Tag Archives: Cocktails

Can you afford to train… Can you afford not to?

It's like sending someone to race a car who doesn't know how to drive.... Lacking bartender training is absolutely detrimental to a business !

It's like sending someone to race a car who doesn't know how to drive.... Lacking bartender training is absolutely detrimental to a business !

Do you have unexplained losses in liquor or wine, in draught beer… in all three? If your restaurant is like most hospitality concepts, chances are your current bartender training is based on generations of bartenders who may not have been fully trained themselves. Most restaurants open with meticulous operational guidelines for how drinks are prepared, with detailed recipe lists that must be strictly adhered to along with opening and closing procedures, weekly checklists for cleanliness and follow up procedures. Does this sound familiar? Maybe it’s a distant memory…

What usually follows can be likened to a game of broken telephone, where each generation of bartenders passes on an adapted interpretation of your original training message. In the hospitality industry where employee turnover rates are commonly 50%-66% per year, it doesn’t take long before your original training standards are barely recognizable.

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Branding – Not just for Cattle.

It's a simple tweak; but it works!

It's a simple tweak; but it works!

If you look up the word “brand” in the dictionary, you will discover that a brand is, “a mark or symbol to differentiate one’s cattle from another’s.” The key word in that definition, as it relates to your establishment, is differentiate. It takes courage to be different and faith in your vision to be successful in the long-term.

In today’s highly competitive world, developing and promoting your difference or brand is increasingly difficult, almost as difficult as it is to find adequate bartender training. There are a few companies that have done it well and have enjoyed the rewards of successful branding. For example, when you think of the Bellini, most people think of Milestone’s. The company has a great cocktail menu, yet the Bellini is their flagship cocktail, and the one that they are known for. Why is this drink so successful? Consistent quality and eye-catching presentation … you know that the drink is going to look great and taste great at the same time.

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One Way Ticket to Margaritaville!

Keep the salt on the outside of the glass; nobody can indulge in a great cocktail when it tastes like they are drinking ocean water!

Keep the salt on the outside of the glass; nobody can indulge in a great cocktail when it tastes like they are drinking ocean water!

As a Canadian, when I think of tequila I get flashbacks of an all-inclusive vacation in Mexico with a hangover. To most of us, it’s simply a shot that gets thrown back with a lick of salt and a squeeze of citrus fruit to kill the after taste. All of that is about to change…

Tequila is one of the more versatile spirits. It’s diverse and its great depth of flavour makes it a natural ingredient for cocktails. Despite a massive worldwide tequila shortage in 2000 and the resulting increase in price as supplies diminished, tequila remains one of the premier spirits on any bar south of the border. While vodka still reigns supreme as the number one spirit sold, the cosmopolitan falls a distant second to the margarita which is the world’s most popular cocktail, and has been for years.

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Sweet on Sours.

Once you have a fresh sour, you will never go back to barmix!

Once you have a fresh sour, you will never go back to barmix!

With the diversity of liqueurs on the market today it is possible to make a drink taste like virtually anything. Distillers have made it easy for mixologists to shape the profile of a drink. With base flavours like vanilla, cacao and hazelnut, it’s no wonder drinks like the Crispy Crunch shooter are consistently popular. I often wonder how long it will take before we see a chocolate martini dessert, where the kitchen begins to mimic the flavours being produced on the bar instead of the other way around. Perhaps the service of fusion dishes in traditional bar glassware like wraps in oversized shooter glasses and dessert mousses in martini glasses is an indication that it’s already
happening.

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Asian Inspired Ingredient Adds Zen to the Green-teani

Yes, you can have a cocktail and indulge in healthy antioxidants at the same time!

Yes, you can have a cocktail and indulge in healthy antioxidants at the same time!

There’s no doubt that the Far East has heavily influenced our health conscious way of thinking in North America. There’s something exotic about thousands of years of tradition and total body health that the Asian philosophy offers. From Tai Chi and Chai Teas (say that 5 times fast) to fresh ginger root, echinacea and other holistic and alternative remedies, we’re embracing eastern culture in both Canada and the United States like never before. Dr. Andrew Romanelli of the Sports Performance Centres says 75 per cent of his patients are looking to acupuncture as an alternative and less invasive form of treatment. What does this have to do with cocktail culture you ask? How about this for alternative medicine…

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Take a Trip to the Caribbean from the Comfort of Your Own Bar

Want to take an imaginary trip to the Caribbean with class? The Caribbean Cosmo is the way to do it!

Want to take an imaginary trip to the Caribbean with class? The Caribbean Cosmo is the way to do it!

“I’ll have a Sex and the City martini please,” she tells the bartender. There’s no denying that the cocktail revolution is in full swing; and no beverage has single handedly changed the way we view cocktail culture like the Cosmopolitan. While Carrie Bradshaw sipped reddish pink Cosmos in chic New York watering holes on television’s popular “Sex and the City,” the rest of us wanted to taste that lifestyle, and the Cosmopolitan takes you there…

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Who Says “It’s Not Easy Being Green?”

Cocktails with colour draw your guests' attention, making them more likely to try something new!

Cocktails with colour draw your guests' attention, making them more likely to try something new!

From the classic long island iced tea to start off your evening, to a warm and comforting blueberry tea after a good meal, tea flavoured cocktails have been around for forever. The recent surge in popularity of green tea, coupled with the fact that teas are included on more and more cocktail menus, is a great indication that we’re all about to get a healthy dose of antioxidants. In North America, high quality tea products are now more accessible than ever. With its highly publicized health benefits, wholesale tea sales have grown more than 600 per cent in the last 15 years. Trailblazing restauranteurs are noticing the trends from the Far East and incorporating what was once considered a very ceremonial ingredient into today’s cocktail revolution. Matcha is one of the latest types of tea to hit the Canadian marketplace. Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it, few people, or bartenders for that matter, have. With both Starbucks and Booster Juice recently adding matcha to their menus, it won’t be long before it’s a household name. Just know that matcha is the new chai, and it’s a buzzword that may just turn the industry on its ear.

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Exotic Flavours of Summer!

Give your guests an experience by creating cocktails that scream summer!

Give your guests an experience by creating cocktails that scream summer!

How often have you sat with a group of friends in search of something new and exciting and ended up settling on the same old? How often have you asked your resident bartender for a suggestion and been given something truly different? With the arrival of summer patio season more and more people will be looking for a great patio to enjoy the sunshine and a cool cocktail with friends. There are more than a handful of options when it comes to the flavours, that will undoubtedly, dominate this summer’s exotic cocktail trends.

As the Canadian consumer continues to demand more than just beer, bartenders are becoming mixologists, and in many cases, bar chefs – taking traditional culinary techniques and implementing them into their beverage programs. In a marketplace dominated by drinks that adhere to specific cost and speed of preparation margins, taking an extra few seconds and spending an extra few cents to handcraft a cocktail using top shelf ingredients can make the difference between clientele that will come back and customers who will keep searching for that elusive “something different.”

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International Bartending Certification (IBC) Finals – Summer 2010

More than 100 ingredients lined the bar for the IBC Final Exam

More than 100 ingredients lined the bar for the IBC Final Exam

The BartenderOne IBC (International Bartending Certification) wrapped up last week at Empire Lounge in Toronto’s Yorkville district. After tasting more than 100 spirits, liqueurs, bitters, along with dozens of varieties of sweeteners, citrus, custom infused spirits and syrups, student mixologists were tasked with creating an original cocktail in each of 5 spirit categories. Cocktails were to incorporate elements of both traditional balanced cocktail theory along with optional elements of infusion, fatwashing, bruleeing, and molecular mixology techniques like spherification, foams, misting and more…

The results were impressive, drinks were well thought out for the most part and the mixologists showed that they weren’t afraid to experiment with non traditional mixology techniques, and drinks that would appeal to a guest who had a particular affinity for a cocktail that didnt follow the methodology used for a balanced beverage.

Here are the standouts in each category.

VODKA COCKTAILS

Chocolate Chai Chiller - by Mixologist Heidi Boyle

Chocolate Chai Chiller - by Mixologist Heidi Boyle

Chocolate Chai Chiller

2oz Chai Infused Russian Standard Vodka
1 tsp choc syrup
4oz Lactose Free Milk
Shake & strain
Garnish with a Belgian Choc Disk & Chai Foam
(Chai foam made from egg whites and Chai Vodka)

Lemon Basil Martini - by Mixologist Chris Flink

Lemon Basil Martini - by Mixologist Chris Flink

Lemon Basil Martini
4 leaves basil
2oz Lemoncello
2oz Grey Goose Vodka
1 oz lemon simple syrup
1 tsp cane sugar
1 oz soda water

Muddle sugar and basil in boston glass. Add all ingredients (except soda) to boston glass. Shake with ice. Add soda. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist

Super Melonl - by Mixologist Alex Firanski

Super Melon

Super Melon

2oz Grey Goose Vodka

Juice of one navel orange
4-5 Honeydew melon balls
4-5 Clementine wedges
3 dashes orange bitters
Muddle clementine wedges and melon balls in mixing glass until nice and juicy. Add freshly pressed orange juice, vodka and ice. Shake well. Strain over fresh ice in highball glass and top with bitters. Garnish with skewer of two clemintine wedges and one flambeed melon ball. Enjoy.

GIN COCKTAILS

Garden Fresh - by Mixologist Alex Firanski

Garden Fresh - by Mixologist Alex Firanski

Garden Fresh

2oz Tanqueray Gin
One medium size Grapefruit
Small hand full of Cilantro
1 bar spoon of sugar
1oz Egg whites
3 dashes Grapefruit bitters

Dry shake egg whites and sugar. Place cilantro in mixing glace and cover with one slice of grapefruit. Muddle. Add freshly pressed grapefruit juice(about 3oz), gin, and ice. Shake vigorously. Strain over fresh ice in highball glass and top with bitters. Garnish with grapefruit slice and cilantro sprig. Enjoy.

The Gin Based Pom Collins served with Pom Gin Caviar - by Mixologist Heidi Boyle

The Gin Based Pom Collins served with Pom Gin Caviar - by Mixologist Heidi Boyle

All three judges scored the Pom Collins runner up cocktail of the evening.  Amazing!

Pom Collins

3oz Victoria Gin
4oz Hand squeezed lemonade
2oz Rubicon Pomegranate juice
splash of soda
on a spoon…
Pom Gin caviar

RUM COCKTAILS

Pear-adise with Goldschlager Cinnamon Foam and Carmelized Pear Garnish

Pear-adise with Goldschlager Cinnamon Foam and Carmelized Pear Garnish - by Mixologist Alex Firanski

Pear-adise

1.5oz Bacardi Rum

0.5oz Navan Vanilla Liqueur
2oz pear nectar
Goldshlager foam*
Brown butter and cinnamon roasted pears
3 dashes chocolate bitters

Place pear nectar, rum, Navan, bitters, and ice in a mixing glace. Shake well and strain into chilled cocktail glace. Fill the remainder of the glass with Goldshlager foam. Pass a knife along the top of the glace to remove any excess foam so that it is flush with the top of the glass. Skewer 3 roasted pears, dust them with brown sugar, then caramalize with torch. Garnish with pear skewer and edible gold flakes. Yum…

*Goldshlager foam – 1.5oz Goldshlager, 1.5oz egg whites, 2oz pear nectar, 3oz water. Charge with N02. (Makes 8oz batch, yeilds enough for a dozen drinks)

WHISK(E)Y COCKTAILS

Tennessee Twist - by Mixologist Ceri Sadler

Tennessee Twist - by Mixologist Ceri Sadler

Tennessee Twist
1oz Jack Daniel’s
3/4 Vanilla Vodka
1/2 Blue Curacao
2 Fresh Oranges
Garnish with orange zest
Served in high ball on ice

Real Canadian Sushi - By Mixologist Alex Firanski

Real Canadian Sushi - By Mixologist Alex Firanski

All three judges scored the Real Canadian Sushi the highest of the evening.  Truly Amazing!

Real Canadian Sushi

1.5oz Canadian Club Whisky
3 lemon slices
0.5oz ginger sirup
Maple sirup
Roasted sesame seeds
Wasabi flavoured faux caviar

Role edge of cocktail glace in maple sirup and rim with sesame seeds. Leave glace to rest upside down to avoid any running of excess sirup. Muddle lemon and sirup in mixing glass. Add wiskey and ice. Shake well. Double stain into rimmed cocktail glass. Place a barspoon of wasabi caviar into the bottom of the glass. Serve with caviar on a wonton spoon. Seriously.

TEQUILA COCKTAILS

Pink Sombrero - By Mixologist Ceri Sadler

Pink Sombrero - By Mixologist Ceri Sadler

Pink Sombrero
1oz Cazadores Tequila
1/2 Cassis
1/2 A Fresh Lemon
1/2 Fresh Lime
Bar spoon of Sugar
Garnish with a lime
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Training Wheel with Tequila Caviar - by Mixologist Chris Flink

Training Wheel with Tequila Caviar - by Mixologist Chris Flink

Chris took a molecular approach to the North American Tradition of the Tequila, salt, lime trifecta.

The Training Wheel
Cazadores Tequila Caviar
Salted Lime Wheel (rind removed from half)
Serve on upside down shotglass.
Prepare lime wheel (cut, remove half rind, salt lightly). add caviar.

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Mixing a Formula for Long Term Success!

The industry is experiencing a cocktail revolution, and it’s time to start demanding more from bartenders

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

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

Has any one else noticed the increase in bars, restaurants and clubs arriving on the scene at the same rate they are disappearing? In major urban centres every week it seems that there is a new “I have to go” spot to check out. Why can’t these concepts find the secret to lasting success? Many bars and restaurants begin with a well-defined vision, spend countless hours and dollars on all the hard details of their operations and then in one swoop, hire their front line salespeople without considering their abilities to serve a drink? With all of these new places opening, who are we putting on the front lines to represent our new concepts?

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