internal teams is so important to the success of an organization:


  1. Relationships are strengthened,
  2. Lines of communication are opened,
  3. Creativity is stimulated,
  4. New ways of strategizing and solving challenges are discovered,
  5. Whiners, complainers and hidden agendas are eliminated.


Working on the premise that happy staff are productive staff (and most everyone is happy when they’re enjoying a cocktail or even a mocktail), make sure that your team-building workshops are fun-filled as this is a common language the entire team will understand!


The BartenderOne team (founded by award-winning flair bartender and master mixologist Gavin MacMillan) are experts in bringing people together in a fun, engaging way, to build team dynamics and increase productivity – offering everything from general “Get Into the Spirit” and “Rockin’ Mocktails” workshops to events focused on specific beverage types (e.g. “Let’s Get Hopped Up” Beer workshops and “Buena Barista” Coffee Workshops).



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Build! Shake! Stir!




What can I get you?



Whether you’re at a bar to meet friends or to meet new ones, the drinks that are being served are either Built, Shaken or Stirred….. but what’s the difference and why does it make a difference?

Lets break it down….

Built drinks are things like a Rum and Coke or a Vodka with Club Soda – Glass-Ice-Alcohol-Mix-Garnish and Straw, EASY!!!

Stirred drinks are things like a Negroni or a Manhattan – Mixing Glass-Spirit-Ice-Stir-Strain into appropriate glass

Shaken drinks are things like a Cosmopolitan or a Whiskey Sour – Shaking glass-Mix-Spirit-Ice-Shake-Strain into appropriate glass

Built drinks are the easiest of the three and 60% of drinks in a busy nightclub are made like this. What about the other 40% of drinks?

20% of drinks would be BEER!!! After that everything else is either shaken or stirred.


Bartenders all over the world have their own method of shaking and stirring with their own style and panache. With proper training you learn that although Ice is your friend in a lot of cocktails one doesn’t want to OVER dilute drinks with improper use of our frozen friend H2O. Whether stirring or shaking a cocktail ice should always be added to the mixing glass AFTER the ingredients have been added, this will minimize the dilution and result in a better cocktail. Stirring is a technique, usually reserved for ‘Spirit-forward’ cocktails (cocktails without any non-alcoholic ingredients) and is all about preparing a drink with ice to both chill and dilute the drink without bruising the spirit. Shaking is the most fun way of making a cocktail and has been taken to unbelievable levels of style by bartenders who want to impress their guests. A good shake can be the difference between a great drink and a happy guest or a bad one and a disappointed guest. Shaking not only chills a cocktail, dilutes it and mixes the ingredients together but it can also introduce air, texture or ‘mouth-feel’ to a libation. With the addition of egg whites to a cocktail like an Amaretto sour, when shaken can dramatically change the dynamic of the feeling that is experienced when sipping on it.


Question: Whats the best method to use?

Answer: It all depends on what drink you’re making.


So, grab your shaking tins and bar spoons and figure out how you are going to build, shake and stir with passion, style and your own little twist.


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Wake up and smell the Coffee

lDid you know that famous saying is actually accurate? As it turns out, our sense of smell shuts down during sleep. The sense of smell, or “olfaction”, is the first sense we use at birth and is the sense most closely linked to the brain. Some of life’s simplest pleasures are based on the sense of smell which is central to the ability to taste. And what aroma is more  identifiable than a freshly brewed cup of  coffee?   We all know not all coffee tastes the same, or possesses the same flavour characteristics, but why? The study of coffee is constantly evolving.  There are quite a few top knotch classes in Toronto however many don’t run in the summer months.  Buena Barista is a year round class that recently welcomed Roxanne Ramnarine as its new instructor.”Roxy” brings a wealth of knowledge and passion for the mighty bean. We hear she has a few fun tricks up her sleeve this summer to get your senses working!

Coffee anyone?

Coffee anyone?





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What is the Importance of Ice



Enticing yes...


Ice is…. An Integral Component of Every cocktail, under the general definition of a cocktail being “an alcoholic beverage which includes: Sugar, Bitters and Water (Ice)”. Whether it is being used to chill a cocktail, mix ingredients together, for dilution and water content or simply just to take up space in a glass – Ice is just as important as the drink itself.

 Bartending classes teach, about how much Ice a bartender should use in each cocktail being made, both in cocktails with a mixer for example a Whiskey Sour or even something as simple as a Rum and Coke and in ‘spirit- forward’ cocktails such as a Negroni or a Manhattan. These applications are concerned with ice in the final product, but what about drinks that are served with no ice?

Question: What does ‘Neat’ mean?

Answer: NO ICE!!! A drink served neat, would be a shot of liquor that has had no contact with Ice. It’s gone straight from the bottle to the glass.

So what does ‘Straight-Up’ mean? Ever had a Cosmopolitan or a Vodka Martini with Ice in it? I doubt it. Now think about this…..Have you ever seen a bartender shake or stir a drink, then strain the drink into a glass with no ice? This cocktail would be called a ‘Straight-Up’ cocktail.

So to simplify, both ‘Straight-Up’ and ‘Neat’ drinks are served without Ice. The difference is that ‘Straight-Up’ cocktails have had contact with ice at some point leading up to being served.

As mentioned earlier, Ice can be used to take up space in a glass. “Why wouldn’t I just use a smaller glass?” I can hear you all asking. Have you ever had a Mojito served straight-up or in a short glass with no Ice? Crushed Ice is used in the classic Mojito recipe, because not only does it keep the drink ‘Ice” cold, it takes up space in the glass allowing the drink to contain less liquid, but still appear to be a tall, grande, gesture from your favourite bartender.

Egg whites are becoming a commonly used ingredient in a whole range of different libations. Just like pineapple juice, the egg whites will emulsify under heavy shaking or whisking creating a foam. The Ice used in the shaker tin almost acts as a whisk and helps the process of emulsification during shaking, in such cocktails as the Whiskey Sour or the Gin Fizz.

Question: How important is ‘Dilution’?

AnswerIn many cases, it is very important.

Many cocktail recipes include a shake or a stir, these are for both mixing the drink, making it cold and dilution.

Look out soon for the up-and-coming ‘Build, Shake, Stir’ blog.

Also, take a look at our molecular mixology program which will give you the lowdown on both liquid Nitrogen and Dry-Ice



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Quest for the Best New Bartender in Toronto is coming!

Quest for the Best new Bartender in Toronto is happening on August 13th, 2015!

Check out these bartenders in action as they compete for the title of:

Best New Bartender in Toronto!

Jeong Ho Lim

David Miguel

Joanna Oliver

Rashi Gupta

Eder Sanchez

Srirag Babu

Jeremy Gui

Bartenders, your cocktail recipe must be submitted AT LEAST 48 hours before the event starts!

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This is how you become your bartender’s favourite costumer

You spend more time with your bartender than you do with your family; you should have a better relationship with him/her than the one you have with the people who drove you to hang out in bars all the time. To help, we asked a bunch of ‘tenders for advice on how to become exceptional at being a regular.

Order simple when things get hectic
Even if the bartender designed the cocktail menu, he’ll be grateful if you ask for a beer or whiskey instead of an 8-ingredient masterpiece.

Handle your people when they get out of hand
If someone you brought in starts instigating fights, grabbing asses, etc, get them to stop, or get them to leave. Don’t wait for the bartender or bouncer to step in. Their first move’s gonna be to ask you to handle it, because you’re in a better position to calm your boy with words instead of judo.

Offer your bartender the right shot, for the right reasons
The right attitude’s “I know you’re working, but it’d be awesome if you joined us”, not “Screw your job, hop on our party train!”. Also, offer them their preferred shot, not yours; and remember that a shot is never a substitute for a tip.

Perfect the Casual Half-Raise
It’s not universally accepted yet, but there might be a way to get a bartender’s attention without being a jerk. This open-palm, one-raised-finger, half-mast gesture says in the most undemanding way possible, “I’m here when you’re ready”. It’s so good!

Err towards cash, but don’t sweat credit
Cash is king because you take tips home that night instead of 1-2 weeks later, and they’re (shh…) not taxed. BUT: Bartenders get that this is a plastic world; you’re not losing cred by using credit, but tip a bit more anyway, because credit cards aren’t real money.

Keep your bartender company on slow nights
Do talk about: sports, music, movies, drinking, embarrassing sex stories, “ancient aliens”.
Don’t talk about: politics, religion, how much money bartenders make, sex stories where you’re really good at sex.

Don’t freak your bartender out on slow nights
If you’re a creepy stalker, just be low-maintenance about it. Bartenders of both sexes know they’ll have admirers. If they think “I can live with this creep” instead of “I’m calling the cops on this creep”, you’re winning (relatively).

Be respectful even when you feel you’ve been horribly wronged
Bad-tasting beer is rarely the bartender’s fault, and regardless he’ll comp you a replacement — happily so if you’re cool. If you got the wrong cocktail, you might have ordered wrong, especially if you ordered for a group. If you got the right cocktail but think it was made wrong, remember that bartenders dip a straw for a taste before serving. If the drink’s truly off, they’ll catch it.


Bus your table, mind your chair 
If you ordered at the bar, bring your empties back. If there’s table service but the barback’s overwhelmed (sure sign: the bartenders are frantically washing glasses), lending a hand is a “veteran move”. Pushing in your chair to keep service lanes clear is a subtle assist, but the guy not tripping over your chair will notice.

Streamline every interaction so the bartender never has to ask additional questions:
Always say “Can I start a tab?” or “Can I close this out?” when handing over a card.

Lay out specific ingredients, in the order the drink’s constructed: “Grey Goose & cranberry with extra limes” vs “Cranberry & vodka… can I get more limes?”.

With multiple drinks, flag down the bartender only when your entire order’s ready.

Tell him how much change you want; it saves a step, and now he knows it was you who tipped $3 on a $7 drink, and not the Tip Fairy.

Tip like a boss, or at least senior management
$2 per drink is solid; $3 is more than solid. 30% on an end-of-evening bill gets you remembered that night; 50% gets you remembered every night. For buybacks, 50% of whatever the drink would’ve cost works, though even at 100% you’re still saving cash.

For a “This is for you, please take care of me” bonus, 50-100% of that crucial first round’s total works, followed up by $2-$3 per round to keep the goodwill flowing. But if things get hectic, don’t remind the bartender of your generosity — it’s a fine line between rewarding you and shafting everybody else.

Make “a shot and a beer” your regular order
“Makes me smile, every time.” — every bartender in the world

Let the bartender determine when you’ve earned “regular” status…
You can’t force things by introducing him to your friends on your second visit or commiserating about how terrible the other customers are. If you do, like, half of the above stuff, seven visits (not including weekends!) ought to do it.

… and to keep that status, be discreet 
If you have an “awesome guy” discount, don’t put 10 friends on your tab. If you get to order after last call, this quote pretty much sums it up: “Last call is like corralling a bunch of toddlers at nap time. Everybody is hurting each others’ feelings, hitting each other, wetting themselves, etc. The last thing that needs to happen is for them to see the one kid still playing with the toy that they all want.”




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Is using the Jigger the new trend for mixology in 2014?

David Rios rised to fame in 2013 after being crowned as DIAGEO World Class Bartender of The Year. His forecast is that in 2014 cocktails will become cleaner, simpler and with a focus on masterful execution where serious mixologists will return to the basics with a special focus on achieving precision by using the jigger for every pour.

If you took part of the BartenderOne Masterclass to become a bartender, you probably know that BartenderOne strongly advices perfecting the free pour instead of the use of jiggers to provide bartenders with a skill that sets the industry’s standards. For many years, the use of the jigger was associated with unexperienced or even worse ungenerous bartenders who would count every drop of alcohol driven by greedy bar owners trying to squeeze every cent out of the bottle. However, according to Rios, creating the perfect cocktail is more like baking than savory cooking requiring  mathematical precision to achieve the results desired and the jigger stands out as the perfect tool to make perfect cocktails allowing to manipulate the product in process without being forced to dump it out and start again

Among other trends, Rios mentions the return of classic cocktails like the Martini and a growing use of theatrical elements to the making of clients’ drinks, the appearance of bottled cocktails, flavored ice cubes and locally-produced spirits.

What’s your opinion on this subjet? What do you think are gonna be the trends in the cocktail and mixology world for 2014? Let us know your opinion, you might be the next guru the industry needs!!

“World’s best bartender says to expect cocktails to be simpler in 2014″ Daily News Online. Available at:

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This is what happens when you mess with the wrong bartender…

In one of those headlines that you only find in Texas, a bartender in San Antonio dealt with a rowdy patron in his bar in a gun to gun challenge that ended up with tragic consequences.

The incident which took place the morning after Christmas and involved a heavily intoxicated patron which reacted violently when the bartender decided to take away his car keys which made him become aggressive and started arguing with the bartender. During the verbal exchange, the client pulled a .45-caliber Glock and pointed it at the bar employee.

The bartender  -in a perfect Texans style-  ready with his firearm, pulled out a 9 mm gun and demanded the violent patron to place his weapon on the ground. When the suspect refused, the bartender fired — what he has declared — three shots at the man at point blank range. Then he proceeded to place both guns on the bar counter and call the police.

The emergency services tried to save the wounded man’s live but it was too late. Police are still investigating the incident.

What is your opinion on the subject on dealing with aggressive patrons? Is it legitimate for a bartender to use force to repel an aggression? Is the bartender to blame for this patron’s dead?

Let us know your opinion!


S.A bartender shoots, kills “very intoxicated” patron during argument SAPD says.

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2013 = 365 Stories of success for BartenderOne, now it’s time to party


Some people say that when you follow your passion time flies away before you even notice. Whoever said this got it 100% right, as we had the chance to experience at BartenderOne.

Every week these walls witness a different story; a new generation of students eager to learn how to become a bartender -which they quickly realize is nowhere close as easy as they had imagined- a class filled with aspiring mixologists learning the secrets of the spirits with one tasting after the other, the loud clang of tins impacting against the floor caused by over excited flair bartenders, the look of surprise in the eye of the venerable executive who discovers the pleasure of preparing her own martini at the teambuilding workshops… the stories are endless.

The Little Prince from Antoine de Saint Exupery’s immortal novel knew it when he said, “Grown-ups like numbers and they never ask the questions that really matter”… For that reason, we believe that BartenderOne is more than the number of its staff or students, more than profit and loss, more than number of events, classes, etc. BartenderOne is each and every “aha moment” that a student had when he could master his first cocktail, is the experiences instructors and students shared through every class, is every Blazer Contestant’s  nervousness fading away to be substituted by confidence.

New friends were made and others had to leave, but in the end the BartenderOne Community remains solid and with huge expectations for the future. Instructors, students, blazers, volunteers everyone played a key role in our success this year.

Now the  time has come; 2013 has only a few hours left and now it’s time to celebrate all that we accomplished this year. Join us tomorrow night in the New Year’s Eve Party at College Street Bar   The whole BartenderOne Family will be together to dance our way into 2014

Thank you for an amazing year, looking forward shaking, stirring and pouring together many years more

The BartenderOne Team

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