Cooks and Bartenders

I was reading one of the cocktail related discussion boards, and someone made the comment, “Line cooking and bartending are two completely different things.”

As someone who has done a lot of one (line and prep cooking) and a little of the other (bartending), I thought it might be interesting to compare and contrast my current perspectives on both jobs.

Ways in which the jobs are similar:

  • Both are jobs in the Food Service Industry. You’re going to go home sweaty and smelling like the kitchen or bar you work in at the end of the day.
  • Both jobs will likely require you to work when your friends and family are playing: Nights, Holidays, Weekends.
  • Both jobs require standing for the duration of your shift. Invest in good, durable, comfortable shoes.
  • Both jobs require you to be physically able. You’re going to have to lift a 50 Pound bag of beans, a 20 gallon pot of hot soup, a case of vodka, a keg of beer, or a container of ice at some point.
  • To do both jobs you must perform relatively repetitive tasks accurately, quickly, and efficiently.
  • Both jobs require a fair bit of manual dexterity.
  • Both jobs perform time sensitive tasks in concert with a group of coworkers. Communication with your coworkers is key.
  • Both jobs require astute senses of taste and smell.
  • Both jobs require a heightened awareness of your surroundings. Whether it is simultaneously monitoring all six of the saute pans you have on the stove or the various and sundry patrons lined up in front of you at the bar, there’s a certain amount of “spidey sense” involved in both.
  • Most of the training for both jobs is typically social and on the fly. You can read a book or go to school for either, but most of what it is important to know, you will learn by example from your coworkers and supervisors.
  • Aside from certain celebrity examples, the vast majority of practitioners of either profession are not particularly highly regarded nor rewarded by society at large.

Ways in which cooking is not like bartending.

  • Cooking is a lot harder work. Sorry bartenders, and I know you work hard, but it’s just not the same thing.
  • The extent to which you must perform time sensitive tasks in concert with your coworkers is taken to much more of an extreme in cooking. That’s why Kitchens usually have expediters (aka wheel or pass) and few bars have a similar role.
  • There is a much greater danger of physical injury in cooking.
  • Many kitchen tasks are performed behind closed doors. For better or for worse.

Ways in which bartending is not like cooking.

  • Bartending is a Service profession. That is, you must engage and interact with members of the public for most transactions and are often rewarded in some fashion for the customers’ perceptions of how well you do your job or connect with those same customers.
  • Bartending often pays a bit better than cooking.
  • Bartenders must handle money.
  • Bartender responsibilities and roles are often less specialized than those of cooks.
  • Bartenders serve intoxicating beverages and have a whole host of legal and/or ethical responsibilities related to that fact.

To me, those are the broad strokes. What did I miss?

Hundred Per Cent Cocktail

Hundred Per Cent
1/6 Orange Juice. (1/2 of 3/4 oz Orange Juice)
1/6 Lemon Juice. (1/2 of 3/4 oz Lemon Juice)
2/3 Swedish Punch. (1 1/2 oz Homemade Arrack Punch)
2 Dashes Grenadine. (1/2 teaspoon Fee’s American Beauty Grenadine)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

I was kind of afraid this would be way too sweet. Fortunately, my oranges are pretty tart, so this sort of works out OK. Pretty intense, though. Reminds me of the sort of balance often struck in modern cocktails, where the sweetness and tartness are both pushed out.

Nice Arrack flavor, though, so you won’t be mistaking it for a Cosmo, despite the similar color.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Houla-Houla Cocktail

Houla Houla

Houla-Houla Cocktail

1 Dash Curacao. (1/2 tsp. Luxardo Triplum)
1/3 Orange Juice. (3/4 oz Orange Juice)
2/3 Dry Gin. (1 1/2 oz Broker’s Gin)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

A perfectly fine and refreshing beverage, if nothing earth shattering.

I’m lucky to have some particularly tasty early season valencia oranges which are pretty sour around the house, giving this some added zest.

I’m new to Broker’s Gin, but so far it seems pretty good to me. Nice strong Juniper flavor and not too harsh base spirit.

Still liking the Triplum as a Curacao substitute. Its strong bitter orange character (it sometimes actually louches in cocktails, it has so much orange oil) and sweetness sort of makes it almost sensible in dash proportions, where many other orange liqueurs just fade into the background.

I sometimes see this cocktail name spelled “Hula-Hula” but am not sure which spelling is correct. According to sources, this cocktail first crops up in one of Harry McElhone’s pre-Savoy guides.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Hot Deck Cocktail

Hot Deck Cocktail

Hot Deck Cocktail

1 Dash Jamaica Ginger. (6 drops Eclectic Institute Ginger Herbal Extract)
1/4 Italian Vermouth. (1/2 oz Carpano Antica Vermouth)
3/4 Canadian Club Whisky. (1 1/2 oz 40 Creek Barrel Select Whiskey)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. (Lemon Peel.)

Another use of “Jake“, which is quite exciting. You kind of hope some of these cocktails will be on offer at The Jake Walk in Brooklyn!

In any case, the Ginger Extract ends up being a bit more subtle in this one. Just a touch of bite in this Manhattan variation.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Hop Toad Cocktail

Hop Toad Cocktail

Hop Toad Cocktail

1/4 Lemon Juice. (1/2 oz Lemon Juice)
3/4 Apricot Brandy. (1 1/2 oz Zwack Barack Palinka)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. (Lemon Peel.)

I have to admit I’ve always been a bit curious about this cocktail, but never really quite had the courage to make it for myself.

Mr. David Wondrich has pointed out in his books and the esquire drinks database that the proper base spirit for this is absolutely not apricot liqueur, but instead an apricot eau-de-vie, like the fiery Hungarian Zwack Barack Palinka.

To quote Mr. Wondrich from his amusing esquire writeup.

Weighing all the evidence, though, the philosophy of the Hop Toad seems to be to allow the lime juice to fall tart on the tongue, without making the result so sour as to be undrinkable. To create, in other words, a state of dynamic tension by placing the drink in a condition of carefully calibrated imbalance. What that has to do with amphibians, we don’t know.

Definitely in the unsweetened school of the Bennett or Bronx Terrace, the Hop Toad is more of a restorative tonic than what folks now consider a cocktail. Make it small, shake it well, and drink it while it is still very cold. It will wake up your taste buds and get the blood flowing to your brain again.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

“Hoop La!” Cocktail

Hoop La!

“Hoop La!” Cocktail

1/4 Lemon Juice. (3/4 oz Lemon Juice)
1/4 Kina Lillet. (3/4 oz Cocchi Americano)
1/4 Cointreau. (3/4 oz Cointreau)
1/4 Brandy. (3/4 oz Cerbois VSOP Armangac)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. (Lemon Peel.)

Well, this is exactly the same as the Frank Sullivan Cocktail, and I’m making it with the same ingredients. Not much too exciting there. Still, an enjoyable cocktail, and I don’t mind at all repeating it. Though, my fast dwindling bottle of Cocchi Americano makes me a bit sad…

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Honolulu Cocktail (No 2)

Honolulu Cocktail (No. 2)

1/3 Maraschino. (3/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino)
1/3 Gin. (3/4 oz Tanqueray)
1/3 Benedictine. (3/4 oz Benedictine)

Shake (stir, please) well and strain into cocktail glass.

I suppose that is what it should be.

I just couldn’t quite face that cocktail. Thinking about the Maraschino and Benedictine, Oude Genever occurred to me.

Oude Genever

Yes, indeed that seems like a good idea!

Honolulu Cocktail No2

Honolulu Cocktail (No. 2)

1/3 Maraschino. (1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino)
1/3 Gin. (1 oz Van Wees Oude Genever)
1/3 Benedictine. (1/2 oz Benedictine)

Shake (stir, please) well and strain into cocktail glass. (Lemon Peel.)

Tweaked the proportions slightly, but didn’t want to just turn it into an Improved Holland Gin Cocktail. Still quite sweet, but really, really tasty. 1 1/2 oz Oude Genever, 1/4 oz Luxardo, 1/4 oz Benedictine, maybe some bitters, and this would rock. Probably have to think up a different name… Kailua Cocktail? Diamond Head Cocktail? Why is this a Hawaii themed Cocktail name anyway? I could see No. 1 being Hawaii-esque, since it had Pineapple juice. But Gin, Maraschino, and Benedictine?

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Honolulu Cocktail (No 1)

Honolulu Cocktail No1

Honolulu Cocktail (No. 1)

1 Dash Angostura Bitters.
1 Dash Orange Juice. (1/2 tsp Orange Juice)
1 Dash Pineapple Juice. (1/2 tsp Pineapple Juice)
1 Dash Lemon Juice. (1/2 tsp Lemon Juice)
1 Glass Dry Gin. (2 oz Broker’s Gin)
A little Powdered Sugar. (1/4 tsp Caster Sugar)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. (Orange Peel.)

A bit like the Harrovian, this seems to be a style of cocktail that has not survived to the 21st Century.

Sort of a vaguely exotic tasting glass of cold gin, it’s kind of puzzling and enjoyable at the same time.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Homestead Cocktail

Homestead Cocktail

Homestead Cocktail

1 Slice Orange.
2/3 Dry Gin. (1 1/2 oz Broker’s Gin)
1/3 Italian Vermouth. (3/4 oz Carpano Antica)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. (Orange Peel.)

Note: Although this delightful drink is nowadays known as a Cocktail, it was known in the old homesteads of the Southern States long before the name Cocktail was coined.

The whole “1 Slice Orange” is a bit obscure. I just cut a horizontal mid-section out of a valencia orange, quartered it, and threw it in the tin.

I have to admit I kind of preferred it to the usual Bronx.

There’s definitely the bitter orange thing from the peel going on.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Practical Exercises Three

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Sunday afternoon, December 14th, at around 3:30, I arrived at Alembic, toting Orgeat, Vergano Lulli Americano, Bitter Truth Repeal Day Bitters, and Marteau Absinthe.

I had really hoped I would also be bringing Cocchi Americano for the Kina Lillet drinks, but another hiccup in the label approval process prevented it from entering the country. I have my fingers crossed for some time next year, but am not holding my breath. It’s about time to make my own “Kina Lillet”, I believe.

Packed and RTG

As usual, I overpacked equipment. Well, better safe than sorry. Some bars require you to bring your own stuff. Not Alembic. I blame Darcy for my overpacking urges. (See his articles: Bar Tools & Equipment 1, Bar Tools & Equipment 2.)

I tracked down bar manager Daniel Hyatt. We chatted for a bit. He introduced me to the other people working. He told me to check out where stuff was behind the bar while he took care of some other things, and went to find the Savoy Cocktail Books.

He came back down from the office with both arms full of Savoy Cocktail Books. We put away the regular menus and handed out Savoy Cocktail Books.

The crazy part about Alembic’s Savoy Cocktail Book Night is that they aren’t just making a few well selected cocktails from the book.

Customers are literally allowed to pick any cocktail out of the 900 or so recipes in the book.

We got to mixing…

Measuring*

One of the toughest things about your first day at any job is you don’t really know where anything is. All I can say is thank you to the staff at Alembic for putting up with me spending the evening asking where things were.

The night was pretty much a blur of measuring, shaking, and stirring. It was one of our first cold rainy nights, so it wasn’t super busy, but fairly steady. Quite a few friends came out in support. Super duper Jane Tunks, Humu and Trott, Dinah and Joe from Bibulo.us, Ciaran from the Book Club, fellow drink blogger Alex. Mrs. Underhill even came in a bit later. I was really happy for her to come in, as she hadn’t had a chance to come out when I was working at Flora. We even had a few curious industry folks out.

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For me, one problem is I don’t usually feel like eating at 4:00 PM. But then around 7, I start to feel pretty hungry and out of it. Of course, 7 PM is the worst time to feel hungry and out of it, as you’re heading right into the heart of the beast. There’s usually no chance to get away for a snack until 9 or 10 PM at the earliest. Need to work on a strategy for that.

I also, need to work on strategies for building several drinks at once. It’s tougher when you’re not going from memory and have to flip through the book for most recipes. But if you build two or three, then shake/stir, it would probably be faster than just one at a time.

I think my favorite quote of the evening came when we got an order for a Dirty Martini. One of the other bartenders grabbed the ticket, chuckled, and told me, “Vermouth is my revenge on dirty Martini Drinkers. 2-1? How about 1-1?”

The other odd thing you discover is that when given that much choice, people do not go with safe choices. Instead they seem to pick the odd things that stick out to them.

We made all of these on Sunday:

Prairie Hen Cocktail
2 Dashes Vinegar.
1 Teaspoonful Worcestershire Sauce.
1 Egg
2 Dashes Tabasco Sauce.
A little Pepper and Salt.
Do not break the Egg.

For breakfast, I could see, but at 7 PM?

Silver Stallion Cocktail
1/2 Vanilla Ice Cream.
1/2 Gin.
Fill with Silver Fizz, q.v. p. 200.

Wow, uh, I don’t know what to say about someone ordering this. I really had a hard time not making fun of the gentleman in question. Especially since he had repeatedly told me he and his companions were on a quest to find “single women” and asked me for advice on appropriate venues for said quest. I’m not a super expert on strategies for attracting single women or appropriate venues, but think ditching the ice cream drink would be near the top of my list…

The Nose-Dive Cocktail
Take one hooker of Gin, place in it an olive, then deposit the glass carefully in the bottom of an ordinary tumbler. Fill the said tumbler with Water, Ginger Ale, or What Have You, until almost to the top of the small glass, then down the whole thing quickly. That is, everything but the small glass. Note: This Cocktail is very among pilots on American Flying Fields.

I guess I only have myself to blame for this one, eh?

Pineapple Julep
(6 People)
Take a large glass jug and fill it 1/4 full of crushed ice.
ice. Pour in the juice of two oranges a glass of Raspberry Vinegar, a glass of Maraschino, a glass and a half of Gin, and a bottle of Sparkling Moselle or Saumur. Pull a pineapple to pieces with a silver fork and place the pieces in the jug. Stir the mixture, add a little fruit for appearances’s sake, and serve.

There’s probably a pretty good drink in this version of the pineapple julep. Maybe with Raspberry Shrub instead of Raspberry Vinegar? I’m going to have to work on it.

My tech job pays the bills, but lately I haven’t felt like I’ve been getting much back out of it. Occasionally, there’s some satisfaction of solving a problem or learning something new. However, you get called on the carpet when things are broken, but seldom get praise or respect for doing something well or keeping things running peacefully.

A lot of times recently I’ve been feeling like a grumpy scowl and it’s related creases are being permanently etched into my face as I trundle with the rest of the commute zombies from one form of public transportation to the other.

The weeks that I’ve been bartending, though, I feel a spark of happiness and some satisfaction at a job well done. I know there are Dirty Martinis, Jack and Cokes, Long Island Iced Teas, and many difficult customers ahead to depress me.

But, for now, I’m enjoying the buzz.

Which brings me around to the other part of working in restaurants I really miss. The Camaraderie. I’ve never really been good enough at any sport to have much fun playing on teams. You know, the 12th game in a row you only get to go on the field when your team is ahead by 20, and it gets a bit depressing. Or if the only reason you get to be the pitcher is because your Dad is the coach.

When I started cooking, I found that not only could I stand on my own merit, but strangely, I was good enough at it, to be a respected part of the team.

In bartending, I’ve only begun to learn the game. At only my third, (or fifth depending on how you count,) time behind the bar, we’re still in the first plays of the first quarter. Maybe I’ll be benched by half time. Can’t say just yet, but I’ve got a good feeling.

The whole night was a blast, and yep, we’ll be doing it again next month. Stay tuned.

*Photos by Mrs. Underhill.