Archive for September, 2011

Misconceptions about locations and libations…

Thursday, September 29th, 2011
Misconceptions…
As a bartender, I frequently deal with guests who have misconceptions about the cocktails I make.  People tend to drink beverages with little or no flavour other than the lime that is squeezed into their lowball.  It is a little beyond me why someone might want to drink something that tastes like nothing, but my own pre-conceptions aside, everyone is entitled to drink what they want.  Far be it for me to tell you what you like!  Give me a chance and I will certainly show you my version of a well balanced creative cocktail, and if you dont like it, I will buy it for you and you can go back to your vodka soda.
I have recently purchased a house with my fiancĂ©, in one of my most unfavoured places, Oshawa, Ontario.  Commonly known as  ”the SHWA”, “the SHWIGGEDY”, I had my own misconceptions that had always had a sour taste in my mouth about this place, that was until I recently met my new neighbor Missy. She welcomed us to the neighborhood with a bottle of gin from her late husband. “I can’t stand the stuff”, she said with a scrunched up face.  That was my cue to show her what a wonderful backbone a good Gin could be in a cocktail that was lovingly mixed.  I had never tried this particular bottle, but I played with it a little and when I was happy with a new gin cocktail that worked with this particular spirit, I decided to invite Missy over for a to taste it. I proceeded to mix her up a cocktail that was adapted from a bartender I met years earlier, but worked particularly well with this spirit.
No.209 gin, Pimms No. 1, Rubicon guava juice, cloudy apple juice, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup & some bruised mint. Finished off with some caramelized Angostura Bitter figs. Needless to say, she had never tasted anything like it and I think I am her new best friend! Just as I had a misconception of the place I now call home & she had a similar misconception of gin. I was reminded of the dangers of passing  judgement on something, because sometimes all it takes is the right individual to show you how it really is.  They say that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. As it turns out, I love to teach people about mixology and bartending and while there is a quiet cocktail culture out here in Durham, I think I shall be the pioneer & unleash some phenomenal cocktails on the taste buds of the SHWIGGEDEZE!. The cocktail was called Gone Native, think I’ll change it to what I am now proud to be….Oshawa Native. From out east, may your vessel never be empty, keep mixing :)
Jeremy!

As a bartender, I frequently deal with guests who have misconceptions about the cocktails I make.  People tend to drink beverages with little or no flavour other than the lime that is squeezed into their lowball.  It is a little beyond me why someone might want to drink something that tastes like nothing, but my own pre-conceptions aside, everyone is entitled to drink what they want.  Far be it for me to tell you what you like!  Give me a chance and I will certainly show you my version of a well balanced creative cocktail, and if you dont like it, I will buy it for you and you can go back to your vodka soda.

oshawa

I have recently purchased a house with my fiancĂ©, in one of my most unfavoured places, Oshawa, Ontario.  Commonly known as  ”the SHWA”, “the SHWIGGEDY”, I had my own misconceptions that had always had a sour taste in my mouth about this place, that was until I recently met my new neighbor Missy. She welcomed us to the neighborhood with a bottle of gin from her late husband. “I can’t stand the stuff”, she said with a scrunched up face.  That was my cue to show her what a wonderful backbone a good Gin could be in a cocktail that was lovingly mixed.  I had never tried this particular bottle, but I played with it a little and when I was happy with a new gin cocktail that worked with this particular spirit, I decided to invite Missy over for a to taste it. I proceeded to mix her up a cocktail that was adapted from a bartender I met years earlier, but worked particularly well with this Gin.

No.209 gin, Pimms No. 1, Rubicon guava juice, cloudy apple juice, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup & some bruised mint. Finished off with some caramelized Angostura Bitter figs. Needless to say, she had never tasted anything like it and I think I am her new best friend! Just as I had a misconception of the place I now call home & she had a similar misconception of gin. I was reminded of the dangers of passing  judgement on something before you have really given it a chance, because sometimes all it takes is the right individual to show you how it really is, or how great it can be!  They say that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. As it turns out, I love to teach people about mixology and bartending and while there is a quiet cocktail culture out here in Durham, I think I shall be the pioneer & unleash some phenomenal cocktails on the taste buds of the SHWIGGEDEZE!. The cocktail was called Gone Native, think I’ll change it to what I am now proud to be….Oshawa Native. From out east, may your vessel never be empty, keep mixing :)

Jeremy!

4000 Cocktailians walk into a bar…

Thursday, September 29th, 2011
4000 Cocktailians walk into a bar…
Sounds like a bit of a stretch, but really not that far from reality.  This summer thousands of bartenders including from countries all over the world converged on New Orleans, Louisiana for an annual pilgrimage called “Tales of the Cocktail” or just “Tales” for short.   “Tales” celebrates everything wonderful and liquid that goes into a glass for you and me to enjoy.  It identifies some of the newest industry trends, and gives attendees access to some of the world’s most creative minds when it comes to the bar.  Rather than traditional tradeshow format Tales is delivered through a series of Seminars, hosted and moderated by leading mixologists and to a lesser extent Global Brand Ambassadors (although they are often one in the same.)  This year 5 directors from BartenderOne joined the pilgrimage and the results were outstanding, not only did each of us learn a ton but we were inspired,  something that many bars are in dire need of!
So without further delay, here are the big trends for 2011-2012
Spirit forward cocktails, made for sipping and enjoying not slamming…
What the heck does “Spirit forward” mean you ask?  It means a resurgence of cocktails like the Manhattan, Gin Martini or the Negroni, that are based solely on spirits, liqueurs or aperitifs, without the addition of juices and sodas.  This means that you taste the quality of the spirit (assuming the spirit is of a quality worth enjoying) without creating a fruit punch style mixer to go along with your spirit that masks the taste of the spirit altogether.
Cocktail Glassware takes a back to basics approach
Like the stock market, the cocktail market ebbs and flows.  In the 90’s glassware got bigger, much bigger!  Operators bought oversized “Martini” glasses and filled them up with the above mentioned fruit punch to make the guest believe that they were getting more, when in fact they were only getting more… juice.  Glassware is getting smaller again, cocktail glasses (or martini glasses) have shrunk to their original proportions; 5oz instead of the staggering 12oz Martini Glasses that we were using (and many of us still are!)  This means it’s time to archive those fishbowls and start serving cocktails in appropriate sized glassware.
Bitters are the new sweet
The Europeans have long enjoyed the “bitter” flavour profile far more than we on the North American side of the pond.  That is changing.  From the iconic Angostura bitters, to newcomers to the Canadian Marketplace like Fee Brothers, Bittermans, and the Bitter Truth (All except Angostura are difficult to find but not impossible) We have long enjoyed commercial bitters, anyone who drinks Campari or has had a shot of Jagermeister has had bitters, but the bitters I’m talking about are added by the drop, and are often compared to seasoning food with Salt and Pepper.
Artisanal spirits made by hand in small(er) batches
There is no shortage of companies emerging making small batch spirits, by hand, in alembic stills (or copper pot stills) where the distiller is far more capable of adjusting or crafting the spirit so it finishes with a specific flavour profile, the distillers signature.   As the world trends away from mass produced food and drink, and toward concepts like the 100 mile diet, small batch distillers are often thought of as the anti-establishmentarian option.
Gin is the new Vodka
Last but certainly not least, the unified backlash towards vodka is stronger than ever.  As an operator you might think this is absurd, depending on who you talk to, vodka makes up between 20% and 35% of all spirits that cross your bar.  The dissatisfaction with Vodka comes from its perceived lack of character, often interpreted as a colourless and odourless spirit.  Truth be told I am not a big fan of vodka unless it is being used to lengthen another spirit, I’d much rather drink something full of character that tastes like something, than something that tastes like nothing.   With the resurgence in brown spirits, namely Whisk(e)y, Tequila, and Mescal, there are some wonderful flavours available to work with.  Don’t be afraid to experiment by picking up a bottle or two of something that’s not on your weekly order form, and see how your clients like it.
If each person who reads this article takes one of these trends and applies it in their bar, Canada will time travel light years ahead and be well positioned to be a leader in bar culture.  If you don’t believe me, sign yourself and maybe your head bartender for Tales of the Cocktail 2012, the investment will pay dividends in engagement and motivation… maybe we’ll meet up for a cocktail or two.  After all, it is New Orleans, home of Bourbon St and the infamous French Quarter… And with thousands of bartenders in town, you can bet that it’s not too difficult to find a party either.

Sounds like a bit of a stretch, but really not that far from reality.  This summer thousands of bartenders from countries all over the world converged on New Orleans, Louisiana for an annual pilgrimage called “Tales of the Cocktail” or just “Tales” for short.

The Worlds Largest Negroni

The Worlds Largest Negroni

“Tales” celebrates everything wonderful and liquid that goes into a glass for you and me to enjoy.  It identifies some of the newest industry trends, and gives attendees access to some of the world’s most creative minds when it comes to the bar.  Rather than traditional tradeshow format Tales is delivered through a series of Bartending Seminars, hosted and moderated by leading mixologists and to a lesser extent Global Brand Ambassadors (although they are often one in the same.)  This year 5 directors from BartenderOne joined the pilgrimage and the results were outstanding, not only did each of us learn a ton but we were inspired,  something that many bars are in dire need of!

So without further delay, here are the big trends for 2011-2012

Spirit forward cocktails, made for sipping and enjoying not slamming…

What the heck does “Spirit forward” mean you ask?  It means a resurgence of cocktails like the Manhattan, Gin Martini or the Negroni, that are based solely on spirits, liqueurs or aperitifs, without the addition of juices and sodas.  This means that you taste the quality of the spirit (assuming the spirit is of a quality worth enjoying) without creating a fruit punch style mixer to go along with your spirit that masks the taste of the spirit altogether.

Cocktail Glassware takes a back to basics approach

Like the stock market, the cocktail market ebbs and flows.  In the 90’s glassware got bigger, much bigger!  Operators bought oversized “Martini” glasses and filled them up with the above mentioned fruit punch to make the guest believe that they were getting more, when in fact they were only getting more… juice.  Glassware is getting smaller again, cocktail glasses (or martini glasses) have shrunk to their original proportions; 5oz instead of the staggering 12oz Martini Glasses that we were using (and many of us still are!)  This means it’s time to archive those fishbowls and start serving cocktails in appropriate sized glassware.

One ANCIENT bottle of Angostura Bitters!

One ANCIENT bottle of Angostura Bitters!

Bitters are the new sweet

The Europeans have long enjoyed the “bitter” flavour profile far more than we on the North American side of the pond.  That is changing.  From the iconic Angostura bitters, to newcomers to the Canadian Marketplace like Fee Brothers, Bittermans, and the Bitter Truth (All except Angostura are difficult to find but not impossible) We have long enjoyed commercial bitters, anyone who drinks Campari or has had a shot of Jagermeister has had bitters, but the bitters I’m talking about are added by the drop, and are often compared to seasoning food with Salt and Pepper.

Artisanal spirits made by hand in small(er) batches

There is no shortage of companies emerging making small batch spirits, by hand, in alembic stills (or copper pot stills) where the distiller is far more capable of adjusting or crafting the spirit so it finishes with a specific flavour profile, the distillers signature.   As the world trends away from mass produced food and drink, and toward concepts like the 100 mile diet, small batch distillers are often thought of as the anti-establishmentarian option.

One Spectacular Gin

One Spectacular Gin

Gin is the new Vodka

Last but certainly not least, the unified backlash towards vodka is stronger than ever.  As an operator you might think this is absurd, depending on who you talk to, vodka makes up between 20% and 35% of all spirits that cross your bar.  The dissatisfaction with Vodka comes from its perceived lack of character, often interpreted as a colourless and odourless spirit.  Truth be told I am not a big fan of vodka unless it is being used to lengthen another spirit, I’d much rather drink something full of character that tastes like something, than something that tastes like nothing.   With the resurgence in brown spirits, namely Whisk(e)y, Tequila, and Mescal, there are some wonderful flavours available to work with.  Don’t be afraid to experiment by picking up a bottle or two of something that’s not on your weekly order form, and see how your clients like it.

Team Canada at The Bartenders Breakfast

Team Canada at The Bartenders Breakfast

If each person who reads this article takes one of these trends and applies it in their bar, Canada will time travel light years ahead and be well positioned to be a leader in bar culture.  If you don’t believe me, sign yourself and maybe your head bartender for Tales of the Cocktail 2012, the investment will pay dividends in engagement and motivation… maybe we’ll meet up for a cocktail or two.  After all, it is New Orleans, home of Bourbon St and the infamous French Quarter… And with thousands of bartenders in town, you can bet that it’s not too difficult to find a party either.

Nightclubs: A different demon…

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

I have had the pleasure of working in all walks of the service industry, from roadhouses to fine dining establishments as a bartender, but never in the fast-paced environment of a nightclub until recently…

Jay Patience

My nightclub cherry has been popped in Toronto as a flair bartender and it has been a great experience.  Going from having no customers one minute to being completely slammed the next; with no time to breathe or think; and then… bartender instinct suddenly kicks in.

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Pouring for profit this holiday season – Punches and Batched Cocktails

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Steven and Chris with Gavin

As the holiday season approaches quickly, and your business prepares for the inevitable influx in business, it’s important to consider the factors which determine profitability on your bar; suggestive sales, and waste management.

First and foremost, you don’t have to completely re-write your menu for the holiday, one or two seasonal cocktails, and a few seasonal bottled beers will suffice.  Make sure you know what your cost sales mix is, so you can move beverages effectively that offer the guest a unique seasonal drink and a favourable profit margin for your establishment.  One of the easiest ways to do this is through a punch or large batch of a warmer like a Toddy.

Holiday Punch cocktails and seasonal beers are great business drivers on the bar, but will likely not be around for much longer than the holiday season itself so accurate ordering will ensure that you don’t end up inventorying Egg Nog in February.  Consider ordering your holiday beers by the bottle not the keg.  Let me explain why I say that. Running holiday promotions as Limited Time Offers (daily) can ensure that stock is managed properly, and that guests will order your holiday beverages.  The marketing and sales principle of “scarcity” is practiced by top selling servers and bartenders, but almost never by “order takers.”

It’s worth having a conversation with your service and bar staff to energize them for the sales opportunities ahead.  If your server/bartender approaches the guest with a statement like, “we have an amazing batch of Toddies that have been selling like crazy, but we only have 3 servings left…” you can bet that those Hot Toddies will sell out far more than if the server (order taker) approaches the guest with a statement like “what can I get for you?”

Consider the price mix for a small batch of Holiday Toddies (start small and build your batch size as your demand grows)

Ingredient

Quantity Cost
Rum, Brandy or Whisky 8 oz (280mL) $7.60
Cinnamon 3 Sticks $0.45
Tea Bag (optional) 4 bags $0.50
Honey 2.5oz (71mL) $0.75
Lemon 1 Lemon $0.30
Water 32oz (918mL) $0.00

At a cost of $9.60 for eight servings, the cost is than $1.20 per serving.  At a 20% beverage cost, this beverage sells for $6.00, which people will gladly pay especially around the holiday season.  Add the scarcity factor and your team can sell a small batch of these delicious specialties in no time.  When the first batch is done, the choice is yours as to whether you make another.

It’s also worth considering just brewing up the non-alcoholic mixture and adding the spirits last, the batch cost on non-alcoholic components is $2.00, so if you have one or two servings left at the end of the night, there is really no issue.

The holidays are the time for batched cocktails, because they are by nature social beverages.  In a time when being social with friends often results in a group of people sitting around a table texting friends around the world and ignoring the people right in front of them… a punch or a toddy just may be exactly what the doctor ordered to get the conversation flowing again.

Until next time, keep raising the bar in your establishment!

The F word

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

In the world of bartending, nothing is more exciting than flair bartending. Yet in the same breath, nothing has more of a negative image attached to it as well.

The first record of flair bartending is accredited to “The Professor” Jerry Thomas from San Francisco, who in the mid 1800’s included some flair in his Blue Blazer cocktail by rolling flaming Scotch from one mug to another.Jerry-Thomas-

The late 1980’s saw a big boost in the number of flair bartenders after Tom Cruise’s character Brian Flanagan wowed his guests from behind the bar in the movie Cocktail.

So with all the excitement, why all the negativity?

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