This Monday night, I broke with my usual routine (walk dog, play with dog, feed dog, laze around house, eat at some point myself, have the bedtime of a toddler), and went to a bartending course. It’s called ‘Get into the Spirit’, and it’s taught as a workshop for this bartending school called Bartenderone. It is a bit pricey, but you do get three hours of tutelage, and the option of purchasing bar things for really low prices afterwards. Also, I got a discounted version, so I only spent about $35 for a $100 course.
For those of you who aren’t on the bandwagon yet, these sites are AMAZING for deals on entertainment and other generally useful things:
… I’m sure there are even more outside of my area, and they’re all awesome.
Back to the drink mixing course, though. I was already running late when I hit the first roadblock – the door was locked. Flustered, late, and tired, I made it inside by a roundabout route, and barely skimmed the release form before signing it.
… not held responsible for injury due to flair, allergies, apocalypse, heart attack, alcohol, rocky barstools, bar-related activities in general… sure, sounds good.
I was in the middle of the signature when Robin Williams popped up from behind the bar, grinned a Robin-Williams grin and said, “I hope you read that, Ope! Too late!”, in a Robin-Williams voice, after which he swiped the paper out from under my pen and walked off. If it weren’t for the fact that Robin Williams was the one to say this, it would have sounded ominous. No, wait… it sounded ominous anyways. I racked my brain for the potential terrible things hidden amongst the bartending slang terms and rejections of responsibility. Were they also not responsible if they purposely poisoned me with the beverages they served?! Is that how they stay out of criminal court? “Well, she did accept that risk in the waiver!”… “Oh, ok then. The family is not allowed to sue you, then, for killing their daughter/sister”
Well, the guy was a Robin Williams look-alike, anyways. But a really really realistic one! It was like Robin Williams was cloned, and that clone was a few years younger than him, and had decided to take up bartending, and teaching bartending.
He started off explaining to us the optimal amount of ice. My first instinct upon ordering a drink is to ask for no ice. Not, as some might think, in order to increase the amount of alcohol I get in my drink. Mostly, I just don’t like my drinks that that cold. However, in bartender land, that ice quantity is a fail.
For most mixed drinks, bartenders consider ‘Three over’ to be the ideal amount. And it makes sense, when it’s explained. I’ll still ask for my non-alcoholic beverages with no ice, though. The explanation is based around ordering a rum and coke. You are paying for ONE ounce of rum. The coke is ‘on the house’, basically. No matter how much or little ice is in there, you’ll be getting ONE ounce of rum (a shot), but the amount of coke changes. If your ice is piled 3 over, you will get about 4 ounces of coke. This should create a nicely balanced drink, in which you can taste the alcohol, but aren’t basically taking a shot of slightly coke-flavored rum. The version in which you’ve only got one or two pieces of ice either looks half empty, because they only put the 4 oz. of coke, or is full, but has nearly 8 oz of coke in it. One version, you’re thinking you’re getting ripped off, and in the other version, you’re highly suspicious of whether they actually put alcohol in. Either way, that 6 dollar drink is not looking like 6 dollars worth of drink. Another excellent reason to have your glass that full of ice is that it all takes longer to melt than the small amount of ice you might otherwise have put in. So having a glass full of ice won’t water down your drink nearly as much as one or two ice cubes will.
He taught us how to pour one ounce through a standard drink pourer thing (bottle pourer – thisnext.com )… you’ll need to practice to figure out the right pace to set for yourself, but the count is : Bubble 2 3 4. The double syllable on bubble accounts for the lag in the liquor from twisting the bottle right upside down, as well as the ‘one’ count.
Then, he taught us some drinks. He showed us how it was done, and then we all went back behind the bar to try our bartending skills. Using water, of course. He then made each of the drinks and poured us tiny cups of them to sample. Basically a ‘this is how it is supposed to taste’ sampling. Were they delicious? Yes. Yes they were. I get choked up thinking of that Cesar… or is it just that his ‘medium heat Cesar’ basically shoved a white-hot poker up my sinus cavity to clear it out, leaving me watery eyed and dry-coughing? Maybe. But it was amazing!
The best thing is that he showed us how to make the drinks that I never made at home before, because my understanding of their ingredients was a fail. For instance… ‘bar-mix’ (or bar-lime, or limeade, or ‘what the hell is that irradiated green liquid you just took a sip of?!’… or whatever else you might call it) is not one of the proper ingredients for a whiskey sour, or any other lemony or lime-ey tasting alcoholic beverage.
I might never be able to go out to the bars again… I feel like I would end up jumping over the bar, having brought my own lemon-squeezer out on the town, and proceeded to make Tom Collinses for All!
I’ll even pass the recipes on to you all, but figured I’d do that in the next post instead, so that I can pass on the wisdom I acquire from making these things at home, without direct supervision by Bartender-Williams.
What recipes do you have to look forward to?
Tom Collins (gin)… times two, because we’re awesome like that, and it isn’t the old man drink I thought it was, at all!
Whiskey Sour (… )… though it can also be done with any other alcohols, and you just switch the Whiskey part out of the title. For instance… do not serve someone a ‘whiskey sour’ with amaretto in it. Serve them an Amaretto Sour, it is less confusing 🙂
Margarita (Tequila)… we didn’t do this one in class, but he did include a recipe in our handout.