Imagine that you have made the national finals of the Canadian Wold Class Competition. You worked all year for it. Right at the moment of the finals, you have an epiphany that changes everything. You need to go the extra mile.
I have always questioned myself on how I could be a better person, a better bartender, brother or son. I wanted to know how I could grow as a person.
A year ago, when I was getting a breath of fresh air between two challenges at the Diageo World Class National finale in Washington, DC something on the sidewalk caught my attention. It actually changed my vision of life on many levels.
It was a piece of bronze engraved in the sidewalk. The starting point of a monument that honors forty-two people who made a big difference in their field.
This monument is called « The Extra Mile ».
At that point, I was a little disappointed about my performance because I had the gut feeling I could have done better if I haven’t had been so busy in my day-to-day life. But the more I was walking and reading stories about other people who have done great things in their lives made me realize that doers do. No matter how busy they are.
At this exact moment, I decided I would always do my very best to go the extra mile…
As a bartender, I believe that going the extra mile defines perfectly how to create a better experience for your guests.
The little extra knowledge you can accomplish, the innovation you put in your drinks or the extra attention made for your guests… all together to give the best experience to the people who traveled extra miles to come to you.
For this year’s Diageo World Class Regional finale, I decided to show my concept in a speed round. The first two cocktails are representing the knowledge, the three next to the innovation and the hospitality.
The Tanqueray no Ten Aviation and Bulleit bourbon « Bourbrooklyn »
The Aviation and Brooklyn are my favorite classic cocktails. Both include a very specific modifier, Creme de Violette, and Amer Picon. In these cocktails, I wanted to show that by knowing more about your spirit, you can create flavor compounds that elevate this spirit and make a better cocktail.
For the Aviation I made a house made Creme de Violette. Slightly infused with grapefruit peels, licorice, and green anise seeds. A custom modifier that will stay true to the classic while highlighting the beautiful flavour compounds of Tanqueray no Ten.
The next one I called it the « Bourbrooklyn » to avoid offending those who would never use bourbon instead of rye in a Brooklyn cocktail. You know what? I do love Bourbon in this concoction but to make a balanced drink, I needed to make a “Picon” with more of a « kick » because the Bourbon is smoother than rye. By blending Suze, China China, Cointreau, Orange Angostura and letting this mixture rest for a month in a stainless steel vessel, I got the flavour profile I was looking for to make the perfect cocktail.
The Dry Room, Stavanger and Alaska
When it comes to innovation in bartending, I believe there are 3 aspects to consider. Techniques, flavours and presentation. Each three next cocktails are showcasing one of these aspects.
The Dry Room is a room temperature cocktail smoked with hickory wood chips. The aromas and taste made me think of the smell you can get near a malting room in Scotland. By using the smoke gun you clearly get the « wow » effect but also add flavours and aromas to you drink. To me, it’s pointless to use garnishes or techniques that don’t serve the drink, even if it looks so cool. The room temperature technique is not yet very spread but when used properly it’s a game changer.
Here, Ketel One Vodka with Lagavulin 16, two different amaro and celery bitters makes a great sipper.
The Stavanger, named after the biggest maritime port of Norway is playing with flavours. Vegetables and spices you don’t see in every dive bar. In this case, using fresh snap peas with housemade carvi tincture along with Ciroc Vodka, Lillet Blanc and lemon, gives the feeling of a minty drink with a savory finish. Right in the comfort zone of many palates but with just the perfect amount of « What? You sure? Oh yeah it works! »
Now the Alaska. I already hear you: « That has nothing to do with innovation, this is a classic drink! ». This is exactly why I picked a classic drink for this one. I wanted to show that innovation can also be displayed in the presentation. So what better vector than a classic to play with visual aspect to make it look new. The little attention to details can make a big difference and I believe that a custom-made ice stamp with the logo of your choice (here the World Class logo) will always do the trick.
The Zacap’unch Swizzle
Last but not least, even if you are a spirited genius or a trendsetter, if you don’t know how to take care of your guests, it’s pointless to work behind a bar. In this case, I built a Tiki lego glass container because I wanted to show that after all, our main reason to go to a bar is to have fun. Lego is the best way for me to represent the pleasure of playing at something you like. Also, I knew who would sit in front of me.
It no secret for anyone, last year’s winner Shane Mulvany is a huge fan of Lego. To show him respect and to create what I like to call a “micro relation” with customers, I wanted to show that learning who is sitting in front of you and what he/she likes can create a better experience.