Archive for the ‘Vodka’ Category

For those of us crazy enough to stay within the bartending industry, there are only so many options available once we feel complete with the knowledge we have gained over time through education and the general tending of the bar. Head bartender positions, as well as managing and ‘bar consultancy’ work (the latter itself encompassing a myriad of subjects, from architecture to drinks menu designer) is some of the most obvious. Brand ambassador jobs are something to consider too, a side of the drinks industry that reminds of my university days studying journalism when we would here stories about journalists heading over to the dark side of PR due the larger amounts of money available.

However, for those of us who still fancy a steady income, coupled with responsibility that comes with being your own boss, then opening your own bar seems to be the way to go. Most bartenders I have spoken to since entering the industry two years ago seem to hold that opening their own bar would be the ultimate dream, and that control over everything from the backbar to the drinks menu would be something that would hold their interest, not to mention finances, for the long term.

The biggest concern when it comes to opening a bar, from a bartenders point of view at least, would be what kind of bar to open in the first place. It’s all fair and well having a swanky place with lots of nice spirits and a detailed cocktail menu. But drinking establishments and bars exist to make money, and to try and reach the pinnacle of a profession in correspondence with your own business may not bring the dollars in. So how does a bartender maintain integrity within his own venue while supplying the customers with what they want while paying the rent?

The subject, ultimately, brings the topic to the point of satisfying everyone’s needs, especially the bartender in question decides to open a venue that keeps in line with a good spirit selection coupled with a nice interior and a decent menu of cocktails. For the bartender, it’s usually making a balanced and complex drink with integrity and creativity. For the patron, it’s about receiving a drink that satisfies their taste buds and fills their status quo. And  as for the proprietor, it’s about making money and paying the rent without extracting too much in the first place.

In short, it’s about creating a few drinks for a menu that are quick to churn out and bring in the bucks, leaving space for other drinks on the menu for the bartender to get serious about and for the venue to pride themselves on.

Rory Lim, a friend of mine who currently works in Melbourne, brought his recipe for a ‘Black Forest Martini’ to the table several weeks ago after we compared recipes. We also talked about quick and easy drinks to make that satisfied the customer’s demands (not in all cases, but that fall into the ‘fruity and sweet’ category), but that still gave a good turnover of profit that would become one of the ‘money makes’ on the menu.

Photography by Tom Walker

Black Forest Martini (Popolo Version)

  • 20ml Stoli Raspberry
  • 20ml Crème de Fraise
  • 20ml Raspberry Puree
  • 20ml Half and half
  • 10ml Crème de Mure
  • 10ml Crème de Cacao

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Shake and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a blackberry.

Photography by Tom Walker

Black Forest Martini (Rory Lim Version)

  • 45ml Cognac or Brandy
  • 20ml Cream de Cacao
  • 20ml Chambord
  • 3 Dashes Peychauds Bitters

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice, and stir with bar spoon. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a blackberry.

No prizes for guessing which one of the two is quicker and easier to execute, is easier on the eye, and gives a great degree of complexity and warmth, especially as the British winter months ensue. Rory’s original recipe eased back a little on the Cognac and had no bitters; the Cognac/Brandy measurement is increased a little so the base spirit can come through (especially when using something as dense as Chambord or something similar in conjunction with Crème de Cacao), while the Peychauds adds a touch more complexity and carries the drink into official cocktail category.

Finally, this post is dedicated to Rory Lim, who brought this subject to my attention in the first place, and for his top-20 place in the recent bar awards in Sydney in Australia. Another well done goes to close friend of mine Kal ‘Big Nuts’ Moore, who managed to reach the top ten. Read about the Australian Bar Awards here and here.


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