April 17, 2015 § Leave a comment
Here is my latest article for Eater where I offer advice on creating your own signature cocktails behind the bar. This piece is the accumulation of what I have learned during all my years of not just making drinks, but also over a decade of researching and dissecting classic cocktail books. Additionally, it distills down a lot of information that I have been ingesting in regards to the actual process of inspiration and how it relates to a creative work environment.
Here is the link if you would like to check it out.
March 31, 2015 § Leave a comment
I was honored beyond belief when I read recently that Boilermaker was chosen by New York Magazine as having “The Best Serious Cocktails” for their annual “Best of New York 2015.” I honestly do not think that we could have done it without our amazing bar staff. Designing a strong cocktail menu is one thing, but having a crew that works diligently to make sure that each and every drink goes out perfect is another thing altogether.
If you have already been in to see us, we would like to say thank you for the support. However, if you have not, then hopefully this will pique your curiosity enough to convince you to stop by.
March 20, 2015 § Leave a comment
Apparently the post I wrote here regarding tips recently rattled some nerves and garnered some attention. It resulted in not only the largest day of traffic for this humble site, but also got me loads of questions and comments in my inbox. The most interesting thing I noticed was how many servers and bartenders agreed with what I had to say, but were scared of commenting publicly for fear of retaliation by employers. This to me is very tragic, because no matter what happens or where you stand on the issue, nobody should feel threatened about being able to speak publicly on the matter.
Either way, I decided to expand on my article with a little more depth, and fortunately for me the good folks at Eater were happy to indulge me. Clearly lots of people out there agree with my sentiments, or were at least interested in this unheard side of the debate, because for two days the article was the “Most Read” on their site.
Here is the article for you all to check out. Thank you all for the support and for simply being willing to hear things from the employee and customer perspective.
February 22, 2015 § Leave a comment
There has been much fuss recently about doing away with tipping in restaurants all together and replacing it with an extremely vague “service charge.” While many people seem to be happy to hear this, I am one of those who see it for what it too often is….a cash grab by ownership to unethically divert the income of their bartenders and servers and use it to pad manager and staff salaries.
After all, why should the owners of the establishment continue paying manager bonuses when their own hard-working employees can do that for them? It seems to good to be true, right?
Now don’t get me wrong if the fee tacked onto bill is labeled as a “staffing fee” than I suppose that could be seen as slightly more forthcoming, although I strongly believe that the average customer has no idea to whom their server’s “tip” is now being redirected. Is it subsidizing manager salaries? Kitchen payroll? Overnight cleaning crew? Maintenance staff? Who knows.
In other words, money actively earned by the servers is now going towards paying labor expenses that have historically been paid for by ownership. After hearing this, it is no wonder that so many operators are eager to take this path.
On the flipside, if the fee tacked on says “gratuity,” yet this money is still being diverted toward ownership’s labor costs, I would go so far as to say this is dangerously close to consumer fraud and that the customer is being taken for a ride.
Granted there are a few places that are legitimately using an automatic flat gratuity as a means of distributing funds between the service staff, but that practice hasn’t been picking up as much steam.
Another fair, but less popular route is to incorporate the cost of all labor into the price of the food and compensate employees via higher hourly wages.
This practice is the norm in Europe and eliminates tipping entirely. However, many restaurants in the US are wary due to the fear that it might make their prices look higher than competitors.
As for the wise consumer, if you wish to avoid being duped by a potentially dubious establishment, I would encourage you to go ahead and ask your server or bartender how the fund works. After all, it is your money and you have a right to know where it is going.
California Labor Law has this to say about service charges: “Such charges are considered as amounts owed by the patron to the establishment and are not gratuities voluntarily left for the employees. Therefore, when an employer distributes all or part of a service charge to its employees, the distribution may be at the discretion of the employer…”
January 14, 2015 § Leave a comment
The Rum Runner is cocktail that has always been close to my heart. It is very popular in some parts of the country, such as Lake Tahoe, but utterly unknown in many of the top cocktail meccas. I first became familiar with it during my time bartending in Sacramento, and rediscovered it years later in Famous New Orleans Drinks & How to Mix Them written in 1937.
If you have the opportunity to pick that book I highly recommend it, as it has plenty of great drinks with only minimal filler. However, if you need something to drink while Amazon or eBay ships the book to your house, you might as well help yourself to one of these while you wait.
December 25, 2014 § Leave a comment
The drink we have on today’s, Follow The Liter, is called the Naughty Dog and it is a play on the Colorado Bulldog, which is essentially a White Russian with cola. This one uses aged rum instead of vodka and Root Beer in lieu of cola. The result is an easy to make creamy cocktail that fills the gap between a Cuba Libre and a Root Beer Float.
December 21, 2014 § 1 Comment
After working too many events where the bartenders were left lacking something, either because someone forgot it or because we never thought that we would actually need it. I finally went ahead and put together a checklist for working off-site gigs.
While this is a very basic checklist that covers various levels of what might be needed during the course of the job, I firmly believe that it should be helpful for about 90% of our needs when bartending events.
I broke it down into columns with a different place for number needed for the event, the actual number at the start, and the number that you left with. Hopefully, this should be helpful for keeping track of inventory and leave you from thinking, “I could swear I got here with six muddlers.”
Also, there is a section for initialing and dating at the end of the night, which should keep accountability in place and make it much easier for the next time you open up the traveling bar kit.
Most of you should probably be just fine with the first couple of columns, but it never hurts to keep it thorough for those of you that run a tight ship.
Since everyone has a different bag of tricks regarding these sort of checklists, I went ahead and made it available as both a PDF and an Excel file.
Naturally, those of you that wish to tweak and modify the checklist will be happiest with the Excel sheet, but for those of you with more standard requirements the PDF should be more than enough to handle your needs.
If any of you manage to vastly improve it and would like to share the love, please pass it along and I will go ahead and make it available here for download. Until then, thank you for taking the time to check it out, and I hope you find it helpful.