Wednesday, July 29, 2015

astoria, oregon

1 1/2 oz Monkey 47 Gin
1 oz Cocchi Americano
1/2 oz Banks White Rum

Stir with ice and strain in a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange twist.
After the talks on Friday, I attended a Monkey 47 Gin event at Bellocq that featured bartenders Sean Hoard, Jim Meehan, and Kirik Estopinal. For a drink, I asked Kirk for the Astoria, Oregon, and later got the recipe and some further details from Jim. The Astoria that appeared in the Savoy Cocktail Book was essentially a Martini with 2/3 gin, 1/3 dry vermouth, and 1 dash orange bitters served in a cocktail glass with a stuffed olive garnish. Jim confirmed that there was no orange bitters in this variation, and I assumed that the change to Cocchi Americano from dry vermouth added this extra citrus note. With rum in the mix, the combination reminded me of the B.V.D. which in the Savoy Cocktail Book was equal parts Bacardi Rum, dry vermouth, and dry gin.
Astoria, Oregon, is located on the mouth of the Columbia River and was where the Lewis and Clark Expedition spent the winter in 1805-6 hoping that a ship would rescue them and take them home, but instead, they ended up enduring the winter and returning east the same way they came. Indeed, I never found out why Sean named his drink after the sleepy port city save for the similarity in name to the section of Queens that the classic is named after. Once prepared, it offered an orange aroma that prepared the mouth for a light citrus wine sip. On the swallow, juniper and other gin botanicals with a hint of rum funk blended into an orange finish. Overall, there was bit more intrigue and less starkness than a classic Martini which made it a bit more approachable to me.

:: perfect frozen drinks - science and practice ::

The second talk that I attended on Friday of Tales of the Cocktail was "Perfect Frozen Drinks: Science and Practice" hosted by Dave Arnold and Philip Duff. I preemptively spoke about this talk earlier in the week for serendipitously the theme for this month's Mixology Monday was "Ice, Ice Baby!" as I made a frozen drink in a ziplock bag via the formulas that Dave Arnold provided at the talk as well as in his book Liquid Intelligence. The two started their talk with a timeline of frozen drinks and desserts:
• 400 BC, China: Snow was poured over syrup to make desserts.
• 200 BC, Southeast Persia (Iran): Yakhchal was a large evaporating chamber that utilized shade, seasons, insulation, and other factors to freeze water in the winter and store it through out the year. The ice was utilized in desserts like Faloodeh. These large structures still exist.
• 831, Italy: The Arab invasion of Europe brings advanced science and technology as well as a wide variety of fruit to the region. Along with Toledo, Spain, this part of Italy was a center of technology.
• 1533, France: Italian duchess married to a French duke, Catherine de Medici enticed Giuseppe Ruggeri to bring his ice cream recipe to the French court.
• 1686, Paris: Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli opens Café Procope (still open, oldest restaurant) and first made gelato in his coffee shop and got licensing for it.
• 1718, England: Miss Mary Erles's Receipts had recipes to make ice cream but it took time, staff, money, and leisure to produce it. Still a product for the rich.
• 1744, Pennsylvania: The Oxford English Dictionary in 1877 mentions that strawberry ice cream was enjoyed there.
• 1770, New York: Giovanni Basiolo brought gelato to the New World.
• 1843, New York: First patent for the ice cream freezer; this hand-cranked version still sells today.
• 1885, London: Agnes Marshall wrote The Book of Ices, four books about frozen desserts.
• 1888-1915: Nikola Tesla created the fractional horsepower engine that would later help to run freezers and mixers.
• 1922, Racine, Wisconsin: Stephen Poplawski created the first blender for Hamilton Beach (previously, they had used this technology to create the vibrator in 1910).
• 1937, Wisconsin: Fred Osius and Ted Waring created the Miracle Mixer that later turned into the very reliable Waring Blender.
• 1940s, Havana: Constantino Ribalaigua Vert brought the Waring Blender to Cuba to create the blended drink, the Daiquiri #3.
• 1960s, Coffeyville, Kansas: Omar Knedlik owned a few Dairy Queens and discovered that people liked drinks that were partially frozen. It took 10 years to get the technology right to create the ICEE machine.
• 1965-67: 7-Eleven launched the Slurpee as they bought the technology from Knedlik and could not call it the ICEE.
• 1969, USA: TGI Fridays chain started their fresh fruit frozen "Daiquiri" program.
• 1971, Dallas: Mariano Martinez invented the frozen Margarita machine. There was a clause that forbade the ICEE technology to be used with alcohol, so Martinez tinkered with soft serve ice cream machines.
• 1994: 7-Eleven trademarks the term "brainfreeze."
With the history part covered, the focus shifted to temperature. When things are too cold, they alter the flavor and can switch what aspects are perceptible as well as the overall pleasure associated with the ratios. Moreover, it can be painful with burning people's tongues, and it can affect texture. Texture ends up being a combination of temperature, alcohol percentage, and sugar levels. Alcohol is an antifreeze that prevents things from freezing and makes everything melt much faster. While frozen drinks mimic shaken drinks to some extent, sweetness drops back in frozen drinks and acid is more forward than in a shaken one. Therefore, the shaken recipe needs to be altered to become the frozen drink spec including diluting it more.

Most street Daiquiri machines produce drinks in the 7% ABV range for larger volumes and slower melts, and this alcohol range approximates nonalcoholic drink recipes in terms of physics, flavor, and kinetics. In a bar setting, 14-15% is more optimal since the guests do not want to fill up volume-wise and bars do not want guests to dawdle that long over drinks. However, it is harder to keep a drink solid at this higher alcohol content and harder to stay in balance flavor-wise. As was mentioned in my Mixology Monday frozen drink post, the targets for the finished drink recipe are:
The Golden Rule:
• 14.2-15% ABV
• 85 gram / liter Sugar
• 0.6-0.9% acid (standard lemon/lime is 6%)
• Note: assumes freezer temperature -20°C/4°F
This means that a shaken or stirred drink will not translate the same, and algebra is needed to follow the 3 rules. Once you have the proof and volume of alcohol, then determine the final volume. Next, add sugar amount and acid amount, and the rest is water. In batching, consider that fresh citrus juice will degrade over time. Things like limoncello can cover over that degradation. Acids like citric and malic can be added to adjust the ratios. To boost ABV but not flavor, vodka can be used, and liquor can be sugared up to minimize volumes. Sample recipes can and should be tested in Ziplock bags on a small scale (and these bags can be frozen on salt-ice combinations in the field) to prevent mistakes in large scale balance. Rolling out the air bubbles will promote their stability, and to speed their freezing, do not stack the bags.

In blender drinks, all chilling is at the expense of melting ice. A normal recipe spec will make things too watery in a blender, so adding sugar to the liquor can save space. A generic blender sour recipe is as follows:
Instead of blending, ice shaving machines like Hatsuyuki can be utilized. In a shaved ice drink, chilling and diluting happens in the glass. If you shave into the glass so that it chills and melts down, you can get the right wash line on the drink more frequently.

A final warning was provided against making frozen drinks with barrel-aged spirits, for the process intensifies the wood and tannin notes. Same goes with tea. Also, all of the ice crystals in frozen drinks are water -- not alcohol, not sugar.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

:: quinquina - bark to the future ::

I started the seminars at Tales of the Cocktail on Friday with a talk on quinine-laden beverages presented by Eric Seed of Haus Alpenz, Jordan Silbert of Q Drinks, and Jean-Pierre Cointreau of the Renaud Cointreau Group. While a lot of this talk was about quinquinas (also know as quinato, quinado, and chinato depending on the country of origin), some of it entailed tonic water and certain quinine-containing liqueurs like Bonal.

Quinquinas are fortified and aromatized wine that are neither spirits nor spirit-like. The fortification process (the addition of alcohol) is done to provide stability, fix the wine's alcohol levels, and/or add infused flavors of herbs and spices; moreover, the aromatized aspect adds flavors of herbs, fruits, and/or spices via infusion. By E.U. law, they must be at least 75% wine. While French quinquinas allow mistelles (unfermented grape must) for sweetness, Italian chinatos do not. Although many people lump quinquinas with vermouths, they are not all that similar and not a substitute:
Wormwood - major bittering agent of Vermouth; weedy, intensely herbaceous, front palate bitter
Gentian - major bittering agent of Americano; woodsy, floral aromatic, middle palate bitter
Quinine - major bittering agent of Quinquina; flat, sweet spice, back palate bitter like a baritone to a medley
The history of quinine can be traced back to the 1630s when the Spanish were beginning to explore Peru. The wife of the Spanish viceroy got sick with malaria and was on her deathbed despite all of the Spanish doctors' efforts. The Spanish asked the Incas for help, and the Incas created a tea from the quinquina tree that they referred to as the "tree of trees (holy tree)." Due to its success, the Spanish renamed the tree after her, the Countess of Chincho. Quinine is but one of the 38 different alkaloids in chinchona bark, and synthetic quinine lacks this variation. Malaria was not just in South America but in swampy Paris of the 1700s as well, for example. Since the export of chinchona tree seeds was forbidden, the bark got rather pricy to the point that it was literally worth its weight in gold. In the 1850s, seeds were smuggled out of Peru and sold to the British; however, this varietal had low quinine levels in the bark and was rather useless medicinally. It was not until 1862 that Charles Ledger smuggled good quality seeds out of the country. Since the British had been bamboozled a few years prior, they refused, and the seeds were sold to the Dutch who started plantations in their colonies of Dutch Congo and Indonesia. Eventually, Peru was over-harvested and at the beginning of World War II, 95% of all quinine was coming from Indonesia. During the war, Japan attacked Indonesia for their oil and for most of the world's supply of quinine. Part of the United State's Manhattan Project was devoted to creating synthetic quinine (in addition to developing the nuclear bomb) which generated drugs like atabrine and chloroquine.

As a medicine, tonic water took off during the 1820s in the British navy once they learned to mix the quinine with sugar and gin. On the French side of things, quinquinas began to rise in prominence during the 1830s due to French colonial interests. Unlike tonic water, quinquinas were delicious and proved a cost-effective way to enjoy young vine wine especially post Phylloxera. The exotic imagery of overseas colonies and their spices did not hurt the allure either. By the 1930s, quinquina was the largest wine category in France.

This glory was chased by its decline. Mosquito microbes soon began to gain resistance to quinine, France lost its colonies as customers, war time restrictions on alcohol reduced their production, and the new generation of French did not want to drink what their parents drank. Instead, they turned to pastis and whiskey. Moreover, due to French government restrictions on health claims during the 1950s, this class had to be called aperitifs since quinquina implies health benefits; this is not the case in Italy, Spain, and Portugal though. Chinato in Italy regained its popularity by improving its quality and linking it less to health and more to a pleasure angle by proving that wine could pair with chocolate.

Finally, Jordan Silbert spoke about tonic water and what he learned when he discovered that the tonic water he was drinking had the same sugar and preservative levels as Sprite but with different natural and artificial flavors and colors. During the 1950s, the combination of replacing the bark with synthetic quinine and replacing sugar with corn syrup led to sweeter tonic water. The balance of sugar and bitter soon got out of whack with big producers, and sugar was advantageous since it is a masking agent that allows the drinker to use cheaper alcohols. Jordan wondered what he could do if the spirits were actually good and ought to be tasted? His tonic quest led to a lot less sugar, using real bark, and super-carbonation.

In touching on quinquina use in cocktails, Eric Seed declared that they were optimal for use with aromatic and unaged spirits such as gin, agave spirits, and certain rums. In drinks, quinine gives more palate to other flavors in the drink, and the lower proof offers refreshment and lighter drink styles.

jet pilot

1 oz Flor de Caña 7 Year Rum
1 oz Flor de Caña 12 Year Rum
1 oz Flor de Caña 18 Year Rum
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/2 oz Falernum
1 dash Herbsaint
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Add a straw.

One of the other drinks that I had at the Flor de Caña Rum pop-up event at Cane & Table was the Jet Pilot as made by Martin Cate of Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco. The original was served at the Luau restaurant in Beverly Hills circa 1958 using a medley of dark Jamaican, gold Puerto Rican, and 151 proof Demerara rums similar to what was made for me at Drink about 6 years ago. Here, Martin utilized a vertical rum selection from Flor de Caña; however, he normally prefers a heavier pot-stilled rum and a bit of Smith & Cross funk in his blend. Therefore, this Jet Pilot features a bit more oak than body with his usual rum trio.
The Jet Pilot offered a lime aroma that transitioned well into a citrus sip. While the rum stole the show at the beginning of the sip, the cinnamon, clove, and anise spice notes added a glorious complexity to the finish.

penang afrididi #1

1 oz Flor de Caña White Rum
1 1/2 oz Flor de Caña 7 Year Rum
3/4 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1 dash Herbsaint

Shake with ice and strain into a tall glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with an orange twist, pineapple, pineapple fruit leaves, and other assorted Tiki mayhem; add a straw.

After dinner at Angeline, I headed over to Cane & Table where there was a Flor de Caña Rum pop-up event at Cane and Table. There in the back courtyard for this official Tales of the Cocktail event, Nick Detrich, Martin Cate, and Paul McGee were making Tiki libations for the crowd. For a start, I asked Paul McGee for the Penang Afriditi #1 which was created by Don the Beachcomber circa 1937. Here, the ratios were shifted around slightly and the orange juice was swapped for dry curaçao from the 1958 recipe that appears in Beachbum Berry's Sippin' Safari. Paul mentioned that the recipe he used is pretty close to the house recipe at Lost Lake except that they use 2 oz Appleton V/X as the sole rum and Letherbee as the absinthe. For comparison's sake, feel free to see the one at Hale Pele that I had a few years ago while at Portland Cocktail Week.
The garnishes on the Penang Afrididi offered pineapple and orange aromas. The fruit notes continued on into the sip with lime and orange flavors, and the swallow gave way into rum, pineapple, and anise spice elements.

Monday, July 27, 2015

the last aviator

3/4 oz New York Distilling Perry Tot's Navy Strength Gin
3/4 oz Tempus Fugit Crème de Violette
3/4 oz Campari
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Honey Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass.

After the seminars on Thursday, I decided to get dinner at Angeline. The night before, I spoke to Christine Nielsen at the Pernod Ricard Welcome Party where she was a shaker girl in the Ramos Gin Fizz room. She mentioned that she was now tending bar at Angeline and working with Boston ex-pat Jeff Grndrich, and that seemed like reason enough to fit a visit into my schedule. For a drink the following night at the restaurant, I asked about the Last Aviator since it looked intriguing yet I was skeptical. Christine replied that she doubted it at first too, but it soon became her favorite on the list. I then recalled the equal parts and crème de violette-laden Blooey Blues from Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 and decided to give it a shot. While the drink started as Jeff's idea, the recipe was a group effort through a few rounds of tasting. I never did ask how close to an Aviation this started with before it took a more Last Word structure.
The Last Aviator proffered a floral and herbal aroma. Next, honey and lime balanced each other on the sip, and juniper, floral, and bitter orange flew through on the swallow. Over time, the balance became a tad sharper when warmer due to the violet, but it was never soapy or off in any other way.

frozen periodista (writers block?)

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo XCIX) was picked by the Muse of Doom of the Feu de Vie blog. The theme she chose was "Ice, Ice Baby!" which seemed like a great theme given the rather hot weather. The Muse elaborated on the concept by describing, "And in all this time there hasn’t once been a theme dedicated to that undersung-yet-essential part of nearly any cocktail: ICE. The word says it all. Big ice cubes for Old Fashioneds, pellet ice for juleps and cobblers, shaved ice for adult snowcones, crushed ice molded into a cone for a classic Navy Grog. The art of the blender. Tell us why your selected or invented cocktail needs this particular ice usage. Show us how to make perfectly clear ice at home or what you get to work with as a professional drink-slinger. It doesn't even have to be pure H2O, either. Flavor it up! Teas, juices, liqueurs, bitters, other frozen edible objects serving as ice. Tell us the nuances of a properly-made Il Palio. Show us why a decorative approach takes your recipe to the next level. Whatever tickles your taste buds and refreshes you this summer."

I helped to schedule this event to sweet spot Tales of the Cocktail in the middle of the two week gap between announcement and due date to allow for greater participation. And during Tales of the Cocktail, the answer as to what to do for this theme came to me. At first I figured it was going to be from all of the crazy ice shells and drinks at Beachbum Berry's Latitude 29, but instead it came via Dave Arnold and Philip Duff's talk "Perfect Frozen Drinks: Science and Practice." While various recipes and formula for blender and snow cone drinks were offered, the aspect about how to design drinks for Daiquiri machines caught my attention. However, one ought not just throw a large batch of cocktail into one of those machines without doing two things: a bit of math and some small scale testing, otherwise a lot of product and time will probably be wasted. Drinks definitely do not convert the same from shaken to frozen, and I will cover that talk in greater detail in the next few days.

While most street Daiquiris are in the range of 7% ABV which helps sell them in larger volumes, allows for longer melt times, and keeps them in balance longer, most cocktail bar recipes are in the order of 14-15% ABV. To hit the sweet spot, one needs to follow basic algebra to stay in these guidelines:
14.2-15% ABV
85 grams/liter sugar
0.6-0.9% acid
If you need further explanation, either wait for my future post on this or go out and by Dave Arnold's Liquid Intelligence book immediately. Most alcohol percentages are given on bottles, but liqueur and syrup's sugar amounts can be found in charts online, and most lemon and limes are about 6% acid. While I do not have a $2800 Elmeco machine to make perfect frozen drinks, luckily, the duo proposed making things in Ziploc bags to test in the freezer. And even if I did have a machine, it would be foolish not to do recipe trials in this method. While freezers are -20°C/4°F, these baggy drinks can be replicated in the field and transported using ice and salt freezing methods. Here, I considered a classic Daiquiri to start, but since I can do nothing simple, I went with Boston's favorite Daiquiri variation by way of Cuba, the Periodista. By calculating the amount of booze in the drink, the end volume can be determined. To complicate matters, my liqueurs contained both sugar and alcohol. While extra sugar could be put in with simple syrup, I wanted to pack in the greatest amount of apricot and orange flavor. Of course, those amounts also changed the amount of alcohol and hence final volume. So it took a few extra tries. For a citrus liqueur, I opted for Van der Hum at 10.9 grams sugar per ounce and 50° proof, and Marie Brizard apricot at a similar sugar and 60° proof; note, I am not sure if the values from the online site were entirely accurate. Here is the finished spec that went into the Ziplock back in the freezer:
Frozen Periodista
• 2 oz Caliche Rum (80° proof)
• 0.25 oz Van der Hum
• 0.25 oz Marie Brizard Apricot Liqueur
• 0.93 oz Lime Juice
• 3.04 oz Water
• 2 pinch Salt
Total volume: 6.47 oz
No, my OXO measuring cups are not that accurate, and I decided to try to get close enough instead of getting out my scale and calculating weights by volume intended and density. After mixing, I stuck the bag into the freezer after pushing out most of the air bubbles, and it was ready when I got home after my long bar shift that night. I mashed up the contents in the bag slightly and spooned it into a chilled glass. Save for the garnish, the Frozen Periodista did not have too much aroma. While the sip was indeed lime, the swallow was soft apricot and orange notes. Overall, this frozen drink was pleasant but a bit light on flavor compared to the shaken version. Definitely a more flavorful rum would have helped here. Moreover, the ice crystals seemed a touch coarse, so I am not entirely sure if all my values were correct, or if this was the proper texture for an end result.

So thank you to the Muse of Doom for picking the theme, getting a certain late 1980s song caught in my head, and running the show once again, and thanks to the rest of Mixology Monday for paying tribute to the unsung heroes of the cocktail with this event. Cheers!

:: building and apprenticing your team ::

The last talk that I went to on Thursday at Tales of the Cocktail Week last week was entitled "Building and Apprenticing Your Team" given by Dushan Zaric of Employee's Only, Jonathan Pogash of the Cocktail Guru, Bobby Heugel of the Anvil, Pamela Wiznitzer of Seamstress, and Zdenek Kastanek of 28 Hong Kong Street.

Dushan started the session by describing how human interaction skills are as important as drink making skills, and he pointed out how Harry Johnson had a section in his book on how to train a boy and teach him to be a gentleman as well as how to teach him bar skills. The job is not just physically difficult to stand for 10-12 hours straight but emotionally difficult as well. Overall, it is hard to like people; as a bartender, if you last a year behind the bar means that you like the others on the staff. Moreover, the weakest member of the team is everyone's responsibility. As an aside, Zdenenk stated that bartenders should read newspaper's every day, otherwise, they are not ready for service and not ready to talk to guests.

In hiring, Bobby described that you are not trying to build a roster, but a team. The individuals can have weaknesses if the other teammates can compensate for them. Pam countered that it was not a team, but a family. You need a balance of personalities; two different bartenders put together will learn from each other. And Dushan commented that before you can be a rockstar, you have to be a member of a band.

In being a leader, you have to instill trust. Dushan declared that you have to lead by example. Walk the walk by being the first to show and last to lead and inspire by example. Be open about about your experience and intentions, know your limits and goals, and be genuine and fair. Zdenek followed up by saying that you should share your weaknesses. Jonathan commented on leaving your ego at the door and be willing to host and expedite food as needed. Talented people are open, honest, and do not balk at new experiences or directions.

How do you identify talent? Jonathan pointed out that skills can be trained so snap up talent while you still can. The right candidate will always see the glass as half full, and trust your instincts in hiring. Zdenek followed up by mentioning that you can teach skills but you cannot teach attitude; moreover, if you do not want to go out with them for a beer after the first shift, then it is probably not the right fit. Often, you cannot choose your staff due and sometimes you inherit them. Dushan commented that military experience is a good sign for it means that they are housebroken.

If you are on the applying end, Pam pointed out that the resumé is a lost art form. It needs to be updated and include references. As a hiring manager, these references need to be called to figure out what the real story was. Furthermore, a best friend in the industry might not be a good fit for a bar. When staging, talking about cocktails might not get you hired, but asking if guests are being taken care of might. Dushan takes things further by having a three month trial period. During this period, he prefers no complainers; if you are complaining, then you are missing the point. If you cannot do anything about the situation you complain about, do not complain. If you have a better way, a good manager will listen. Complaining is a virus and is infectious. Learn to lose this habit.

In describing the best way to manage, Dushan tries to instill a "pass it on" attitude in teaching what you know to barbacks, stages, and apprentices. As a manager, your job is to be interrupted. Pam brought up the point that a lot of staffs do not get along due to jealousy; while press and interviews can hurt those overlooked, high tides raise all ships.To counter this, instill a positive attitude. To accomplish this, have this attitude yourself -- be kind and considerate, allow your team to build your business, educate and share ideas, welcome feedback, and speak as a friend then as a boss. Jonathan followed with the suggestion of being a good person, both kind and generous, and it will comeback to you. Pam helped clarify by suggesting that you cannot yell ever, especially at your barback. Moreover, Zdenek referenced the John Templeton quite, "It is nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice."

Empower your staff. Do not just give direction but tell them that they are doing well. Do not micromanage, but set goals and reward those goals with praise or prizes. Allow creativity to flow and try to be an open book with your staff. Being a camp counselor makes you ready to manage a bar. The power of validation means that you are paying attention, setting a positive tone, and changing everyone's mindset. As a manager, sit down with people and get to know them; perhaps do this before a shift and take 10 minutes to find out who they are and not talk about business in the least. Ask what problems are in the work place and fix them. And if you want to gain respect of your staff especially as a new manager, take barbacking shifts.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

:: all the bar's a stage ::

My first talk on Thursday last week at Tales of the Cocktail was entitled "All the Bar's a Stage: Performance, Bravado, and Theatricality in the Bar" hosted by Steve Schneider of Employees Only, Jack McGarry of Dead Rabbit, Julio Cabrera of Regent Cocktail Club, and Joe McCanta of Grey Goose. In figuring out my schedule, I was considering going to the seminar on flair since I lack any flashy cocktail game. Often times people comment that it looks like I am a scientist behind the bar, and well, it is hard to shake years of training. While I did not want to add a juggling routine, adding some extra panache to my tending could not hurt. So when I spotted this talk that covered this and many other less over the top flashy concepts, I figured that this was the right talk for me to hone in on.

Joe began the talk by explaining why we are discussing performance for it is not the drinks business, it is the experience business. He also riffed off of this famous quote:
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. -- Maya Angelou
If you insert things like "exact drinks" or "the bartender" into the quote, it is not hard to view the night out as entertainment; the third dictionary definition of entertainment is "the action of receiving a guest or guests and providing them with food and drink." Joe followed up that the job is people tenders, not bartenders.

In terms of flair, Steve came from a minor flair background with one of his early thirteen years doing tricks; however, a little tin spin can turn people's heads and elevate their experience. "If a movement catches the attention of the guest -- you've got them. And you gave them some sort of experience." While Jack described how his "Flair bartending career began and ended when I flipped a bottle and clipped a 50 inch tv," watching a video of him bartend shows a lot of captivating movements that can instill confidence in the guest. As Joe commented, engagement with the guest is the most important part of the job. The panel also pointed out that flair was nothing new and cited examples of Jerry Thomas and Harry Johnson being performers and utilizing flair.

Tiki culture took this engagement factor a step further for often drinks were being made behind swinging doors, and much effort was put into presentation, ambiance, and escapism. Indeed, it was important to hide the efforts that went into the drink. Moreover, Don the Beachcomber showed his concern for the guest by limiting the number of Zombies and other drinks they could have. "Zombies are like breasts: 1 is too few, 3 is too many, and 2 is just right."

The presenters then compared the job to a variety of other performers. Actors make people believe and offer escapism. How a bartender presents themselves and dresses sets the stage for when guests enter the bar. Steve commented about the first time he walked into Employees Only and was in awe when he saw the uniforms especially how clean they were. Magicians make people suspend their beliefs. Comedians make people laugh; every bartender should know at least one joke. Moreover, perhaps blue drinks came back in classy hotel bars because it is funny. Musicians make people listen, there is a separation between performer and spectator, and the performance is almost a ceremony. Dancers make people watch, and all the movements behind the bars whether with the bottles and tools or the other bartenders can appear graceful and even choreographed.

Next, they discussed the five rules of the performer. One, know your audience. At Dead Rabbit, the bar resembles a stage and the bartenders are encouraged to move and dress like actors. At Employees Only, behind the bar is elevated so not only is the bartender a bit taller, they can see the crowd. While Dead Rabbit's well is set up like a cockpit to ensure quick fluid movements with lots of eye contact, Employees Only is set up to make the bartenders move to get bottles and other ingredients so that they can interact with more guests throughout the night. The Employees Only service protocol also communicates that the guest is being taken care of. Give the guest a menu first especially when they first walk in - even if you are in the middle of making drinks; this buys you some time and makes sure they know they are in the queue. Once a drink order is taken, set the glass in front of them to tell the guest that this drink is for them and to tell your coworkers that the guest is being taken care of.

The second aspect is the arc of the performance. Jazz musician Miles Davis used to have comedians open up for him because he knew it would help prepare the audience to be receptive to his more challenging musical performance. Overall, always leave the guest wanting more; do not under- or over-saturate them, but leave them wanting to come back. The third aspect is know the tools at your disposal. Use the five senses to illicit emotions in the guest. Make it a rule to have every drink engage at least two of these senses. Remember that the choice of serving vessel can change the way a guest engages with your drink.

Four is how trust is built. Offer recommendations. Keep the guest in a good zone by ordering enough but not too much (see Don's Zombie point above). And always have your perspectives as what is right for you is not necessarily right for the guest. Even if you see absinthe and egg whites every day at work, it is incredibly novel for people. Try to relate and keep your frame of reference. Jack commented that trust is built not by being defensive but by being on the side of the guest to provide the ultimate experience. Furthermore, Steve added that hospitality is making people feel safe which includes people around the guest such as the asshole next to him. And finally five, how to be prepared. Calibrate before the shift to be ready. Train yourself and train your movements to appear effortless. Grooming before the shift and looking your best is crucial. And know your bar, know your spirits, and know your drinks.

One final quote that I left out early was when the panel was describing one word to describe bartending, Steve said patience for "Drunk people are crazy... it takes a lot to relate to them."