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MIXOLOGY

WITH WARREN BOBROW

Efficiency Behind The Bar

I

’ve been traveling a lot lately, mostly out to the West Coast. Sometimes I find myself in an unfamiliar place and need some much-appreciated hospitality. One of the places that catches my eye consistently is San Francisco. Hospitality is woven into the social thread of this city by the bay. One of the ways that a cocktail bar can do to “raise the bar” is always set a glass of water down in front of your guest. I know I’ve discussed this before, but it draws an efficiency correlation. How can I run, or work in an efficient bar if I’m supposed to put a glass of water down in front of my guest? The answer is two-fold. If you have a bar-back, it should be their primary responsibility to “water the guest” before restocking the beer cooler. There is more than enough time to get the back-work done before or after your guests arrive. I’m not saying that this action should be forced, only that it looks like it’s fun! Efficiency is doing this without having to ask. Another efficiency that your barback should be performing is the cutting of the ice. If you are not cutting your own ice for your high-end drinking program, you’re missing all the fun! Take a gander at You-Tube sometime and gaze wistfully at the Japanese when they hand-cut their ice for cocktails. No one is saying to make your ice like theirs, you never will. (OK, you might, but most don’t want to) The process for your bar-back is simple. The ice need not be perfectly clear. Rough chips look better when they are cloudy, they force the drink-

er into the three-dimensionality of the glass. But how is this efficient? By making your own ice, the passion for the craft is exemplified. It shows that you are interested in something more than just serving drinks. Anyone can serve drinks. To be ultra-efficient in your establishment you have to take some risks. One of these is the ice program. Another one that I am insistent on is the fresh juice program. Fresh juices just taste better. It’s essential for a cocktail bar or even the service bar at the country club to produce fresh juices for their mixed drinks. If I can teach anything at all to the up and coming mixologist/bartender that bottled juices will never bring your drinks up to a World Class level. You will be doomed to making airline drinks, forever! You know how flat and boring it is to drink a cocktail while flying. Your palate doesn’t bring anything to the table because of the altitude.

18 • July 2019 • Total Food Service • www.totalfood.com

Now, enter the realm of efficiency. Your bar-back is making hand-cut ice and they are making all your juices, freshly squeezed. It’s your signature, scratch-made cocktails with scratch-made juices. Do you think that your chef is the only one with a culinary degree? Many bartenders and mixologists, me included, are former chefs and cooks. I happen to also be a former bar-back and dishwasher/pot scrubber. Not too many food or liquor writers have that authenticity behind them. Because you work in the hospitality industry, you must portray an image of professionality and kindness. My friend Gaz Regan calls it mindful bartending and I couldn’t find a better name to consider packing into your tool-kit of knowledge. It’s essential to run an efficient bar, you have lists of things to get done. Starting with mindfulness, this is the first thing that you instruct yourself every single day. To be on the ball is what I was taught as a boy. Make it look like you are busy, water the guests- small talk (not too deep!), be a friend to your customer/ guest. (Again, not too deep, but be a friend) Talk about your ice program, your artisan spirits program, your recent trip to see how they make Mezcal. Possibly your joining the USBG? (That’s our bartending guild, if you didn’t know already) You can make bar work fun, or it can be a real drag. No one expects you to have a great day, every day. However, creating interesting tasks such as cutting really cool rounds, cubes and chunks of ice in front of your guest

Warren Bobrow is the creator of the popular blog The Cocktail Whisperer and the author of nearly half a dozen books, including Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktails, Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails, and his most recent book Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, & Tonics.

is one of the most memorable things I’ve ever done. They will always remember it. Everyone who sees this process wants their specialty spirit to be poured, ever so eloquently over the top of a pristine ice cube. Maybe you’d like to have a juicer right up on the bar? I saw those several times in San Francisco and up in the Wine/Cannabis Country. There is something to be said for releasing the fresh citrus oils into the air when juicing on the spot. The initial cost of a commercial juicer is quickly realized when your guests taste the results. Efficiency. We talked about ice, we talked about juicing. Now a cocktail made with your new ice and your newfound juices, which they are using in every single place, no matter how humble in California. They just get it on the word that is mostly forgotten in high volume, low passion restaurants

continued on page 106

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July 2019 - Total Food Service  

From totalfood.com - Total Food Service's July 2019 Digital Issue features an exclusive Q&A Interview with restaurateur & author Stratis Mor...