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What Rambo learned at Bartending School today

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by Rambo, Jul 15, 2011.

  1. Rambo

    Rambo Senior member

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    In the vain of Manton's culinary school thread I thought I'd document this here.

    So a few months back, on a whim, I bought a Groupon for a local bartending school. I figured, hey, what the hell! It was 75% off and seemed like a good way to get some skills. I'd had the thing sitting around for a while, but since I might be moving in the upcoming weeks, I thought I best take advantage of it now since its already a good 30 miles from my current house and the distance will only get greater from there.

    Class started Wednesday night and runs M-Th 6-10. No breaks. I'm not going to have pics like Manton did but I did get some interesting information that you guys might enjoy.

    On Wednesday we learned the basic mechanics of the bar and positioning of liquors, tools, etc.. Underneath the bar you have your Jockey Box. This is where the ice is stored for making all your drinks. (its basically just a big stainless steel tub). Generally, the Jockey Box has compartments on the sides for storing bottles of juices and mixes. Those would include - Orange, Pineapple, Cranberry, Grapefruit, Sour Mix, Pina Colada, Bloody Mary, and Red Bull. In front of that you have your Speed Rack. The Speed Rack is where all your house (read:shitty) liquors go. From left to right or right to left they always go in order - Vodka, Gin, Rum, Tequila, and Triple Sec. Some variation of these five will always be in your speed rack. You will also usually have - American Whiskey, Scotch Whiskey, American Bourbon, Grenadine, Lime Juice, Sweet Vermouth, and Dry Vermouth. The Call Rack is where you keep a few of the premium or most popular name brand liquors. For instance, if your bar made a Margarita with Cointreau, and it was something that was very popular there, you'd keep it in the Call Rack. Call because people would have to "call" out the name to you. The under bar area would also include some sort of Three Sink System - from left to right or right to left it will always be in order - Hot soapy water, then a warm water rinse, and then a sanitizer bath. The hot soapy water basin usually includes a scrub brush or two to help with washing. The sanitizer bath is usually made with a sanitizer tablet of some sort. The top of the bar will usually have your Garnish Tray which will include - Lime wedges, lemon wedges, cherries, olives, onions, lemon twists, orange slices, mint leaves, and pineapple.

    We also learned the basis of the Free Pour - Free pouring is essentially a speed trick designed to help the bartender knock out drinks quickly. The system is simple - 4 seconds = 1oz. You can adjust accordingly from there. For example, if you needed 1.5oz you'd pour for 6 seconds. Now, all this is done through a pour spout, so if you don't have one on your bottle, none of this timing will work. The method is simple - the side of the index finger goes on the side of the pour spout (because its common for them to fall out of the bottle) and the rest of your hand grips the neck of the bottle. The bottle is held up with the hand and the motion is a twist of the wrist. 1, 2, 3, and 4, and then the bottle is brought back upright and put back in the Speed Rack. The bottle is kept at a 45 degree angle. Anything steeper than that will inhibit the pour flow out of the spout. NOTHING IS EVER LEFT ON THE BAR! (Drunks will take anything that's not nailed down).

    We also learned about how the bar is setup:

    The Top Bar - is the front top portion of the bar. Its known as the counter (basically, where your drinks are served to you). The back portion of this is known as The Rail. All drinks are mixed on The Rail Drinks are NEVER mixed on the top bar. They are mixed on The Rail and then served to the customer.

    The Under Bar - is located behind the bar and is where your sinks, drains, ice, and other equipment is stored. Your Speed Rack is back here as well.

    The Back Bar - holds your glassware and stock reserve. If the place your working doesn't have a Speed Rack or House Well section then they will usually be stored in the upper and lower portion of the Back Bar. The items there are usually grouped according to styles - Vodka, Gin, etc..

    Next, we started to learn about making drinks and which glasses they go in. First - The Highball drinks. Highball drinks are 1 part liquor to two parts mixer but this can very in every bar from 1.5 - 2oz of liquor. For the purposes of my instruction (and this explanation) it will remain 1oz liquor. This is a good example of a Highball Glass:
    [​IMG]

    If someone asks for it "tall" that means more mixers and ice than usual and its then generally served in a Collins glass. Just for clarification, this is a Collins glass (they're taller and thinner than the Highball glasses):
    [​IMG]

    If someone asks for it "double" - that means 2x the amount of liquor used. Often, tall is confused with double, so they say to ask the patron which they want.

    ProTip - Highball drinks are "and" drinks. If someone asks for anything with and in the name, its served in a highball glass. Examples - gin AND tonic, vodka AND tonic, vodka AND cranberry, etc..

    These drinks are always served on the rocks (unless specified) and with a garnish. Garnishes go as such:

    Tonic = Lime
    Grenadine = Cherry
    Fruit juices = Cherry and/or Oranges

    In the next post I'll go into the Highball recipes.
     
    2 people like this.
  2. kwilkinson

    kwilkinson Senior member

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    This thread has some coolness potential if you in fact learn real cocktails and not shit like vodka martinis and sex and the city cosmos.
     
  3. origenesprit

    origenesprit Senior member

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    This is a cool thread, keep posting please.
     
  4. mordecai

    mordecai Senior member

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    "Blessing" is a strange martini request. I've seen someone ask for it, and the bartender do it without raising an eyebrow. I always wondered if it was taught in bartending schools or just passed along by practice. To be honest, I don't even remember why I know about it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011
  5. milosz

    milosz Senior member

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    The key with the pour is just to learn your own count rather than thinking of it as relating to real time. I've known bartenders who counted 4, 5 or 6 for the exact same shot pour. And eventually it becomes muscle memory, counting unnecessary.
     
  6. Rambo

    Rambo Senior member

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    We don't get into Martini's until next week. I'll try and remember to ask about it for you.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011
  7. Rambo

    Rambo Senior member

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    True, its completely personal, but using an odd number would be difficult to half or quarter. The 4 count makes the division very simple.
     
  8. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Can you find out when people started hating vermouth? I don't get it, a martini tastes awful without a significant percentage of the stuff.
     
  9. mordecai

    mordecai Senior member

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    In Jerusalem I ordered a martini and was given a tall glass of straight vermouth, and then again when I sent it back.
     
  10. Rambo

    Rambo Senior member

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    Well, according to our instructional manual, the drink became popular in the 30's and used a 1-1 ratio back then. Then, in the 40's, it started to use a 2-1 or a 3-1 gin/vermouth ratio. It even goes on to say that "today, very little dry vermouth is used, and vodka has become the liquor of choice."
     
  11. mordecai

    mordecai Senior member

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    "five parts gin and a quick glance at a bottle of vermouth," - Alfred Hitchcock

    "Give me a tumbler of gin while bowing in the direction of France." - Winston Churchill

    "Just let the vermouth blow a kiss at the gin" - Walter Matthau in A Face in the Crowd
     
  12. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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  13. Rambo

    Rambo Senior member

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    I've seen recipes for a dry martini where they say to fill the glass up with ice, pour some vermouth in, drain it out, and then pour the gin over the vermouth'ed ice. People seem to hate the shit with a passion.
     
  14. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    You have to order a martini cocktail. Martini, to a lot of furriners, means a glass of Martini and Rossi vermouth.
     
  15. Ambulance Chaser

    Ambulance Chaser Senior member

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    It sounds like this school is more geared toward preparing students to work behind a standard bar (i.e., a bar that is neither specializing in cocktails nor part of a nice restaurant) than toward learning how to make cool cocktails. My wholly unsupported speculation is that 90% of cocktails served at such a bar are really simple along the lines of vodka cranberry, G&T, Jack & Coke, etc., so I doubt the school will teach students how to make a Sidecar, much less an Aviation. In any event, cocktail recipes are really easy to come by in books or on the internet. Still a cool thread to learn about the workings of a bar.
     
  16. mordecai

    mordecai Senior member

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    This is usually the normal process when I order it, unless I tell them to do otherwise.
     
  17. whodini

    whodini Senior member

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    This is sort of true, but I was taught to make a sidecar.

    I took tending school while I was in college and a few of my observations were:

    -From a manual of 50+ drinks, maybe 35 of them I've never seen or heard of again.
    -From a manual of 50+ drinks, maybe 35 or more will have their own variations. For example, if you ordered a .357 at a bar and DIDN'T get a confused look, you'd probably not get what you had in mind. You could argue with the staff and they'd either tell you: a) that's how they learned how to make it, b) that's what's in their bar manual, or c) "Well, you fucking idiot, if you want a complicated cocktail just tell us how to make it."
    -If you try to order something special at a bar, 95% of bartenders won't know it or will have forgotten it. The good ones will be upfront and ask you what's in it, the rest will invent their own concoction and then pull the "that's how I learned it" routine.
    -There's a reason why those bottles in the bar collect dust. Who the fuck has ever ordered Benedictine or know what Sloe Gin is?
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011
  18. Grenadier

    Grenadier Senior member

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    I came across this YouTube series awhile ago; about 25-30 videos of how to make a variety of drinks. The host is an old-school New Orleans bartender from the Library Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton; very classy.

    Here is the one for the mint julep:

    [VIDEO][/VIDEO]
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011
  19. willpower

    willpower Senior member

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    "Then comes the zenith of Man's pleasure. The julep, the mint julep. Who has not tasted one has lived in vain." Holy jeez, the guy might be the coolest bartender ever.





    Rambo, keep it up it. Interesting read.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011
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  20. Blackhood

    Blackhood Senior member

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    Liked and subscribed. I've actually been looking for something similar for a good while now.
     

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