If ever there was a good reason to undertake a bartender course, it is to make sure the drinks you mix and pour are exactly what your customer wants.
Nobody wants to gain a negative reputation for getting the drinks wrong, while at the same time there is nothing more satisfying for anyone at work than doing what they do extremely well – not least when artistically creating a spectacular, colourful cocktail, perhaps one you invented yourself.
There are many kinds of drink that are an art form to make. Take something very unlike a cocktail; Guinness. Anyone visiting the famous brewery at St James’s in Dublin will have a chance to learn to pour the perfect pint and even get a certificate for it.
This will include not only learning why there is a delay between pouring most of it with the pump forwards and the last bit with it held back, but also a pretty swift and reasonable explanation of why beginners should not attempt the trick of drawing a shamrock on the head – namely that this can easily go wrong and look like a rude drawing of part of the male anatomy!
While that is not a particular risk with most cocktails (apart from an Irish Coffee, perhaps), there is no doubt that getting it wrong can be something of an embarrassment and it will be noticed by discerning customers. The flip side of that, of course, is that when you learn such skills as to make sure you always hit the mark, the results will be spectacular.
Of course, the idea of cocktails going wrong has many angles. The spoof comedy series the Windsors has princesses Beatrice and Eugenie considering starting their own cocktail range, which mixes gin, vodka, rum and tequila. Suffice to say, this idea isn’t going very far.
Learning to mix cocktails well, of course, involves discovering how to make all the classics, such as the Dry Martini, Pina Colada, Mojito and Bloody Mary. But if the bar you work in is to stand out, there will need to be room for a few house specials, which means being able to shake things the right way or measure out just how much whisky goes in a whisky sour will not be enough.
While it may not be a right royal mix-up of gin, vodka, rum and tequila, your own best idea will come from good training, experience, knowledge of different ingredients and creative flair. None of that happens by accident, but going on the right course to get you started will certainly get you going down the path to working it all out.
Many a cocktail can be distinctly hit-or-miss, of course; it is not hard to find some strongly-expressed opinions on the worst cocktails created in the whole of human history.
However, by first learning how to make the standard cocktails and the world’s favourites, you will be able to approach the task of innovation with the confidence gained from your training and expertise in what makes a superb cocktail.