Over some dinner with some fellow bartender buddies the other night we got chatting about what makes a good bartender. One of the guys - who is indeed a talented high-profile mixologist/spiritual advisor/flontline-liqour-distribution-manager - started harping on about how much he dislikes the current fashion of hailing cocktail competition winners as 'good bartenders'. His point is simple. If you are too up yourself, have no regard for being 'hospitable' in the hospitality industry, you are rubbish. If your chat is dry, un-entertaining, non-engaging you are rubbish. I think it's a strong point. A bartender with funny, strong, entertaining chat will always be a better bartender than a drone who pumps out perfect Manhattans. Full Stop.
This reminds me of certain past winners of "Bartender of the Year" awards that are widely regarded in their respective countries industry's as being twats. Here they are........
Just kidding! But you know who they are. The guys that dedicate their lives to dehydrating unicorn tears to put in their award winning drinks served from the stomach lining of a goat - because that's how they did it before glassware, yet still lack the ability to make a person feel welcome when they come into their venue. I'm sorry, these guys are not great bartenders. I guess this post is a tip of the hat to every guy or girl out there that hasn't forgotten they are in a service industry. It's a nod to every publican that drives their pissed regulars home after they pass out in the bathroom. To every up-and-coming mixologist that treats every customer like a king but still doesn't know how to make sugar syrup. To every one of my incredibly witty, happy-go-lucky, hospitable, knowledgeable, bartender buddies that could of wiped the floor with me or anyone in a "Bartender of the Year" competition, but either forgot the cut-off date, couldn't be arsed or was just too plain busy looking after their bars and their customers to enter. I salute you, keep it up.
Barkeep, don't be a prat, at the end of the day all we do is make drinks and get people drunk. That's it. Leave your ego at home..
Here's a drink i've made with unicorn tears for you all to enjoy... ;)
I had a look at her most recent entry today and she was harping on about how good the new virtual make-up thingy is on the topshop website. She demonstrated with a virtual before and after shot. I'm not working at the moment. Yeah i'm bored during the day time. She said it was fun. I tried it. It is.
Guys, if you ever feel like being a drag queen for a day get on this. You don't have to steal your girlfriends make-up or get off your couch for that matter. Here's the link. Do it. I know you want to.
May 13. The 133rd day of the year. Who cares yeah? Another day, another euro. Well, you're wrong! Today is World Cocktail Day. What the hell does that mean I hear you ask? It means that on this day in 1806, a newspaper called The Balance published one of the first definitions of 'The Cocktail'. I say 'one of the first' as this claim has recently been rubbished and, and an earlier Chicago paper had referenced the word 'Cocktail' from late 1805. But who cares! Much in the same way we don't celebrate the Queens birthday on its actual date we are doing the same with the cocktail.
Here's a great drink to mark the occasion. It's history is dubious. Basically I'm sure I invented it for a then-bartender from the acclaimed Bramble in Edinburgh named Chris Stock. He visited Milk & Honey one evening and demanded a refreshing drink utilising Calvados. I obliged with this bad-boy that was based around a drink called a Lazy-Man Flip, which also uses the Port/Calvados combination. My bar manager at the time, David Hobbs, came to me the next week with a great idea for a drink. A Port/Calvados Cobbler. Coincidence or what!? Anyway we both claim it, although I know i'm right. Chris Stock is now working in the award winning Melbourne bar, Golden Monkey. Go in there and ask him for yourself... Oh, and for the name - The Boston Cobbler - I'm not telling you, Google it yourself. You have been warned...
2.5cl Ruby Port
1cl Orange Curacao
2 dash Peychaud Bitters
Muddle fruit, add liquor, shaky shaky and serve tall over crushed ice
10. In tenth place comes the humble baguette (or as my fellow countrymen like to call it - the French Stick). No one does it better than the French themselves, and i've probably eaten more bleached batons of goodness than I really should have. But hey, when in France..
9. Beurre - or Butter. It's really good here. I'm not lying. Move to regional France and try not not put it on anything. Also ties in nicely with my number 10. Bread and butter. A simple pleasure in life that's hard to beat.
8. Prince Biscuits. Basically a digestive with filling in the middle. Found in a lot of countries in Europe i've never seen them in the UK. Grab a three-pack of the chocolate bad-boys next timeyou're in Western Europe.
7. Haribo Dragibus. Marble-shaped bonbonbonbons with a hard shell casing and gelatinmiddle. Slightly sour, the black ones are ace. Throw away the yellow ones. Fucking lemon...
6. Gaufre. French for waffle. There was a street vendor I made my best friend that sold big fat ones the size of your head. I'd get him to slap on plenty of Chantilly cream and Nutella. Triple-tasty!!
5. Milka. The Alps biggest selling chocolate is the proverbial 'man'! They do a 'Daim bar' flavour which simply cannot be beaten for a commercial chocolate bar. My new favourite! Overtakes the humble 'Toffee Crisp' in my books.
4. Moules - or Mussels. I used to get my chef to buy them for me. So so cheap when you buy in bulk. 5kgs for 10€. I had to stop myself dousing them in wine, garlic and cream every night.
3. Pain a Raisin. I came to France wanting to try every pastry my boulangerie makes. I succeeded on that mission and came to the conclusion the Pain a Raisin cannot be beaten! Gooey bakery custard, glues a crisp buttery snail-like casing. Doused in dried grapes. Mostmornings kicked off with one of these couples with a cappuccino. I'm going to miss you...
2. Croute Forestier. There are many plays on the cheese-ham-bread combination in regional France. This one was my favourite. A Savoie dish native to south-east France it takes day-old bread, drenched in white wine, ham, wild mushrooms, and stinky cheese. This gets baked in a ceramic pot until the cheese is bubbling and piping hot. A handful of parsley is put on top to ease your mind of the fact you are about to eat your daily calorie ration in one meal. I ate it every night on my last week.
1. LION BAR CEREAL. I could of done a 'best of cereal' blog. France likes it's kids cereals. From the disappointing 'Crunch Chocolate' cereal, to the impressive 'Miel Pops', and the excellent 'Chocopic'. Myself, and colleague Adam tried them all. Cereals were judged on a number of elements apart from taste. How they were as a dry snack, to crunch retention, all the way to final flavoured milk taste. Lion bar was the clear winner, hands down. What impressed me most was its similarity to it's Chocolate bar brother. Lion bar cereal; I LOVE YOU!
I'm gunna let you in on a little secret about me. I'm fat. Yeah that's right, although to the eye, it doesn't seem like it. Im a big fatty. As a kid I gorged myself on whole family blocks of Cadbury dairy milk, battered sausages, Salt'n'Vinegar 'Samboy's and Boston buns. There's an inherant 'fat kid' mentality in anyone who was overweight as a child. A voice that sits inside their head that tells them they should put an extra knob of butter in that risotto because they KNOW it will taste better. It's the voice, of the same person that eats a dark chocolate Bounty 10 minutes before dinner when their housemates aren't looking. That's me. At the same time, I hate diets. I really loathe them. A great analogy is a good friend of mine who is resigned to the fact his urine is going to smell terrible for 8 weeks from the start of May. He doesn't care; Its British asparagus season, and he's gong to eattheshitoutofit while he can. Im the same. NO, im not going to choose skim milk for my mid-morning flat white. NO, i'm not going to buy chicken breast instead of thigh. NO, im not going to get a salad instead of the roasted pork belly. I don't care if its 'lower in calories', the latter tastes better! SO, that brings me to my decision to never say no to any of the good things in life. Life is too short to eat bad food and drink shit booze. (Saying that I do have a cheeky penchant for really cheap Tawny Port. Honestly I call it the 'Tawny Port challenge'. Go out, spend £4 on a bottle of cheap Tawny Port, I guarantee it will be great!)
HOWEVER! Life is about balance. Now i'm not talking about going out and doing class A's all weekend, then on monday morning drinking herbal tea. They don't cancel each other out im afraid. I know if I don't excercise and continue to eat whatever i want, im gong to get fat. Full stop.
SO>>>>*sorry for taking ages to get to my point*. Whilst in France i decided to eat what I want, at the same time I trained and ran a marathon. A lot of the food i ate, i'm going to miss. God, i'm gong to miss it. So my next blog is going to be a top 10 of the foods I ate whilst living in France.
Don't know anything about it really....i know you should drink Mint Juleps. (Official drink of the derby). I'm on holidays, thus meaning i'm not in work mode, thus meaning if i'm going to make a mint julep i'm going to do it in bulk.
Take one jug, add bourbon(half a bottle will do), 1 bouquet of mint, half a cup of sugar. Add ice, let sit for 10 mins, stir. Drinktheshitoutofit... If you want to get fancy, garnish it with a single red rose. (The word 'Julep' comes from the ancient Arab word 'Julab' - meaning Rose). I did not.
Alternatively here's a recipe from the Louisville Courier's own Henry Watterson I quite like..
"Pluck the mint gently from its bed, just as the dew of the evening is about to form on it. Select the choicer sprigs only. but do not rinse them. Prepare the simple syrup and measure out a half-tumbler of whiskey. Pour the whiskey into a well-frosted silver cup, throw the other ingredients away, and drink the whiskey"
We had a Spanish night last week. A impromptu dinner party for a handful of my closest, to celebrate the end of the French ski season (I know, i don't really get it either). Elliot, my housemate, work colleague, and usual drinking partner was in charge of the menu. I, was in charge of the booze.
To start a delicious gazpacho featuring peppers, roast romatoes, garlic, red onion and parsley was washed down with the simplest form of Sangria known to the world. The Californian Cobbler. Mains consisted of a cracking Paella with all the usual suspects, and 'nuff bottles of a 2005 Crianza Rioja and some delicious 2004 Cabernet from Chile.
Fast forward to half a bottle of Cazadores anejo Tequila, (The same tequila found on the floor of Mel Gibson's car shortly after he unleashed his anti-sematic rants to the LAPD), and we were not only steaming drunk, but ready for dessert. This consisted of Creme Catalan, (egg yolk, cream, sugar, corn flour, orange, and vanilla), and a traditional boozy style of hot chocolate inspired from a recipe from 400BC the Mexican-Aztecs used to drinktheshitoutof. Gently heat up some Nicaraguan Rum, orange peel, cocoa, chili, and milk and Jose is your uncle. Delicious!
Going back to the Californian Cobbler. This drink is amazing. Take equal parts freshly squeezed OJ *and i mean FRESHLY SQUEEZED*, and red wine. A young pinot will do fine.. add to that 1cl of sugar syrup for every 10cl. And serve over crushed ice. A sprig of mint makes a stellar garnish. Now sit back in the sun and drinktheshitoutof..