SPIRITS OF SCOTLAND
BRINGING THE FLAIR
EDITOR’S NOTE Words by MAJA JANKOWSKA
Mixology Masters is what every curious bartender, mixologist and bar manager needs. We care about cocktail making like no one else and work hard to bring you the latest and most important news from the industry. In this issue we cover some of the most current topics in the business from glassware to garnishes and even advice on your own bartending skills. Cocktail culture in Scotland is on the rise and we cater to this, by bringing what no one else has: a magazine, a timeless piece that you will be able to come back to over and over again for tips, tircks and facts of mixology. We hope this magazine will help you flourish in your bartending skills, which will then result in happy and satisfied customers. Although we try to interact and engage in conversations with you via our forum, instagram and twitter – there is nothing we enjoy more than meeting with likeminded readers in person. That’s why we organise master classes where we meet with you and teach news skills! What we love most about the master classes is the option of making contacts and exchanging knowledge with other mixologists or managers. We hope to see you at our next masterclass, to RSVP please wisit our website www.mixology-masters.squarespace.com
Pages 4-7 - Brandy-ology Pages 8-9 - Whisky Sells Pages 10-13 - Spirits of Scotland Pages 14-16 - Mocktails Pages 18-21 - The Perfect Garnish Pages 22-25 - Batch Up! Pages 26-27 - Cocktail Advertising Pages 28-31 - Mixology Materclasses Pages 32-35 - Bringing the Flair Pages 36-37 - Glassware
BRANDY-OLOGY Words by MATT BRYAN
Brandy connoisseurs often enjoy a more advanced level of drinking cognac than their measure with a few blocks of ice. Diluting more to the spirit to add an extra kick and as part of a cocktail is the way forward, especially since drinkers in the younger generations enjoy this drink now. Glasgow mixologist, Paul Halligan, explains how he achieves the best concoction to satisfy the needs of brandy regulars: “It’s first important to establish the route you go down in terms of fruit. For example, the most popular cocktail I make comes from a grape wine brandy - Remy Martin - so I am going for a more pungent drink here.” For most bars in the UK, two house brandies is fairly standard. A point to note for any business starting is to ensure these two stocked are split between fruit brandy and pomace brandy. The reason for this is basically achieving the best possible result when mixing your drink. Typically, pomace brandy mixes better with cocktails as the mash of wine or fruit compliments popular garnishes such as lemon, and even more so any syrup that is added to the drink. On their own, of course, there is a big difference. Clientele will be quick to tell you which brand they prefer, but when making the cocktail, the correct
decision by the bartender is definitely expected. Paul adds: “Brandy cocktails are unique for the same reason as why its drinkers choose brandy over other spirits and particularly whiskey. It’s because it is smoother and distilled through wine and fruits. So this provides a greater variety when mixing cocktails. “The most popular ones are Sidecar and an Old Fashioned; very simple to make and the only real enhancement to the mix is the flavour of fruit. Adding orange liqueur or lemon juice to these will signify a lemon brandy cocktail for example. I would say this is the simplest way to start out when advertising your cocktails. “However, to intrigue customers with a strong mix, I’d specialise in the Brandy Crusta mix following mix: 2 oz. cognac, such as Frapin Cuvee VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale); 1 tsp. simple syrup; 1⁄2 tsp. maraschino liqueur, such as Luxardo. “Don’t worry about adding strength to the mix because together these kicks produce an accomplished blend: 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters; and 2 dashes absinthe. “To finish, give it a twist of lemon peel to garnish.
For cognac, this a bittersweet cocktail but goes down well with people who appreciate the spirit. I have to say, it’s most lively because of the touch of absinthe.” “The mixing instructions, like any cocktail recipe is of paramount importance to ensure that the drink is blended effectively. “Stir cognac, syrup, liqueur, bitters, and absinthe with a bar spoon in a cocktail shaker filled with cracked ice until chilled, about 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass; garnish with lemon twist at the end.” Cognac is primarily a blended spirit. Unlike whiskey blends, which incorporate light, bland spirits made in industrial column stills, cognacs are made up purely of old-fashioned pot-still brandies: older ones to give bouquet, younger ones to keep it lively and fruity. In the case of VS, though, by French law, the youngest cognac in the blend must spend a mere two and a half years in the barrel. That’s not enough time to remove the burn. For spirit-forward drinks, you need something smoother and more concentrated. You need at least a VSOP, blended from cognacs four to 15 years old. Unfortunately, this important factor is costly, just like buying an aged malt, but there are still cost reducing ways of adding brandy to cocktails. The most obvious is Sangria, made up of mainly red wine, so again it would be best to compliment
the wine with fruit brandy from apples or grapes. The variable in Sangria, especially, is the brandy, so you can come and go with the measures. More brandy dominant cocktails, though, are ones such as The Sidecar. Invented in Paris, the capital of wine, it is as easy to make as it is to drink. For drink makers, your own revival of the cocktail won’t do any harm. It’s simple formula welcomes experimental additions. Pour 20ml fresh lemon juice, 20ml Cointreau or triple sec and 40ml cognac into an ice-filled shaker. Shake until icy cold and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of orange. It is that easy and it is a drink that is recommended to start with when advertising brandy cocktails. The Sidecar is quick to make so it is best leaving the time consuming concoctions until the maker is more advanced. An effective way to promote more complex drinks is have taster sessions or have offers on a particular brand so this way it promotes the brandy as well - a good way to suss what your buyers prefer. Nevertheless, there is an array of brandy cocktails to test out. Doing your homework, however, and researching the correct distilled brandies to mix with the drink is vital to promoting them at your bar and having confidence making the best cocktails.
WHISKY SELLS Words by OLIVIA OGILVIE
Many businesses in Glasgow fail to cater for Scotland’s true love for Whisky. Scotland is recognized as the home of Whisky. Whisky production is split between five regions; Highlands and Islands, Campletown, Islay, Lowland and Speyside. It is one of the many spirits that is used in cocktails, whether it be a Scotch, Irish whisky or an American bourbon there are cocktails aplenty sold in bars and restaurants.
have a fixed cocktail list however we do usually have two or three promotional cocktails or drinks offers on at any time, we find this better for us as we get to change it every few weeks and try something new.”
Whisky isn’t the most popular spirit when it comes to cocktails, but it is a very popular drink in Scotland. This leaves a huge gap in the market in which the cocktail industry could be flourishing. In terms of whisky sales, bars could hugely benefit from offering cocktails to encourage non-whisky drinkers to try a whisky based drink which they might not normally have chosen so says Erin, bar manager at whisky bar Dram, Glasgow.
changing selection of cocktails and promo drinks throughout the year.”
Dram is a long established watering hole in the Glasgow’s west end. The bar is a laid back mix of regulars, students and tourists, they stock around eighty malts and pride themselves on their selection of Scottish beers and spirits explains Erin. “From our bar you can expect a lively hub of the community with everything from Glasgow university lectures being held here, fundraising events, comedy nights and plenty of traditional and folk music thrown in.” Although Dram doesn’t have a set cocktail menu they recognise what their customers want and cater for their needs in different ways. “We don’t
“We are currently working on our new drinks menu and again will not have a fixed cocktail section but will continue to offer a
With Dram having no set cocktail menu it means that the different whisky’s sold within the bar can be used in the cocktails they put on promotion every few weeks. Changing things up and experimenting with different whisky’s provides a new and exciting experience for the customer, so that they are trying new whisky cocktails. “Different whiskies do well at different times of the year, we always find that big Islay whiskies (Laphraoig and Langavulin) are popular all year round. We have started offering whisky flights to allow our whisky drinkers to try a selection of different whiskies to find something they like or try something new without spending a fortune.” Cocktails that have been known to use Scotch whisky Laphraoig in them have names such as The Velvet Smoking Jacket, Scottish Cringe, The Islay Word, Kachelofen, Michelada and Drop it like it’s apricot.
Known names of cocktails that use Langavulin are The Belter, Orchard Bonfire, Smoky Martini, Papa’s Pumpkin and Scottish Road. With several cocktail bars in the city, it isn’t limited for choice. Bar Soba is an establishment with three bars in the heart of Glasgow; Mitchell Lane, Byres Road and Merchant City. “The whiskies mostly used in our cocktails are Monkey Shoulder and Auchentoshan Three Wood, the former is more of a premium blend than a lot of other blends on the market, as such reflecting ethos of premium products. The latter has their distillery based just outside Glasgow so as much as we like to use pan-Asian ingredients from the furthest corners of the world, it’s always nice that the premium malt we use is actually distilled just outside Glasgow.” Auchentoshan distillery is a single malt whisky distillery in the West of Scotland. The top three whisky based cocktails sold at Bar Soba are Chilli Shoulder, Smoke Without Fire and Auch, Aye. With plans underway for a new menu launch adding more whisky based cocktails to the menu looks likely. “I’m sure our resident director of drinks will have something up his sleeve for the new menu when it launches”, said Danny. Chilli Shoulder – Monkey shoulder blended malt whisky is given a spicy lift with fresh chilli and
ginger softened by peach puree and liqueur. Smoke Without Fire – Monkey shoulder blended malt is stirred with Lillet Bianc, Maraschino liqueur and a secret mix of bitters to the perfect dilution then served up before being sprayed with a Bowmore 12 mist. Auch, Aye – Auchentoshan Threewood single malt whisky, apricot liqueur, almond syrup lime juice and a drizzle of ruby port. Knowing what types of cocktails sell the best in Glasgow can give businesses inspiration and new ideas to think about expanding what they already have to offer. With a lot of competition on the market each business is out to better themselves to make sure their the ones coming out on top. Danny believes; “ one of the most important things that I always feel that people don’t acknowledge is how aesthetically pleasing cocktails look and how this image can reflect positively on a bars image, this is why we’ll always make an effort to provide our customers with a selection of stylish garnishes. “Additionally in an increasingly competitive market it’s extremely beneficial to have something that sets you apart from other establishments.”
SPIRITS OF SCOTLAND Words by CORINNE HALL
When you think of Scotland and the spirits it has to offer, you think of Whisky. With Whisky being one of the country’s main exports, it is hard not to forget about the other beverages Scotland has. But in fact, Scotland has much more to offer. Valt Vodka and Gilt Gin are two of Scotland’s new finest spirits. Produced in Strathleven Distillers, near Loch Lomond, both drinks are some of the most exciting products on the market with Valt being the first Scottish single malt vodka in the world. Strathleven Distillers describe the Vodka as “the purest tribute to the Scottish pathfinders of generations past, undeniably part of our heritage and without doubt a spirit of the new age.” The taste can be described as “barley sugar and cream” on the nose, “sweet vanilla ice cream” on the tounge and “warm, melting butter” to finish. The distillery went on to explain that the gin was; ”Produced from only the finest malt barley and botanicals of the highest standard.” The taste of the gin is described as “light citrus botanicals” on the nose, “dry with punches of juniper and cardamom” in the taste and “thirst quenching warmth” to finish.
Ayrshire Mixologist, Kirsten Hay, who often uses both Valt and Gilt explained that these spirits are refreshing to use rather than the same old spirits that are traditionally used. “I have used these spirits for a short while now and I cannot recommend them to mixologists enough!” “They are a refreshing take on the spirits that are always used on the bar and the fact that they are homegrown in Scotland is so exciting!” Kirsten says she uses recipies from the Strathleven Distillers website as well as the classics and her own: “These spirits can be used in so many different cocktails”. “Old classics are great to use these spirits in to give them a slight twist with the unique tastes of Valt and Gilt. I like to mix it up too and come up with my own. It’s fun because they have such a different taste and that taste just adds that little something to the cocktails that you make!” The sprits retail at £25 a bottle and are a great addition to any bar for not only cocktails but for
single use also. Having such distinctive drinks on a bar are great assets especially to use in cocktails and put a spin on classic ingredients. With spirits so notable for their taste created right here in Scotland it is clear that the country has much more to offer in our spirits than just Whisky! With these drinks so widely available to bars many mixologists would advise others attempt using these spirits. Kirsty says: â€œI would highly recommend mixologists to try out these out and notice the difference in taste to their cocktails. Theyâ€™re just fresh new ways to give your cocktails a little switch up from the same usual thing.â€? Valt and Gilt are both fun new spirits that are making a serious splash in the mixology industry. Both of these spirits are perfect for cocktails and both Valt and Gilt have their own cocktails published on the Starthleven Distillers website as examples
of just some of the many cocktails you can make with these drinks:
The distillers recommend a cocktail called Old Fashioned to make using Gilt:
One of the cocktails that Strathleven Distillers recommends is the Strawberry and Sage Martini:
â€œA natural match for Gilt. The malt character that hides in the background of the juniper lends itself well to the mix of bitters and sugar, providing the warmth that you would usually associate with this drink, along with slight vanilla and barley notes.â€?
- 35mls VALT Vodka - 3 Sprigs Sage - 3 Strawberries - 1/2 Bar Spoon Rose Syrup - 50mls Pressed Apple - Dash Sugar Syrup Muddle Sage & Strawberries in a Boston glass, add all other ingredients and shake well. Double strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a strawberry slice and sage leaf.
- 1 sugar cube - 2 dashes bitters - 1 teaspoon water - 50mls Gilt Place the sugar in an Old-Fashioned glass or other smallish heavy-bottomed tumbler. Add 2 dashes bitters and a teaspoon of water and muddle the sugar until it dissolves. Add 50 mls of Gilt stir well, and add 2 large ice cubes. Let sit for a couple of minutes and enjoy.
MOCKTAILS Words by AGATHA LATORRE
As life goes on, the world changes and we evolve. We are constantly moving and creating new trends; while alcohol and cocktails were at their peak years ago, â€˜mocktailsâ€™ are climbing their way to the top of the menu. Many people between the ages of 20 and 30 have decided to quit drinking alcohol. Whether this is a trend or simply a change of mentality from youth; a poll from Facebook has shown how peoples interest in alcohol has decreased.
“You can make so much money out of mocktails. The products are a lot cheaper, you can make something for pennies and sell them at a reasonable price.” Luckily for all the cocktail bars out there, staying sober has become a trend; This supports the possibility of earning more money for less cost. It’s true, everyone can make a mocktail if they have the expertise, but not everyone advertises it. Scott Liddle, the Manager of the Newmarket, a new cocktail bar and restaurant in Ayr told us his view on mocktails: “We started having a mocktail menu because people kept asking for them and its very important to provide your customers with what they need from you as a bar.” The life and the fuel of any business is their customers. Nowadays in a society where drinking and driving is unacceptable and laws are far stricter, cocktail bars should not underestimate the potential that offering a ‘mocktail’ menu could have on their business. Scott Liddle, Manager of the Newmarket cocktail bar, states: “I believe that mocktails and non-alcoholic drinks in general are a very wise investment, especially with the zero tolerance when driving, people are simply deciding they don’t want to get drunk anymore, or at least not as much.” People are deciding that drinking alcohol does not interest them, whether this is because they are driving; they have to work the next day or they simply don’t feel like it, cocktail bar customers generally still want to have fun and enjoy their evening. Empathising with customers is what makes a business successful, it takes time and interest in their lives to know what they like to then consequently become a part of their lives. Just as the business management philosopher Peter Druker said: “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells himself.” After all, trends come and go and people develop different tastes and with them; business plans should do the same.
Anne, one of many people involved in the poll states how mocktails make her feel more accepted while out drinking with friends: “I feel awkward going out with my friends and drinking a can of cola while they are all holding a glass of vodka or rum. I believe that mocktails make me think I’m less of an outcast when I am going out, because I still have a fancy drink in my hands, but I’m not getting drunk and I am less aware of it in a way.” While alcohol is and has always been a solid business, non-alcoholic drinks have been increasing in popularity throughout the past decade. While every bar offers alcohol not all offer mocktails or an alternative alcohol-free drinks list. Ross Frame, 24 is the Assistant Manager of Furys night club in Ayr and as someone who has been working behind a bar for over seven years, he knows what his customers like: “We look at all trends that are kicking around whether it’s vodka, beer or mocktails. It’s always something you need to watch and something that affects your sales.” “You may not want alcohol in your system but you do want something that tastes like it without getting drunk. It’s always a positive thing to be able to show your customers everything that you are able to do for them, and if what they want is alcohol-free, why not offer it?” Every bar that makes cocktails can easily make mocktails, as they are made up of different flavoured syrups, juices and sugar which will probably already be in stock list for the cocktails. Bar staff may already be aware that this is possible but regular customers will not know this without advertising. The display of products is an important part of business and for customers it is important to see the variety of products, even if these are as simple as a can of cola or a beer. The more they see, the more they consume. Which is after all every bar’s aim: to sell. Mocktails are cheap to make as they lack the most expensive ingredient. The products they are made of cost less and while making them may require a little more expertise, it will be easy to achieve with cocktail training. Ross Frame, Assistant Manager of Furys states:
THE PERFECT GARNISH Words by MATT BRYAN
Garnishes are just as important to any drink now as the spirits mixed in the glass. The instruments once used to only enhance flavour to a cocktail are now widely regarded as the focal point of the overall presentation. Most commonly, twists of fruit peel are used to compliment the general flavour of the cocktail. For example, a Gin Fizz will always be finished with lemon sitting on the rim of the glass, and a Strawberry Daiquiri, a slice of strawberry. The importance of garnishes is also to spell out the flavour of the cocktail or the main theme. A quick glance to someone sipping out a high glass and you want to know what they are drinking. Usually the fruit on the glass should give this away. Similarly, olives are linked to drinks such as martinis. Garnishes are the frontline of most cocktails in terms of presentation. With this in mind, it is important that they are displayed the best way they can be. An idea for this, to make the most out of your garnishes is the way they are cut. For fruit peels like orange, have them cut in glowing shapes like stars. However, the star shape should be linked appropriately and this can be as simple as ordering a drink at night time - the star decor displays this theme. More commonly, this imagery is seen on beach cocktails like daiquiris. Lemon peels are often arranged together to look like palm trees. The same can be done with slices of kiwi, but be careful not to conflict the flavour of the drink.
A safe option with the beach theme is using green leaves on a cocktail stick to display the tree and sprinkle with sugar. Local bartender, Jordan Swan, believes presentation is key when making cocktails and garnishes add a lot to this: “Most people don’t realise the different options you have with garnishes. When I started out I used lemons and limes and to differentiate similar looking drinks but of course there is a lot more to it than that. “The first thing I would say to keep in mind when garnishing a cocktail is that presentation is extremely important and you should use whatever achieves this best. So with this in mind, it doesn’t even need to be an edible garnish. “By this I mean obvious ones, firstly, so like cocktail umbrellas and cocktail monkeys. Then, what is also regarded as extreme garnishing is fire or sparklers on drinks. This is 100% presentation and it is amazing how little effort it is for the bartender but goes a long way to the drinker. It’s brilliant for occasions, like birthdays, parties and so on. “I think it’s a difficult thing to bear in mind when making cocktails because it is something you just need to know as a bartender. Customers will ask for an extra dash of juice with their drink but they will never ask for an extra decoration. It is just something that is appreciated. They are paying for your knowledge in this also, so knowing what is best to garnish a particular drink is a key
skill to have behind the bar and should not be underestimated. “I would say it is advisable to gain as much background information to cocktails as possible when working in a bar just so you are providing the best when making your drinks. Have lots of different garnish options available and even be creative with them. Good knowledge of what goes well with what drink will allow you to do this.” As much as a garnish can enhance good presentation in a drink, it is equally important to be careful not to spoil the overall look as well. With some drinks, less is more, and some don’t really require any extra decoration. Simple cocktails such as Sex on the Beach and Woo Woo are examples of this. While garnishes here are optional, it is good practice to stay mindful of not overdoing it. Again, experience and good knowledge is key.
BATCH UP! Words by MAJA JANKOWSKA
Busy restaurants can often find it tricky to keep up with making their cocktails to a high quality standard. As a business owner you donâ€™t want to make your customers wait too long before they receive their drink. Long waiting times result in bad reviews, and you all know that customers are more likely to leave a bad review than a good one. So to keep your stars, or Facebook ratings it is good practice to prepare in advance. Batching for cocktails will make your work a lot easier during busy times, or even during big functions.
Batching will speed things up and make the work easier for less experienced bartenders. Thomas Miller, bartender at A’Challtainn Fish Restaurant & Bar tells us he finds that: “ Batching significantly speeds up the process and is easy to understand by bartenders at all levels”. Batching is also favoured by more experienced mixologists. Calvin Ross, has worked as head bartender in several restaurants and cocktail bars around the country. In his opinion batching does not only speed things up but also: “with the alcoholic contents of each drink being married together pre-service the drinks going out to guests are consistent as there’s less human error involved due to pressure during a busy service” For your benefit, Calvin came up with five key tips for bars who are looking to introduce batching into their cocktail making process: 1. Think about the space! “If you decide to take the step towards batching ingredients for your drinks menu you need to think about the extra space needed on the bar to store the bottles
themselves”. 2. Don’t over do it! “You will need to work out how much of each product you’ll need in each individual serve but then use that to make maybe 2-3 liter ma at a time” 3. Manage your time! “Batching can be quite time consuming in itself too so it’s a good idea to have an off service shift to manage it properly” 4. Keep it fresh! “Never add anything perishable to your batching ie fruits or sugars as they’ll spoil and waste will become a very expensive issue. Ideally only alcoholic ingredients as they’ll keep for the longest. So perishables should be added during the preparation of the drink on service.” 5. Stay Informed! Finally, make sure you keep all of your staff up to date with the latest processes. “Teach your staff measurements and ratios to make sure the drinks are mixed properly.” Let us know on the forum if you decide to go ahead and start batching for your cocktails in advance!
COCKTAIL ADVERTISING Words by AGATHA LATORRE
“Glamour is what I sell, it’s my stock in trade.” Marlenne Dietrich got it right, and after all what are cocktails if not glamorous? Part of the charm of these beverages lies in their appearance and just like the German actress stated, it is the ‘glamour’ of cocktails that after all makes them enticing to the public. The drink must be eye-catching as it is what the customers will see first and when it comes to cocktails it all comes down to the appearance. We speak with ‘Tiki Bar & Kitschinn’ a cocktail bar based in Glasgow to hear about their ‘look’: “The idea behind our bar is that everything is home made. When we where doing the research for our cocktail menu we decided that we had to do it in a unique way so we printed it simulating an old caribbean sign from the 1930’s.”
With more than 15 different cocktail offers and each one of them with a peerless vessel design, Tiki Bar is an upgrowing cocktail bar in Glasgow. Their secret, as the social media manager stated is based on one of the biggest parts of a business: advertisement! “We take pictures of each cocktail for the menu. Each one of them are unique in the way that all of them have a precise vessel. I believe this is what makes us a bit different from other cocktail bars. The visual aspect of our drinks is what makes our social media take over our guests. If you think about the modern perception of social media where a picture is worth a thousand words it´s probably why we have reached more people than generic bars.” Instagram, Facebook, Pintrest… The society in which we live nowadays is all about image and visual appeal. In a world where information is constantly being thrown in our faces and which we can then access with just one click; the best way of getting noticed as abusiness is by anouncing yourself properly. But Tiki Bar aren’t the only ones who have noticed the potential of social media and are aware of the benefits of its use when it comes to business plans. ‘Blue Dog’ is one of the most succesful cocktail bars in Glasgow, serving 99 varieties of cocktails for over 13 years. Jamie Alexander, one of the bar’s supervisors talks about their advertisement and the importance of social media on the growth of their business: “We mainly use social media to advertise ourselves, it’s the best way to reach all the public, I think. We upload all the pictures of our venue and the different kinds of cocktails on our website and on Facebook, where you can see how the bar is set up.”
Enquiries have shown that social media is not only for young people anymore. Facebook users range from teenagers to people of old age. While social media can be used for many reasons such as being in contact with friends, or announcing to the world that you got a new job it is also a very useful marketing tool to reach all kinds of customers, just like Tiki Bar and Blue Dog have found out themselves: “Our customers are young people ranging from 18 to 60 all asking for cocktails.” Nevertheless, promotions such as Keyfobs, flyers or member cards, are still being used and are a great way to advertise. Blue Dog, despite their big success, still use these ways of advertisement to engage with their public: “We have a thing called ‘Dog Dog? which is kind of like a memeber card and you can get discounts with it on a choice of 5 to 6 different cocktails. We offer them when you order a drink.” One thing is clear; a good advertisement is key for sales and in our era social media is part of that key. Just as the psychologist Joyce Bothers stated: “A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success.” It happens that it all comes down to one thing in the cocktail business: how you present yourself. Whether you are a famous actress or a cocktail bar, looks matter and the better you look the more people you attract.
M I XO LO G Y MASTERCLASS Words by HAZEL URQUHART
More and more bars and establishments are starting to offer cocktail masterclasses, I spoke to Kieran Van Kessel head bartender at the Corinthian, Glasgow about his experience bar owners to running these classes and why he would encourage others to offer these too.
Would you recommend other businesses to offer these services? “Absolutley, they’re cheap to run as all of your staff will already have the knowledge of the cocktails and you can charge up to £45 per head, whilst you’re only really making six or seven cocktails cocktails.” How long does an average class last? “Well that depends on the amount of people there, usually an hour, maybe two if you have over ten people” Who are your usual customers? “Mostly hen nights, and the occasional birthday, it can be fun actually, given they are in the right mood, however sometimes your jokes fall on deaf ears. I have one-liners that get me through and one of my go-to’s is to tell them that when they are
shaking the cocktail that they are doing their ‘sex face’. This normally goes down well as they become embarrassed and all laugh, however you have to know your audience as I was once almost slapped by a bride-to-be once.” What was your most exciting masterclass? “Well Paolo Nutini once helped me out shaking a few cocktails. I probably shouldn’t have told the women that he was in the building but as soon as I did they were hysterical, and demanded he be brought in. He even dropped the shaker and ruined the cocktail but he’s unbreakable because he’s Paolo.” Why are these classes so successful? “Because they are so much fun and allow the people to maybe learn a little more about cocktails. These classes have also been great for my reputation at work, as
we will often get reviewed online and this can reflect well on not only the bar organising it but also the bartender who served you that day.â€? In the past 10 years the popularity of these cocktail masterclasses has increased rapidly throughout Scotland. With more and more customers asking for these classes, it is vital that you are able to keep up with the forever changing trends and offer as many services as possible. This can initially seem like a daunting task however these classes can be organised with very little additional training which is paid back tenfold in good reviews.
BRINGING THE FLAIR Words by OLIVIA OGILVIE
Flair bartending is a technique practised by bartenders to entertain guests, customers or audiences using various bar tools such as cocktail shakers and liquor bottles. Occasionally used in cocktail bars, flair bartending requires skills commonly associated with jugglers. This skill has become a desired talent among venue owners and marketers to advertise the opening of an establishment or to advertise a brand of alcohol. Essentially, a flair bartender is someone who provides an extra dazzle and a little excitement to the customers drinking experience. Some bartenders use tricks such as juggling and others use captivating jokes and stories or a mix of both.
David Monaghan, a professional flair bartender and owner of Bar Dynamics explained to us what his job entails. “I do lots of random stuff. I do mobile cocktail bars for special events such as product launch events, new bar opening parties, hen nights and corporate events. I also teach professional bartending classes and I do consulting which sometimes involves helping a bar change to a cocktail bar or improve their cocktail service.” Adding a bit of flair to your bartending style could make the job more fun and add a stylish approach to the business you work within. This can also make a customer more confident in the bartender’s ability where they then believe their cocktails are much tastier or sophisticated due to the skills of the bartender. Bartenders that have the skill of flair provide themselves with a higher chance of different job opportunities. “In my classes I have been teaching that flair bartending is really just about being visually impressive bartender and by adding visual techniques to your skill-set, mixologists can really improve a customers experience by adding entertainment, provide a nice talking point and results in people reminiscing about their experience at a bar.” This approach can be beneficial to businesses also as it will help build a larger base of regulars that will bring in more money and get people talking
about what they have seen and as the word spreads businesses will gain more customers. “I defiently think bars can benefit from using flair, having bar staff that are visually skilled will improve the customers experience and confidence in the establishment. In other cases having flair bartenders can be a great way to give a bar a unique selling point, provide entertainment and create a buzz around a bar.” There are a few bars that support flair including TGI Friday’s and Hard Rock cafe, both establishments are best known for their wide selection of cocktails where you can stand at the bar and watch as your cocktail is made. If you want to learn flair there are different ways to go about it, online courses, training courses or within your job. This is another aspect of David’s job, “I teach a flair bartending course at Tennents training academy, this has been running for about a year now. Glasgow has a real lack of flair bartending at the moment, when I first started about 9 years ago there were lots of competitions and workshops, however there hasn’t been a Scottish competition for about 6 years. I am in process of organising a series of competitions in Scotland, which will help to nurture the culture of flair bartending here, it will be great for the bartending scene, as there are lots of enthusiastic up and coming bartenders.”
GLASSWARE Words by HAZEL URQUHART
As we all know, there are various vital factors which contribute to making the perfect cocktail, but did you know the most important ingredient of all is the glass they are served in? I spoke to Scott Henderson, trainee bar manager at Hillhead bookclub in Glasgow about the different varieties of Glassware and its importance to the cocktail. Many bars fail to keep up the quality of their glassware which inevitably downgrades the quality of the drinks they serve in them. Glassware can be very expensive to maintain due to the inevitability of breakages and damage to the products. For this reason it can be difficult for a bar to always have a uniform glass cabinet. However the importance of the glasses in which the drinks are served should not be underestimated, says Henderson: “You could serve an old fashioned in a martini glass and it would automatically become girly and may push your mind away from the classic masculine feel. It’s funny, you can tell when a guy doesn’t know his cocktails and feels emasculated when handed a pink foamy drink in a pretty martini class” As most mixologists will learn in their training, there is a reason for the varying glassware we use for different cocktails aside from the overall appearance of the drink. For each cocktail, glasses
have been specifically designed to complement their unique flavours. Louise Munroe, bartender at the Corinthian, Glasgow said: “when people put big long straws in their cocktails they ruin them. So much of the taste comes from your nose, that’s why when we make mojitos we are supposed to put the mint garnish beside the little straw, so that when the customer brings it to their face, they not only taste the mint but they smell it too, emphasising the flavour.” It can be easy to fall into the trap of recycling old glasses from events and sales promotion’s past. This is completely understandable, why would you throw away perfectly good glasses when you have drunken customers smashing yours on a regular basis for no extra charge? You wouldn’t, therefore you don’t. These glasses may be great for niche quirky establishments, the kind of place that would serve you a beer in an old mason jar for example. However if you want to uphold the standard of your bar as one which provides high standard, good tasting cocktails then it is crucial to keep up she standards of your glassware, says Henderson: “you could be drinking the best champagne in the world but if you were drinking it out of an old beer
glass, it wouldn’t quite be the same, and that’s not all down to appearance” The appearance of the cocktail is however not to be underestimated. It is the first thing that draws the customer to the drink and the more colourful and creative your cocktail looks, the more likely it is for a customer to be drawn to it. This is not only important when trying new cocktails but when presenting classics such as French martini’s or mojito’s the customer will probably have already been served in the past, if they know what this drink looks like,you must make sure not only to match the previous quality, but surpass it: “The Look of the cocktail reflects on the service standards of your establishment and producing stylish, clean looking cocktails you can highly impact the professionalism of your bar.”