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cocktail-garnish

By thenimblebar

This Cocktail Garnish is Saving Time, Money – and the Planet

7 reasons why dehydrated cocktail garnishes are awesome

We’re always looking for better ways of doing things. Every step we can take – no matter how small – to make things simpler, more efficient, more beautiful, etc., has a compound effect on our profitability and joy.

 

If you’ve ever been in the middle of a 10 cocktail rush, and thought to yourself “F*&#, I really wish I didn’t have to cut this lime wheel right now,” or “Gee whiz, this an inconvenient time for me to be making an apple fan” that’s because the smarter version of yourself was screaming at you: “this is inefficient — there’s a better way!”

 

Well, it’s time for this tom-foolery to stop, and for you to listen to that smarter version of yourself. Dehydrated cocktail garnishes are part of the answer, and here’s why… 

 

 

  1. They save you the time of having to cut / prepare a cocktail garnish a la minute

 

 

That’s right, instead of cutting and peeling (often adding an extra 10-20 seconds to your chit time), you get to reach, grab, and elegantly place on top.

 

Over the long run, that’s enough extra time to turn a busy shift from Un-Happy Hour into a relaxed and controlled experience for yourself, and your customers.

 

You’ll have freed up time that you can then use to keep conversations going, help out your teammates, and generally look like a pro.

 

 

2. They reduce waste by ensuring that every part of the fruit gets used (particularly in the case of citrus)

 

 

Let’s use lime and lemon wheels, for example…

 

Many of the bartenders I’ve seen waste a good chunk of the fruit on either side of their citrus wheels. While the fruit wastage adds up over a shift, each individual piece isn’t quite big enough to juice, or to turn into another garnish.

 

Even if they do intend to save it for juicing later, it usually ends up in the compost.

 

It’s not laziness – it’s just the path of least resistance. We all take it, it’s in our nature.

 

Dehydrated garnishes are a way of providing a positive path of least resistance, while also eliminating waste.

 

I’ve never seen anyone eliminate waste entirely from their bar, but having garnishes that you can prep ahead of time, and not have to ditch at the end of a shift, goes a very long way.

 

 

3. They look beautiful 

 

 

Ever heard the expression ‘people drink with their eyes’? It’s true – the better your drinks look, the more your customers will enjoy them. 

 

Again, using citrus as an example, the dehydration process darkens the fruit itself quite significantly. This can provide a dramatic, intriguing contrast against your drinks, allowing you to play with really interesting colour combinations – think foams, or darkly coloured combinations of liquids.

 

4. You can dehydrate, well, anything as a cocktail garnish

 

 

So let your creativity go wild! For example, in our Taste of Canada Cocktail Masterclass, one of our current drinks features dehydrated beef (aka beef jerky):

 

 

It’s a great way to get yourself, or your teammates, excited – especially if you’ve been pumping out the same drinks list for a while. Grabbing a bunch of dehydrated garnishes and throwing some ideas around the bar can really reinvigorate a team, and bring them closer together.

 

After all, variety is the spice of life – so spice it up! (Did someone just say ‘dehydrated chilis’…?)

 

 

5. Dehydrated cocktail garnishes last a very long time

 

 

Prepping garnishes ahead of a shift is a no-brainer for saving time – but can you nail down the exact amount you’re going to use, every time? If so, you’re basically Nostradamus. 

 

There are two outcomes when you pre-prep your garnishes: you underestimate, and get caught short-handed – usually in the middle of the unexpected rush that caused you to underestimate in the first place.

 

Or, you overestimate – and either end up with soggy (or dried out) citrus in your customer’s glass, and/or a compost full of expensive fruit. It’s not just the fruit itself – it’s the labour that went into cutting, storing, and tossing it.

 

Dehydrating your garnishes means they become a lot more shelf stable.They won’t last forever, but they DO give you a much wider margin for error when you’re trying to forecast your sales, and prep accordingly.  

 

 

6. Dehydrated cocktail garnishes let you control cost-per-garnish

 

 

Good bartenders are pretty darned close to perfect humans – but we’re still not machines. One person’s cuts are inevitably thicker or thinner than the next. That makes it next to impossible to accurately assign a cost-per-garnish amount to your finished drinks. 

 

When you buy dehydrated garnishes, if they’re not ‘by the piece’ then the containers usually come with an ‘average contents’ statement – both will give you the ability to nail down your per-unit costing, and manage your inventory with ease. 

 

 

7. Dehydrated citrus holds aromatics more effectively 

 

 

When you strip the water out of anything, it usually intensifies the remaining ingredients. Garnishes are no different. 

 

We’re talking about aromas, mostly – we’ve found that in terms of flavour, they don’t offer much of a boost. But the increased aromas that they impart can be used to a bartender’s advantage. (And they are still completely edible, just in case an overenthusiastic patron decides to mow down on one.)

 

For the real pros, you can also rest assured that a customer won’t squeeze a wheel or wedge of lemon or lime into their cocktail, throwing out the balance you’ve worked so hard to create.

 

Dehydrated garnishes have a ton of benefits – with a really wide range of applications. There’s so much to learn about which fruits and vegetables you can dehydrate, and the best ways to use them. If your curiosity has been piqued, come check out Nimble Bar School – we’ll up your bar game, whether you’re a home enthusiast or aspiring professional.


New Student in Bartending School

By thenimblebar

Bartending School: Should You Sign Up?

Before you decide whether bartending school is for you, ask yourself these important questions.

If you’re researching bartending schools, you’ll likely find that there are a lot of opinions out there about whether or not they are worthwhile.

 

Here are 3 great articles that most soundly make the argument to not go:

 

  1. Bartending School Scams: The Facts They Don’t Want You To Know
  2. Ask Your Bartender: Bartending Schools
  3. Should Aspiring Bartenders Go To Bartending School?

 

Go ahead and read those, and then let’s talk about why bartending school may – or may not – be a good fit for you.

 

While the above articles persuasively make their cases, they’re still ‘opinion pieces’ that look at the argument through a single lens — the lens of the writer.

 

This of course doesn’t represent reality – or you.

 

When it comes down to it, bartending school isn’t for everyone. But, depending on your personal situation, it might be a perfect fit for you.

 

One caveat before moving forward: many bartending schools are to be avoided. It’s actually the reason we created the Nimble Bar School. This article assumes that you’re considering a high-quality bartending school.

 

Like anything in life, it all comes down to the lens through which you see bartending – how will it fit into your life? In other words: we need to consider its context.

 

We get a ton of different inquiries from a wide range of people all looking at the same situation, but in a different context. The following questions are the ones that come up most frequently, and how we recommend moving forward.

 

Again – it all depends on your particular lens.

 

Lens #1: I desperately need a job and bartending school will help me get it.

Should you go to bartending school? No.

 

Go read this article, apply the lessons, and simply get a job. You don’t need bartending school to get a job – you just need a bit of strategy and persistence. 

 

Bartending school is for people who want to raise the bar (see what I did there?) in their profession. People who want to achieve a level of greatness that elevates them above the average.

 

At the Nimble Bar School, we ask our candidates if they seek to be excellent bartenders. We do this because of two universal truths:

 

  1. The way you show up to do one thing is how you show up to do all things
  2. The pursuit of excellence is what leads to fulfillment

 

If you just want a place to show up to that pays you enough to get by then ‘no’ – bartending school won’t get you any closer to your goals.

 

Lens #2: I’m already a bartender and I want to improve.

Should you go to bartending school? Yes.

 

A professionally-run bartending school will have instructors who have made it to the ‘next level’ of their craft. While they can definitely get a new bartender off to the races, the nuanced skills they can pass along will help elevate even very experienced bartenders to a high-performance level.

 

(It’s important that you let the bartending school know about your goals and experience before you sign up. Not all schools have the same programs – some focus on fundamentals, which may leave you retreading steps you’ve already learned. That’s not good for you or for your instructors.)

 

Lens #3: I’m a home bartender and want to improve.

Should you go to bartending school? Well, why not…?

 

If bartending is strictly a hobby for you, why not go somewhere that you can rub shoulders with other enthusiastic home bartenders? You know how fun it is to get a group of friends together and wow them with pro techniques and tips – imagine being in a room full of people who love doing the same thing.

 

It’s a great way to up your game with some healthy competition, and there’s a high chance you’ll find people – ie, ‘future friends’ – who share your interests and enthusiasm.

 

Lens #4: I have long-term financial goals, and I see bartending as a fun way to help me reach those goals.

Should you go to bartending school? Yes.

 

Focus goes a long way. If you have set financial goals in mind, bartending can be a great way to help you realize them – and if you learn the craft well, it can get you there quickly.

 

Fast-track your learning by getting one-on-one professional coaching. You could save a little money by starting at the bottom, and working your way up. But if you want to achieve your goals fast, a good bartending school is the way to go.

 

Lens #5: I’m already a student and I would like to bartend my way through school.

Should you go to bartending school? Yes

 

This is ‘probably’ a yes – unless you just want to cash a paycheck and not think too much about what you have to do to get it.

 

BUT – it’s ‘definitely’ a yes, if…

 

  • You’re drawn to the culture of bartending
  • You can see yourself enjoyably bartending for a number of years
  • You’re ready to apply yourself to bartending with as much drive and energy as your other studies.

 

The only reason why bartending school – and bartending in general – wouldn’t be a great fit for you, is if you already feel like it’s just ‘a means to an end.’ If you consider your role as a bartender ‘just a job’ you’ll get by cashing a paycheck and going through the motions, but if you want to really excel, you’ll need to be driven by more than just covering your bills.

 

If you’re a student, you already understand that sometimes you need to invest in yourself to make long-term gains. That same mentality makes you a perfect fit for a bartending school.

 

Lens #6: I’d like to go to bartending school to see if bartending is for me.

Should you go to bartending school? Yes.

 

Do you have what it takes to work the pine, as a pro? There are a few ways to find out. But some are more awkward than others.

 

Having an instructor offer personal and immediate feedback is a rapid-fire way to test yourself, and your skills, in a safer environment than the heat of the battle (like 7pm on a Friday with the lineup out the door.) You’ll get honest feedback without pissing off your employer, co-workers or guests.

 

Lens #7: Just by showing up to bartending school, I will automatically be a great bartender.

Should you go to bartending school? Yes, but not so fast…

 

You’ll learn a lot, and up your bartending game – and yes, there’s a chance you’ll develop the skills to become a great barkeep. But remember: a chance isn’t a guarantee. Even the best bartenders have honed their craft over time. And there’s nothing automatic about that.

 

On the flipside, if you do have the desire to be a great bartender, you’re already part of the way to becoming one. A professional instructor will be able to answer that burning question for you: Do I have what it takes to be one of the greats? You might end up surprising yourself with what you can accomplish in a short time.

 

Lens #8: Bartending school will entitle me to better jobs.

Should you go to bartending school? No.

 

Can bartending school prepare you for better jobs? Absolutely. Does it entitle you to better jobs? That’s a hard ‘no.’

 

Even the best of the best know, if you want to get ahead in the bartending world, you’ll need to check your ego. Not forget who you are, or hide your true personality – but the idea that you deserve something just for putting in a few hours and handing over a few bucks – that’s a bit of a stretch.

 

If you’re willing to use the tools given to you during your bartending course, to further your skills and improve your technique, then over time you’re far more likely to get your dream bartending gig – because you will have earned it. A great bartending school will put you on the right path, right out of the gate.

 

After you’ve decided which lens best describes your expectations of a bartending school, you can safely make up your mind about whether or not it’s going to be your best course of action.

 

(Spoiler alert: not all bartending schools are created equal. In fact, we only recommend two in the world: Nimble Bar School and European Bartender School)


By Nimble Bar Company

The Nightcall Negroni

The Nightcall Negroni

First, make sure to source your ingredients using human power. Don’t you dare drive to the store. Walk, run, or bike, only, please. Second, only purchase the freshest, most organically organic ingredients possible. Third, mix your drink in the rays of the sun on a peaceful green.

Recipe:

Shake over ice, serve neat. Garnish with cucumber and celery leaf.

Liked this video? Don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube and share! And check out our other custom cocktail recipes.


By thenimblebar

The Hidden Benefits of Cocktail Making Classes

9 reasons why cocktail making classes will give you more confidence, boost your social skills, and help you become a culinary genius

 

There’s no question that the ability to make a great drink is a seductive quality. Look no further than the likes of Don Draper and Ryan Gosling to see that making a great drink is a worthy pursuit.

 

 

Even James Bond and the iconic Vesper martini cocktail has massive sex appeal (and he didn’t even make it, he just knew what he wanted).

 

Want to take a deep dive in the Martini cocktail? Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Martinis.

 

And if all you could get out of making a great drink was to win the affection of your partner’s father, or someone you’re courting, that’d be pretty great, wouldn’t it?

 

But in this article, we’re going to share the 9 hidden benefits of cocktail making classes and what they can do for you…

 

  1. Cocktail making classes help you gain more confidence

 

There’s something about being able to make a damn tasty drink and confidently put it in front of someone that really puts a bit of a spring in your step.

 

Think about what most people do — they play around with some ingredients, hope for the best, and tentatively slide it in front of you with a pleading look in their eyes that says “please like it, please like it, please like it.”

 

And maybe that’s you, too. But after taking a cocktail making class, you’ll know that you’re putting a super-tasty, balanced and technically-perfect experience in front of them.

 

You’ll dish-out Maple Bourbon Sours with the authority and confidence of Thor himself wielding the mighty Mjolnir!

 

 

2. Develop your palate so that you can identify flavours that others cannot

 

Spirits and cocktails give us a fascinating lens through which we can look at history, geography, myths and legends…

 

But most folks don’t know about all that stuff…It’s kinda like each bottle is ‘locked’ and you’ll need a key to make it come to life – and create an experience that’s richer than just the drink itself.

 

If you can be the person who can reveal these wonders to your friends and family, you’ll help them see something they couldn’t before, and that’s pretty cool.

 

Cocktail making classes help you to understand the history behind spirits – the traditions that have influenced these drinks, shaping them into what we know today. There’s usually a lot more to them than just how their flavours pair together.

 

3. Get new ideas so that you can ‘wow’ your pals and lovers

 

This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but I’m going to go ahead and demonstrate 6 ideas that you could steal from one picture, alone.

 

Check out these 5 drinks that one of our students, Sarah, helped us make in our Taste of Canada Cocktail Masterclass (they’ve already been sampled, so they aren’t as picture-perfect as they were when they were first made.)

  1. Infuse spirits with fresh and seasonal ingredients to instantly put your own spin on a classic cocktail (this is bing cherry-infused gin.)
  2. Make your own sugar or salt by using a mortar and pestle with dried herbs and botanicals (we’re using douglas grand fir tips, here.)
  3. Experiment with salty ingredients to make something totally unique and savoury (we infused Alberta whisky with Alberta beef jerky.)
  4. There are tons of cool patterns available on paper straws. Use them because they’re environmentally friendly and they add a nice crafty pop to your tall and refreshing cocktails.
  5. Egg white cocktails allow us to play with the weights of different ingredients. Try floating red-wine between the egg white foam on top and the mixed cocktail on the bottom (this is inspired by the New York Sour cocktail.)
  6. Use some pyrotechnics in your cocktails by toasting Angostura bitters in the glass, and then coat the glass with the fiery bitters to give your cocktail a more pronounced warming winter spiced note.

 

And that’s just from one picture. Imagine how much more you could get from an actual cocktail making class!

 

4. Meet new people and make new friends

 

When it comes to meeting new people, you could do what everybody else does and go to networking events.

 

They’re generally pretty stuffy, and the odds of meeting someone who shares your interests – inside or outside of work – are fairly slim.

 

You know why a cocktail making class is a great place to meet people?

 

Because cool people go to cocktail making classes.

 

People who want to better their skills in a field that has serious street cred. They’re generally highly-motivated, adventurous, FUN people – and who doesn’t want to hang with those kinds of people?  

 

 

5. Take a step outside of your comfort zone

 

It takes courage to step up behind the bar and learn a new skill in front of strangers.

 

It’s risky — you could totally mess it up, your hands will probably be shaky, your creativity will be put on the spot, and you’ll probably look clumsy and awkward.

 

And that’s where the magic happens. As the old saying goes: “Comfort is the enemy of achievement.”

 

You’ll see first-hand just how quickly you can improve – and you’ll be doing it with the support of new friends, who want you to succeed because they’re up next!

 

Also – when was the last time you tried a new flavour? You’ll get exposed to a bunch of exciting spirits and mixers that you’ve never even tasted – how cool is that? Your new favourite ingredient might be just around the corner.

 

It just takes a quick trip outside of your comfort zone!

 

6. Learn how to take a culinary approach to making cocktails, and pair cocktails with food

 

90% of bars in the world are still making cocktails with mass-produced ingredients, and dated techniques.

 

The few bars that are applying a culinary approach to their cocktails — sourcing inspiration from the kitchen — are creating mind-opening experiences for their guests.

 

And you know what’s awesome about that? You can do it easily, too.

 

As you explore the relationship between culinary approaches and cocktails, you’ll see synergies between the drinks you create and the dishes you serve.

 

Cocktail making classes will allow you to learn modern, innovative techniques (that can be dead simple to implement), making you look and feel like a culinary genius.

 

8. Have a date? Woo them with a cocktail making class

 

We get it. It’s not always easy coming up with the perfect date idea. We’re usually left with the same old tired options — dinner? Drink? Movie?

 

There’s nothing wrong with those, but they could be greatly enhanced by just one little je ne sais quois put into the mix.

 

Y’know, like a cocktail making class.

 

Here are just a few of the reasons cocktail making classes are perfect to add to your date itinerary…

 

  • Take the pressure off of both of you, while allowing you to actually engage with one another…
  • See how the other interacts in new situations…
  • Gives you both an opportunity to be a little vulnerable (remember the part above about stepping outside your comfort zone?)…
  • Creates a shared, multi-sensory, experience (the more senses that are stimulated, the more powerful the memory)…
  • There are plenty of magic moments of joy. I mean, just look at exuberance of one of our students when stirring a cocktail:
  • What are some other reasons? Let us know in the comments!

 

9. Have an event? Let your guests shake things up

 

Events are not unlike dates, but instead of one-on-one, they’re one-to-many.

 

The relationship between the event host and the guests is very real.

 

So, just like in the dating game, everyone wants to create a unique, differentiating experience.

 

Cocktail making classes are a perfect and affordable option to ‘shake it up’ (literally) and give your guests an experience they’ll talk about for years.

 

Interested in attending or booking a cocktail making class? Contact us today to find out how.

 


By thenimblebar

How to Become a Bartender that Any Bar in the World Will Hire (+ Free Script for Job Applicants)

Wondering how to become a bartender that anyone will want to hire? Simple. Develop the attitude that the best of the best will always want on their team

If you read our recent article on how to get a bartending job, you probably noticed that all 3 of the bar managers we interviewed unanimously said attitude is the most important quality they look at when considering candidates.

 

(btw, if you haven’t read that article and you’re looking for actionable strategies to help you become a bartender and land your dream job, go read it now).

 

Becoming a bartender that any bar in the world will hire is really about one thing:

 

Becoming the kind of person that any bar in the world will hire.

 

While that might sound a tad simplistic, continuously working on your attitude and character will transfer to (and enhance) all aspects of your life — and any bar in the world would be dying to have you as a result.

 

We’ve put together 4 steps that you can take today to do this.  

 

But first…

 

Think about why the owner of an establishment would want to hire someone with an amazing attitude. It’s because these people:

 

  • Attract better regulars (and keep them in their seats)
  • Attract the best team members who want to help the business grow
  • Are great to work with because they’re fun, supportive, and eager
  • Improve the culture of their establishment so that everyone is more aligned, excited, and happy
  • And more…

 

So, without further ado, these are the 4 ways you can develop your mindset to help you become the bartender (and person) that any bar in the world will hire.

 

How to Become The Ultimately Employable Bartender: A Simple Guide to Unchain Your Potential

Part 1: Cultivate a growth mindset

 

In her book, Mindset, Carol Dweck uncovers how cultivating a growth mindset can lead to success.

 

As she describes it, our mindset can strongly “affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting it”, whether it’s done consciously, or not.

 

In her book, she asks “what are the consequences of thinking that your intelligence or personality is something you can develop, as opposed to something that is a fixed, deep-seated trait?”

 

An interesting question, especially when put into the context of becoming a bartender. To answer it, start by asking yourself if any of the following sound familiar to you:

 

  • I like to stick to what I know
  • I haaate being challenged — I know my shit
  • I can’t do much to change my abilities; I’m either good at it, or I’m not

 

If these feel familiar, then take note: they are all telltale indicators of a fixed mindset. And the problem is that most bar owners are growth-oriented — they want their business and their culture to grow.

 

So if you find that you generally have a fixed mindset, it’s time to begin adopting some new ways of thinking.

 

 

(Bonus: growth mindsets perform extremely well in interview situations. This means that if you have a growth mindset, there’s little preparation you’ll need to do for your interview other than do some research on the establishment, and be yourself. Pretty cool, huh?)

 

Here are some growth-mindset antidotes to the fixed-mindset examples above:

 

  • I’m excited to try new things
  • Challenges are great! They help me to grow
  • I can learn to do whatever the heck I want (and to that we add, you can do it to a level of excellence)

 

Carol Dweck has created a test on her website, if you want to see where your mindset’s at.

 

And here’s a helpful graphic from Nigel Holmes:

Part 2: Get clear on what you want

 

“The discipline of desire is the background of character” — John Locke

 

When you get clear on what the big, juicy desire is that you have in your life, things begin to organize themselves so that you can achieve the things that you’re after.

 

But there’s a catch:

 

In our culture, it’s actually very rare for us to be able to articulate what it is we really want — it feels  greedy, or selfish, to talk about those things.

 

The flip-side?

 

Thinking big actually inspires others to do the same.

 

Now you might be wondering, “Okay, but what does this have to do with my question of how to become a better bartender?’

 

Well, look at it this way:

 

At The Nimble Bar School, we ask our students to do a goal-setting exercise that acts as a springboard for those who haven’t thought much about what they really want.

 

It’s important because we teach our students not to think of bartending as means to a small end (like paying the bills), but as part of a powerful arsenal that will help them get to a great big end (like their dream home, career, lifestyle freedom, or something else that’s really worth pursuing).

 

If you can realize exactly how bartending can fit into your big picture, you’ll be more motivated to see it through to whatever success looks like for you.

 

Remember: if you add just one bartending shift a week to your work-life, that’s an average of an extra $220.00 per week (or $11,440 per year). If you save and invested that for 4 years, you’d have approximately $50,000.00 saved — more than enough for a down payment on a house, startup capital, debt repayment, etc.

 

Want to get a head start on your bartending goals? Contact us today and find out how we can help.

 

Part 3: Develop the muscle of alacrity

 

Ala-whut?

 

That was my initial reaction too. But for anyone wondering how to become a bartender of world-class proportions, alacrity is key.

 

To explain alacrity (and how it applies to becoming a bartender) let’s take a gander at this classic quote:

 

“I do the very best I know how — the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”

— Abraham Lincoln

 

‘Honest Abe’ said that when he was 6 months into his presidency.

 

It sounds kinda like something you’d read in a children’s book, yet it was said by the most powerful person in the world, at the time.

 

This is what alacrity sounds like. You just keep cheerfully doing the very best you can.

 

Here’s the definition of alacrity:

 

Alacrity: promptness of response : cheerful readiness : eager willingness

 

This is the attitude that got Abraham Lincoln to the White House, and it’s the attitude that gets many others where they want to go in the world.

 

Here are two practical ways you can effectively apply an attitude of alacrity today:

 

  1. Practice enthusiasm and cheerfulness using one simple mechanism: smiling

  2. Proactively solve a business problem and present your proposed solutions to someone who will find great relief in your initiative

 

Want a cool way to demonstrate this proactivity, that could easily land you a bartending gig at your dream bar? Dream up 3 big ideas that will help that bar improve its business, and send one to the owner (without expectation of anything in return).

 

Here are some word-for-word examples of 3 big ideas:

 

  1. Your drinks are AMAZING. I’m wondering how many hours per week are spent prepping all the ingredients that go into those drinks? In a bar I’ve worked at previously, we delegated our prep to the kitchen team – it saved tons of hours of labour, and produced even better ingredients.
  2. You have a super impressive/expansive back bar. Lots of inventory! I imagine it could be quite challenging for new staff to learn about. Have you thought about cataloguing some of the top selling spirits from each category with evocative descriptors that will help them sell these products with more confidence (and speed)? I’d be happy to help.
  3. Your cocktail presentations are OUTSTANDING. In my experience, taking a culinary approach to cocktails can lead to quite a bit of waste (particularly in the citrus department). Have you experimented with dehydrated garnishes? Some wonderful examples I’ve used are lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, candied ginger, rose buds, and more. They look beautiful, last forever, and the best part? Waaay less waste. If you’d like me to source some dehydrated garnishes for you to test, let me know.

 

If you want to see a word-for-word script of a successful email that I sent to a bar owner, get free instant access here.

 

You could, over time, even send 3 separate emails with each idea. I assure you that if you do this a few times, you will get your foot in the door.

 

(I believe in this tactic so much that I’ll offer you a guarantee: if you try this and don’t see success, send me an email and I’ll personally help you).

 

Part 4: Be other-focused (aka lose your ego)

 

This one is simple, but not easy.

 

Thing is, it’s absolutely essential to get right if you want to become a bartender that a-heeeeenyone would want to hire.

 

Why, you ask? Put simply: working in the service industry means you gotta prioritise those you’re serving (err… duh). 

 

Hey, we know as well as anyone who’s worked behind the wood that it’s easy to succumb to emotional reactions when a customer complains their drink “isn’t strong enough” (or whatever it may be in a given scenario.) But there’s a big difference between standing your ground when necessary, and overreacting when your ego feels threatened.

 

Training your ego to take a back seat is a sure-fire way to put you on track to becoming a stellar bartender (and an awesome person to work alongside, too).

 

There are two specific ways you can practice the art of losing your ego:

 

  1. Think about what you can give, instead of what’s in it for you

 

When cultivating the traits needed to help you become an awesome bartender, you should always be thinking about what you can do for the establishment and the people who work there.

 

Start by asking yourself questions like:

 

‘How can I enrich their lives?’ and ‘what can I give them?’

 

This circles back to our earlier point about scoping out ways to improve the business (remember our examples about inventory, dehydrated stock, and getting prep support from the kitchen? If not, refresh your memory up above!).

 

Always be on the lookout for ways you can create value for your team. Because doing this well makes you valuable to them — which will end up far better for you in the long run than simply prioritizing your short term gains.

 

2. Think about how you can listen more

 

Most folks think bartenders are talkers, but a seriously good bartender is one who has mastered the art of listening.

 

As Ryan Holiday — master of ego-squashing — so eloquently put it:

 

“And that’s what is so insidious about talk. Anyone can talk about himself or herself. Even a child knows how to gossip and chatter. Most people are decent at hype and sales. So what is scarce and rare? Silence. The ability to deliberately keep yourself out of the conversation and subsist without its validation. Silence is the respite of the confident and the strong.”

 

Yep, the old adage that silence is golden is as relevant behind the bar as it is anywhere else.

 

And you know what?

 

It’s not only the silence that’s golden, but also the space you create for your customers to do the talking. After all, what’s better than a good chit-chat to unload the stresses of the day? It’ll make your patrons feel at home, at ease, and excited to come back to see you again.

 

The best bars in the world will be proud to have you representing them – if you remember to practice these skills:

 

  1. Develop your ‘growth-mindset.’
  2. Be clear with yourself about your goals.
  3. Remember: Alacrity.
  4. Ditch the ego.

 

These are the differences between a decent bartender, and a Master of their Craft. Which side of that equation do you fall on? It’s your call – and it’s never too late to switch sides.

 


How to get a bartending job

By thenimblebar

How to get a job as a bartender (even if you have no skills, knowledge, or experience)

Bar managers explain why they’ve hired new bartenders who had no experience in the past and how you can get hired using this counter-intuitive strategy.

 

If you read our recent bar terminology 101 blog, you know that we take our bar schooling seriously. But how does one actually get a job as a bartender?

 

Many would-be bartenders don’t go after their dream bartending job (or even any bartending job) because they don’t feel like they have the right experience. That’s the wrong reason to pass up your dream gig, and we spoke with 3 bar managers to show you that it IS possible to get a job as a bartender with few bartending skills or credentials.

 

In fact, if you apply the right mix of the four strategies we’re about to describe, it’s actually very likely that you will get hired with little to no experience.

 

Want to accelerate your bartending prowess? Learn more about the Nimble Bar School here.

 

The Four Strategies

 

  1. The simple 10-bar hitlist strategy

  2. Rapport before resume

  3. Take a supporting role

  4. Persistent follow up

Introducing our expert bar managers

 

Shawn Soole

 

 

Shawn Soole, a 20-year hospitality veteran and award-winning bartender, has managed bars from chain restaurants like Moxie’s to internationally-recognized craft cocktail bars. He’s even opened two of his own successful bars in Victoria, BC.

 

He currently heads the bar at Victoria, B.C.’s iconic Pagliacci’s Restaurant and is the primary consultant at his hospitality management company, Soole Hospitality Concepts.

 

Want to become a bartender? Shawn says, “Personality and work ethic trump everything else.”

 

Simon Ogden

 

 

Considered by many in the bartending community to be a sage wizard, there isn’t much that Simon Ogden hasn’t seen in his 30-year bartending and managing tenure.

 

From being shot at in early 90s nightclubs, to running community-building bartender bootcamps, Simon is an endless source of insight for the bartenders he mentors.

 

Want to become a bartender? Keep this piece of Simon Wisdom in your back pocket:

 

“My hiring philosophy could neatly be summed up by ‘hire attitude, train skill,’ really, and to be honest I’ve found bartenders who came in with deeply embedded and intractable opinions on the ‘right’ way to tend bar to be comparatively difficult to work with.”

 

Brant Porter

 

 

As an ambitious youngster in the world of hospitality, Brant knew that he’d have to make some big leaps to get him closer to his goals.

 

He grew up in his family’s restaurant and already had a lot of the tools he needed to move up fast. But he still had to apply those tools. At age 24, he took on the role of bar manager at Victoria’s esteemed Veneto Cocktail Bar & Tapa Lounge.

 

Want to become a bartender, Brant says, “making drinks is by far the easiest part of bartending, so attitude is 100%.”

 

Okay, so now that we know the importance of attitude, we asked these bar managers to help us put together actionable strategies and tactics to help you in your dream bartending job search.

 

Shawn, Simon, and Brant are going to let us in on how they would get a job if they were starting from scratch with no skills, knowledge, or experience.

 

Part I: The simple 10-Bar Hitlist Strategy

 

There’s a very simple reason why the 10 Bar Hitlist Strategy works: it’s the opposite of what 99.9% of people do.

 

Most people don’t get the bartending job they want because they rely on hope. They use hope as a strategy by popping into a bar or restaurant with a (usually lackluster) resume, strike up a conversation with the manager, and simply hope for the best.

 

 

Worse still, they often show up awkwardly at busy times during the day, and so their resume ends up in the trash.

 

But you’re reading this article, which means you’re a smart cookie. Use this strategy to differentiate yourself and get the bartending job you want.

 

Step 0: Polish your resume and make it professional.

 

This article isn’t about resume writing, and you probably wouldn’t read it if it were. But, if you want to work as a bartender, you need to give your resume a little shine. Here’s how…

 

Make an investment in your resume that will pay for itself in half a bartending shift.

 

Go to UpWork or Fiverr and find a resume writer who can help you craft a resume that will pack a punch.

 

If you absolutely can’t afford to spend any money on professional help (you’d better be living in a cardboard box and eating Cup O’ Noodles to convince me you can’t afford the investment), here are two simple ways you can improve your resume on your own:

 

  1. Ask three people you respect to give you objective feedback on your resume. Even better if they’re hospitality professionals.
  2. Use a resume template. There are tons out there.

Step 1: List your 10 dream bars you’d love to work at.

 

By simply writing down where you’d like to work, you’re giving yourself a clear framework that will help guide your efforts.

 

With this list you avoid aimlessly walking into any and every bar that you happen upon, and you give yourself a better chance of ending up with a job you’re really excited about.

 

Get the same 10 Bar Hitlist Strategy spreadsheet that we give our students

 

The names of your 10 dream bars

 

Start by gathering the names of the 10 bars you would most like to work at.

 

This list might take some time to develop because it requires research. Try to visit the bars you think you’d want to work at. You could simply write down bars you’ve heard of, but you’ll get a much better idea of whether or not you’d want to work at any of them by going in person and experiencing it first hand.

 

Ask around.

 

And don’t stop at one bar. A key point of this strategy is that you have several bars you’re going to work on to increase your odds of getting a job. If you don’t know ten different bars, that’s ok. Do some searching (be it online, on foot, or in local magazines and guides) and ask everyone you can. You’ll get there.

 

When you visit, ask yourself some questions…

 

  • Do the staff seem happy?
  • Does it seem like there’s a good sense of ‘team’?
  • Does the bar seem well-managed (i.e. is everything under control? Cool, calm, and collected?)
  • Would I be proud to work here?

 

Take the time to imagine what it would be like to spend an entire 8-10 hour shift working at this bar, with these people.

 

Step 2: Research each bar in detail.

Research its history and what it’s trying to accomplish.

 

Simon says that when getting the bartending job you want, it’s important to leave preconceptions about how things are done at the door. That’s why we research.

 

Every manager and restaurant owner has a vision for the establishment. You can find out what they’re trying to do through visiting their website, observing the ambience of the establishment, or simply striking up a conversation with the staff.

 

If you can show that you’ve taken the time to learn about an establishment (especially before speaking with the hiring bar manager), you’ll quickly set yourself apart from other candidates.

 

When you show a manager or owner that you know who they are, why they do what they do, and what makes them unique, you communicate that, for you, they are the only pebble on the beach (they’re the one and only bar you’re willing to work at).

 

This type of knowledge is also massively helpful because it shows you’re serious about adding value to their establishment and becoming part of something bigger than yourself. Most applicants sound like they’re just looking for a job, any job, and they don’t really care.

An example:

 

Let’s say I wanted to work at Canon in Seattle (#6 on the World’s 50 Best Bars), I would start by checking out their website to get an overall feel.

 

 

Okay, so there are 4,000 spirits in their current collection. If you want to work here, now you know what else you need to study (spirits, bar lingo, and, of course, essential classic cocktails).

 

Want to fast-track your bartending knowledge? Learn more about the Nimble Bar School here.

 

Next I’d look to social media to find out what they’re up to currently. Do they host events? What’s the tone of their posts? Humorous? Ironic? Sarcastic? Do they feature seasonal items or specials? This will help you get acquainted with what they’re focusing on right now

 

As of the writing of this article, our target bar, Canon, recently posted about a Maker’s Mark collaboration:

 

 

Pretty cool! Here are some things you can say about this project to your point of contact that will help you set yourself apart in conversation.

 

  • “Such a cool project! How do you think this whiskey contrasts with other MM products?”
  • “That Maker’s Mark collaboration is awesome. How many bottles of that did you have made?”
  • “Are those the different types of wood and char levels attached to the bottle? Wowie. That’s really smart.”

 

You don’t need to blow their mind with your knowledge, you’re simply expressing interest and knowledge, seeking common ground, and building rapport.

 

A quick note: When you compliment, make sure it’s authentic and sincere. Don’t say something is cool or awesome if you don’t believe it. People can tell.

 

Step 3: Research the key contacts at each bar.

 

The next step in the hitlist strategy is to write down the name of the primary point of contact for each of your ten bars.

 

If you find the names of additional points of contact in the process, just add them to additional rows to your spreadsheet. Sometimes you won’t get ahold of the primary contact, so it’s helpful to have another option.

 

The primary point of contact is whoever is responsible for hiring for the bar. A secondary point of contact is anyone else in the establishment who can say they know you (whether a bartender, server, host, or otherwise)….

 

Simon makes this suggestion for reaching the primary point of contact:

 

  • Ask for whoever does the hiring for the bar—not the day manager, not the bartender on shift, not the restaurant manager if the bar manager does the hiring, it’s “please may I speak to whomever is in charge of hiring for the bar.”
  • If the answer is “they’re not here right now,” the return is “no problem, when’s a good time to catch them, and by the way, what’s their name?”
  • Then come back until you can shake that particular hand.

 

Which brings us to…

 

Part 2: Rapport before resume.

 

I know, I know. We just told you earlier to work on your resume. And you need to. But your resume isn’t your strategy. Yes, it needs to look professional. A professional resume is a necessary formality, but a killer resume, by itself, won’t get you the bartending job.

 

Remember what Brant said, “Attitude is 100%!” Your resume can only communicate, like, 5% attitude.

When it comes to rapport, most people shoot themselves in the foot…

 

Most people approach their job search as a means to an end. They need the job, but the employer certainly doesn’t need them.

 

As a result, most people come across as needy. It’s like they’re saying “I’m helpless, and you have to help me.”

 

Humans are hard-wired to avoid neediness. You’ve felt this before: A needy friend or stranger seems nice but kind of creeps you out or turns you off. When you approach a potential employer with an air of desperation, they feel the same way.

 

Here are three beliefs I’ve adopted that have helped me when looking for jobs (it’s helped me in life in general too):

 

  • “I’m the expert bartender, and I’m the prize.”

 

This gives me the confidence I need to approach any person and any situation. Even if I’m not at the expert level, I still say to myself, “This bar would be lucky to have me.”

 

  • “I will be genuinely curious about the bar, its story, and its people.”

 

This shows humility and an eager willingness to find common ground with the bar and its people. This attitude attracts people to you. If you can demonstrate this in conversation with your point of contact, they will trust that you will do the same with your colleagues and guests.

 

  • “I’m looking for this relationship to be a win-win, and I’m looking for a good fit. We’re both in this together.”

 

When you demonstrate through your words that you actually have the establishment’s best interests in mind, you develop trust, and they might give you the opportunity to prove yourself. Then you can demonstrate that through your actions, build more trust, and rock your dream job.

 

If you cultivate these beliefs and attitude, you can’t help but build rapport with people.

 

Step 4: Go to the first bar on your list and make some friends.

 

The more relationships you cultivate with members of the establishment, the stronger your rapport will be with each individual.

 

So before reaching out to a decision maker, go to the bar and strike up a conversation with your bartender or server. If you already know the bartender or server, make friends with another team member.

 

Before we dive into actionable steps you can take to develop rapport, here’s a rapport-building mindset that you will want to adopt:

 

“He/she who is of few needs, and is easy to serve, swiftly finds rapport.”

— The Buddha said something like this

 

Generally, the best way I’ve found to build rapport with a team member at a hospitality establishment is…

 

  1. Show genuine appreciation for the product they present to you.

 

For example, if someone puts a cocktail in front of me, I’ll enthusiastically say “Ooo! Yummy!” (Might not be your style, and that’s okay–find what works for you).

 

This type of appreciation says, “I’m not a judgy asshole, and I appreciate what you do.”

 

Basically, people will feel safe around you, think you’re cool (or, if you’re like me, kind of a goof).

 

Once they’re warmed up to you and your presence…

 

2. Observe the bartender to see if they’re open to a conversation. See if you can follow their lead.

 

Don’t make any assumptions about your bartender. He or she might not want to talk. Despite the stereotype, not all bartenders are extroverted alphas who want to talk and talk and talk.

 

Also pay attention to how busy they are.

 

3. If you think the bartender is open to chatting, ask a question or two. If not, simply be well-mannered and tip well.

 

Again, I’d ease into the conversation with general, open-ended questions…

 

  • You been bartending for long?
  • Have you worked at other spots in town?

 

If you don’t think the bartender’s up for chatting, come back in a day or two and try again.

 

4. Ask them their name, and shake hands.

 

Asking for someone’s name shows confidence, and it shows you see them as more than a cog in a machine.

 

Do this as early as you can, because the earlier you do it, the more opportunities you’ll have to actually use their name.

 

 

That said, sometimes the most appropriate time might be just as you’re about to leave. Feel it out.

 

5. Actively listen to them. This is the most effective way to demonstrate that you’re genuine.

 

Be engaged — this means that your body language is at attention, it’s alert, and you’re ready to receive whatever they’re saying.

 

Make direct eye contact, and smile with your eyes to show that you’re genuine.

 

Nod at key moments when they’re trying to make a point. Be careful not to nod excessively, though, as this suggests over-eagerness (which is another form of neediness).

 

6. When the time is right, mention your interest in joining their team.

 

You don’t want to push yourself on the establishment, but you don’t want to wait too long before making your intentions clear, either. If the staff you know is warm to you, mention your interest.

 

A great way to seed your interest in a job is to ask a question like, “Working here is actually a dream of mine. How did you end up here? I’d love to be a part of what you’ve got going on.”

 

Finally, ask, “Is there a good person I could send my resume to? Printed or email?” Then, follow their advice! You’re getting closer to getting that job as a bartender at your dream bar!

 

7. Don’t leave yet!

 

Once you’ve got this info, don’t leave. If you leave now, it’ll feel like an insincere transaction to the person you’ve been speaking with. Keep building your relationship before you take off.

 

But when you do drop that resume to that hiring manager, you can say…

 

“[Bartender/server name] suggested I reach out to you about joining your team.”

 

Mention your connection that you made when you finally reach out to the hiring manager. The manager might talk to the bartender about you, and your new friend will have the chance to vouch for your coolness 😎.

 

If you’ve followed all these steps, you’ve just planted the seeds for a real relationship — not a mere transaction.

 

Part 3: Take a supporting role.

 

Since this is your dream bartending job we’re talking about here and not just any old job, you might have to start lower on the org chart than you prefer. If, in your conversations or interview, a staff member says you don’t have the qualifications they need, or they don’t have an opening at the level you want, offer to take a supporting role.

 

Imagine you’re the hiring manager…

 

You’re interviewing someone without much experience and they’re obviously eager to serve, but you don’t want to hand them the keys to the kingdom yet. Then they say, “I’d love to be a part of your establishment; is there anything more entry-level I can do so I can learn the ropes or demonstrate my ethic?”

 

Also, if you can show that you’re actively investing in your own education on your own time, that goes a long way. You don’t expect THEM to teach you everything. You have the drive and initiative to learn on your own. Good sign.

 

How do you feel about the potential hire now? You might feel flattered, or appreciative.

 

Begin actively investing in your bartending education, today.  Become a high-performance bartender with the Nimble Bar School.

 

So now let’s get back to you, the job hunter. If you run into this lack-of-experience obstacle, offer to take a supporting role. Hey, you could even start out bussing tables for a while to build deeper relationships. When shifts get slow, you can pick up some skills behind the bar. Or offer to volunteer a few hours a week to learn new skill sets.

 

The power of offering to stage

 

Another approach you could take–before even mentioning an interest in a job–is requesting to do a stage shift. This is where you work for free as an intern or apprentice so that you can learn from them.

 

This request is best made of the primary point of contact by simply asking, “would it be possible to do a stage shift with you/your head bartender?”

 

This is a great low-barrier and low-commitment way for you to determine whether it’s a good fit, deepen your rapport, and show them your commitment.

 

Pro tip: If you have a great attitude in a stage shift, you’ve set a great foundation for being at the top of the list when there’s an opening at that establishment.

 

Even if they don’t accept your offer to stage, the mere willingness you show by making the offer is powerful. This kind of devotion and determination goes a long way.

 

Part 5: Followup followup followup followup

 

Ok. You’ve built some relationships at the first bar on your list. It’s up to you to keep yourself in their sphere of awareness.There’s a good chance that, if they don’t have a position the first day you show up, they’ll have one in the future. But if you never come back, they’ll forget about you and someone else will get that job you want and already put effort into.

 

 

Keep showing up. Get to know those same people you met the first time you walked into the bar, and then get to know them better. What do they like or dislike? What do they do outside of work? And don’t bring up your job search every single time; it gets annoying. When people feel like you’re interested in them for them, and not just what they have to offer you, they’ll reciprocate the friendship.

 

Now, do the same with the second bar on your list. And then the third.

 

There’s a reason we had you make a list of ten bars instead of just one. You’ve gotta cast a wide net. You might not have months to wait for a job to open up at the number one choice on your list, so you’d better have more than one option.

 

Thankfully, if you’ve followed our advice so far, you’ve got nine more choices! Start again with the second bar and follow the steps above. Then the third bar. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. (I don’t actually know why that’s a saying. Is it cause if you drop the basket all the eggs will be cracked?) Anyway, you get the idea.

 

If you follow these strategies for two bars instead of just one, you double your chances at getting a job as a bartender. Three bars, triple your chances. Four bars… you get the idea!

 

At the same time, you’re actually being intentional about your search. You’ve narrowed the list of dozens of bars in a city down to 10, which allows you to focus your efforts instead of ‘spraying and praying.’

 

Then, when you land your dream job, let us know!

Or reach out to us in the meantime to share your journey or ask for advice. We’re here to help.

 


bartending-terms-spirits

By thenimblebar

The Holy Trinity of Bartending Terms: Nimble’s Simple Framework For Knowing Your Bar Lingo

One of the biggest challenges a new (heck, any) bartender faces is understanding different spirits- and being able to communicate them effectively to a guest.

Sounding like you know what you’re talking about is an important part of being a pro, and it’s our job to educate guests to a point where they ACTUALLY understand what they’re buying, drinking, tasting, and experiencing.

This is how you, as a bartender, can create a high-value experience that your customers will talk about again and again- and eventually come back for.

All too often, bartenders are overloaded with information and jargon — complex flavour profiles, proprietary distillation processes, unicorn-tear ingredients, and so on.

I’ve left many brand seminars wondering what the hell I was supposed to be walking away with; bafflement at how I’d ever repeat anything I’d just heard, and pages of notes- with no clue how to use them.

Am I a dummy?

I used to think so- until I discovered that so many other bartenders felt the same way.

This is why we created The Holy Trinity Of Bartending Terms — a pithy and practical guide to common bartending terms, which will help you quickly (and effectively) communicate spirits, wine, and fortifieds to anyone.

If you can learn the following bartender terminology, you’ll be well on your way to being able to talk about- and sell more of- any spirit on the market.

If bartending was equal to learning the piano, these would be your basic scales:

The framework is structured as follows:

  1. Flavour Note: alcohol terminology to describe the taste
  1. A Production Identifier: Something unique that differentiates the spirit from other categories
  2. Anecdote: An interesting piece of information that you can pass on to your guests to ‘pour concrete’ on your status as an expert

Bartending Terms for Spirits

VODKA

  1. Clean and medicinal
  2. Can be made from anything that has fermentable sugars (distilled to a high proof and then cut down with water)
  3. The name stems from the Russian word ‘woda’ meaning water or, as the Poles would say ‘voda’.

GIN

  1. Dry and herbal
  2. Juniper forward with supporting botanicals perfuming the spirit
  3. Different styles: (Old Tom, London Dry, Plymouth, New Western, Genever)

AQUAVIT

  1. Savoury, herbal
  2. Caraway seed, dill and fennel
  3. Scandinavian equivalent to gin

PISCO

  1. Citrusy & Floral
  2. Made in Chile or Peru (Chile consumes much of its production, where Peru mostly exports)
  3. There are 8 Pisco grapes that can be used for production including Moscatel, Quebranta, and Negra Criolla

BRANDY/COGNAC

  1. Fruity, burnt wine taste
  2. Brandy can be made from distilling any fruit wine. Cognac is usually only made from Ugni Blanc grapes *All Cognacs are brandies, not all brandies are Cognac*
  3. The word “brandy” comes from the Dutch word “brandewijn” which means burnt wine. The Dutch settlers distilled wine they purchased abroad in France to preserve it for the journey home.

GRAPPA

  1. Strong grape must, aromatic, sharp
  2. Made in Italy, (the name Grappa is protected by the EU like Parmigiano Reggiano)
  3. Made of leftover seeds, pulp, skins from pressing wine grapes

ABSINTHE

  1. Strong, Herbal
  2. Green Anise, Florence Fennel, Grande Wormwood
  3. “Louches” when water is added (aromatic oils in the anise go cloudy milky colour)

CACHAÇA

  1. Feisty, sharp, and grassy
  2. Made from strictly the sugarcane juice
  3. The word Cachaca was coined by African slaves working in the colonial sugar mills; it became a staple ration to energize them during grueling work days

RUM

  1. Toasted sugar flavour
  2. Made from distilling sugarcane byproducts like molasses
  3. Due to the hot and humid climate, the Angel’s share (barrel evaporation) in the Caribbean is 3 to 4 times higher than for spirits aged in France or Scotland – which explains the difficulty to keep a rum more than 8 or 10 years.

TEQUILA

  1. Earthy and vegetal, to vanilla/caramel notes
  2. Can be Plata (silver), Reposado (rested), Anejo (aged), or Extra Anejo (over 3 years)
  3. Must be made in Jalisco, Mexico from only blue weber agave. Also, agave is not a cactus; it’s closer to the Yucca or Lily family.

MEZCAL

  1. Smoky, earthy minerality
  2. Agave pinas (hearts) are cooked in underground pits
  3. Made in the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico from any of the 150+ types of agave

Whisk(e)y Terminology

As a general rule-of-thumb, if the country has an ‘E’ in its spelling, then there’s an ‘E’ in the spelling of ‘Whiskey’. E.g. IrEland = Irish Whiskey. Canada = Canadian whisky.

CANADIAN WHISKY

  1. Sweet & spicy
  2. Individual grains (corn/wheat/rye/malted barley) distilled, aged & blended separately
  3. 70 percent of Canadian whiskey is exported to the U.S. Up until 2010, it was the best selling whiskey in the United States for 145 years

IRISH WHISKEY

  1. Honey, hops, green apple flavors
  2. Light
  3. Triple distilled, often in copper pot stills

BOURBON WHISKEY

  1. Fresh Oak (Woody)
  2. Sweet vanilla, leather, spice
  3. Corn heavy mash bill (at least 51% by law)

SCOTCH WHISKEY

  1. Light & Fruity (Speyside) —-> Smokey and/or peaty (Islay)
    1. Note: It’s very useful to come up with a trinity of descriptors for every region in Scotland (highland, lowland, speyside, Islay, etc).
  2. Made with malted barley
  3. Can be single malt (from a single distillery) or blended (multiple distilleries)

BARTENDING TERMS FOR RED WINE

PINOT NOIR

  1. Usually lighter
  2. Barnyard (hay and earth), black cherry
  3. Pairs with duck, roasted vegetables, salmon

MALBEC

  1. Medium
  2. Dark fruits (blackberry, plum), chocolate, earthy
  3. Pairs with dark poultry meat, cheese & charcuterie, dark chocolate

MERLOT

  1. Medium
  2. Dark fruits (black currant, plum), Baking spices (cocoa, vanilla)
  3. Pairs with burgers, baked pasta dishes, mushrooms

ZINFANDEL

  1. Heavy
  2. Jammy (red berries), slight spice (tobacco, anise)
  3. Pairs with sausage, venison, tomato, parmesan

SYRAH/SHIRAZ

  1. Medium to heavy
  2. Black pepper, blackberry, BBQ smoke
  3. Pairs with cured meats, BBQ & grilled meats, bold spices

CABERNET SAUVIGNON

  1. Heavy
  2. Dark fruits  (blueberry, black currant), savoury note (green bell peppers)
  3. Pairs with lamb, steak, blue cheese, rosemary

BARTENDING TERMS FOR WHITE WINE

RIESLING

  1. Light. Usually sweeter.
  2. Orchard fruits (apricot, pear, honeycrisp apple)
  3. Pairs with curries and spicy dishes, seafood

SAUVIGNON BLANC

  1. Light and crisp
  2. Grassy, passion fruit, gooseberry
  3. Pairs with shellfish, vegetables, herbs and greens

PINOT GRIS/GRIGIO

  1. Light and crisp
  2. Lime, pear, and nectarine
  3. Pairs with cream pastas, sushi, vegetarian cuisine

VIOGNIER

  1. Medium body
  2. Peaches & honeysuckle
  3. Pairs with lobster, almonds, pork

CHARDONNAY

  1. Full body
  2. Buttery, oaky, asparagus
  3. Pairs with white fish, butter sauces, creamy vegetable soups

BARTENDING TERMS FOR ROSÉ WINE

  1. Light
  2. Flowers, citrus, melon, rhubarb
  3. Pairs with light salads, seafood, soft cheeses

BARTENDING TERMS FOR CHAMPAGNE

  1. Light and effervescent
  2. Green apple & pear, bread & toasty notes
  3. Pairs with oysters, fatty fried foods, poached or deviled eggs

BARTENDING TERMS FOR FORTIFIED WINES

SHERRY

FINO/MANZANILLA

  1. Fino = Nutty, light, fresh, saline
  2. Manzanilla = Spanish for chamomile. Tastes similar to fino, a bit more delicate.
  3. Pair with oysters, nuts, olives & tapenades

AMONTILLADO

  1. Bridge between fino and oloroso (aka a bit richer with similar saltiness)
  2. Add nuttiness and herbaceousness
  3. Pair with cured meat, cheese, and gamier meats

PALO CORTADO

  1. Amontillado/Fino on the nose, oloroso on the palate (Fuller bodied)
  2. Accidental sherry → Starts out as a fino and then inexplicably loses its film of flor (aka the rarest and most expensive sherry)
  3. Pair with roasted poultry, sardines, heavy stews

OLOROSO

  1. “Scented” in Spanish. Dark, aromatic and nutty
  2. Full body; walnut, balsamic, and dark fruit notes (plum, dates)
  3. Pair with mushroom risotto, steak/venison, aged cheeses

PEDRO XIMENEZ “hee-men-ez” (PX), MOSCATEL

  1. Grapes are dried under the sun to concentrate sweetness
  2. Heaviest and stickiest of the sherries. Lots of molasses, raisin, fig flavors
  3. Pair with ice cream & desserts, fresh fruits, blue cheeses

PORT

  1. Made in Douro Valley, Portugal in the seaport town of Porto
  2. Can be made into different styles: white, ruby, tawny, or vintage (aging main factor) Full bodied, raspberry, blackberry, chocolate, cinnamon
  3. Pair with nuts and richer cheeses, duck confit, coffee

MADEIRA

  1. Small semi-tropical island that belongs to Portugal in the Atlantic ocean
  2. Unique wine-making process mimics sea-aging through tropics by running steam coils through the barrel rooms creating sauna effect. Think cooked flavors (roasted nuts, stewed fruit, toffee)
  3. Pair with old hard cheeses, roasted vegetables, stewed meats/fruits

MARSALA

  1. Italian equivalent of port town on the Western point of Sicily
  2. Dry and sweet variations; median flavors are vanilla, brown sugar, apricots, tamarind. Traditionally served as an aperitif between 2nd and 3rd course of a meal.
  3. Pair with chicken, cauliflower, octopus, chocolate desserts

AROMATIZED WINE

  1. Separated into 3 categories and bittered with different herbs: Vermouth (wormwood), Quinquinas (cinchona bark), and Americano (gentian root)
  2. All start as wine that have been fortified and flavoured with spices,herbs,fruit peels, and other natural flavours. Medicinal, bittersweet, savory and spicy flavor.
  3. Pair with lighter fare (tapas, antipasto, cheese & charcuterie), stocks and sauces, and of course…cocktails!

Conclusion

Getting to grips with the reams of bartending terms out there can seem daunting, but by following our simple 3-step framework, you’ll be nailing your alcohol terminology in no time.

You just need to remember:

  1. Flavour note
  2. Production identifier
  3. Quick anecdote

Once you’ve got that down pat, you’ll be ready to deep-dive into the advanced bartending terms associated with each category of alcohol: spirits, wines, fortified, and cocktails. Let us know which topic you’d like us to cover, and we’ll get down to crafting a new guide.


By Nimble Bar Company

The Nimble Bag of Bartending Tricks

The Nimble Bag of Bartending Tricks

How To Exude Confidence Behind The Bar

Bartenders need to project confidence. Our ability to do so puts our guests at ease, gains their trust, and gives them permission to have a good time. Master these bartending tricks and you’ll be oozing confidence and blowing your guests away in no time.

Years ago, I was working my way through a speedy seven drink chit, when I suddenly realized that all 7 guests around the bar were silently watching me work. They were transfixed. With all eyes on me, it dawned on me that in that exact moment, I had the power to transform these guests’ experience with a few simple-but-powerful bartending tricks.

Now, when I say tricks, I really mean movements. I’m talking basic things you can do with your tools and your drinks that’ll captivate guests and shift their experience from mediocre to mindblowing. I’ll share some of these tricks right here in this article.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to employ these bartending tricks subtly. Quietly. Like a ninja.

But before we get to the meat of the matter, we need to get one thing straight:

As bartenders, we never use loud noises, or do anything too ‘peacock-y’ to entertain our guests.

We don’t want to disrupt our guests or take their attention away from their conversations, but by using these functional movements in an unobtrusive way, your bar skills and stylish flair will make their experience more memorable. Whether guests decide to watch or choose to focus on something else, at least the decision will be theirs.

Bartending is a Dance

For the sake of this exercise, think of bartending the same way you’d think of salsa (the dance, not the condiment). Certain steps and methods are the same across nearly all styles of salsa; it’s when you create your own movements and personal style that you start to really build on those basics. The tricks I’m about to teach you are going to help shape your own personal style and build on the basic bartending strategies that you already have (and if you don’t, you can learn them at the Nimble Bar School).

But before you start flinging your spoons in the air during your next shift, I recommend that you give yourself a couple of months to practice these bartending tricks at home. You can do so by doing the drills described each of the videos below.

As you read through this article, bear in mind that these tricks are just the beginning. In time, we’ll show you even more movements that you can add to your repertoire.

Trick #1: Tin Flips

If you’re totally new to bartending tricks, this is where you’ll want to start. You’ll use this trick a lot — like, nightly.

The goal of the tin flip is to get the tin where you need it to be as quickly as possible.

 

 

In the video, I move pretty fast. You’ll probably want to start out slow to get the hang of the movement. Notice how I roll the tin over the back of my hand. This might take a little work. Be sure to practice in a place where you won’t break anything if you drop the tin. And make sure the tin’s empty, too…

Once you’ve mastered the tin, you can also use the trick on other tools, like spoons and bottles.
 

Trick #2: Tin Pivots

Tin pivots are the next movement to master because they can be used in combination with tin flips. The key here as you spin the tin horizontally is to get your thumb and fingers out of the way. Then, you can spin the tin on the ball of your hand.

These pivots are extremely versatile and can be used on bottles, assembled Boston shakers, and various glassware.

 

 

After you get the hang of the pivot, try combining the move with the flip. Flip the tin first, and then pivot,before setting it down. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes- it’s part of the fun!

For one final variation, try pivoting your shaker after you seal it for a greater effect.

 

Trick #3: Shake & Stir

(aka: double shaking and double stirring)

After you’ve built your drinks, you can shake one drink and stir another at the same time. Kind of like a more advanced version of the belly rub + head pat at the same time.

Nothing communicates confidence like actions that clearly say, “I know what I’m doing; no big deal” and that’s exactly what the shake & stir is all about.

After you’ve built your drinks, you can shift up your performance gears by shaking one drink and stirring another at the same time- kind of like a more advanced version of the belly-rub-head-pat.

The trick to this trick, if you will, is getting your spoon all the way to the bottom of your tin, otherwise, you’ll spill the drink.

 

 

Trick #4: Pour ‘Cuts’

The way most bartenders cut off their pours is- well… boring. They pour into a jigger and tentatively, gently lift the bottle away. Tentative and gentle? Doesn’t exactly exude confidence, now does it. You can easily add some boldness to your work and spice up an otherwise boring pour with a couple of super simple techniques.

The first cut is called a ‘swoop.’ Why, pray tell? Because, fair bartender, you must swoop thy bottle.

 

 

The Swoop

Here’s what you need to do to pull off a stellar swoop:


After you make your pour, let the bottom of the bottle (now at the top since you’ve turned the bottle over) fall to the side until the bottle’s weight turns everything right side up. Then, swoop the bottle around- like I did in the video- to keep the rest of the liquid in the bottle as you finish the pour.

Notice in the video how I’m holding the neck of the bottle between my index and middle fingers; then, I use my thumb to turn the bottle over. This method makes everything look much smoother and makes the move miles easier to pull off.

 

The Bounce

Try this for a second:

Imagine having a salt shaker in your hand. Are you with me? Now imagine shaking that salt shaker over a big plate of fries. That movement you’re doing? That’s the bounce. Now, you’ll be trying to pull of a bounce with a bottle- not a salt shaker. To make it work, you’ll need to pull the bottle up from the bounce at the bottom, then flip it over (right-side-up) to stop your pour.

Notice how I’m holding the bottle the same way I was during the swoop. You definitely don’t have to; I just think it’s easier for different types of bounces- but you can play around with it and make it your own. For maximum pro effect, be sure to keep the labels of the bottles facing your guests while you perform these cuts.

These elegant flourishes bring flow to your style. And, with a little practice, you can perform cuts with the tin after you’ve poured your drink.

 

Trick #5: Spoon Flair

You’re going to reach for a spoon at least 60 times a night, so you might as well make it fun for you and your guests.right?

My all-time favorite spoon tricks are the flip from the glass or the spin, both of which are very similar to the tin flip and tin pivot.

The spoon flip is actually a little easier than the tin flip because you’ve got a long, thin spoon to grab onto after you complete the trick. The spin, on the other hand, is a little more challenging.
To get started, try spinning the spoon around your index finger (don’t expect it to work the first time; keep practicing, you’ll get there).

 

 

Bringing It All Together…

Ok. We’ve covered the tin flip, the tin pivot, the shake and stir, two different types of cuts, and spoon flair. That’s a lot to take in, so don’t feel like you’ve got to master all of these at once. Just like shuffling a deck of cards or learning to whistle, take it slow and stick with it and eventually you’ll get it. Practice, practice, practice.

If you give yourself time to master these bartending tricks, you’ll be 100% more entertaining than 99% of other bartenders (how d’ya like them apples?). Your movements will communicate confidence, show your guests a great time, and even help you set the tone for your night.

Want more?

We coach professional bartenders to master their craft and become leaders. Interested? Click here to find out more about the Nimble Bar School.


By Nimble Bar Company

3 Steps To Win When People Seem To Suck

3 Steps To Win When People Seem To Suck

How to reframe any interaction so it works for you, not against you.

 

When you work behind the wood, you’ll interact with more people in one night than many interact with in an entire month.

Sounds great, right?

You get to hone in on your communication skills, meet interesting people, and build your network.

But sometimes people just seem to suck- and (you know, since you’re human and everything) a string of these negative interactions can serve to seriously bum you out.

So, what do you do?

Rather than let a few lousy interactions ruin your night, you can reframe interactions. Use these 3 steps to turn those negative experiences into positives:

Step 1: Choose your thoughts

Here’s the deal:

Our stories, fears, insecurities, worldviews, and desires determine our values, thoughts, beliefs, and behavior (phew- that was a mouthful).

These defining narratives end up affecting us whenever we interact with others.

Our guests are no different. They act the way they do because of their own defining narratives.

Unfortunately, many personal narratives are rooted in fear and insecurities, and bartenders often experience the nasty results.

We want patrons to feel comfortable and unguarded, but sometimes the freedom we encourage means interactions can really, really suck.

Here’s a perfect example from just the other night:

A man in his early 50’s sat down at the bar…

Me: Hey! How’s it going?

(Naturally, I expected a warm response to my warm intro…)

Him: Gin and tonic.

(…but I got ignored instead.)

Me: …. Thanks for asking… I guess I’ll just go fuck myself, then.

I responded in my head; not out loud, of course (even though I really, really wanted to).

The problem was, even though I bit my tongue, I had already allowed my thoughts to influence my mood- and my thoughts were toxic.

So this guy, for a brief moment, had totally derailed my mood.

Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” I’ll take it a step further: “How I think makes me who I am.”

And guess what?

We let people influence the way we think all the time.

We can’t control other people, but we can control how we respond (both mentally and verbally) and how much influence others have on our thoughts.

Patrons used to affect my thoughts as easily as a fat guy affects the water level in a bathtub.

Seriously, just the way someone walked through the door of my restaurant could affect my mood.

Every patron brings in a different energy, and those energies influenced me a ton.

A couple examples of personas that especially affected me:

  • Someone who’s hesitant as he walks into the room and has a passive energy.
  • Someone who walks into the room, patiently waits to be greeted, and has a kind energy.
  • Someone walks right past the “Please Wait To Be Seated” sign and has an impatient energy.
  • Someone who walks in the room full of piss and vinegar, like he owns the place, and has an arrogant energy.

Truth-bomb alert:

I have the power to choose how to evaluate and respond to these energies. I can choose to be influenced by my evaluation, or I can choose to take control of my thoughts.

(This is honestly one of the most valuable things I’ve learned in this job.)

So, let’s get practical.

How do we navigate this ebb and flow of human energy? More to the point, how do we manage our own energy to maintain peak performance behind the bar?

Question your reactions

When you think, “Man, this person’s negative,” take notice. Reframe.

Stop and ask, “Is this really how I want to think about this person?”. That simple question can change your own mood and the flow of the interaction.

Reframing changes your thoughts, your thoughts changes your mood, and, together, thoughts and mood change who you are.

Likewise, if you walk into work with a negative attitude, just acknowledge it; then ask yourself if you want to stay that way.

This kind of reflection can totally change the course of your night.

Whenever you notice yourself slipping into negative energy, just pretend there’s a big *Energy Reset Button* in your brain, and give it a push.

Sounds simple, right? It is.

Step 2: Stop judging and start understanding.

Remember, every single human behaves the way they do because of their own unique backstory.

If you want to reframe your interactions, ask yourself, “If I had the SAME stories as that person, would I behave any differently?”

Possibly not.

We can’t change someone else’s backstory (or their subsequent attitude); we can only change our own thoughts.

So, if you find yourself in need of an attitude adjustment, get this mantra running around your brain:

Don’t judge; practice empathy.

When you put yourself in someone else’s shoes and experience life from their perspective, you’re practicing empathy.

Here’s a powerful tool you can use to help you:

The Empathy Map

A simple empathy map.

We borrowed this idea from Business Model Generation who use something called an ‘empathy map’ to better understand end users and meet their needs.

Luckily, you don’t need to have the empathy map in front of you to reframe interactions.

When guests are rubbing you up the wrong way, do a quick empathy audit by asking the following questions:

  • What do they care about that you don’t care about?
  • What do they see that you don’t see?
  • What do they believe that you don’t believe?
  • How do they speak differently from you?

Just apply the map to everyone you see.

Kinda like this…

Here’s how it works:

When you pause to imagine another person’s internal world, you’ll understand rather than judge.

You’ll react with kindness and positivity.

You’ll change your mood, and you’ll change the interaction.

Empathy is the first step to developing meaningful connections with those you serve.

Step 3: Take charge by practicing proactive authentic enthusiasm

When that arse-hole man in the bar ignored my greeting the other night, I completely let his inconsiderate behaviour take hold of me.

What good did that do? Absolutely nothing.

When we react to a guest without thought, we’re allowing their energy to control the interaction. Even if they’re the one who brings negative energy into the bar, it’s our own reactions that contribute to what we call a ‘negative feedback loop’.

On the flip side, when we consciously choose the way we respond and the energy we project, we break that feedback loop. 

So, what if you want to create a positive interaction?

Choose to respond with authentic enthusiasm. Not only will your guest benefit, you’ll also benefit yourself.

I can tell you from personal experience that I don’t always feel like greeting someone with enthusiasm. But when I choose enthusiasm over negativity, the interaction goes much, much better. What’s more, I feel a lot better, too.

In fact, sometimes guests will change their own moods simply through your positive questions and enthusiastic energy.

A helpful way to remember this:

Every guest presents a powerful opportunity for a meaningful connection.

The way you engage that guest has the power to change their mood.

Hey, listen, I’ve been there.

I’ve arrived at work with a crappy mood, and I’ve arrived at work with a great mood only to be brought down by a nasty customer.

The thing is, you absolutely can take control of your mood, and your customers will notice and respond positively. And you can reframe any interaction.

Give these three steps a shot. We promise you’ll like the results.

Want more?

We coach professional bartenders to master their craft and become leaders. Interested? Click here to find out more about the Nimble Bar School.

 


Wedding beverages

By Nimble Bar Company

How to Wow Your Wedding Guests With Amazing Beverages

People drink more at weddings than at any other social occasion. But couples planning weddings rarely take the time to ensure their guests have an awesome experience with those wedding beverages. Often, couples merely opt for whatever their venue has in stock.

WHY YOUR WEDDING BEVERAGES MATTER

If you spend so much time and money meticulously planning out details like decor, cake, food, attire, and flowers, shouldn’t you put at least as much effort into the drinks you’re serving? After all, what do friends ask when they’re headed to a wedding? “Will there be an open bar?”

If you’re planning a wedding, here’s the question you can ask that will lead to an amazing beverage experience:

“Will the drinks we serve tell a story?”

After all, the wedding itself will tell a story about you as a couple (that’s one reason why people spend so much money planning the occasion). Every interaction your guests have with you, the other guests, and the environment of your event reflect back on you. The location, the clothing of the wedding party, the lighting, the textures and fabrics on the tables, the centerpieces, the decorations, and everything else color your story.

I know couples who spend hours and hours preparing centerpieces and tiny gifts to send home with their guests. But food and drink influence an experience far more than any gift. Meals engage all the senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and even sound. How many of these couples focused as much on their drink menu as they do on their centerpieces?

The drinks tell a story about you, too. What do you want your drinks to say about you?

That you’re elegant?

Sophisticated?

Quirky?

Fresh?

You get the idea!

We recommend that, at minimum, weddings serve beer or cider, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages. Beer or cider for those who don’t drink wine, wine to pair with the food and compliment the wedding’s formality, and any number of sodas, waters, and non-alcoholic ciders for those guests who don’t wish to imbibe. Once you cover these bases, step it up a notch with mixed drinks and cocktails.

BEER: THE FOUR CATEGORIES TO SERVE

Think for a moment about when you or your friends drink beer, and which beers pair with which occasions. What are some common characteristics about these moments? Slightly more on the casual side? How are people dressed? Probably not in formal wear. If you’re out at a pub or micro-brewery, you’re probably drinking something unique. If you’re playing pool in the garage, you’re probably drinking something cheap.

The beers you serve at your weddings will remind your guests of these times. And your guests will unconsciously associate the moods and memories of these events with you and your wedding. In other words, the beers you serve will add to your story.

If you serve mass-market lite beers, your guests will think about playing horseshoe in a backyard and watching a football game. If you serve something more exotic or local, they’ll think of a night out on the town or a more sophisticated culinary adventure. For weddings, we’d highly recommend choosing something specific and unique; avoid the cheap lite stuff. You want your guests to feel special and notice attention to detail.

Micro-brews

With the proliferation of the micro-brewery, there’s simply no reason to serve shitty, mass-produced beer. As much as possible, try to serve something local. Run the gamut of flavours and colours by selecting beers from these categories:

  1. Lager → Keep it simple and clean. Your guests will probably consume more lager than any other beer.
  2. Pale ale → A good amount of flavour without palate-shredding hoppiness.
  3. IPA (or lambic) → That said, many people love hoppiness, so keep an IPA on hand. Just as IPAs caught the market by storm in the late 00s, sours look like they’re going to be the beer-nerd’s next favourite thing. Consider adding a lambic (sour) beer to your arsenal, too.
  4. Dark → There’s always a surprisingly high demand for dark beer. When recommending a dark beer, we’ll make an exception to our ‘always choose local’ rule: choose Guinness. It’s the classic crowd-pleaser.

When you serve beer, consider cleanup and consider environmental impact. Always try to use cans over bottles; they’re almost always easier on the environment.

Another efficiency tip: keep the beer on ice in a giant cooler. Your guests can just grab from it and go. A self-serve cooler allows the bartender to focus on making cocktails and engaging guests in other ways.

WINE: HOW TO PAIR TO YOUR CUISINE

For better or worse, people perceive wine to be more sophisticated and cultured than beer. Since we’re talking weddings here and weddings are more formal than barbeques, serve your guests some wine. Your wines will tell your guests that you know how to class it up, and that you have great taste.

Don’t worry, though. You don’t need to choose wines that’ll break the bank. Research studies suggest that after a certain price point, there’s not really an increase in enjoyment of a wine. The bottle the wine is served from actually plays a huge role in the drinking experience. What does this mean? Don’t serve wine out of boxes, and stay away from notoriously cheap labels (unless that’s your comedy schtick). But you don’t need to go crazy with $40 bottles, either.

Choosing your wine is simple. Why? The food and the season will determine which grape varietal to use. Just pick labels you like that are appropriate for your food and season and are also within your price range.

Pairings

Here are some examples of classic dishes and their perfect wine pairings:

Safe Choice Adventurous Choice
Roast, Steaks, Game meat Syrah, Cab, Merlot Zinfandel, Sangiovese
Herbed Chicken, Pork Belly Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling Crisp dry Apple Cider
Sablefish, Ling Cod, Halibut Chardonnay Viognier, Albariño
Salmon, Roasted Vegetables Light Pinot Noir Heavy NZ Pinot Noir, Provence Rosé
Cheese Port, Sauternes California Chardonnay, Champagne
Fruits Shiraz, Grenache Gamay, Chenin Blanc
Shellfish Sauvignon Blanc Torrontes, Sancerre

 

Wine Tips

  • Big reds need to breathe; uncork 30-40 minutes before dinner service on the tables.
  • Offer red/whites that compliment/contrast the food depending on your menu
  • Port/Sauternes w/dessert & coffee is a lovely touch that doesn’t cost much if you already have servers/caterers

SPIRITS: CREATE A SPIRITED ADVENTURE

By now you’ve got the gist of how drinks tell a story. Their quality and selection reflect on your taste, sophistication, sense of fun, sense of humor, easy-going-ness, and any number of other qualities.

Your choice of spirits can truly give your guests unforgettable experiences. More guests drink beer and wine on a regular basis than drink spirits. At your wedding, you can offer them something special and, through simple displays and stories, enhance memories they’ll share for years to come.

When it comes to spirits, take your guests on a unique adventure through time and space. Serve spirits from different parts of the world with unique origin stories. Choose liquors from different ages, too. Your bartender or your display can share these unique stories. Such diversions give guests something to do when they aren’t dancing or eating, and give them something very special to remember.

When we offer spirits, we usually serve the following:

  • 4 whiskies — Japanese, American, Scotch, Canadian.
  • Calvados — The French apple brandy.
  • Mezcal — The far-smokier version of tequila from Oaxaca. Made from agave (the plant).
  • Genever — a matlier spirit and the ancestor of modern gin.
  • Sherry — the under-appreciated Spanish fortified wine.

Set up an entire table dedicated to this adventure of spirits. Include a large map of the world. Place the bottles on the map to show the spirits’ geographic origins.

COCKTAILS: WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS

With cocktails, you can really let your personalities shine. You can express yourself through ingredients, colours, garnishes, and names. You can pick names that reflect your sense of humor, your hope for the future, your memories of your guests, and your hopes for your marriage. Choose flavor profiles that run the gamut of tastes, and tell stories with your cocktail menu.

For example, I’m an eternal optimist. So I made the ‘Faulty Optimist’ cocktail and garnished it with this cartoon, printed on edible paper, from Cyanide and Happiness.

Executing Your Cocktails: How to Make Them Efficiently, with Style

This step, like choosing a wine varietal, can be simple. To ensure a great experience, you MUST vet quality bartenders to find someone who can deliver drinks with excellence and panache.

Go to your favourite cocktail bars in town and note your favourite bartenders. Once you’ve created a short-list your three favourites, reach out to them at their bar and offer them the gig.

Because you’re offering an elevated experience to your guests, think of this bartender as more of a consultant than a mere drink-slinger. Bartenders have evolved a great deal from the 70s, 80s, and 90s — they have become true professionals. They’re going to work with you to make sure your drinks are delicious and reflect your personalities.

Your bartender should help you craft a balanced menu and should also be able to help you to name your drinks, source ingredients, and prepare for the night.

Non-Alcoholic Options: A Little Temperance Goes a Long Way

When we make non-alcoholic cocktails, we’re trying to emulate the complexity inherent in spirits. There are a number of ways to do this.

First, consider your soda. 2 liter bottles of Coca-Cola and Sprite are unacceptable. Always try to use artisanal soda pops such as Fentiman’s and New Theatre.

You’ll use syrups that feature fresh ingredients, of course, but don’t forget about shrubs and vinegars. For example, experiment with fruit-flavoured vinegars like pomegranate and grapefruit balsamic, and try cilantro shrubs.

And don’t forget about sparkling and still waters to cover all your bases.

Bringing It All Together: Designing a Sexy Menu

Once you’ve decided on your cocktails, spirits, beer, and wine, it’s time for the funnest part of all — building the menu! Your drink menu gives you the opportunity to create something highly visual that literally tells stories through text. The colors you use, the names you choose for your drinks, and the descriptions you provide all reflect on you. And they give your introverted guests something to read.

While designing a menu may feel overwhelming to some, (I know others of you can’t wait to jump into this) it doesn’t have to. If you’re having trouble creating unique descriptions, use standard text from online searches. Or enlist the help of a clever friend.

No design skills? No problem! Check out www.getstencil.com. The site has tons of free and beautiful templates that you can use to easily make your menus.

Alternatively, if you’d like to leave the menu design to a pro, Fiverr.com is chalk full of them.

Conclusion: You Can Do This

(Or We Can Do It For You)

Hopefully, you’ve now got a good understanding of not only why drinks matter but also how you can create an awesome beverage experience. We’ve got a number of other guides that might help you further in our blog.

If you’d like some one-on-one planning help, additional guidance, or someone to simply take care of things for you, we can help with that, too.


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