Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Flair Bartending at Roadhouse

As much as I love mixing drinks and cocktails, I can't help but dabble in a bit of flair-tending from time to time. It's part of being a professional bartender to entertain customers with "bottle work". Flair bartending was made famous by Tom Cruise in the 1980's movie "Cocktail", and as bartenders we are constantly reminded of this.  But the tricks that Brian Flanagan pulled off in "Cocktail" was nothing compared to what I had the pleasure of seeing at Roadhouse Bar in London's Covert Garden. I was invited to attend the "World Flair-tending Competition heats" which was a qualifying competition for flair-tenders hoping to compete in the world championships, later in the year.

Flair-tending has become more of a circus act than making drinks. The competing bartenders had 5 minutes to pull of precision moves which would make any bartender jealous. Multiple bottles and tins flung through the air and caught all at the same time was a standard yet very difficult trick which many of the flair tenders displayed to the judges. I have to make mention of one particular flair-tender who pulled of several difficult tricks throughout his routine and clearly pushed himself to the absolute limit, because when his five minutes was up, he ran off the stage to vomit, something I've never seen before in a flair bartending competition. That just goes to show, the competition is tough when a bartender pushes himself so hard, he makes himself sick.

There was clearly one stand out flair-tender at the end of the night, and this man is no stranger to winning flair comps. Tom Dyer, who has won every flair competition around, came out victorious. Which was no surprise. Tom's routine was "almost" flawless. Amazing tricks, and if you watch the video,  I think you can forgive him for just a few mistakes. Extremely complex moves which were executed very well.

We had a great night watching these guys strut their stuff. It's truly inspiring and makes you want to go home and start throwing some bottles around yourself.

Check out Tom Dyer in Action: 

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Red Wine…. More than just a wine.

I love a nice drop of red, and for a while now, I've been playing around with the use of wine in cocktails. So whilst doing some research, I came across a couple of recipes which I had too make. The first was a home made red wine sorbet which I came across in one of Jamie Oliver's cookbook's.  Red wine being a drink which is usually served at room temperature, I was curious to see how refreshing this would be served sweetened and frozen. Like most Jamie Oliver recipes, this is a simple concoction. I mixed together red wine, lemon juice, lemonade and sugar syrup. You need to make sure this is stirred together well and pour into a few containers and then freeze. Due to the alcohol content,  this takes a little bit longer to freeze. The result is a refreshing summer dish which I like to serve in a martini glass and finish with a sprig of mint. I made this for my work colleagues and the response was quite positive. Even for the "non red wine drinkers", this goes down a treat. The refreshing citrus flavours of the lemon juice and lemonade takes the edge off the spicy qualities of the red wine. 

Another recipe which caught my eye was a "Merlot Martini". I've made many martinis in the past which used rose wine, sauvignon blanc, champagne, etc, but this was a unique cocktail which I was keen to try. The merlot martini starts with muddling 5 - 6 fresh red grapes, followed by 30ml of merlot, then 15ml cognac, 15ml Chambord and 15ml Creme de Cassis (blackcurrant liqueur). Add ice to your shaker glass and shake all ingredients together. Double strain into a martini glass and garnish with a strawberry. The cocktail is rich and sweet. The sweetness of the chambord and the creme de cassis work well together, and the dryness and smokey finish of the red wine and the cognac balanced it out nicely which makes this cocktail easy to drink. Having said that it, it does suit the sweet tooth, more so than the dry spirit drinker.

"Red Wine Sorbet”
Serves 6
300ml Sugar Syrup
300ml Red wine
300ml Lemonade
The juice of 1 lemon

“The Merlot Martini"

In a shaker glass:
Muddle 5 - 6 red grapes 
30ml Merlot Wine
15ml Cognac
15ml Chambord
15ml Creme de Cassis
Add ice and shake well
Double strain into a Martini Glass

Monday, 13 February 2012

Battle of the Bartenders Cocktail Comp.

Earlier in the year myself and some colleagues from work decided to put together a cocktail competition to see what the London west end bartenders were made of.  Most cocktail competitions tend to put restrictions and guidelines on what bartenders can make and serve to the judges. So we decided to break down the barriers and open the flood gates for creativity. We said to the competing mixologists to create the best possible drink they can in 5 minutes, using any ingredients possible. We encouraged the use of home-made syrups and infusions, along with the freedom to use spirits and liqueurs which may not be found on many back bars.

The results to this 'no limits' competition were amazing. The standard of creativity shown from the bartenders was exceptional. We saw ingredients such as home made white chocolate liqueur, hazelnut infused spirits, carrot infused spiced rum, just to name a few.

The winning cocktail, “The Chuppa-tini"
This was also an opportunity to bring the bar-tending community together for 1 night and share ideas and thoughts about the cocktail bar trade in London's famous west end. At the end of the fun filled night, we had one cocktail which stood out from the rest.  The "Chuppa-tini" was our winner. We were not entirely sure what was in this concoction. From what we could see, it consisted of muddled watermelon and home made white chocolate liqueur along with a few other mystery ingredients. It was garnished with a chuppa-chup lollipop, along with a slice of fresh watermelon. It tasted absolutely amazing.

Everybody had a great night, and the question of when our next cocktail competition was brought to our attention. We may have to invite the bartenders back for another battle.

Check out the video: