Category Archives: Proper Service

The Power of a Good Team

Jeremy presenting his cocktail for the IBC

Jeremy presenting his cocktail for the IBC

Long before bartending even entered my mind the biggest thing in my life was organized sports, more specifically ice hockey. Being part of a competitive sports team taught me many life lessons that have helped shape my life and I often reference them in my day to day travels. Through the years my grandfather was always my biggest fan and one of the things he used encourage was offseason training to stay sharp and ahead of the curve. He used to always say “if you play with better players they will make you better without you even knowing it” Every summer I would train and actively play in summer teams, but it wasn’t until I started playing with players of a higher calibre that I truly evolved as a player. They indirectly pushed me to be better by holding me accountable for my mistakes and making me strive to be at their high level. How this pertains to bartending you ask?

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BartenderOne in New York

Gin and Pears and Rosemary, Oh My!

Gin and Pears and Rosemary, Oh My!

Imagine walking into a phone booth, dialling a number, and being redirected back to a world of sipping cocktails next to Charlie Chaplin, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald……

On March 11th of this year, I traveled to New York to experience some of North America’s finest Speakeasies and Mixology bars. With only having one amazing speakeasy in Toronto, we were eager to head to the Big Apple and meet the bartenders that compete in Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans.

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Bar Chef Finals – Winter 2011

Have you wished you could jump behind a bar with hundreds of ingredients, tastes, and ideas and be able to create the cocktail of your dreams?

On April 4th, 2011 the BartenderOne Bar Chef Finals took place at Empire Lounge in Toronto in Yorkville. As students, the mixologists had completed tasting over five hundred different spirits, bitters, liqueurs, sweeteners, types of citrus, infused foams and spirits, along with homemade syrups.

As mixologists, the students were asked to create an original cocktail from each of the 5 spirit categories. The cocktails could have been made with anything that the mixologists could think of; but were required to hold dear the traditional balanced cocktail theory. While they did have guidelines for balance, there were none for flavour profiles or presentation. Mixologists could incorporate elements that were taught in class such as: infusion, fatwashing, bruleeing, molecular mixology, spherification, custom foams, misting and much more.

As the student mixologists watched tentatively, their cocktails were tasted by three of Toronto’s top mixologists; Rob Montgomery, Gavin MacMillan and Scott McMaster. The students were were delighted to see that their hard work and development had paid off. The judges were impressed by all of the thought and effort that was incorporated into the final cocktails. The mixologists showed that they weren’t scared to test some boundaries in coming up with their very own recipes, and here are the top cocktails entered:

VODKA COCKTAILS

Strawbarb Bullets by Krissy Calkins

Strawbarb Bullets by Krissy Calkins

STRAWBARB BULLETS – By Mixologist Krissy Calkins

2/3 oz Strawberry reduction (no sugar added)
1/3 oz Rhubarb reduction (no sugar added)
1 oz Vodka
Shaken on Ice
Strain into Chocolate Cups
Float – Vanilla bean infused simple syrup on top
Served on a bed of Gram Crackers

Rainbow 1943 By Elizabeth Saad

Rainbow 1943 By Elizabeth Saad

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A Lesson in Bar Etiquette

Tips please!

Tips please!

Tip literally stands for To Insure Promptness.

Most people who work in the service industry rely on tips as a major part of their income. Because this is a known fact, most servers and bartenders are paid minimum wage if not less.

That being said, we all have to keep in mind that a tip is a gratuity and is not mandatory.

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Wake Me Up Before You Go Go …

The Sazerac

The Sazerac

In the 1500s, lead cups were commonly used to drink ale.The combination of alcoholic beverage and lead vessel would sometimes knock drinkers out for a couple of days, and these unfortunate souls would be taken for dead and prepared for burial!  A body  would be laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days, and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if the body would wake up – hence the custom of holding a wake.

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Spring Ahead, Kick Back!

Cocktail caviar is a fairly simple, yet effective way of impressing your guests while hitting taste/texture sensations they've never heard of!

Cocktail caviar is a fairly simple, yet effective way of impressing your guests while hitting taste/texture sensations they've never heard of!

Spring is just around the corner, and it’s time to shake things up – or stir things up, depending on the drink!  Here are some completely random recipes that have crossed my lips this month.  If you or your staff have recipes you think might be of interest to Behind Bars readers, please drop me a line!
 
The Montgomery
Named by Ernest Hemingway in honour of the British general who, he claimed, would fight the enemy only if he had 15 soldiers to their one – that was also the proportion of gin to dry vermouth in the martinis Hemingway ordered.
(Source: The Harry’s Bar Cookbook, Arrigo Cipriani)
Adapted recipe for a 60ml “Montgomery” martini

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Organic Spirits and Liqueurs: Is a there such a thing as a “Healthy Cocktail?”

Cocktails that are created with care for the earth will show your guests' you care for their well being!

Cocktails that are created with care for the earth will show your guests' you care for their well being!

With public health awareness at an all time high, and a recovering economy that is shifting focus back on the environmental movement, more and more bars are making an effort to go green with their daily business practices for a handful of reasons. Organic ingredients are popping up at every turn, in fact more than 75 different types of Organic Spirits, Liqueurs, Wines and Beers are available in most provinces.

First of all, it’s important to identify the difference between a green cocktail and the absurdity of the healthy cocktail. Ordering up a beverage made with green tea liqueur is not going to earn you any points in the antioxidant cup. Organic Spirits, Wines and Beers are becoming more and more popular, new companies are jumping on the organic bandwagon, others have been quietly producing organic and sustainable products for decades. Do organic ingredients in a cocktail really make a difference? Are they any healthier for you? Aren’t cocktails are supposed to be a little bit naughty anyways?

To answer this question, we made three cocktails, one completely organic, one made with non-organic spirits, citrus and sweeteners, and one in the fashion commonly employed by most bars in operation in Canada today.

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Regulars – The Life Blood of your Business!

Cheers is a fairly good example of keeping your regulars. Everyone knew everyones name - It was almost a family!

Cheers is a fairly good example of keeping your regulars. Everyone knew everyones name - It was almost a family!

Most bars have a small group of regular clientele that frequent their establishment. They are the loyal clients who, more often than not, tip well and don’t ask for any special kind of service. In many cases they are the types who spend thousands a year in your bar or restaurant. They are the cornerstones of your business, you certainly can’t afford to lose them, so the question clearly is how do you keep them and how do you get more of them?

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Where has all Your Profit Gone?

Your money is flying away; you'd better catch it!

Your money is flying away; you'd better catch it!

2011 is going to be an amazing year. The economy is coming out of a recession, people are opening their wallets again, and sales outlooks are all positive for the next 12 months. 2011 will also be a banner year in terms of opportunities to invest in your business. At times like these, traditional service industry staff turnover rates of 50%-65% plummet; and the employees in your bar are more loyal than ever before.

This column will be a four part directive for making your bar more profitable through systems and training. I’ll give you techniques and numbers that will make your bar more profitable… Guaranteed. In this issue, I’ll be discussing commonly overlooked areas where your bar is bleeding money. In the next issue I’ll tackle the importance of training your staff to stay ahead of industry trends so you’re offering beverage products and service that will make your guests come back for more with cash in hand… read on!

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Moving up to Cocktails!

Would you rather receive the tip from a Rum & Coke ($4) or a $10 Cocktail? Be the difference between an 'Order taker' and a 'Mixologist'.

Would you rather receive the tip from a Rum & Coke ($4) or a $10 Cocktail? Be the difference between an 'Order taker' and a 'Mixologist'.

Vodka sodas and Gin and tonics are fine, but as Canada starts making a move to catch up with the cocktail epicentres of the world, it’s time to take a serious look at your cocktail offering. Many restaurants are still stuck in the late 1990’s Martini cocktail phase, where drinks full of liqueurs and postmix juices, served in oversized martini glasses. Those days are gone, and the cocktails that are replacing those juicy martinis are elegant, sophisticated drinks, full of flavour and ripe with profitability.

We have all heard of suggestive selling, but few servers practice, many simply fall into the rut of being an order taker. It’s worth noting over 50% of drinkers are unaware of price at the time that they place the order, and that over 60% of guests will take the advice or recommendation of a server or bartender. so taking your guests from a Vodka and Cranberry to a Cosmopolitan should really be a piece of cake. The ingredients hardly differ at all, simply decrease the amount of Cranberry and add a splash of orange liqueur. The cost differential is minimal but your opportunity to sell the end product for a premium is tremendous.

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