Creating great-tasting, balanced cocktails--made from scratch using fresh ingredients--on a large scale for a a busy, fast-paced restaurant can be huge undertaking and presents a lot of challenges. A lot! I was unhappy with the last incarnation of our beverage menu (our second since the new restaurant opened). We were scrambling to get something out, and with very little time to train staff (and some staff turn-over), it was a rushed affair. I was happy with our selections, but execution left something to be desired.
Fast forward a few weeks. We tweaked the recipes for the cocktails we kept off our our original cocktail list, adding balance and more intense flavors. A lot of these cocktails were on the sweet side, so we trimmed down the sweetners to make them more tart and crisp. We also added several new culinary cocktails to the menu, in addition to a few Winter Warmers (like Hot Buttered Rum using fresh, house-made batter whipped up each morning), the venerable Irish Coffe with fresh, house-made, vanilla-infued Whipped Cream, and the Pumpkin Spiced Sidecar with pumpkin butter. Pumpkin Butter? Yep! We also have some classics like the French 75 and our take on the classic Aviation (The Aviator). Add in some global selections like the Pisco Sour from Peru (with egg white for froth) and the Caipirinha from Brazil, and we've got oursleves a great cocktail list with a new format that's easier to read, understand and navigate.
But the most important part of the equation? The bar staff! And we've got some AMAZING bartenders who have really stepped it up a notch and are now taking ownership of the bar. We've had more time to train, and I've been working one-on-one with much of our staff. Recipes are laminated and accessible behind the bar at all times. I'm doing more quality-control, and things have improved a lot over just one week! I am VERY, very proud of the bar staff and their new skills! Cocktails that just were not tasting as the should are coming across the bar looking, smelling, and tasting just like the recipes intended! It wasn't easy, and a lot was asked of each bartender. But the execution is getting better each day, the bar's liquor selection has improved greatly, and we've made some nice additons to both the beer and wine lists. We're getting there.
It's a process, and I'm looking forward to the new year.