Pile up the party times everyone! Spring is here and it is time to dust off the grill, clean up the deck, gather your friends and makes some drinks.
For the Kentucky Derby, the Mint Julep is the drink of choice. But they are time consuming and if you are not comfortable with your mixing prowess, The Horse’s Neck is a great alternative to celebrate Derby Day:
The Horse’s Neck.
Cut a long lemon peel over the top of a Collins Glass. And I mean LOOOOONG. This sucker needs to swivel from the bottom to the top of your glass. Now fill your glass with ice which will hold the lemon twist in place. Now add a shot of your favorite bourbon and top with ginger ale. That simple.
Sunday marks Cinco De Mayo, and believe it or not I am going to spare the history of this celebration and focus on what is has become which is a celebration of one of the many cultures that have influenced the American way of life. And of course when thinking of Cinco De Mayo, the Margarita pops into mind as the ‘comfort cocktail’ for the occasion. I again offer you an alternative to the most popular drink in Mexico: The Paloma
- 1 1/2 oz Blanco Tequila
- 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
- 3-4 oz Squirt grapefruit soda
Build in a Collins glass over ice and garnish with lime slice.
Now me being me I can’t let this fly without jazzing it up to a craft cocktail so here ya go:
- 1 1/2 oz blanco tequila (organic like Casa Noble, Republic, or Dulce Vida)
- 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
- 1 1/2 oz fresh pressed organic grapefruit juice
- 1 1/2 oz sparkling water
- 1/4-1/2 oz organic agave syrup
Combine all ingredients in a Collins glass filled with ice and garnish with lime slcie. This can also be made in batch; just multiply by the number of drinks you want to make.
Happy Spring everyone!
9th April 2013: The semi-finalists for Bols Around the World, the prestigious world bartending championship organised by Bols, have now been selected from the most extensive pool of high-level entries the contest has ever seen. Bols Around the World, which is now in its seventh year, seeks out the best and most charismatic bartenders from 66 countries and will culminate in the spectacular Grand Final held in Amsterdam on 7th May 2013 where one talented bartender will be crowned Bols Bartending World Champion 2013.
This year the team of judges, headed by The Bols Bartending Academy, was impressed by the unsurpassed level of creativity and originality which came not only from bartenders in leading cocktail cities like London and New York, but across all 66 participating countries.
In total, 21 bartenders from around the world go to the semi-finals in Amsterdam on 1st May, where only 12 will make it through to the Grand Final on 7th May to compete for the winning spot. In order to select the 21 semi-finalists, 16 regions worldwide judged their competing regional entries and each selected a regional winner. Five Young Talents, selected from a pool of 500 young talents scouted across the globe by the Bols Bartending Academy, have also been added to the semi-finalists.
Today, the names of 18 semi-finalists have been released, having been put through their paces during the first three competition stages since 1st December 2012. The semi-finalists include 14 regional winners who will compete in Amsterdam to become one of the 11 finalists, and 4 Young Talents. From the Young Talents only one can make it to the final to take on the 11 other experienced bartenders. This Young Talent finalist will receive additional training at the Bols Bartending Academy to compete on par with the other 11 bartenders.
This year’s Bols Around The World 2013 Semi Finalists are:
Region 1 Canada: Jenner Cormier (The Middle Spoon, Noble)
Region 2 USA: Tom Richter (The Beagle – NYC)
Region 3 Central America & Caribbean- Curacao: Luuk Gerritsen (Vegas 360 Curacao)
Region 4 Argentina: To be announced on 17th April at the BATW national final in Buenos Aires
Region 5: UK: Rusty Cerven – (The Connaught Bar, London)
Region 6 Scandinavia – Denmark: Leszek Stachura (The Union, Copenhagen)
Region 7 Germany: André Pintz (Steigenberger Grandhotel Handelshof Leipzig)
Region 8 Italy: Tiziana Borreani (cafè del mar – Savona)
Region 9 Western Europe-The Netherlands: Ciro de Georgio (Dvars, Amsterdam)
Region 10 Eastern Europe-Romania: Alexandru Tudor (Barmania Bucharest)
Region 11 Russia – To be announced on 12th April at the BATW national final in St Petersburg
Region 12 Poland: Mateusz Szuchnik-(Pies Czy Suka Pure Bar, Pogorzel)
Region 13 Japan: Michie Nishida-(Bar Open Door B2 Osaka)
Region 14 Middle East & Africa-Dubai: Jimmy Barrat (Zuma, Dubai)
Region 15 Asia-South Korea: Seongha Lee (Kap Bar & Dining, Seoul)
Region 16 Australia & New Zealand: Australia, Benjamin Tua (Mechanics Institute, Perth)
Young Talent Holland: Stefan van Zuijlen (Jersey, Goes)
Young Talent Europe: Hungary Fanni Lajkó (Boutiq’ Bar, Budapest)
Young Talent Americas: Brazil: José Kennedy Nascimento (MyNYbar, Sao Paolo)
Young Talent Australasia & Africa: Hong Kong: Nokoy Mak (Quinary, Hong Kong)
The winner will be crowned Bols Bartending World Champion 2013 and will go on an all-expenses paid eight-day bar tour ‘Around the World’ to four cocktail cities of his/her choice and will also win a trip to Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans this summer. All 21 semi-finalists will become Bols Brand Ambassadors and win a second trip to Amsterdam for a unique training programme at the Bols Bartending Academy
This year the global panel of judges across both the finals and semi-finals will be headed by Malika Saidi, head trainer Bols Bartending Academy and includes:
Anistatia Miller & Jared Brown, Directors of Mixellany Limited
Hidetsugu Ueno, owner and bartender of Bar High Five Tokyo and master of Japanese bartending
Jeff (Beachbum) Berry, one of Imbibe magazine’s ‘25 Most Influential Cocktail Personalities of the Past Century’ and Global Tiki Expert
Ago Perrone, Global Brand Ambassador Galliano and Head Mixologist Connaught Bar
Gabor Onufer, Bols Bartending World Champion 2012
The Grand Final of Bols Around the World on May 7th in Amsterdam is a spectacular event in which the world’s best 12 bartenders compete and showcase their skills and creativity, while 1100 guests enjoy Bols Cocktails and shows from DJ’s, singers and the World Champions Tandem Flair: Tomek & Marek. The event is unique allowing all 1100 guests to taste the finalists cocktails and award their own public winner.
When I started tending bar, there were two Irish whiskers available in the states: the big two that jokingly are referred to as Catholic and Protestant. Nowadays there is a plethora of choices when it comes to the water of life imported from the Green Isle. I am fortunate enough this St Patrick’s Day to be spending a wee bit of time in Ireland!
One recent favorite of mine is Concannon Irish Whiskey. You may know Concannon as a winery based in California, and yes it’s the same family. James Concannon was an Irish immigrant and pioneer of California wine making who open the Concannon Winery in 1883.
Concannon (Gaelic for ’wisdom without compromise) has partnered with the Cooley Distillery in County Louth to create a unique 4 year blended whiskey that starts it’s aging in old bourbon barrels and then is finished in Concannon wine barrels. When I first opened my bottle and nosed my glass, I took a guess at the grape varietal before I had done any reading about this whiskey. The nose was very distinctive of petite syrah, and I was right.
The mash is made from traditionally malted barley that is harvested in the spring, then double distilled in small long neck copper stills. The aging begins in bourbon barrels (Beam to be exact since they own the Cooley Distillery) the transferred to petite syrah barrels for final aging.
Concannon has the standard notes of honey and citrus distinctive to all Irish whiskies, with an added depth that can only come from a heavy grape like petite syrah ( one of my favorites by the way) which adds a longer finish of vanilla, berry fruits and spice.
Concannon is available nationwide and retails for about $25 and is a great alternative to the big boys of Ireland. I would especially recommend this to bourbon who find Irish whiskey to be too light for their palates as well as to wine drinkers, because….well, you should enjoy some whiskey every now and then.
Slante! Catch you cats in April
Yes, the real deal my friends……
Absinthe is the most controversial spirit in history I would have to say, even more so than the rum trade sparking slavery through thr Caribbean and Old South. It was almost wiped from the face of the earth at one point thank to the collaboration of the many world temperance movements and Frnech winemakers in the wake of the phyllorera plague in 1855.
Absinthe was blamed for domestic and social violence, criminals, and crazies. I recently saw an article where absinthe was said to be more dangerous than opiates. The whole mystery of the Green Fairy, and absinthe giving one hallucinations, visions and some even going loony after imbibing on this elixir have given us outrageous and almost unbelievable stories propelling absinthe to near mythical status.
Do a little digging here, and you will find that reality is not near as fun as the stories. Like most things clouded in propaganda, absinthe is actually quite enjoyable. and though many European absinthe may have a higher alcohol content and higher lthujone levels, you can get the “real stuff” in the U.S.
It was never really illegal in the U.S. either….but we will save that for another day.
There are many source on the web so get all kinds of absinthe along with drip systems, spoons and glasses. Recently I was given a absinthe tasting kit from absinthe.com called Absinthexplore. RueVerte.com is a European based absinthe vendor that sells tasting kits of three or six 50 ml samples of various styles and brands of the wonderful green liqueuer along with a very well made absinthe spoon.
Don’t be scared: take a look at their selections, call a friend (or two) and host your own L‘heure Verte (green hour) Party.
As to the absinthe I sampled….well I will have to leave you in suspense, vut I will say I will be back in touch with RueVerte.com VERY soon!!
Here is a fantastic margarita variation that Todd Walker and I put together. Take a look!!!
More and more I have thought about the Bartender vs. Mixologist argument, and more and more something wasn’t settling right about it with me. Ever since I did the post entitled “We Don’t Do Mixology Here”, there was another layer in the bottom of that that I hadn’t tasted, a part of the puzzle that was missing.
I got to chatting with my buddy Natalie Bovis aka The Liquid Muse about it as she always helps pry loose what is stuck and put my finger back on the pulse of the cocktail world. And from this conversation, this post (now in the forth rewrite) is the result.
I think we are backwards on this argument. A Mixologist (a person skilled in making mixed drinks), may or may not be a person who works in a bar serving drinks to the public (a bartender). And mixology is, in fact, only ONE of the skills that makes a great bartender.
Let me say that again…..
Mixology is only ONE of the skills that make a great bartender.
Bartenders must have many skills. In reality, it takes more than making drinks to run a bar or be a bartender. It’s a balancing act of dozens of skills at all have to happen at once with informed, concise decisions that can’t wait for a long conversation like most other professions who have the time to call meeting after meeting to make a move. A bartender has to be fast on his/her feet and constantly watching, judging, and responding to a crowd of people where the dynamics change each time a new person walks in the bar or another leaves.
Let me give you an example:
Bartender speaking to a new two new guests coming in,” HI, How are you tonight?”
Guests “We’re great thanks!”
Bartender,” What can I get you to drink?”
Guest 1,” I’ll have a vodka and soda.”
Guest 2” Shot of whiskey and a beer.”
Bartender,” Great may I see your ID’s?”
Guests pass along ID”S
Now, in this short 10 second interaction, the bartender has sized up the relationship between the two guests, looked at how they are dressed and their attitudes deciding what the occasion for the visit to the bar is, taken into account the time, and watched their body language, and listened to their speech to determine their moods and established how much, if anything, have they already had to drink. 10 seconds. Keep in mind that this is done, calculated and remembered for every patron in the bar.
Doesn’t stop there. Few jobs require an employee to be on their feet for hours on end contorting the body in ways it’s not meant to move as the bartender reaches in, out, up , down, over, around, twisting and turning to get bottles, squeezers, glasses, napkins, straws, and garnishes. The bartender is balancing every guest in the room trying to serve as fast and as seamless as possible so there is little disruption to the guest experience. It requires eating standing up most of the time, hours that do not coincide with the rest of the world and sometimes not peeing for a couple hours because it’s just too damn busy for a potty break. Lifting kegs that weigh 130+ pounds, trash cans full of bottles having to be heaved sometimes six feet in the air, mopping floors, washing dishes, and all the while keeping an eye on every guest in the room making sure the booze and behavior are all good.
And yes this happens
That brings us to bouncing. Stopping service to someone who is, shall we say, less than pleased about being cut off can be tricky. Having the right people skills to do this is essential not only for a smooth situation but also for the safety and security of the bar and all other guests in the room, even to a point where the situation might get aggressive. They don’t teach that at bartender school, or any other school for that matter.
Bar and restaurants are key targets for robberies, fights, lovers’ quarrels, family disputes, and a bartender has to be mentally and physically prepared for any and every situation that could occur at any given time.
I remember a couple years ago, I took a new bartender out for a drink after our shift one night. We went to a local neighborhood bar, where I introduced the young bartender to the longtime owner of the bar we chose to imbibe in. When I told the owner this was one of my new staff (which the young one smiled with pride), the owner says in his smoked rasped New Mexican voice,” Lemme tell you something. I hired a lot of bartenders in my day, and most of them don’t kow shit about how to watch their room.” The young bartender got wide-eyed not sure what to say. He expected something about mixology and making drinks. Instead he got something completely different.
I have broken up fights, calmed down arguments, gotten in to “aggressive negotiations”, survived glasses being thrown and even knives being pulled. It happens, trust me. And the states that still honor the Dram Shop Act make it even more intense putting the responsibility of the guests behavior on the bar and bartender.
These are things the non-working “Mixologist” doesn’t experience. And don’t get me wrong here. I love what I do! And these are rare situations, but they do happen. It’s part of the job.
Bartenders don’t just make drinks. As mixologists we learn chemistry, math, and physics and how they relate to making a great drink. As bartenders we are counselors (yeah it’s cliché), coaches, bouncers, police, and moderators. Most bartenders are competent in basic construction, general maintenance and refrigeration. And we are people persons as well. It’s a special breed that makes a great bartender.
You can tell a bartender from a mixologist who has never worked behind the bar. The seamless movements that a bartender makes when concocting a drink look effortless. After all, a bartender does these drinks night in and night out over and over again. Add craft cocktails to the mix and you really got something special.
So again I think we have looked at this from the wrong angle. It’s not one or the other: bartender vs Mixologist. They coincide and have a symbiotic relationship. But for me, mixology is only a part of the job I love so. And though it’s the part of my job that gets the notoriety, it is only one part of the recipe.
Call me what you want, I smile when I am recognized for my mixing skills an call me ‘Mixologist’, but my smile is bigger when the whole job is seen and I am called “Bartender”.
Imagine a time when booze was banned: a world dry of liquor, beer and wine (or at least a country). Ponder the American economic ideal of supply and demand, and a man who cared just little enough to fulfill that demand at whatever cost.
Enter Alphonse Gabriel Capone, Big Al, King Alphonse, Scarface, Public Enemy No. 1. Looking to help a thirsty country, Capone became the leader of the of the Chicago based Mafia, and the country’s most notorious gangster in history.
We have all seen the movies about him, the 20th century Robin Hood of the Great Drought. The public loved him for his defiance, rebellion, and unruliness. I have a running routine with a friend and fellow bartender revolving around Big Al from The Untouchables. BATTER UP! And he would be
One of the sources of Capone’s whiskey came from the small town of Templeton, Iowa (pop.350) where a rye whiskey was being made that was simply called “The Good Stuff”. Reportedly this was Al’s whiskey of choice, and he even managed to smuggle a few bottles into Alcatraz after his arrest.
Templeton Rye is a small batch whiskey made from strains of winter and spring rye grain, fermented for 3-3 1/2 days then twice distilled. Aged a minimum of four years in American White Oak barrels with a number 3 char, Templeton is surprisingly rich and smooth in taste. Bottled at 80 proof, Templeton Rye’s flavor has hints of spice, and toffee with a chewy mouth feel and low heat.
Interestingly, Templeton has been made ever since Capone’s time but only went legit in 2006 and has been twice awarded a gold medal at the San Francisco Spirit’s Tasting beating out over 1000 other whiskies from around the world (not gonna make the obvious comparison here to Capone).
One more little Big Guy factoid: Capone, when need to go on the lam, one of the place he used to ‘vacation” was right here is Santa Fe, New Mexico at a former ranch called Bobcat Bite (if you are a foodie, then you may know the restaurant of the same name located on that same property)
In honor of Mr. Capone’s birthday (January 17th 1899), try Templeton in any of your favorite whiskey cocktails, or try one of mine
On The Lam Cocktail
- 2 oz Templeton Rye
- 1/2 oz Campano Antica
- 1/4 oz Solerno Liqueur
- 1 dash whiskey barrel aged bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange twist.