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And he used to be such a nice, quiet boy

Bacardi Training

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This drinking on a Monday afternoon business is becoming a bit of a habit.

This week I was off to Nottingham on a quest to improve my cocktail knowledge .  I was directed to a small doorway with a Chinese lantern over it on a side street.  So far so seedy, but who is complaining, right?

Deep in the catacombs of Nottingham town I found myself in a bar that had been turned partly into a film studio.  Gathered in the room were some of my fellow Brummies and one or two luminaries of the Bartending world.

The boss on the day was Laura Samra, account manager for Bacardi.  She introduced the lecturers for the day, none other than Alex Turner and Ben Reed.

Now these two Gentlemen are what you would call Bartending Royalty.  Formerly of the International Playboy Bartenders, they have expanded to set up companies of their own.  They have traveled the world and worked in some of the best bars and clubs on earth.  Lucky sods.

The first hour was dedicated to how to set up the bar to optimize efficiency.  It sounds simple but if you start off with properly prepared equipment you will have an easier night.  That means clean jiggers, proper tools, enough clean glasses, good size pieces of ice, enough garnish and enough change.

Or to use my mnemonic, C-I-G-S-S.  To explain:

Change, Ice and lemon, Glasses, Staff and Stock.  Your five main priorities.

From there Ben Reed took over the lecture.  His topic was the effects of Alcohol on the body.  Frankly it dispelled a lot of the myths of what we view as hangover cures.  Basically there arn’t any.  Your body will absorb the alcohol as slowly as it likes and sod anything else.

We also saw this video explaining why drinking and driving really isn’t a good idea:

He went into detail of which parts of the body are affected by alcohol and exactly how.

After lunch in the impressive Coco Tang cafe it was back to class, and this was the fun bit.

For the next hour and a half we were taught ten of the greatest cocktails from around the world.  Some of the training was done via video screen and the practical demonstrations were done behind the bar in the room.  Each of us had a turn at making a drink with the aid of the country’s best bartenders.

My first effort was the classic Bloody Mary.  Traditionally made with vodka and tomato juice, I blend it with cracked black pepper, salt, and a variety of sauces.  Some shake it, some just stick in in the glass and stir.  I like to shake it.

The Louisiana Jam really caught the attention of my tastebuds.  This is a potent meeting of Southern Comfort, mint, apricot jam, lemon and sugar mix.  You mix them up in a jam jar with ice and serve with more crushed ice.  And, oh boy, is it good?  It’s good.

The Negroni was a cocktail I didn’t instantly fall in love with.  It is made from Campari, an exceptionally bitter Italian liquor, originally made as a health tonic.  Into it you add soda and sweet red vermouth.  Add ice and a good slice of orange.

The Mojito is one of my favourite cocktails to drink, but my least favourite to make, as it is such a faffy affair.  But the end result is a crisp clean drink that slips down just a little too easily.

The Paloma came next.  I could tell you what was in it, but I won’t.  Instead I will hand you over to an expert:

After class we took a break and had a look around Nottingham town, and explored a few of it’s bars.  Brass Monkey was the first on our tour, a small, very cocktail orientated bar managed by Christian Tyrel.  In 2008 he was chosen as Nottingham’s best bartender, in it’s best bar, no less.  Go see him, his drinks are amazing.

The last place we saw was truly an experience.  Bad Juju bar is a real, honest to goodness Tiki lounge, complete with shelves full of strange exotic rums, strange exotic bar staff, and Carribean themed decor.  The drinks they made there were strange and amazing, with flaming oranges sitting on top of the drink served in a pint glass.

It was while drinking a Zombie that I finally sat down with Ben Reed for a quick chat:

At that point I had to leave, which was a terrible shame, but my parking fee was now upwards of £20.  But hey, what a way to spend the day.  Cocktail training with the Jedi masters of the trade, getting to taste their drinks, and going for drinks after.

I am starting to remember why I like this bartending lark.

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Written by Nick Gilmartin

August 4, 2010 at 1:41 am

Posted in Food and Drink

Tagged with , ,

One Response

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  1. Love a good mojito, but never tasted one as good as they come in Cuba. Making some find caiparinhias here in Rio!

    lara dunston

    September 21, 2010 at 11:15 am


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