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Imagen Trends in mixology: Guest Bartending -  2nd part

Trends in mixology: Guest Bartending - 2nd part

Jorge Balbontin

Jorge Balbontín is Cocktail Manager of Global Premium Brands, manufacturer and distributor company of premium spirits. Jorge has worked in bars in Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires, also he has been very closed working or presenting seminars in Brazil, Mexico, United States, China, Singapore, Australia, Russia, United Kingdom and Spain. And he is also specialist in Tequila, having the recognition as Master in the category for the Mexican government and the CRT (Tequila Regulatory Council).
Read the 1st part of this article here.


Sergio (Padilla, bartender in O'Clock) is a guest bartender in the broadest sense of the word. He's a nice guy, who does not come from years and years within the sector neither hundreds of mixology courses. If Sergio had been born a few centuries ago, he would definitely been a Spartan soldier, no doubt about it.
From Firefighter / mechanic / handyman and Gladiator, Sergio jumps (and lands on his feet) under the wing of some of the most talented bartenders in the national scene: as well as a being an affable person (and with some point of craziness) he usually ends being friend with most of those around him. When my path crosses with his way, Sergio was already an advantage pupil. With a sense of smell quite trained, always humble, he already used to recognize most of the nuances inherent in the elements. With great assertiveness, Sergio squeezed and endorsed the techniques learnt and soon those ones will be their own style. Japanese hard shake, barrel aging, reversals on classics, science application, pouring and venenciado (the latter being a kind of his signature), and all the best he could get out of whom he knew. So I invited him to fly to London with me. For being first a person and then a bartender, someone who truly understands the real meaning of the word "hospitality", the key of our work.

The guest bartending
It is an existing trend that comes from the world of the kitchen, where it begins as the "Pop - Up" or ephemeral bar that appears only during a certain time. It is just a variation of what originally comes from the world of fashion and accessories, a concept, an idea that is not original to fill a gap. Both in London and New York, some great and famous chefs from the late '90s saw the need to expand their locations and creative moments using a large number of unused spaces because of the fall of bars and restaurants affected by the Asian crisis.
Picture this: a 5 star hotel with 25% low occupancy in less than a year, the subsequent row of dismissed employees, convention spaces, bars and kitchens unoccupied for the same reasons. Now think, a "celebrity" Chef on his glory advertising moment, the nouvelle cuisine burning as like never before (and in the middle of the entrance / exit of the first global crisis) and the educated consumer who leaves the simple food to become a "foodie" and who will soon realizes that the Premiumisation is just consuming more informed and better.
It only took some well-known chefs as Jean-Georges in New York or Marco Pierre White in London who began to squeeze this opportunity in empty places using their high drawing power to give life to the "rumor" that a new site (under their names) will open during the following three months. The result was almost immediate. Complete reservations within a week, people traveling from overseas to attend an experience that in three months would no longer exist. Contacts required to see if someone could sneak in last minute ... a resounding success.

The Bartender consolidation
This is how a couple of years later, a large alcohol distribution companies realize that it is the "channel" (the bartender) who has the power over the choice of a drink, when brands promotions no longer are directed (only) to the owner of the bar or to the final consumer, when the bartender gets a new level of professional respect. Is there (around 2008) where the "second golden age of mixology" reborn.
But where a renowned chef can not go to another renowned chef restaurant to take over the kitchen for a night or a weekend, a bartender can do it. The bartender can go to another bar, exchange knowledge and spend a great time behind the bar. One difference is that the chef has a hard time mobilizing their performance while the bartender is a nomad by definition.
In the world of the "juice-mixers", egos only just went up. A few years ago all efforts were focused on developing the industry, to grow together.

Jim Wrigley, English, Bartender and friend (former Global Brand Ambassador of Santa Teresa Rum), spent more than three years between London, New York and Los Angeles. Supported by his brand and his personal charm, Jim worked in PDT, Mayahuel, Milk and Honey, Death and Co, Clover Club in New York, and a number of bars in the UK where he was entrusted with the bar in countless times. At that time the guest bartending sounded to Chinese in Spain.
In 2009, after leaving my job as Brand Ambassador of Cuervo Int, I took a sabbatical year. When I decided to professionalize my skills as a bartender, I realized that rather than pay for a sommelier course (or smell-glasses;) I needed to go to London. Backed only by my savings, I stayed in London for 4 months and powered my perseverance, contacts and an intense struggle I managed to work as guest bartender on the bar where I wanted to learn more. Café Pacifico, Milk and Honey, The Lonsdale, Barrio North, 69 Colebrooke Row and NightJar.
All this was possible thanks to the willingness of other bartenders.
In 2010, along with George Restrepo, we tried to set up something similar in Barcelona without much result. Maybe it was not the time.
During 2011 I continued visiting London and participating as guest bartender supported by Gin Mare and Global Premium Brands, expanding the "guest" tour to locals as The Rockwell, Callooh Callay, Playhouse and others. Over that year and 2012, some Bartenders as Carlos Moreno and Jordi Otero have organized a session of guest bartending in Spain, but has not yet undertaken as a long-term plan.

Win-win situation: a trend
In essence, when the public is ready for it, the guest bartending is a "win/win situation" as the consumer receives a surprise from their usual bar, with a special menu and / or thematized by an industry professional who does not work in this place. Generally, and if a brand is sponsoring to the event, cocktails are at a reduced price that night to generate curiosity and consumption.
The Guest bartender learns widely when working in a well-known mixology bar, he/she could add this to the Resume, interacts with other top bartenders and analyzes their different methodologies or processes preparation of elements (syrups, cordials, infusions, garnish, etc.).
The bar rewards its customers. If the place is progressive, it will pay a commission to the bartender after having generated a minimum cash that night (Sunday to Tuesday are ideal). If the location is a recognize cocktail bar and the bartender is an international star, the bar will benefit itself of his/her name at the same time it positions as a leader in trend.
If the Guest bartender is not a "David Guetta" of the sector, he/she will then be the first to put all the efforts (ie Facebook, Twitter, etc..) to ensure a full place that night. Win / win situation.

Today the guest bartending still fails to start at a 100% in Spain. For all these reasons I invited Sergio Padilla to London with me, as I wanted him to see the entire atmosphere there but also wanted Sergio to lived and experienced being behind one of the best bars of the moment, the Nightjar Bar.
I had already planned a trip for a presentation, the Ysabel Regina introduction, our latest creation, a wonderful assembly of VSOP Cognac and Brandy Solera Gran Reserva, charcoal filtered and finish in delicious Pedro Ximenez casks of Ximenez Spinola family in Jerez. A revitalization of two categories, a queen within the spirits. So Sergio joins me on this trip.
London is my second home. I am very confident there to ask for a favor or even for breaking some rules. Sergio and I coincided with the 41º team, Marc, Juan, Juanjo and Sergi were teammates for three days in the English capital.
An unexpected party bartenders on a Sunday in London Cocktail Club (a celebration of the Day of the Dead with Tequila Open Bar). One Monday shopping (juice-mixers style) and preparations for the event. Sergio and I arrived at Nightjar, after convincing Marian that Sergio would be behind the bar during my presentation to the public, we started the night.
 
To sum up:

  • More than 50 attendees (best NJ call on a Monday so far).
  • Product presentation during 1h15.
  • Sergio Padilla in charge of the bar featuring 8 cocktails with Ysabel Regina and 2 with Gin Mare.
  • Over 5 hours of pure guest bartending state.

While Marian was accepted that Sergio was sharing the bar with him, Martina was doing bar back for Sergio. If there is such a thing as a climax of the bartender, Sergio lived a few that night...
 
In a globalized and systematized society, bartenders continue their search for excellence sharing experiences. In Russia (Moscow), the Russian Cocktail Club and the City Space bar have joined forces to carry out an annual program of guest bartenders. Another absolute success. Angus Winchester, Max La Rocca, Agostino Perrone, Gegam Kazarian, Simone Caporale; Martina Brezňanová, Luca Cinalli, Andrew Nicholls, Stanislav Vadrna, Nicolas Saint Jean, Alex Kratena, among other artists who have gone through this bar.
Meanwhile Sergio works in taking forward a number of guest bartenders sessions in O'Clock, cocktail bar who leads together with Jordi Otero in Madrid. Soon, Sergio will take this concept to Paris, where he will have the opportunity to work on "Candelaria", an speak easy bar nominated for best bar in the world in Tales of the Cocktail 2012.

On my side, I am working on scheduling a guest bartending plan into one of my favorite villains bars, Slow in Barcelona where we will seek progressive growth locally, nationally and internationally. We have the support of the company of which I am part, Global Premium Brands, with the mutual support of the bartenders community of connoisseurs of the sector (including sommeliers), with the maturity of a market that does not just follow trends but also leads, and of course, we have all of you.

Be aware ... Cheers!


Read the 1st part of this article here.

Note: Marian (Beke) and Martina (Brezňanová) are well-known international bartenders currently working on Nightjar.

© Photos courtesy Global Premium Brands.

Picture by © Foto cortesía: Global Premium BrandsPicture by © Foto cortesía: Global Premium BrandsPicture by © Foto cortesía: Global Premium BrandsPicture by © Foto cortesía: Global Premium BrandsPicture by © Foto cortesía: Global Premium Brands

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Imagen Pablo Martinez Hernandez

Pablo Martinez Hernandez think: 5
09/01/2013

Es de lo mejor que hay en relacion con la mixologia. Saludos y gracias