Category Archives: Proper Service

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: ‚ÄúGolden Cadillac,‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúIron Butterfly‚ÄĚ and ¬†‚ÄúMexican Ferrari.‚ÄĚ ¬†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 ‚Äúfine drinking‚ÄĚ 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 .

Also posted in Bartender News, Mixology, Whats Hot | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

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.


Also posted in Mixology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

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?





Also posted in Coffee | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

The quest to find the best bartender in the world is on TV


The Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year has earned a reputation as the most prestigious bartending competition in the world with the finest bartenders from every nation displaying their top creations to earn the glory.

This year 43 finalists were followed by camera crews as they competed on board a luxury cruise liner sailing from Monaco to St Tropez, Ibiza to Barcelona, in July this year.

‚ÄúWorld Class showcases why fine drinking and cocktail culture sets trends from New York to Shanghai,‚ÄĚ said Dominic Redfearn, global media and content director for Diageo.

‚ÄúWe‚Äôre excited that the skill and craft of the world‚Äôs best bartenders is being showcased through these programmes.‚ÄĚ

The programme, produced by Shine North, is scheduled to air in 110 countries across the world on channels including Primetime, RTL 5, MTV, the Travel Channel, and the Food Network.

Alex Connock, managing director of Shine North, said: “The global appreciation of mixology coupled with the truly international line-up of talented, inventive bartenders makes for a compelling show with universal appeal.

‚ÄúAt Shine we are believers in the creative possibilities of working with brands ‚Äď and the World Class event is a superb example.‚ÄĚ

Throughout the competition, bartenders were tested on their spirits knowledge, food pairing abilities, speed, and signature serves.

This July, the Spanish bartender  David Rios, of Jigger Cocktail & Disco Bar  was crowned Diageo World Class Bartender of The Year.


Original Source:


Also posted in Raising the Bar | Comments closed

Last call before Halloween: A Zombie Tini that will bring you back from death

Keeping on top of the ever-changing market is a challenge for the best of bartenders. Many establishments have come up with a list of tantalizing cocktails, fashionably served up in a stylish martini glasses with beautiful fresh fruit garnishes. For the bartender who can serve up these creations with efficiency and style, the sky’s the limit.

After the summer cocktail frenzy is over, cocktail savvy party goers will find that everything old is new again. This implies a resurgence of classic cocktails, like the Manhattan that can be found everywhere, from your local Irish pubs to ultra swanky lounges.  This gives you unlimited options to experiment with some of the classics, add your personal touch and cement your place in history with your creations.

This being said, today we are gonna put together a basic cocktail to welcome the Halloween. This marks the beginning of a whole new season for cocktail makers, summer is gone and long cold months lay ahead. So, unless you are among the 1% of Canadians who can escape from this coming snowy panorama in a ocean view villa in Florida or Mexico we suggest you grab your bartender kit, stop by the liqueur store and provide yourself with the ingredients to prepare our renowed Zombie-tini and start the cold season on the right foot (after drinking this if you can start this season in your feet at all you are on the right path )

Try it, enjoy it and more importantly yet: share it with the world

See you behind the bar!



– 3/4 oz. Dark Rum

– 3/4 oz. Vanilla Rum

– 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier

Р2 oz.     Orange Juice

Р1 oz.     Pineapple Juice

Р1 oz.     Lime Juice


– Combine Dark Rum, Light Rum, Grand Marnier, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice, Lime Juice with ice to your cocktail shaker.

– Shake vigorously for five seconds.

– Serve in a martini glass.

– Garnish with a skewered cherry and an orange slice



Also posted in Mixology, Raising the Bar | Comments closed

The Zombie Cocktail, powerful and deadly!


Certain cocktails are not meant but for those with a strong heart and purpose to experience the effects of alcohol. This one in particular is rumoured to have  the power to bring people back from the dead.

The reason?

3 types of rum, 2 types of brandy combined with delicious fresh juice. Ladies and gentlemen, this will make a memorable Halloween experience for you: The Cocktail Zombie.

Created by the ultra famous bartender Ernest Raymond a.k.a Don Beach in the 30’s , this cocktail gained a reputation for being devastating to the point where its consumption was limited to a maximum of two glasses per person.

The original recipe died with Don Beach but here we humbly present you with our Zombie Cocktail recipe, try it and let us know how you liked it (if you survive)


–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Ice

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 1 ounce white rum

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 1 ounce dark rum

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 1 ounce aged rum

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬Ĺ ounce apricot brandy

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬Ĺ ounce cherry brandy

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 2 ounces orange juice

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬Ĺ ounce lime juice


–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Add in the following order: – Lime juice, liqueurs and juice.

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Shake

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Pour in a Highball glass

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Garnish with a slice of fresh fruit


–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Highball



Also posted in Mixology, Raising the Bar | Comments closed

Halloween cocktails: The Zombie Punch



As you know, bartending offers you multiple options to get tipsy throughout the year and Halloween couldn’t be an exception. ¬†There is nothing to celebrate Halloween like sipping a cocktail with enough alcohol to get you in a Zombie state. ¬†
Get your hands on your bartending kit and your credit card ready to hit the liquor store and enjoy the Halloween Punch, a creation courtesy of our friends at the BBC (brits know how to pour alcohol btw)

PS: Remember to consume responsibly or at least keep the emergency services phone handy. Enjoy!!!


  • 10 tbsp dark¬†brown sugar
  • 10¬Ĺ oz¬†lemon juice
  • 10¬Ĺ oz white¬†rum
  • 10¬Ĺoz gold¬†rum
  • 10¬Ĺ oz demerara¬†rum¬†(preferably 151 proof)
  • 10¬Ĺ oz¬†pineapple juice
  • 10¬Ĺ oz¬†lime juice
  • 10¬Ĺ oz¬†passion fruit¬†syrup
  • 8-10 dashes bitters
  • 1¬†pineapple

Serve with

  • 1 large¬†pumpkin, top removed and flesh and seeds carved out and discarded, optional
  • 1¬†lemon, cut into eight pieces
  • 1¬†lime, cut into eight pieces

Preparing it:


  • Brown sugar and lemon juice into a jug. Stir
  • Add the white rum, the gold rum, the demerara rum, the pineapple juice, the lime juice and the passion fruit syrup to the lemon mixture and stir well
  • Pour into the hollowed-out pumpkin. ¬†Add the lemon and lime pieces.
  • Serve


Original Source

Zombie punch. BBC Food Recipes. Available at:

Also posted in Raising the Bar, Uncategorized, Whats Hot | Comments closed

When every drop matters…

Despite the common thought, size actually matters and when you are in the bartending world size and amount are the difference between great and poor-illegal service.

The American state of Michigan knows this, after a few years of resenting the effects of the economic crisis with a loss of industry and decaying urban centers at the very least Michiganders expect to receive every precious drop of the cold beer they are paying for.

In order to protect his thirsty voters, Democratic State Reps.David Knezek and Brandon Dillon have made their mission ¬†to make sure that when patrons order a pint of beer, they get a pint a beer with a proposed amendment¬†¬†to Michigan‚Äôs Liquor Control Act that prohibits advertising or selling ‚Äúany glass of beer as a pint in this state unless that glass contains at least 16 ounces of beer.‚ÄĚ This is a step forward in an effective protection of costumers as well as a blow for those places used to promote as a pint any glass containing beer.

As in many other bartending related regulations, the british are a step ahead in making sure a pint is a pint, in England  the Imperial Pint has been the law of the land for centuries. Bars in England are required to use official Imperial Pint glasses that accommodate a full 19.2 U.S. ounces, plus a little room for foam.

This regulation surfaces after numerous reports ¬†about‚Äúcheater pints‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ pint glasses that mimic the profile of the 16-ounce standbys, but feature a thick glass bottom that cuts the volume to 14 ounces. There is a general complaint¬†that many Michigan bars use the downsized glassware and could be faced with the pricey prospect of replacing them if the partial-pint prohibition passes.

The lesson is if the glass is not 16 ounces then DO NOT CALL IT A PINT, save the taxpayers some money and avoid going to jail by calling things by their names because when talking about a pint… size matters


See you behind the bar!


Original Source:

Michigan lawmakers seek to return honesty to bartending

Posted in Proper Service | Comments closed

Getting ready for the cold nights with a Winter Warmer….


With autumn finally appearing and mother nature reminding us that we live in the great white north, that chill in the air can often be remedied by the comfort of a warm beverage, to warm both the hands and the insides of your guests and welcome them to your establishment.

It’s a great way to make a positive first impression in the frigid months of the year and there is nothing quite like the decadent aroma and taste of a warmer to warm the spirit.


Cocktail warmers are often an afterthought, something that your guests might indulge in if they have room in their belly and their wallet at the end of the meal, but in a climate like ours, there is no reason why warmers can‚Äôt step in for cocktails as a starter beverage or a drink with dinner. With freshness and exotic flavors in mind, warmers are as exciting as flavored martinis and bartenders across the country are coming up with tasty new ways to mix and serve warmers which offer guests that elusive ‚Äúsomething different‚ÄĚ


Consumers are more interested in quality and complexity of flavor than ever. With a coffee shop on every corner, even the most common coffee shop now offers gourmet hot beverages. Considering the popularity of coffee in our society and the fact that those same coffee shops are making millions on iced coffees in the summertime, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be making coffee warmers a cornerstone of your winter cocktail program, regardless of whether or not you already have one.


It’s important to note the most common difference between warmers and cocktails when you’re considering designing your menu. Most cocktails are built on a base spirit, and then modified with liqueur mixers and garnish. In the case of warmers, you’re most often going to start to a base mixer, and modify spirits and liqueurs accordingly.


When mixing coffees, you might try Tia Maria, Baileys, Kahlua, Grand Marnier, Amaretto and Frangelico. All are traditional mixers for coffee warmers and if you add to that repertoire Chambord and crème de menthe and Navan, a delicious vanilla liqueur made from Madagascar vanilla beans, there are literally dozens of flavor combinations.


Coffee is now so popular that it represents almost one out of every three beverages sold in Canada. Hot tea is also a growing market in North America, with increased public awareness to tea’s healthy antioxidant qualities, North Americans are discovering the wonders that make tea the planet’s most widely consumed beverage.


Tea warmers should not be ignored, nor should hot chocolate warmers and ciders. There are more than a few other options that you could include on your menu, and there is no reason that these drinks need to be warmed over versions of old favorites. Don’t be afraid to experiment, you are only limited by your imagination. If you find yourself staring at your back bar wondering what you can make with all those ingredients try entering your current inventory into the online cabinet at and watch the recipe wizard suggest new recipes based on the ingredients you have on hand.


Here, two delicious winter cocktails for you: try them, enjoy them and remember to spread the word!



Also posted in Mixology, Raising the Bar | Comments closed

Toronto’s best flair bartenders showing that flair is not only for flash but for cash



Flair bartending has always been controversial: from those hard-core traditionalists who look down on it as a lower form of entertainment that discredits the profession to those who embrace it as an art and defend its enormous contribution to the guest experience.

The Toronto Flair League (TFL) is a collective for all those bar artists who not only can put together a great show by flipping bottles and tins  and setting bars on fire but can do it while offering a top service: skill, speed and grace together to offer and unforgetable experience to the guest. Night after night, the TFL guys polish their skills to raise the level of flair bartending in Canada and show the world that bartending is an art.

Nine of Toronto’s best flair bartenders, all of them quite young, ambitious and really promising gathered at the College Street Bar, a venue with a reputation for opening its doors to bartending talents, for a working flair competition to demonstrate that flair is not only for flash, but also for cash.


Kaitlyn Janetta, Rob Renda, Matt Conway, Phil Piasecki, Josh Alexandriw, Dustain Costain, Andres Herrera, Dan Sacco & Yusuke Ono: names that you have to keep in your mind since they will be rocking the bars throughout Canada and the world in the next years. Each and everyone of this bartenders put together an amazing performance combining rhythm with speed and precision. Three minutes for every contestant made this a fast an exciting competition, one of the challenges with flair bartending is that sometimes you can get too absorbed into the flair and suddenly realize that you only have 10 seconds to finish the drink or get penalized. This is why working flair brings out  the best skills of most bartenders



The top five bartenders were:

1st Yusuke Ono (Japan)
2nd Andres Herrera (Colombia)
3rd Dustin Costain (Canada)
4th Josh Alexandriw (Canada)
5th Matt Conway (Canada)

Congratulations to the participant bartenders. You guys show the world that flair bartending is taking over the industry.

See you behind the bar!

Also posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed