Tag Archives: Gavin MacMillan

38-years-old and Never Kissed a Girl.

The Caesar; the quintessential Canadian cocktail.

The Caesar; the quintessential Canadian cocktail.

As I sit here writing this article and enjoying the last days of summer, I’m thinking of things that are distinctly Canadian. A few come to mind – long weekends at the cottage, The Tragically Hip, maple syrup, and the Caesar.

There’s no question that Canadians are lovers of the savoury Caesar cocktail. As a nation, we consume three hundred million Caesars a year, which roughly means 10 per man, woman and child. This quintessential Canadian cocktail was born nearly 40 years ago when a man named Walter Chell was saddled with inventing a signature house cocktail for an Italian restaurant being built in the Weston Hotel in Calgary.

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Raising the Bar at The Four Seasons!

The Cucumber Collins was a hit among the experienced bartenders.

The Cucumber Collins was a hit among the experienced bartenders.


Have you ever been to a bar where you feel like your bartender is just simply slamming a drink on a counter for you, rather than being able to give you an entertaining experience and a hand crafted cocktail?

There are many bartenders who noticeably carry around an attitude in which they really don’t care about the quality of the experience or drink they are serving their client; this needs to change.

The Four Seasons Hotel, located at 21 Avenue Road in the heart of downtown Toronto, has made and been able to maintain a name for themselves based on their admirable customer service and notable cocktail menu.

On Wednesday, August 25, 2010, BartenderOne was asked to create an interactive bartender training program and team building workshop for the bartenders at The Four Seasons Hotel to help, provide in depth bartender training, open the minds of the staff of all the amazing possibilities within their menu, and of course to start to change the way cocktails are being formulated. Kick out the powdered barmix!

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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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Irregular Service Ethics.

Yes, PLEASE.

Yes, PLEASE.

Remember every time Norm walked into the bar on Cheers, the entire bar would call out in unison “NORM!” It didn’t matter who was behind the bar, they knew what he drank, and it was ready and waiting for him as he assumed his position at the end of the bar. Norm embodied the “regular,” the men and women who frequent your establishment regularly. They are the ones 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 establishment. 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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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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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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Imagination and Culinary Creativity Shake the Bar Scene

The Mojito is many bartender's first step into creating hand-crafted cocktails.

The Mojito is many bartender's first step into creating hand-crafted cocktails.

You may have heard the old cliché that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. For many restaurants and bars, service and product quality in the venue represent that weak link. Through years of systemizing our hospitality concepts, only a few operators have successfully maintained their level of bartender training and product quality. Quite often, it’s easier to practice management by abdication than management by delegation. In other words, it’s easier to fill a position with someone who has enough bartender training to get by, than to take the time and effort to train them to be great! The trouble is your front line employees deserve nothing but the best training; they are after all, the first and last impression that your guests will have of your operation.

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BartenderOne Cocktails on ET Canada

Recently, BartenderOne teamed up with Fastlife,  Canada’s most stylish speed dating and singles’ events service, for a featured piece on Entertainment Tonight Canada.

The event, named Cocktail Creations, took place at one of Toronto’s elite Nightclub venues, Shmooze.

The evening began as ten single women, and ten single men arrived with hopes of meeting that special someone.   The idea was that the ladies would be behind the bar, making cocktails for their dates.  Every eight minutes the gong would sound signifying the men on the outside of the bar to grab their freshly made cocktail, and rotate to the next date. Every other date would have the ladies creating drinks using fresh ingredients.

To start off, the ladies would receive proper instruction on how to create the cocktail with a little flair from Gavin MacMillan and the BartenderOne team.  They would then recreate two of each drink. One for themselves, and one for their date.

On the menu for the event were drinks such as the Mojito, Cosmopolitan, Margarita, Orgasm, and a Slippery Nipple shooter.

All of the recipes were a huge success, but the biggest reaction was definitely  for the Slippery Nipple. Not for the name or the recipe, but because of how the shooters were to be taken.

The event planners set up a row of ten chairs and asked the men to take a seat.  Then, the shooters were handed out and the men were instructed to hold them between their knees.  The ladies were then told to take back the shooters but were not allowed to use their hands.  Not bad for a first date!

The evening continued on and it was obvious that the singles were loosening up and having a great time.

Some sparks were flying around the room, and a few couples were really hitting it off.

The Entertainment Tonight Canada cameras were there to capture the event in its entirety, including the shooter portion, which for some reason didn’t make it to air.

The episode aired on Friday January 8th, and both FastLife, and BartenderOne gained great exposure.

Thanks to Fastlife and ET Canada for another fantastic event!

 

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BartenderOne Represents Canada at the International Cocktail Experience

In a head to head competition among Canadian bartending schools, and Mixology Companies, and independent mixologists, BartenderOne emerged as the 1st place Champions in the International Cocktail Experience in November 2009.

The 2 day competition involved educational components and drink design and was judged by 3 of the planets top mixologists, Dre Masso, Nick Strangeway, and Frankie Solarik, who owns Toronto’s “Bar Chef.”  BartenderOne’s winning cocktail “The Invisible Touch” was judged based on use of fresh, local, seasonal ingredients along with quality spirits and liqueurs.

The Invisible Touch was created in the style of a “Crusta” a classic cocktail technique where a layer of raw sugar is crusted to the outside of the glass, and allowed to dry.  “This allows the drinker to taste a little bit of sweetness without getting a mouthful of sugar every time they take a sip,” says BartenderOne front man Gavin MacMillan.  “The recipe we created is based on Beefeater 24 Gin, with Wyborowa Exquisite Vodka used to lengthen the flavour of the Beefeater 24 without overpowering the drink with juniper and Gin’s other botanicals.  Then we added Cointreau and Hand Squeezed Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice to a base of muddled blueberries and lemon bitters.”

One of the elements that a lot of people overlook in a cocktail is the quality of the ice that you use.  “We used large, cold, fresh ice cubes” MacMillan explains, “the decrease in surface area of larger ice cubes means that your cocktail doesnt get diluted nearly as quickly.”

Competitions like this continue to elevate the skill level of Mixologists, through collaboration, education and the exchange of tips, tricks and ideas.  BartenderOne owner Gavin MacMillan travels to dozens of Mixology competitions and conferences every year.  It’s the only way we can stay on top of the industry, and ahead of the curve for bartender training.  Having a bartending school is a big responsibility, our graduates will be the next generation of mixologists who will be making drinks for you and me.  Our program changes constantly to reflect new techniques that are emerging around the world, to make sure that the Bartenders that leave our program truly understand what it takes to be successful at an international level.

For a long time, learning to Bartend in Toronto, meant going to a classroom and learning with coloured water and juices, we saw an opportunity to use real ingredients in our training, and give our students the opportunity to taste what the cocktails, martinis, wines and beer are like instead of just imagining it.  Its nice to finally have the opportunity to compete head to head with other bartending schools, it gives us an idea of where they’re at in terms of their training, and is a nice reminder that BartenderOne is moving in the right direction.

The Grand Prize for the Competition was a one week, all expenses paid trip to London, England, and Warsaw, Poland to meet and exchange ideas with some of Europe’s top Mixologists, and included a tour of the UK’s top mixology bars.  “We’re very proud to represent Canada, and very much looking forward to defending the title next year!

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MxMo.to – Money Drinks

Great topic this month, Money Drinks!

Present at this months drink tank… Nishan Chandra of Blowfish, Renata Clingen ex. Teatro, Gavin MacMillan of B1, Rob Montgomery of the Miller Tavern, Scott McMaster, consultant. Cheerleader…Caitlin Mason

Click here to see this months host – http://beersintheshower.blogspot.com/

First to the bar for Money Drinks…
Rob Montgomery – KFC Sazerac
Kentucky bourbon, Fig jam and Caramel liquer

Rollo double straining his KFC Sazerac

I had seen a version of this cocktail on the menu @ Lab in London, England circa 2000. Having never tried it I continued to experiment with variations over the years. This is now my go to recipe when people say they don’t like whiskey or whiskey cocktails. 60% of the time it works all the time. Scratch that. It always works. :) The fig jam and Caramel liquer take the place of the sugar in a traditional Sazerec, while adding complexity and depth with their respective flavours.

The KFC Sazerac in all its glory... delish!

The KFC Sazerac in all its glory... delish!

Splash of water
1 Barspoon of fig jam
50ml Bulleit Bourbon
15ml Caramel liquer
1 drop Peychaud bitters
10ml Absinthe
orange twist (to garnish)

Take 2 double old fashioned glasses and fill 1 with ice. In the other combine the fig jam with the water and stir well to combine. To the jam slurry add the bourbon, caramel liqueur and Peychaud’s bitters. Add 2-3 lumps of ice and stir well. Jettison the ice from the second glass and add the Absinthe. Coat the inside of the glass and throw the rest out. Fine strain first mixture into the prepared glass and garnish with an orange twist.

Serves 1

Up next was Gavin MacMillan – Million Dollar Manhattan

Gavin's Million Dollar Manhattan

Frankie from Bar Chef does a version of this one with a cold smoker, I like it just as is…

75mL Crown Royal XR
25mL Sweet Vermouth
3 dashes JT Decanter Bitters
3 Amarena Cherries for Garnish

Stir over cold fresh ice, strain and enjoy

Renata Clingen – Winter Mojito

Winter Mojito

Renata preparing the Winter Mojito

45mL Angostura 1919
15mL Maple Syrup
6 Cranberries Muddled (plus 2 for Garnish)
12 mint leaves
120mL Ginger Beer
30mL Soda Water

The Winter Mojito - Festive and Delicious

The Winter Mojito - Festive and Delicious

Scott McMaster – Rising Star

Scott McMaster shakes up the Sake Cocktail converter - Rising Star

Scott McMaster shakes up the Sake Cocktail converter - Rising Star

60mL Soju or Nigori Sake
30mL Umeshu “Choya 23″
2 spoons Kiwi Mango Preserve
1 dash Grapefruit bitters

The Rising Star dispells a lot of pre-conceptions about Sake

The Rising Star dispells a lot of pre-conceptions about Sake

Nishan Chandra – Flying Grouse

Nishan Chandra of Blowfish with the Flying Grouse

Nishan Chandra of Blowfish with the Flying Grouse

60mL Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whiskey
3 dashes Lemon Bitters
30mL Roses Lime
60mL Lime Juice
30mL Agave Nectar
Top with Sparkling water

As our first attempt at joining in with Mixology Mondays globally we had a good time, and look forward to hosting one in the future! Thanks to all who participated! Until next month…

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