Monday, July 21, 2014

Rum and Cachaça Basics

Bullet Points:
  • Rum is distilled from sugarcane and sugarcane by-products. A majority of rums are made from molasses. Rhum Agricole and Cachaça are made from pressing sugarcane and distilling the juice.
  • Styles of rum vary greatly between different countries. Jamaican rums are typically dark and pungent while Cuban and Puerto Rican rums tend to be softer and lighter. When trying rum, the country it was produced in can be a big clue as to what it will likely taste like. This isn't always the case 100% of the time, but it applies to a large percentage of rums.
  •  Cachaça is a clear spirit produced only in Brazil from sugarcane juice (Brazil is the World's largest sugarcane producer). It varies in ages and expressions but tends to be more floral and hotter than other clear rums.
  • The French Islands also use sugarcane juice. Historically, France was getting it's raw sugar from beets so molasses was not an available by-product on the French Islands. Sugarcane juice was distilled into Rhum Agricole or "Agricultural Rum", meaning rum distilled from juice instead of molasses which is known as "Industrial Rum".
Principle Cocktails:
  • Cuba Libre
  • Mai Tai
  • Piña Colada
  • Daiquiri
  • Mojito
  • Caipriniha
  • Dark 'N' Stormy
  • Mary Pickford
Popular Brands:
  • Bacardi: Largest, privately-held spirits company in the World. Founded 1862, it's portfolio has over 200 brands and distributes to more than 150 countries.
  • Captain Morgan: Founded in 1944 by the Seagram Company, Captain Morgan is the second largest spirit in the U.S. by volume. The Original Spiced Rum was introduced to the U.S. in 1984.
  • Cruzan: Produced in Saint Croix, Virgin Islands by Beam Suntory. Founded in 1760 and is part of the American Whiskey Trail along with Bacardi rum.
  • 10 Cane: Produced by Moet Hennessy in Trinidad and introduced in 2005. Made by distilling sugarcane juice and blending with molasses based rums.
  • Gosling's: Founded in 1806 in St. George's, Bermuda by James Gosling. Gosling's originally sealed their bottles with black wax, which people referred to as "The Black Seal Rum", hence their core line of rum. Gosling's also holds the trademark for the Dark 'N' Stormy cocktail and produces a ginger beer for pairing with their rum.
  • Mount Gay: The oldest surviving rum distillery in the world (the earliest deed is dated 1703). A brand that is closely associated with sailors due to the British tradition of rationing drams of rum to Naval personnel. The rum is produced out of Barbados, the Eastern most island of the West Indies.
  • Brugal: A popular rum from the Dominican Republic, founded in 1888. It has three distilleries on the island and is the third largest rum producer. They produce several expressions from mid-tier to ultra-premium.
  • Pyrat: Taking it's name from the English 'pirate', Pyrat rum produces ultra-premium rums from blending of several pot-distilled, barrel-aged, Caribbean rums and then further aging them. It's sister brands are Patron Tequila and Ultimat Vodka. The blending facility is based on the island of Anguilla.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tequila & Mezcal Basics

Bullet Points:
  • Both distilled from the agave plant. There are hundreds of species of agave plants, for Tequila specifically, the spirit must derive from the Blue Weber Agave species in order for it to be defined as Tequila. Think of Tequila as a smaller, sub-genre of Mezcal.
  • The Mexican government regulates the production of Tequila and Mezcal rather strictly. Unfortunately, the U.S. often disregards these regulations, even as the World's number 1 importer of Mexican spirits.
  • There are six types of Tequila/Mezcal:
    • "Joven" meaning "Gold". Contains additives like sweeteners are caramel coloring, and is not 100% Agave.
    • "Mixtos". Tequila that is not made from 100% Agave. According to regulations, it must contain at least 51% Agave and the rest is a mix up other additives. However, as noted before, the U.S. does not always recognize these regulations and often times you will not find these identifiers on the bottle's label.
    • "Blanco" or Silver. 100% Agave Tequila or a "Mixtos" that has been aged no more than 2 months.
    • "Reposado" meaning "rested" is Tequila aged from 2 to 12 months in oak barrels.
    • "Añejo" meaning "aged" is Tequila aged in oak barrels from 1 year to 3 years.
    • "Extra Añejo" is aged more than 3 years.
  •  Tequila was once only produced in the state of Jalisco. Now it is produced in 5 states including Jalisco, along with Michoacan, Guanajuato, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. Mezcal is mostly produced in south Mexica in the state of Oaxaca (pronouced Wah-HA-kah).
  • The Agave plant, although it resembles a cactus, is actually a succulent. On average, it takes 8-10 years before the Agave plant is ready for harvest. The plant is hacked at until you have what is none as the piña which is then cooked or roasted until it is ready to ferment. With Mezcal, the traditional method is to dig a deep fire pit, throw the piñas in let roast for days to weeks before uncovering.
  • Robust Tequilas and Mezcals are distilled in pot stills and sometimes even ancient clay stills, although column distillation is common as well.
  • The misconception of the worm at the bottom of the bottle of mezcal is more of a marketing scheme rather than a sign of authenticity. To read more of the urban myth that is the Mezcal Worm, go to www.mezcal.com/worms.html.

Principle Cocktails:  
  • Margarita
  • Paloma
  • Tequila Sunrise
  • Bloody Maria
  • Tequini
  • Matador
Popular Brands:
  • Jose Cuervo: The best selling tequila in the world. Founded in 1795. They have several expressions including mixtos and 100% agave tequilas along with flavored tequilas.
  • Patron: A pop-culture icon spirit, sold as a premium 100% agave tequila. The original Patron was first created by the Siete Leguas distillery, one of the oldest distillery in Mexico. It was sold to Saint Maarten Spirits in the U.S. where it was then sold as Patron.
  • Don Julio: Founded in 1942, 8th largest spirit brand in the U.S. by volume.
  • Sauza: Founded in 1873, Sauza makes two mixtos and several 100% de agave tequilas including tequila brands Hornitos, Commemortivo, and Tres Generaciones.
  • 7 Leguas: One of the oldest distilleries in Mexico and maker of the original "Patron".

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Gin Basics

Bullet Points:

  • Gin is typically distilled twice through a column still and then a final time in a pot still with a myriad of botanicals including juniper, coriander, citrus, anise, cassia, angelica roots and many others. The recipe distillers use are closely guarded secrets.
  • The four styles of gin (with very few exceptions) are London Dry Gin, New Style Gin, Plymouth Gin, and Genever.
  • London Dry is not necessarily made in London but the style was certainly popularized and centralized around Great Britian. Juniper and citrus notes dominate this style. It is the benchmark gin in mixing.
  • New Style Gin or New American Gin is a very diverse and modern style of distilling gin.
  • Plymouth, England is home to a single distillery and distinctive style, called Plymouth Gin. It is lower alcohol content than London Dry but has a rich, earthy style that is unique.
  • Genever or Hollands gin is rarely produced outside of Holland. It has some yellowish color, may be distinctively sweet, in opposition to London Dry and can be powerful and oily. Made mostly from barley wine, it is more herbal and malty/grainy than fruity/spicy.

Principle Cocktails:

  • Dry Gin Martini
  • Aviation
  • Gin & Tonic
  • Martinez
  • Clover Club
  • Tom Collins
  • Gimlet

Popular brands:

  • Hendricks: Founded in 1999 in Ayrshire, Scotland. Uses a 19th century Carter-Head Still to infuse atypical gin ingredients like cucumber and rose petals.
  • Plymouth: A unique style of gin founded in 1793 in Plymouth, England is owned by Black Friars Distillery. The distillery dates back to 1431 when it was built as a monastery. All the of Plymouths gins are distilled using a single pot still.
  • Bols Genever: Founded 1575, Bols has been making genever in Holland since 1664, Genever fell out of style but was reintroduced to America in 2008 and continued to regain popularity amongst bartenders.
  • Martin Miller: An extravagant London Dry gin. Distilled in England and then “married” with Icelandic water for a clean and purely refreshing gin. The Westboro Strength expression yields a higher proof, giving bartenders more dexterity with mixing amazing Gin cocktails.
  • Tanqueray: Founded in 1830 by Charles Tanqueray, distilled in Scotland. According to legend it was Frank Sinatra’s favorite gin. In 2000, the brand released the first super-premium gin: Tanqueray No. 10.
  • Bombay Sapphire: A popular brand of gin, the name's suffix 'sapphire' is credited due to the spirit's popularity in India. A dryer expression called Bombay Dry Gin uses less botanicals (8 rather than 10) and is less seen than the Sapphire expression.
  • Aviation American Gin: A new gin first produced in 2006 out of Portland, Oregon. The brand is unique in that it is the first recognized distiller/bartender partnership in the U.S.
  • Beefeater: A popular London style of dry gin, with history reaching as far back as 1862. Made from "100% grain spirit" and flavored with 9 botanicals. A super-premium expression called Beefeater 24 was introduced in 2009 which contains several more exotic botanicals.

Drink Terminology

“Neat” – The drink is pour and served at room temperature with no ice and no dilution from water (i.e. not shaken, not stirred, not chilled), in a short glass. If it is a delicate sort of spirit like Cognac or a very well aged rum it should be served in a special glass such as a brandy snifter.

“On the rocks” – Simply served over ice in a short glass.

“Up” or “Straight Up” – Almost always refers to a Martini or Manhattan but “up” simply means the drink is either shaken or stirred and served cold WITHOUT ice. For example a “Ketel Up” is a standard Ketel One Vodka Martini, served in a cocktail glass with no ice and an olive (all Martinis will be garnished with an olive unless specified otherwise, i.e “Ketel up with a twist”).

“Over” – As with the order “up”, “over” means the drink is either shaken or stirred but served OVER ice in a short glass. Example is a “Gin Martini, over.”

“_____ Back” – Means they want an additional glass on the side of either water or coke or sprite or pineapple juice or anything else. It’s a chaser for their drink. If a guest asks for a “Whiskey and Water”, that is not the same as a “Whiskey and Water Back”. If you are not sure what your guest is asking, ask for clarification.

“Press” – A drink that is mixed with equal parts Soda water and Sprite/7-Up (i.e. a “Grey Goose Press”).

“Bruised” – To shake a drink rather than stir.

“With a Twist” – Garnished with a twist of citrus peel (usually lemon, some guests prefer lime though).

“Chilled” – Usually refers to a shot that is kept chilled or has been shaken with ice in order to chill it down before the person consumes it.

“Toddy” – A hot drink. The guest may just say “a hot toddy” which most bartenders will default to whisky. The guest could also say “a rum toddy” or “a smoky scotch toddy.”

“Dry” – Refers to the amount of vermouth used in a Martini or sometimes Manhattan. When a guest requests a Martini to be dry, they are asking for LESS vermouth, not more.

“Wet” – The opposite of “Dry”, use more dry vermouth.

"Burnt" - The guest would like a small dash of smoky scotch added to their martini.

"Gibson" - Garnish the martini with a pickled/cocktail onion rather than an olive.

“Dirty” – Add olive juice to a Martini to make it “dirty”

“Filthy” – Add A LOT of olive juice!

“Perfect” – Again refers to Martinis and Manhattans. “Perfect” means to use equal amounts of Dry and Sweet vermouth in the cocktail.

For more info on styles of cocktails see Styles of Classic Cocktails.

Vodka Basics

Bullet Points:
  • Vodka is a neutral spirit, distilled to such a high proof that very few congeners, aromas and flavors remain and bottled at around 80 proof.
  • Vodka can be made virtually anywhere and from virtually anything. It is usually clear and colorless although few exceptions exist.
  • The raw materials that can be used to create vodka is almost limitless. Most are made using common grains such as wheat, corn, rye and barely. Others use vegetables like potatoes and sugar beets or fruits like grapes.
  • Vodka became popular amongst Americans in the mid-1950’s due to successful marketing campaigns. By 1976, Vodka had become the number one consumed spirit in America.

Principle Cocktails:
  • Moscow Mule
  • Bloody Mary
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Screwdriver
  • Vodka Martini
  • Vodka and Tonic
  • Vesper Martini
  • Bay Breeze/Sea Breeze/Madras

Popular brands:
  • Grey Goose: French, created in 1997, premium French wheat, filtered through Champagne limestone, distilled in Cognac, France.
  • Ketel One: Netherlands, founded 1983, Dutch for “Pot Still One”, 100% Wheat, filtered over loose charcoal, aged in a tile lined tank.
  • Tito’s: Austin, Texas, created 1995 by Tito Beveridge, the brand was awarded Texas’ first distilling license, distilled six times using yellow corn in pot stills making it a very labor intensive product.
  • Square One: Founded 2006, distilled in Rigby, Idaho using 100% organic rye from the Teton Range in Wyoming, the label is even made from paper-free blend of bamboo, sugarcane and cotton and 25% of the distillery’s power is provided by local wind farms.
  • Purity: A well awarded premium vodka with great depth and character. It is from Ellinge Castle in South Sweden. It is distilled a whopping 34 times! It is made from an all organic blend of Winter Wheat and Malted Barley and is certified organic. Extremely labor intensive!
  • Boyd & Blair: Distilled in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania using mostly local potatoes, created in 2005 and reaching large market shares around 2009, in June 2011, Spirit Journal ranked Boyd & Blair the 22nd-ranked liquor on the planet and the highest-ranked vodka on the list.
  • Smirnoff: Founded in the 1860's by Pyotr Arsenievich Smirnov in Moscow. It is said to be the world's most distributed vodka, with distilleries in India, Ireland, Italy, the U.S. and the U.K. distributing to 130 countries.
  • Absolut: Another Swedish vodka. It is the third most consumed spirit in the world next to Bacardi and Smirnoff. Founded in 1879, it did not become a global spirit until 1979 and is now sold in 126 countries. It is made from 100% winter wheat.
  • Stolichnaya: A Russian spirit but bottled and distributed internationally from Latvia. It was introduced in 1901 and is made from wheat and rye grains.

I asked a bunch of bartenders...

What would be the best advice you could give all the aspiring bartenders out there and here's what they had to say...

from /u/-kenny-:
"When I first started bartending an old school bartender gave me the best advice... Don't let the animals run the zoo."

from /u/GravityRides:
  1. Learn and research on the most common cocktails/shots that are popular today.
  2. Learn about bar terminology, tools, how to cut garnishes, and glasses.
  3. Be confident, responsible, and be fun. It will increase your tips and you will earn more respect from your customers and co-workers.

from /u/meeegan:
  1. Bartending classes are, for the most part, bullshit. (Barsmarts Wired is the only one I have heard of that is not. And I highly recommend taking it if you work in a cocktail bar type place.)
  2. Learn to build rounds of drinks, not just one at a time. Take as many orders as you can when you are busy and fill them efficiently. People will wait for their order to be made, but they hate waiting to have their order taken.
  3. Bartending is like dancing, you need to be smooth and have rhythm for it to work. And smiling makes it look so much better.

from /u/izzyreal: 
    1. Stay calm. What ever is happening will go so much smoother if you are calm about it, customers can smell panic and will push you as far as they think they can. 
    2. Learn. A new drink, a customers name, a better way to slice your fruit... Make it a goal to learn something EVERY shift. Even the little things can make your life smoother. Use what you learn as soon as you can, and often, memory through repetition works wonders.

from /u/Boobs_Make_Milk:
"don't assume that the person in front of you is an asshole. I'm sure there are a few people in this world that love that person and maybe his way of going out and drinking is different from yours. that doesn't make him a bad person it makes you bad at your job that you can't give him what he wants in a way that fits your establishment.
never cut a corner. it hurts the craft. it hurts your wallet and it makes you look like a fool when your end product is less than your absolute best.
if you find yourself dreading work remember that there are people that go to bed at eight and wake up at six am just to drive in traffic to their everyday lifeless desk job. you have a chance to bring happiness to someone each time you look across that bar. countless people have done it before you and you owe it to the bartending community to give your best every time. have fun."

from /u/dazhealy:
  1. SMILE. Be miserable, tired, cranky, whatever, on your own time. When your at work, your professional AND fun. Every single person, every single order, smile at them.
  2. Stick to the rules, your own and the bar/states/countys/countrys. Don't break the rules for anyone, and if that means you make a rule for yourself that you don't sleep with customers, or you only drink after work one night a week, or whatever, stick with it. You can lose yourself very quickly behind a bar, away from normal people and a normal life.
  3. Don't ever leave a full spirit bottle on the counter. I watched a brand new bartender do this one night, bottle was taken and I had to trail the guy through a capacity nite club to get it back. Rookie didn't last long after that.

from /u/jpgonzo24:
  1. As soon as you find yourself dreading going to work, it's time to move on.
  2. Don't get drunk behind the bar.
  3. Engage your patrons.

from /u/atomicspin:
    1. Mis en place
    2. The person on the other side of the bar may have just gotten fired, lost a kid on the operating table, or a mom 10 seconds away from drowning her kids. Your job is to get them to walk out of there feeling way better than they walked in
    3. Leave your baggage at the door

from /u/Jboogie90:
    1. Be confident! In any walk of life, confidence shines. 
    2. Don't let your customers control you. You're taking the orders but you're setting the rules.
    3. Always hustle! No one likes a slow bartender...

from /u/vegandread:
    1. Be efficient in your movements: pour two beers at one time, pour your liquor and mixer at the same time, etc...
    2. Always keep learning and recognize the fact that you'll never know it all.
    3. Keep your workplace clean. If you're slow--clean. Things get sticky and funky real quick-like, so do your part...

from /u/redsox716:
  1. If you want to bartend for the long haul, find a place that is popular, well-respected, and seems like somewhere you want to work. Get a job as a barback and don't waste any time letting your boss know you want to learn how to bartend. Show up early, leave late, and work your butt off. Pay attention to the other bartenders. Give it some time and if you picked the right place you will eventually be given a shot. Often it's unplanned and you will get thrown into the mix with no warning. Don't fuck it up.
  2. If you have to cut someone off, don't avoid the situation. They wont go away. Just get it over with. Do it quietly and with respect and usually they wont cause a scene.
  3. Don't let a bad tip ruin your night. Track your tips and focus on what you make all week/month/year. Everything balances out.

from /u/bhoops13:
  1. keep calm. As with any service job. Panic is the worst thing to have behind the bar. 
  2. know your shit. 
  3. if you don't know your shit, get good at faking it. Especially in high volume.

from /u/satori1289:
"All I have is always keep your head, whether you're three deep or someone's threatening to shit on your chest."

from /u/WookieSex:
"If you've time to lean you've time to clean. Learn to read your customers and their mannerisms. Don't be afraid to cut someone off (regular or not). Run the show, be outgoing and make people be confident in you. Personality goes a long way."

from /u/NoTimeForInfinity:
"Empathy is an art. One you should work at. Yes it helps with tips, but it's truly a matter of self care. It's been said other ways in this thread... Boundaries are important when you're selling a drug that makes people forget they have any. Some people push and push because they define their lives by the boundaries outside themselves. (children, etc.) Some people are waiting for you to say no. These same people are often more relaxed when you do. Saying no is an art. Interest. So many things flow from this: drink knowledge, communication efficiency, people skills etc. If you're not interested you're probably not interesting. Ask good questions. Answers will vary. I had a nuclear physicist in last night. I would would have pegged him for a trucker. Interest is the fuel of learning. Sometimes fuel runs thin. You have to do what it takes to keep gas in the tank. It's difficult to retain information you're not interested in, so find something interesting about you're surrounding life and build on future interest to be reaped by future you."

from /u/1nspect_Her_Gadget:
"As an instructor with National Bartenders School, my best advice is this, "Know your shit, or know you're shit." Its one of my personal favorites, but there are of course better pieces of more specific advice though. Be friendly, always be humble and willing to learn from those who know what they're doing. Ask questions, and talk A LOT. and finally, another personal favorite, 'The customer is always right, but the bartender decides when people are no longer customers.'"

from /u/ELUsyv:
    1. Remember most high volume bars should have the specs for drinks in the POS!
    2. for a long time, you will realize, you know nowhere near as much as your customers do. But thats ok! fake it till you make it.
    3. Be sure to taste EVERYTHING. make sure to taste the limes, lemons, lemon juice, lime juice, oranges, raspberries, pineapple, lychees, strawberries. you name it, all fresh ingredients, ill taste, so i know what flavour profile you will be working with because there will be inconsistencies throughout the week, and when it comes to volume, you want your drinks to be consistent.
    4. Dont spend too much time garnishing.
    5. practice your freepouring! you can shave so much time freepouring, and it comes down to shaving those seconds. If you jigger a drink with 5-6 ingredients, its going to take you longer than walking to the back bar, grabbing whatever spirits + liquers you need, and pouring 4 bottles at once, your fingers will build strength over time.
    6. Dont be afraid to admit you dont know something, if you get stuck, ask or check the POS. *If the customer orders a drink you have never heard of, ask them if they know whats in it, because sometimes the customer had a drink at a bar up the road, and their specs will be different to yours, then you can ask your fellow bartenders/bar manager what the house specs are.
    7. CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN! Keep your work space tidy, wipe down the bar top between drink orders, will only take you a second.
    8. Add ice last, if the bar you will be at is anything like the bar im at, add spirits, then ice. Do wine, then cocktails, then standard drinks, then beers. if you are making a round of shaken and stirred drinks, you can leave the stirred drinks to sit in the ice without stiring, it will dilute itself and save you the time, then when you are done shaking your 2 or 3 cocktails, go back to your 2 stirred down drinks, give it a taste, then a quick 2 second stir, then another taste, if its fine, strain it out. if not, let it sit for another 5-6 seconds while you strain out one of the shaken cocktails. Sequence of service is everything!
    9. Be nice to your barback, dont bark orders at him, manners dont cost anything. Plus, he will know where everything goes in the bar.
    10. Identify your weaknesses, let this be known to your employer, they will show you the ropes.
    11. Dont be scared to take multiple orders at the same time, most venues serve 60% vodka, so 2 out of the 3 orders will be vodka, if you ask 3 different people what they want, you might get like 6 vodkas, a g&t and a scotch and soda, and of that each person wanted 2 vodka lime sodas, it'll save you so much time.
    12. work smarter not harder, need to make an old fashioned? is your bar 5 deep? use a bar spoon of sugar syrup instead of muddling that fucking sugar cube with some soda, that shit can fuck right off.
    13. Smile, it makes people more comfortable :)

from /u/b717:
"Save your money. It's super tempting to throw cash around, but put that shit away for at least six months. You never know when you might be looking for the next job or just find yourself in a position that would be easier to get out of if you had a few grand put aside."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bartending School vs. Bar Backing

posted by /u/Twice_Knightley

Bartending School vs Bar Backing

I’d like to start off by saying that I went to Bartending School and later taught at a Bartending School for 3 years. I’ve seen people on this (and other) sites say things like “Bartending Schools are a SCAM!” or “You’re wasting your time and money!” and basically degrade bartending schools to the point of being completely valueless. I’m not here to sell you on attending a bartending school. I’m also not planning on dissuading you from attending one. I simply want people to understand the pros and cons of Bartending Schools, as well as the pros and cons of Bar-Backing as a means of becoming a bartender. Let’s start with some myths and facts about Bartending Schools.

MYTH This Bartending School has a 98% employment rate. I’ve seen this with nearly all Barschools, and at the end of the day – they do not. The number of students that go through a typical bartending school in a year is usually several hundred. Many of these students will find jobs on their own, many will go on to never bartend. Schools CANNOT guarantee employment.

FACT-Bartending Schools teach the basic skills and knowledge used in the bar industry. I always consider Bartending School to be to Bartending what Swimming Lessons are to the Ocean. To be clear, the skills that you learn will make you more comfortable, but that doesn't mean you can’t drown.

MYTH -Bartending School will turn you into a Rockstar Bartender. Unless you are already a rockstar in attitude, you will not suddenly become a rockstar bartender like in the movies. Style, Social skills, and Work ethic cannot be taught in a Bartending School.

FACT- Bartending School are diploma mills. A bartending school usually contains ~6 mock bar set-ups, a bunch of bottles filled with colored water, some real booze for demonstrations an instructor with 2-25 years of industry experience and a dozen students ranging from legal drinking age -65 years old, you’ll likely also get a text book with tons of information and a nice certificate at the end of the course. Now, I said bar schools are a diploma mill, but that doesn’t mean they’re useless…

MYTH- Bartending Schools are useless. Unless you consider yoga lessons, cooking classes, martial arts and music lessons useless; bartending schools can be a great value.

The first thing I want to address from the Myths and Facts above, is the Diploma Mill statement. Think of this from a business aspect; bartending schools occupy a space, to make a profit that space needs to be in use as much as possible. Most bartending schools run a day and evening course, and often run a weekend course as well. Other than the fixed costs of paying an instructor, monthly advertising, rent and utilities, operational costs tend to be in the range of $20-$40 per student. After about 10 students attending the course in a month, the schools owner starts to turn a profit. So, for every person (after that base 10/month) that comes into the school and drops $199-$599 on a 2 day to 2 week course the owner is making 90-95% profits. Pretty good deal as those minimums are often easy to meet. In 3 years as an instructor, there was maybe 2 months that I didn't see that minimum number come through but it was more than made up over the rest of the year. Now that you understand the business side of Bartending Schools, you can understand why they have so many students, but this doesn't make bartending schools bad.

What’s the difference between a good bartending school and a bad one? Usually it will come down to the instructor. I've always found that when the instructor is the Owner, they tend to be worse schools overall. This isn't a guarantee, but out of the dozen or so different instructors I've seen, the 3 that owned their schools seemed to be a bit of a knob. If you’re thinking of attending a bartending school, always meet with the instructor first and if you feel that you wouldn't get along with them, I’d recommend not signing up for the course. Most instructors will let you sit through a half a class before making any firm decisions, but owners will always put the hard sell on you right away. At the very least, even if you never go on to bartend outside your home, a bartending course should be a fun way to spend a week or two meeting new people and learning new skills.

Why do Bartending Schools use colored water? I know, you want to have some drinks and some fun, that is usually a given with a Bartending School, but during the course of an evening you’ll likely make 100-300 drinks. Using that much real alcohol is impractical and wasteful. The goal is to get a feel for the methods and the recipes. Most classes will consist of 20-40% lecture with the remaining time being simple practice time with other students. A typical course will go through making 50-150 drinks and shots, some classic, some unique. What does that matter to someone who wants to make highballs, jagerbombs and crack open beers? Not much, but it might give you a good basis if you want to become a more skillful bartender. Being able to offer customers options keeps customers in your bar which keeps them spending money, and keeps them tipping you. Not knowing how to make a Moscow Mule doesn't make you a bad bartender in my books, but knowing it does make me trust you a bit more.

So Bartending Schools should be fun, informative and give a new skill and confidence to the people that attend – Why is there such a big stigma attached to them? To answer this question I’ll have you think of a 13 year old that learns a magic trick. At first he shows it around and it’s a bit impressive, but it doesn’t take long before his new ‘skill’ is wearing very thin, but he doesn’t care, he thinks he’s a great magician. People that go to Bartending Schools can easily end up like this kid. They know a few cool tricks, some history of alcohol, about a hundred drinks, and they have a nice certificate. They feel that they have all the necessary skills to work in a place that pays minimum wage (or less) and that they are better than those that have not taken a course on bartending. And here is where the big flaw comes into place; Bartending School graduates are often far more technically knowledgeable than other bartenders they come in contact with, but they confuse that with being better Bartenders, which they are not. After encountering a few bartenders with this attitude but without the working skills to back it up, many employers and bartenders begin to hate all bartending school students.
So, does going to a Bartending School hurt my chances of working as a Bartender? No…however, relying on Bartending School to get you a job as a Bartender may hurt your chances. If you attend, or would like to attend a Bartending School prior to becoming a Bartender, please do so, but when you’re applying for jobs remember that you still have very little in the way of working experience. You may have a good foundation, but without the working knowledge of a bar you probably won’t fair as well as anyone else without any experience. Those that do get hired into Bartending positions right away would either have been hired off their looks and personality anyway, or are going to be working at a slower bar or pub.

So what’s the verdict? Bartending Schools can be a great place to learn some skills and get a bit of a taste for the industry, but they won’t get you hired as a bartender. If you’re a cool headed, reasonably intelligent person that isn't socially awkward and has a decent style, Bartending School may be a fun way to poke your head into the lifestyle of a Bartender. If, on the other hand you are a very introverted person that has a tough time striking up a conversation and you don’t have a good style – Bartending School won’t transform you into the life of the party that flips bottles and drops panties; you may want to look into becoming a Bar Back as a way of entering the Industry.

Bar Backs, Porters and Bartenders Assistants are all common job titles for the guys and gals that help a Bartender do their job smoothly. What does a Bar Back do? They typically help to set up the bar for the Bartender. This can involve loading fridges, ice wells, changing kegs, prepping garnishes & napkins, cleaning the bar, getting the alcohol and cleaning glassware…lots and lots of glassware. Often times Bar Backs will be in for several hours before the Bartenders and are arguably the hardest working people in the bar, after all even the hardest working of Bartenders can find a few minutes to chat or flirt with customers.

Bar Backs often make less money and work much harder than the Bartenders they are working with, but wait – it gets worse! One of the most common things I've seen employers do is to make it mandatory for men to be Bar Backs for anywhere from a few weeks to a year before being promoted to Bartender. I say men because women rarely have to do those more physically demanding jobs before moving on to Bartender. Women will often work in other areas of the bar before moving to Bartender, but not always. This doesn't mean that women can’t be Bar Backs (I've met a few) but those that say gender roles are dead in this industry are lying to themselves.

So what if it’s mandatory to Bar Back before becoming a Bartender? Well, the only downside is some employers use the position of Bartender as the proverbial Carrot to dangle in front of their Bar Backs, but those Bar Backs will never advance. They will use the excuse of being fully staffed on bar, being in desperate need of ‘good’ bar backs, and many more to continually pass over promoting a Bar Back. How can you avoid this? Ask some simple questions and be prepared to leave if you are getting passed over. Talk to the Bar Backs and the Bartenders, how long have they been working in their current position, how long did the Bartenders working as Bar Backs before being moved up, are there any Bartenders that didn't Bar Back before working on the Bar, if so why did they get to surpass the position? If the answers aren't lining up to the promises, then you might be accepting a job that has no potential Bartending future. If the questions are answered to your satisfaction and you start as a Bar Back and 3-4 shifts/weeks/months down the line a new Bartender gets moved into the ranks ahead of you, its likely time to talk to management and maybe be ready to leave that location. First off, every city seems to have a few dozen Bartenders that are just that good that bars will scoop them up if given the opportunity – one day that could be you. Barring this as an explanation, the management might be screwing you over, ask for a promotion and be prepared to either walk, or stay a Bar Back for a long time.

Hopefully this guide has given you some idea of getting into the industry. These are by no means the only ways in, and these only cover a general sense of the industry. I, for example, have been Bartending for 8 years, I ran a Bartending School for 3, I ran my own Private Bartending Services Company, I've had Drink Recipes published in print and have given presentations on the bar industry – but if I went to New York with the hopes of entering a top end Cocktail Lounge – I’d still probably expect to Bar Back for a year before being a Bartender.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Styles of Classic Cocktails

Buck (circa 1890's) - Typically a spirit combined with some type of citrus and topped with ginger ale or ginger beer and served long. Moscow Mule, Mamie Taylor

Cobbler (circa 1830's) - Traditionally a drink consisting of wine or spirit, sugar and whatever seasonal, local fruit was readily available. Contemporary versions of this drink now include citrus, different liqueurs and sweeteners replacing the traditional sugar. The Sherry Cobbler was a worldwide hit. It is believed that the Sherry Cobbler was the drink to bring upon the advent of the drinking straw due to it's requisite use of pebble ice, which is where the name 'Cobbler' is derived.

Collins (circa 1870's) - One of the most classic styles of cocktail, basically a sour (spirit, citrus, sugar), served tall, over ice and topped with sparkling water. The drink gained popularity when bartenders began using Old Tom style of gin, but works well with virtually any spirit. Tom Collins[gin], Ron Collins[rum], John Collins[bourbon]

Crusta (circa 1850's) - Created in New Orleans by Joe Santini, and is believed by many to be the "missing link" of cocktails. The crusta employed the usual suspects (spirit, sugar, water, bitters) but added a sweet spirit, a weak spirit and acid. Santini's recipe was brandy, cointreau, maraschino liqueur, sugar, lemon juice and Peychaud's bitters (the cocktail precursor to the Margarita, Sidecar and Cosmopolitan).

Daisy (circa 1884) - Classically a long drink consisting of base spirit, sweetener, citrus. However it was different from the conventional sour because it was made with a mix of grenadine, raspberry syrup, orange curaçao (orange cordial), or yellow chartreuse in placement of sugar and was finished with a splash of soda.

Fizz - The origin of this drink is uncertain but it resembles a sour with addition of soda water to give it the quality of it's namesake. The most famous version of this cocktail was created by Henry C. Ramos and incorporated gin, egg white, cream and orange flower water and stayed wildly popular through the 1940's.

Flip (circa 1695) - The 17th century flip consisted of beer, rum, sugar and a red hot iron. The head caused the drink to froth (flipping). The contemporary version omits the beer and adds a whole egg and spices and is served cold. It can also sometimes have citrus or cream or both.

Highball (circa 1898) - Highballin' was a term used to indicate a steam locomotive was up to speed. The term also became a euphemism amongst travellers for a drink that could be consumed in a hurry. The highball is testament to the ability to create something splendid and of high quality with a minimum of ingredients. 7 & 7, Gin & Tonic, Cuba Libre

Julep - The origin of this cocktail is unclear. It was originally made with brandy, known as a sweet drink and a vehicle for medicine in the 1700's. Over time it has yielded to bourbon as the base spirit, included mint and has become the symbol of the American South.

Punch (circa 1600's) - English sailors discovered communal drinking in India and brought it back to the Americas. The name derives from the Hindi word panch meaning "five" and is also, some would say, the formula of a well balanced beverage: one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak and five of spice. Brandy Punch, Curaçao Punch, Pisco Punch

Sling (circa 1806) - The cocktail gets it's name from the German word schlingen meaning "to swallow". It is a very basic cocktail. The first beverage to be called a cocktail was said to be "spirit, water, sugar". If we add bitters to the equation we get a sling. Over the years the variations have been endless. The most popular version was the Singapore Sling created in 1915 by Ngiam Tong Bon at the Long Bar, Raffles Hotel Singapore. His recipe was gin, Cherry Heering, Benedictine and fresh pineapple juice.

Sour - Although the first written account of the "sour" was in 1862, the origin of this cocktail is uncertain. It is a simple combination of spirit, citrus and sugar but has been the foundational inspiration for so many cocktails over the years. For generations it has been, and probably will always be, the gateway to the world of cocktails.

Swizzle (circa 1760's) - A Caribbean mixture of spirit, citrus, sugar. The drink was probably made with West Indian rum and built over crushed ice. A swizzle stick was used to properly mix the drink, and if done correctly, would produce a splendid frost on the outside of the glass. A swizzle stick was a branch from a tropical bush that had three to five forked branches on the end.

For more cocktail history, I highly recommend Imbibe! by David Wondrich [link].

46 Cocktails to Know

Americano -
1 oz Campari
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
Soda Water
Build ingredients over ice in a collins glass. Stir with bar spoon.
Garnish: Orange Slice

Aviation -
1.5 oz Dry Gin
.75 oz Lemon Juice
.25 oz Maraschino Liqueur
.25 oz Creme de Violette
Combine all ingredients in mixing glass with ice, shake, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: Brandied Cherry

Blood & Sand -
1 oz Scotch
.75 oz Sweet Vermouth
.5 oz Cherry Heering
.5 oz Orange Juice
Combine all ingredients in mixing glass with ice, shake, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass or strain into an old fashioned glass filled with fresh ice.
Garnish: Orange slice and maraschino cherry.

Bronx -
1.5 oz Dry Gin
.75 oz Orange Juice
.5 oz Dry Vermouth
.5 oz Sweet Vermouth
Combine all ingredients in mixing glass with ice, shake, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: Orange Twist

Caipirinha -
2 oz Cachaça
1 oz Simple Syrup
Lime half (quartered)
Muddle lime quarters in a mixing glass, add the rest of the ingredients and ice, briefly shake and pour (unstrained) into an old fashioned glass.
Garnish: Lime Wheel

Champagne Cocktail -
Champagne or Sparkling Wine
Sugar Cube
Angostura Bitters
Drop sugar cube into champagne flute or coupe, add a few dashes of bitters, let bitters soak into cube and add champagne or sparkling wine.

The Clover Club -
2 oz Dry Gin
1 oz Lemon Juice
.5 oz Raspberry Syrup
.5 oz Egg White
Combine all ingredients in mixing glass and dry shake, add ice and shake again, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: Lemon Twist or Fresh Raspberries

The Collins -
2 oz Any Spirit
1 oz Lemon Juice
.5 oz Simple Syrup
Soda Water
Combine all ingredients in mixing glass, add ice and briefly shake, strain into a collins glass over fresh ice and top with soda water.
Garnish: Orange slice and Maraschino Cherry

Corpse Reviver #2 -
.75 oz Dry Gin
.75 oz Cointreau
.75 oz Lillet Blanc
.75 oz Lemon Juice
Dash of Absinthe
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice and shake, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: Lemon Twist

Cosmopolitan -
1.5 oz Absolut Citron
.75 oz Orange Liqueur
.5 oz Cranberry Juice
.25 oz Lime Juice
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, shake and double strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: Flamed Orange Peel

Daiquiri -
2 oz Light or Dark Rum
1 oz Lime Juice
.75 oz Simple Syrup
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice and shake, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: Lime Wedge

La Floridita (Daiquiri #4) -
2 oz Light Rum
1 oz Lime Juice
.75 oz Simple Syrup
.25 oz Maraschino Liqueur
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice and shake, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: Lime Wedge

Hemingway Daiquiri (Daiquiri #5) -
1.75 oz Light Rum
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
.25 oz Lime Juice
.25 oz Maraschino Liqueur
Splash of Simple Syrup
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice and shake, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: Lime Wedge

Dark & Stormy -
1.5 oz Jamaican Dark Rum
.25 oz Lime Juice
Ginger Beer
Fill collins glass with crushed ice, add lime juice and ginger beer then briefly stir, top with more ice to fill and float rum on top.
Garnish: Lime Wheel

French 75 -
1.5 oz Dry Gin
.75 oz Lemon Juice
.5 oz Simple Syrup
Champagne or Sparkling Wine
Add ingredients, excluding champagne/sparkling wine, into a mixing glass and add ice, shake, double strain into champagne flute or coupe, top with champagne/sparkling wine.
Garnish: Long Lemon Spiral

Gimlet -
2 oz Gin or Vodka
1 oz Lime Juice
.75 oz Simple Syrup
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, shake and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: Lime Wheel

Jack Rose -
1.5 oz Applejack or Apple Brandy
1 oz Lemon Juice
.75 oz Grenadine
Combine all ingredients in mixing glass, add ice, shake, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: Express lemon twist, discard garnish.

KIR Royale -
.5 oz Creme de Cassis
Champagne or Sparkling Wine
Add champagne/sparkling wine to champagne flute or coupe, add creme de cassis.
Garnish: Lemon twist

Last Word -
.75 oz Dry Gin
.75 oz Maraschino
.75 oz Lime Juice
.75 oz Green Chartreuse
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, shake, double strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: None

Lemon Drop -
1.5 oz Vodka
1 oz Lemon Juice
.5 oz Orange Liqueur
.25 oz Simple Syrup
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, shake, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with fine sugar.
Garnish: Lemon Slice

Mai Tai -
1 oz Light Rum
1 oz Dark Rum
.75 oz Orgeat
.75 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Orange Curaçao
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass excluding grenadine and dark rum, add ice, shake, strain into old fashioned glass over fresh ice. Float dark rum.
Garnish: Orange slice and maraschino cherry.

Manhattan -
2 oz Rye Whiskey
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Combine all ingredients in mixing glass, add ice, stir, strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: Maraschino Cherry

Margarita -
2 oz Tequila
.75 oz Orange Liqueur
.75 oz Lime Juice
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, shake, double strain into chilled cocktail glass rimmed with Kosher Salt.
Garnish: Lime Wedge

Martinez -
1.5 oz Old Tom Gin
.75 oz Sweet Vermouth
.25 oz Maraschino Liqueur
Orange Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, stir, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: Flamed Orange Peel

Martini -
2.5 oz Dry Gin
.5 oz Dry Vermouth
Dash of Orange Bitters (optional)
Combine both ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, stir, strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: Olive

Mint Julep -
2.5 oz Bourbon
.75 oz Simple Syrup (or 2 sugar cubes)
10-12 Mint Leaves
Lightly muddle mint and sugar in julep cup, add other ingredients and stir, add crushed ice to fill.
Garnish: Mint Sprig

Mojito -
2 oz Light Rum
1 oz Lime Juice
.75 oz Simple Syrup
6-8 Mint Leaves
Lightly muddle mint, simple and lime juice in a collins glass, add rest of ingredients, add crushed ice, stir briefly, top with soda and stir to combine.
Garnish: Mint Sprig and Lime Wheel

Monkey Gland -
1.5 oz Dry Gin
1 oz Orange Juice
.25 oz Grenadine
Dash of Absinthe
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, shake, double strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: None

Negroni -
1 oz Gin
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
1 oz Campari
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, stir, strain into chilled cocktail glass or in an old fashioned glass over fresh ice.
Garnish: Orange Twist

Old Cuban -
1.5 oz Gold Rum
1 oz Simple Syrup
.75 oz Lime Juice
Dash of Angostura Bitters
6-8 Mint Leaves
Sparkling Wine
Combine all ingredients, except sparkling wine, in a mixing glass, add ice, shake, double strain into chilled cocktail glass and top with sparkling wine.
Garnish: Spanked Mint Sprig

Old Fashioned -
2 oz Whiskey
Splash Simple Syrup
2-3 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Zest orange and lemon over a pre-chilled old fashioned glass and drop, add simple syrup and bitters and muddle zest lightly. Add whiskey, ice and stir briefly.
Garnish: Maraschino Cherry

Pegu Club -
2 oz Dry Gin
1 oz Orange Liqueur
.5 oz Lime Juice
Splash Simple Syrup
Angostura Bitters
Orange Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, shake, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: Lime Twist

Pimm's Cup -
1 oz Gin
1 oz Pimm's No. 1 Cup
1 oz Lemon Juice
.75 oz Ginger Syrup
4-6 English Cucumbr Slices
8-10 Mint Leaves
Angostura Bitters
Soda Water
Muddle cucumber slices and lemon juice in a mixing glass, add rest of ingredients except soda, add ice, shake, double strain into collins glass over fresh ice and top with soda.
Garnish: Cucumber Slice and Mint Sprig

Pisco Sour -
2 oz Pisco
.5 oz Lemon Juice
.5 oz Lime Juice
.25 oz Simple Syrup
1 Egg White
Amargo Chuncho Bitters
Combine ingredients except bitters in mixing glass and dry shake, add ice and shake again, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: Bitters

Ramos Fizz -
1.5 oz Dry Gin
1 oz Cream
.5 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Lemon Juice
.5 oz Orange Liqueur
.5 oz Simple Syrup
1 egg white
3 drops Orange Flower Water
Soda Water
Combine all ingredients except soda in a mixing glass and dry shake, add ice and shake again, double strain into collins glass over fresh ice and top with soda.
Garnish: Orange Slice Halved

Rickey -
2 oz any spirit
.75 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Simple Syrup
Soda Water
Build in collins glass with ice, add soda and briefly stir.
Garnish: Lime Wheel

Rob Roy -
2 oz Blended Scotch
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, stir, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: Maraschino Cherry

Satan's Whiskers -
1 oz Dry Gin
.5 oz Sweet Vermouth
.5 oz Dry Vermouth
.5 oz Grand Marnier
Angostura Bitters
Orange Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, stir, strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: Flamed Orange Peel

Sazerac -
2.25 oz Rye Whiskey
Splash of Simple Syrup
Dash of Absinthe
3-4 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
Chill an old fashioned glass with ice and absinthe. In a mixing glass, add whiskey, simple, bitters and ice, stir. Coat inside of old fashioned glass with louched absinthe, discard ice and absinthe and strain cocktail into glass.
Garnish: Lemon Twist

Sidecar -
1.5 oz Cognac
.75 oz Lemon Juice
.5 oz Orange Liqueur
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, shake, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with fine sugar.
Garnish: None

Singapore Sling -
1 oz Dry Gin
1 oz Cherry Heering
1 oz Benedictine
1 oz Pineapple Juice
Dash of Angostura Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, shake, strain into collins glass over fresh ice.
Garnish: Orange Slice and Maraschino Cherry

Sloe Gin Fizz -
1.5 oz Sloe Gin
1 oz Lemon Juice
.75 oz Simple Syrup
.5 oz Dry Gin
1 Egg White
Orange Bitters
Soda Water
Combine ingredients except soda water in a mixing glass and dry shake. Add ice and shake again, double strain into collins glass over fresh ice and top with soda.
Garnish: Lemon Slice

Smash -
2 oz Any Spirit
1 oz Lemon Juice
.5 oz Simple Syrup
6-8 Mint Leaves
Lightly muddle mint with lemon juice and simple syrup in an old fashioned glass, add spirit and ice, stir to combine.
Garnish: None

Sour -
2 oz Any Spirit
1 oz Lemon Juice
.75 oz Simple Syrup
.5 oz Egg White
Dash of Angostura bitters (if desired)
Combine all ingredients except bitters in a mixing glass and dry shake. Add ice and shake again, double strain into old fashioned glass over fresh ice.
Garnish: Bitters

Vesper -
2 oz Dry Gin
1 oz Vodka
.5 oz Lillet Blanc
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, shake, double strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: Lemon Twist

White Lady -
1.5 oz Gin
1 oz Orange Liqueur
.75 oz Lemon Juice
.5 oz Egg White
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and dry shake. Add ice and shake again, double strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: None