Bartenders go back to school

Bar staff head to Edinburgh for mixology seminar from Bacardi

BACARDI Brown-Forman Brands has been hosting a number of Jigger Beaker Glass bartender workshops this year, focusing on the themes of Science of Flavour,  Sustainability and Future Trends.

The company’s head of advocacy and former bartender, Shervene Shahbazkhani, gives SLTN her thoughts on the recent Edinburgh event, held at a bar she once managed, The Voodoo Rooms.

Q: How did the Edinburgh event go?

A: The Edinburgh event was a great success, we had a full house at The Voodoo Rooms, with over 65 bartenders from across Scotland attending. It was great to see bartenders from as far as Aberdeen and Dundee – both thriving cocktail scenes – attending the session. Chris Moore and Greg Almeida, who are amongst the world’s best bartenders, shared their well-honed knowledge and techniques around scientific and non-scientific techniques that they apply to their drinks creations. Our ambassadors led an interactive perception of taste session, where bartenders found out if they were ‘super-tasters’ and how to manipulate flavour.

Q: What has been the feedback from bartenders?

A: The Jigger Beaker Glass platform has had positive feedback both in Edinburgh and in all cities that we have visited. Bartenders are increasingly wanting to learn skills and gain practical insights for things they can use in their bar versus brand-led sessions. We are seeing return faces to other city sessions, which shows that the content is compelling.  Attendees are leaving with fresh insights on cocktail creation, picking up new skills from the very best in the on-trade that they can apply to their own craft.

Q: What were the main messages from the Edinburgh workshop?

A: The format of the session followed three core pillars – Jigger (skills); Beaker (innovation); Glass (drinks), with each presentation lasting 45 minutes. The Jigger session detailed how, through history, science has dictated flavour trends, how to taste and why, and how to manipulate flavour – a 101 on apparatus. The Beaker session looked at three varying techniques our guest speakers use in their bar and why, and the third section was a panel discussion exploring the pros and cons of the use of science in drinks. We picked speakers with very different opinions on the use of apparatus when making drinks which made for a very candid, frank but balanced discussion.

Q: How important is it for Bacardi to engage with and educate bartenders with this type of event?

A: Edinburgh has a wealth of amazing talent, which has been recognised with bars like Bramble and Panda & Sons featuring in the World’s Best 51-100 Bars. The Scottish bartender scene is always keen to learn more and is hungry for these sorts of workshops, so it’s great that we are able to facilitate. It’s also a great chance for our ambassadors to meet the wider community, build those relationships and support in the future.

Q. What are some of the drinks trends Bacardi predicts?

A: Simplexity, which means two things: simple looking drinks made with complex techniques or complex tasting drinks with simple flavours. Behind these minimalist-looking cocktails, bartenders are using intricate flavour combinations and scientific techniques to create show-stopping cocktails with more than meets the eye.

Slow drinking: low-ABV and drinking with food is a growing trend. We are in a world where people are drinking less but better quality cocktails, low-ABV, and paired with food. Aperitivo is a huge culture drinking occasion in southern Europe which is slowly catching on in the UK.

Bold and bitter: our flavour palates are changing, with people taking to bold and bitter flavours. There has also been a resurgence of vermouth and amaro-based drinks, such as the Americano and Negroni, which used to be the bartender’s secret handshake but are now favourites amongst consumers.