Wednesday, August 30th, 2006
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Here’s a fun little game you can play. Go ask someone – preferably someone not wearing arm garters or quoting Jerry Thomas – and ask them what’s in a Hot Toddy. The more people you try this game with, the better, because you’re going to get a lot of varied answers. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you’re gonna hear a few of the following ingredients: Lemon… ginger… honey… cinnamon sticks… cloves… cayenne pepper.
The funny thing is that if you look at the earliest Hot Toddy recipe as it appears in Jerry Thomas’ 1862 Bar-Tender’s Guide, it contains none of these things. Here’s the recipe:
1 tea-spoonful of fine white sugar
1 wine-glass of brandy
Dissolve the sugar in a little boiling water, add the brandy, and pour boiling water into the glass until it is two-thirds full Grate a little nutmeg on top.
Water, sugar, brandy, nutmeg. Not even a lousy lemon peel. If you can’t think of anything less interesting or appetizing to drink, take a look at the recipe for the Hot Gin Toddy sometime. Anyway, as I was trying to standardize our Hot Toddy recipe for the bar a few years ago, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to stay true to the historical recipes while still offering a drink I felt our guests would enjoy. In the end, I decided to tell Jerry Thomas to take a flying leap and came up with something much more reflective of the style of cocktail we serve.
So, sure. We came up with a nice recipe that uses ginger and lemon, big deal. But during recipe testing something consistently came up that I felt was a common problem with Hot Toddies offered in many bars these days: they’re never hot enough. So I devised a solution: enter the Bartender’s Bain-Marie.
The technique is simple: fill a shaker tin halfway with very hot water, and build the drink sans water in a second tin nestled in the bottom shaker. Stirring the ingredients for a minute will raise the temperature to the point where we’re no longer serving cold or room temperature ingredients mixed with hot water. The now-warm drink is added to a preheated glass and finished with piping hot water.
Easy to do, and a hell of a lot safer to do at home than heating alcohol on the stovetop (note: do not heat alcohol on your stovetop). Here’s the recipe I landed on for those who want it:
1½ oz bourbon
1 oz ginger syrup*
¾ oz lemon juice
1 tsp allspice or pimento dram
3 oz boiling water
Stir bourbon, ginger syrup*, lemon juice and allspice or pimento liqueur in Bartender’s Bain-Marie until warmed through. Transfer to preheated mug and top with boiling water. Garnish with orange peel.
I always refer to this as the “San Francisco Ginger Syrup” method, as I stole it from Jon Santer, who I believe learned it from Thad Vogler, who probably didn’t steal it from anyone because Thad is a genius. At any rate I’ve rarely heard of bartenders in other cities doing it this way and when I have, it’s because they’ve learned it from someone from San Francisco. It’s easy to make, and delicious to use.
Simply combine cleaned (no need to peel the ginger) and roughly-chopped ginger (each piece should be about the size of your pinkie-tip) in a blender with equal volumes of sugar and boiling water. For this I’ve used 8 ounces of chopped ginger, 8 ounces of sugar, and 8 ounces boiling water. Blend on high until mixture is smooth, and then fine-strain through a sieve.
That’s it. Enjoy, and stay warm.
A side project, an experiment or just a simple curiosity that turned into a delicious phenomenon that we're still serving to much delight at our bar, barrel aged cocktails explore the gentle manipulation of a drink's flavors over time. This post details the inspiration, the history and the methods behind my barrel aged cocktails.
My problem with homemade tonic water has always been a flavor profile that was too esoteric for the general audience. This recipe takes some of the positive qualities people have come to understand from commercial tonic water and updated them with fresh ingredients.
Turned off by the glop you find in the grocery store, and unable to endure another long egg and cream whipping session, I set out to build an egg nog recipe from the ground up that retained the character of the orginal formula, was easy to make in a few minutes at home or at the bar, and tasted absolutely delicious. See if you agree with the result.
One question I'm often asked is "Do you have any drink-related book recommendations?" Well, funny you should ask, I've compiled a list of the ten books every professional bartender or home mixologist should own. I keep every one of these close at hand and have read most of them several times. I suggest you do the same.
The problem with living in Oregon is the absence of little wooden shacks by the sea that sell cases of fresh ginger beer stacked on back porches. But with some readily-available ingredients, a recipe I've been revising for several years - and a few free minutes - I can easily transport myself to a little fishing boat on the ocean as I sip a Dark and Stormy made with fresh, house-made ginger beer.
It's always mojito season somewhere, so this advice is timely in your area about half the year. Wether you're making them or simply enjoying them, this advice will help you look like a pro in no time at all.
The flavors of the Richmond Gimlet are imbued with sunshine. Fresh mint mingling with the herbaceousness of gin and the tartness of lime have made this drink a Eugene classic for many years now.
You'll get a lot of snarky advice on this site about how to make a proper drink, but if you ever need to know what not to do, this is the video for you.
Not to be confused with the Spanish wine-and-fruit-based alcoholic beverage sangria, sangrita (meaning "little blood") is a traditional accompaniment to a tequila served completo; a non-alcoholic sipper that cleanses the palate between fiery doses of agave.
The world of booze can be mystifying to people that don't work in bars or around alcohol all the time. I hear a lot of assumptions about the industry I'm in that are - much like 90% of what you hear in bars - completely false. Here are a few you've probably heard yourself.
The traditional garnish for a Pisco Sour is a couple of drops of bitters in the foam, but I've never been particularly impressed with the way these few paltry drops of bitters sat in their little egg-white mattress and didn't play along with the rest of the drink. I envisioned a Pisco Sour with a uniformly-distributed bitters-scorched foam: slightly crisp as the fire burnt the sugars, and slightly warm as the foam insulated the rest of the frosty cocktail from the heat. A pisco creme brulée in a glass!
I get so many visitors looking for tips on how to write a bartending resume that I thought I should finally post a tutorial on how to write your own. Click the headline to read more.
I always love showing up to a party with a gallon jug of pre-mixed margaritas, so I've decided to share my recipe. This margarita recipe is the perfect blend of strong, sweet, and sour. But be warned: this recipe packs a serious punch.
There isn't much I can say about this video that hasn't been said already. If you've read anything I've written about cocktails, you'll understand why this video symbolizes everything wrong with the state of bartending in America today. Watch and learn, but be warned: this one isn't for the feint of heart.
My name is Jeff Morgenthaler and I'm the bar manager at Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon.
I've been tending bar since 1996 and writing about it since 2004. I started tending bar while getting my degree in Interior Architecture, and slowly I came to the conclusion that bartending was what I really loved, and that I might as well drop everything and focus on being a professional bartender. Over the years I have strived, both behind the bar and with this website, to elevate the experience of having a drink from something mundane to something more culinary.
The writing I do here is intended as a work in progress. My recipes are like my opinions: they are constantly being revised and refined as I work them through my mind and my fingers. Comments and participation are encouraged, so please don't feel the need to tread lightly here.
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I’m a waitress who was thrown into bartending by chance. Our bartender quit on a Friday night, so the manager came up to me and said, “Guess what …you’re it.”
This has been about 5 weeks ago. I’m learning rapidly and am doing okay. Fortunately, its a small bar and not heavily populated.
Can you give me any tips to keep my head above water? What is your best advice for a newbie?
Congratulations! You’ve made a grand leap to a nobler segment of the service industry, rising above the rank-and-file world of waitstaff.
I’m kidding, of course. You’ll realize this when you’re on the floor behind the bar at 4 A.M. on a Friday, trying to fish a whole lime out of your floor drain because your dishwasher flooded the whole back bar. And yes, you’ll be doing this lying on your stomach in an inch of fetid water.
And yes, this is exactly what I was doing last Friday at 4 A.M.
Now, on to your question. I learned a great deal about mixology from the brilliant Paul Harrington. Not that I’ve had the opportunity to meet him in person. Hotwired used to carry his extensive website, but that link is now down. I would recommend you pick up a copy of his book, Cocktail: A Drinks Bible for the 21st Century. It’s in rare book status at this point, but you can still find copies out there on the net. It’s not cheap, but it’s well worth every penny.
Here’s a link to Amazon’s used selection. Brace yourself.
Now, the first thing you should know is that there are basic families of drinks. Learn how to make one drink in the family, and it’s all a matter of substitution from there on out.
The first family is the highball family. Typically an ounce and a half of liquor to three ounces of mixer. Now you can make a Gin and Tonic, Whiskey and Coke, Rum and Coke, Screwdriver, Seabreeze, Cape Cod, 7 and 7, etc. Brilliant.
Next up is the Martini family. The main members are the Martini, the Gibson and the Manhattan. I use a half ounce of vermouth to two ounces of liquor, always stirred, never shaken. Awesome.
The Sidecar is the grandfather of drinks. You can make modern drinks and classic cocktails if you learn the secret of the Sidecar. And it’s a piece of cake, always remember this rule: 2 parts strong, 1 part sour, and one part sweet. The strong is going to be your main liquor, brandy, tequila, gin, etc. Sour is almost always going to be either lemon or lime juice. And sweet is going to be either simple syrup, triple sec, Cointreau, or another liqueur. Now you can make a Margarita, a Kamikaze, Cosmopolitan, Lemon Drop, Daiquiri, etc.
I also like the Alexander family. One part strong, one part cream, and one part creme de cacao. Use gin, brandy, rum, or vodka as your strong and you’ve got it down. I would put the White Russian in this family, just for fun.
Then there are the one-offs, the drinks that don’t fall into any families. You’ve got to work these out for themselves. Here’s where you get into the Old Fashioned, the Mojito, the Ramos Fizz and the Mint Julep. It’s not a long list, you can do it.
That’s all I’ve got for you, Sydne. I hope this advice helps and that you enjoy the world of bartending. It’s a great job.
I get so many visitors looking for tips on how to write a bartending resume that I thought I should finally post a tutorial on how to write your own. Read on, reader!
I see a lot of resumes in my position, and you’d be surprised at just how many people leave resumes with no contact information. First, print your name in large letters. Don’t forget your mailing address (if different from your home address, always use the mailing address), phone number, and email address.
You want to give employers a clear way to get in touch with you, otherwise, what would be the point of having a resume?
For some reason, it’s been traditional to include an objective section in a resume, and I’ve never understood why. Everyone’s objective is the same: to secure a good job. No matter how you dress it up…
To find employment in a fast-paced, fun work environment.
…it always comes off sounding weak. Skip it.
Believe me, if you speak a foreign language, especially Spanish, in a restaurant in this country, you’re going to be one step ahead of the game. Put it down, but don’t lie about it. If you can only count to ten in Arabic, it’s not worth mentioning.
Do you have any computer skills? I’m talking about POS (Point of Sale) systems here. Squirrel, Micros, Aloha, etc. If you’ve used a computer system at another job, put it down. More and more establishments are moving to computer systems, and having to spend two days training you how to punch in an order is only going to be a deterrent to hiring you.
I can read and write in French. Asking me to speak it may require a freshen-up trip to Paris.
I can program a Micros point-of-sale system, and I have four years of experience with Squirrel. I speak Microsoft Windows and Macintosh with equal proficiency. I have a firm grasp on the Microsoft Office Suite, the Adobe Creative Suite, and the Macromedia Suite. I am skilled in web page design, XHTML and CSS.
On a side note, I received a resume a few weeks ago and the applicant put down that he was proficient with both Internet Explorer and Firefox. I almost had a stroke from laughing as I slid the resume into the trash.
Yes, it’s just a foodservice job. No, you don’t need a PhD to do it. But having some education shows that you’re a little more well-rounded than other applicants. And hey, you spent $30,000 on that philosophy degree, so get some mileage out of it!
Graduated with A.S. degree in physics.
Studied Hungarian baroque architecture as part of the Boronda Art Scholarship awarded through Hartnell College.
Graduated with bachelor’s degree in Interior Architecture.
Also worth mentioning here is any special training or bar-/restaurant-related coursework. If you took a class on wine, mention it here. If you went to bartending school, put it down. Spend some time on this section. It’s almost as important as the following section.
Here’s the meat of your resume. Now, I get a lot of people asking how to fill in this section when they don’t have any bartending experience. It’s very simple: you lie. Just kidding. Always tell the truth, even if it is a bit embellished. I’ve actually hired people with “some” bartending experience only to find out that they lied about having any, and they were subsequently fired. Now I have a test that I have all my new applicants take.
Important tip: When you’re filling out the job description for each establishment you’ve worked in, I feel that it’s more important to convey a sense of what sort of place it was, rather than recounting what you did there. Face it, you did the same thing at every job: served customers, worked the cash register, and cleaned. I don’t care. What I want to know as a bar manager is what sort of establishment you worked in, as I haven’t had the chance to visit every bar and restaurant in the country. Was it a dive bar? Fine dining? Nightclub? Let me know. Some of us in fine dining are actually looking for people who come up from high-volume chain restaurants. You never know, so dont’ be shy, and do be as specific as possible.
Head bartender. Tapas and Steaks. Huge menu and an enormous Spanish wine list, complemented by my menu of classic cocktails – with a twist. Priced OLCC catalog, set up Micros POS, trained a hardworking staff of bartenders, barbacks and cocktail servers, and conducted liquor classes for the staff of two restaurants. Fast-paced atmosphere, Disco Night on Thursdays, and a very demanding thirtysomething clientele.
Bartender/waiter. Buttoned-up black-tie service for the pre-theater crowd. Northwest cuisine done in the French bistro tradition, washed down with bottles of Pinot Noir. Huge French and Pacific Northwest wine list, dessert crowd at ten, open kitchen and bistro-style zinc-topped bar.
Bartender. Full-service, fine continental restaurant. Early crowd, small kitchen, tough German chef, fast pace.
Bartender. Huge thirty-five seat bar, and the hottest club in town. Late nights, stiff drinks, intense fast pace, two bartenders and a lot of smoky blues.
My first bartending job. Four years, five nights a week in one of the toughest bars in town. Famous chili, pitchers of Olympia, loud music and a lot of smoke.
You should list any work experience you have here. The more food- or bar-related experience you can list, even if it’s as a barista or prep cook, the better.
I prefer not to list references on my resume (especially on the web, I don’t need people calling my former bosses at six in the morning) because I have a lot of experience here in town. However, if you’re applying for a job in another city, or if you don’t have a lot of experience, then you might want to list work-related references. Keep it under three, kid.
I hope this tutorial has helped, and that you’re now on your way to writing a successful resume. If you’re looking for more advice and/or some professional help with your bar resume, my friends Cheryl Charming and Darcy O’Neil have posted additional information at their own sites.
I’ve gotten tons and tons of feedback from bartenders all over the globe about my Eight Things You Should Never Say to Your Bartender post a while back. It seems that everyone’s got their own list of things they don’t want to hear while working, so here are a few:
“Do you know who I am?” – Tara Tainton
“Sitting at the bar and asking, ‘What’s that, what’s that?’ about each drink you make is the thing I hate the most!” – Sara, Austin, Texas
“When are you done? – I hate this question, why do you care? Are you trying to make me feel bad for working?” – Ernesto, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
“Can I get a free birthday drink?” Kyle, Brooklyn, New York
“I hate it when people assume that they’re getting whatever it is that they’re drinking for free once the clock turns over to their birthday. Who decided that you get a bunch of free shit on your 37th birthday? – Alex, Seattle, Washington
“SMILE!” – Ben, Breckenridge, Colorado
“People who tell me, ‘You should smile more!’ when I’m really busy are going to hell. And I don’t care how saintly of a life they’ve lived!” – Jen, Kissimmee, Florida
“I hate it when men ask me ,”Do you have a boyfriend?” when I’m working. Would you ask a girl working at the supermarket that question?” – Jen, Redondo Beach, California
“Can I ask you a personal question?, and then follow it up with something way too personal, about my body, my sexual preference, or my relationship status or something.” – Kari, St. Louis, Illinois
“Can I read your palm? I had this guy ask me this last night, what a fucking tool!” – Jessie, San Francisco, California
If you date a man who drinks blended margaritas, you’ll always have to hold the door open for him when you go out.
Victor Bergeron – Trader Vic – created this drink back in the 40s, and is quoted in the 1947 edition of his Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide as saying, “Anyone who says that I didn’t create this drink is a dirty stinker.”
When I visited Trader Vic’s in Beverly Hills, I watched their skilled mixologists closely to try to learn the secrets of this drink (shaved ice is key here, kids) but I recently found the recipe online here.
When made properly, the Mai Tai is a smooth, slightly sweet, and potent concoction – and well worthy of our sophisticated palates (heh).
1.5 oz Appleton V/X rum
½ oz Smith and Cross rum
1¼ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz orange curaçao (I use Grand Marnier)
½ oz orgeat (almond syrup)
¼ oz 2:1 simple syrup
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into an old fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig.
I want to ask out a bartender at the bar I go to sometimes with my friends, but I don’t know how I should ask her out. Can you give me some advice?
Asking out a bartender, especially a female bartender, can be tricky. On one hand, she’s probably getting asked out by every other guy that bellies up to her bar, and is more than likely getting tired of it. On the other hand, she’s just a normal person with a normal job, and you should ask her out just as you’d ask out any other woman. Just be yourself.
That said, there are definitely ways to your bartender’s heart. Here’s a few pointers:
1. Tip. Yes, she looks like she’s having a great time entertaining you, and everyone else in the bar. But the reality is that she’s here because she’s got bills to pay. A great way of separating yourself from the rest of the crowd is to tip respectfully yet extravagantly. Think of a tip that seems like too much money. Now double it. That’s what you need to tip, per drink, every time you go into her bar. And be respectful: never, ever talk about the tip. Just order your drink, tip well, and leave. She’ll notice you, believe me.
2. Don’t get too drunk. I know you think you’re really, really funny and interesting when you’ve had eight shots, but believe me, she doesn’t. She may be laughing right along with you and letting you think she’s interested in hearing what you have to say, but if you’re slurring and looking like a drunken fool, it’s all an act. And if you do get too intoxicated at her bar, don’t try to sober up there over the course of the next three hours. Call a cab and go home.
3. Show her that you’re respectful of other women in the bar. If you’re in her bar every night trying to take home every drunk girl you encounter, chances are she’ll think you’re a scumbag rather than the suave Cassanova you think you are. Be nice, be respectful, and chances are she’ll notice.
There you go, G, and good luck.
I was just surfing the net to get an idea of what to put on a resume for bartending when i have had no bartending experience. I have worked at McDonalds and a big candy store in NYC. I have a bartending license from NY but have had no job. Do you have any advice about putting together a resume? I would really appreciate it, thanks.
You can’t do much about making yourself look like an experienced bartender if you don’t have any experience. However, with some retail and foodservice experience, in addition to your service permit, you should have a pretty good chance of getting in at the bottom somewhere.
I would recommend that you highlight as much of the foodservice and retail experience as possible, and maybe even consider leaving out some jobs that aren’t related at all. Bar and restaurant managers aren’t going care about the data entry you did back in 1998.
Don’t get discouraged if you’re offered a job as a barback, if you’ve got a good attitude, and you seem like a quick study and a hard worker, you’ll definitely move up into a more prominent position.
Our good friend Erick Castro recently posited a question on Facebook about bartenders’ footwear of choice, which got me thinking about mine. So I thought I’d share my experience with you in the hopes that folks could chime in and build a discussion that might be of help to other bartenders out there.
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