Speedrack - All Female Bartending Competition

January 11th, 2018

The Speedrack Northeast semi-finals took place at the Melrose Ballroom in Queens NY on January 7, 2018. This is the 7th season of this great event.

Speed Rack, was founded in 2011 by Ivy Mix and Lynnette Marrero.

This from speed-rack.com:

“The service industry can sometime be thought of as a man’s world.

"Mix and Marrero have been able to shine a spotlight on female mixologists thriving behind bars around the country; and while they are at it, raise money for breast cancer research, education, and prevention.

“The idea was to create a cocktail competition for the ladies -one that celebrated women, was created by women and supported women; in and out of the spirits industry. In their first year, Speed Rack met over 200 bartenders across the country and raised over $69,000.”

That was the first year. This is now the 7th season of Speedrack!

The competition is held in cities all over the country with the final held this year on May 8, 2018 in Chicago.

We really encourage you to attend, volunteer or even enter the competition.

It is such a fun time. Its like a rock concert for Bartenders!

The brand sponsors have tables set up all around the venue offering cocktails and samples of their products.

For Dry January, our friend Mimi Bernham made a delicious N/A punch with Perfect Puree ingredients. Perfect Puree makes great pureed products, mostly fruit, which are awesome in cocktails. The Carmelized Pineapple is one of my favorites! Perfect Puree is really good about shipping samples btw. This is for foodservice professionals only, but they will ship some frozen samples to your bar or restaurant if you go to their website.

Cocktail of the Week:

January Punch 

Courtesy of Mimi Bernham

  • 40 oz water 
  • 7 Rosehip Tea bags (Onno Behrends Brand) 
  • 24 oz The Perfect Puree Prickly Pear 
  • 18 oz Ginger Beer 1
  • 6 oz seltzer 
  • 12 oz pure Acai Juice 
  • 5 oz lemon juice 
  • 3 oz grapefruit juice 
  • 3 tablespoons Sorghum Syrup
  • Method: Allow tea bags to steep for 40 minutes.  Squeeze tea bags, and discard. 
  • Combine lemon juice and sorghum syrup and shake well to thoroughly blend. 
  • Add all ingredients, except for the Ginger beer & seltzer, to a punch bowl and stir to blend. 
  • Add seltzer and ginger beer, and gently stir as to keep some bubbles. 
  • Add ice to chill the punch; 
  • Make an ice ring with rosemary, lemon wheels and fresh cranberries. The aromatics from the ice ring further enhance the punch. 

Makes approximately 3.5 liters of punch

Mimi was our guest on Bartender Journey #161

To attend speedrack its only $25 (or $30 at the door), 100% of which goes to 9 different Breast Cancer charities. According to the speedrack website, approximately $100k is now donated each year.

You can also go as a volunteer.

The format of the competition is this:

In each city 8 ladies are chosen to compete in the semi-final.

It’s a round robin format, so in the first round the ladies are on stage 2 at a time in 4 heats. There are 4 that move on, and again they compete 2 at a time until there are 2 left for the final.

There are 4 judges who call out what drink they would like.

Both competitors are making all 4 drinks per round. Like it says in the title Speedrack, its all about speed. The ladies are timed.

In one round Becca Pesce was up against Samantha Casuga.

Both ladies Bartend at Dead Rabbit. Becca is our good friend from USBG NY. Becca also works for Angel’s Envy as a Whiskey Guardian, as they call their Brand Ambassadors.

The 2 bars are on the big stage and the contestants build their round of drinks as quickly as possible. And these are not simple drinks! There are drinks like the Lion’s Tail, the Cooper Union and the El Diablo. At least it’s a finite list – the competitors are given a list ahead of time of possible cocktails they may be asked to make.

And taste counts too! The judges can add penalty time based on taste, presentation, technique etc.

Becca won her first round, but unfortunately Becca her next round to Haley Traub.

Haley moved on to the final round.

As I record this in mid January 2018 there are 4 dates still to come, plus the final in Chicago. The 4 remaining semi-finals are in New Orleans, Phoenix, Washington D.C. and Boston.

Book of the Week:

Julie Reiner was one of the judges. She wrote:

The Craft Cocktail Party: Delicious Drinks for Every Occasion

I spoke to Julie way back in 2015 at Tales of the Cocktail.

In the final round Celeste “Lucky” Dittanmo of Whistle & Tins in Maplewood NJ was up against Haley Traub of Dutch Kills in Queens. Haley was victorious and moves on to the finals in Chicago.

I hope you’ll attend, volunteer or compete. All the info is on speed-rack.com and there are lots of videos on facebook – just search for speedrack (one word - no space).

I hope you checked out the previous episode of Bartender Journey. Podcast #239 is all about the Classic Daiquiri. I spent a lot of time on that episode and I think it came out pretty good, if I do say so myself! So please go back and listen to that one if you haven’t already.


Here’s to God’s first thought, “Man”!

Here’s to God’s second thought, “Woman”!

Second thoughts are always best,

So here’s to Woman!

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The Classic Daiquiri

January 3rd, 2018

The Daiquiri.  A drink everyone has heard of, but likely the many people think of as a pink slushy containing copious amounts of inexpensive nondescript alcohol.

What the Bartending community sometimes refers to as a “Classic Daiquiri” is a very different drink than the slushy artificially colored and flavored thing many people think of as a Daiquiri.  While a frozen Daiquiri can be delicious, a “Classic Daiquiri” is  simply 3 ingredients, shaken until very cold and served without ice in a chilled cocktail glass. It is arguably one of the most important drinks for any Bartender to master. 

This wonderful cocktail, (I start to crave one as I write this at 10am), is a delicate balance of Rum, freshly squeezed lime juice and simple syrup.

Just as the simple omelet is considered a gage of a Cook’s talent, a Bartender’s Daiquiri is a clue into a Bartender’s skill, methodology and education.

What makes this drink so important?  For one, the Bartender must perfectly balance the three ingredients.  Too much lime juice, or not enough sugar and the drink will be too tart and make your face pucker.  Too much sugar and the result will be obvious.  Not enough Rum and the drink will be “flabby”.  As it is shaken, a fourth ingredient is added - water.  Diluting the drink with the perfect amount of water from the melting ice is a technique that takes skill, precision, instinct and experience.

There is another reason that this cocktail is so important for the Bartender to understand and be able to prepare properly.  This drink is a basic “sour” style drink, like a whiskey sour.  Just as the culinary world has 5 “mother sauces”, we have categories of cocktails. The sour is the basis for countless drinks. 

For more details and cocktail recipes please visit bartenderjourney.net/daiquiri

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Bartender Craig Schiedlo plus Filibuster Distillery

December 20th, 2017

We chat with Bartender Craig Schidelo about Bartending, Competitions and how to advance your career.

We’ll also talk to Sorab Silawri from Filibuster Distillery. Filibuster put on a nice Holiday gathering at Club Macanudo, with some nice cigars and great Filibuster whiskey.

Book of the Week:

Bourbon Curious by Fred Minnick

This book gets into serious detail about Bourbon, with an exploration of many brands broken down into categories: Grain-Forward, Nutmeg-Forward, Carmel-Forward, Cinnamon-Forward, and Select Limited Edition and Special Releases.

Very helpful is the chapter “How to Taste Bourbon”. This chapter gives great practical information about improving your tasting skills and even gives some homework! There are worksheets, for example, what are your top ten memories and what are the aromas associated with them? There is also a long list of flavors that you can expect to smell and taste in Bourbon – everything from Allspice to White Pepper.


Cocktail of the Week:

New Yorker

This is from the Speakeasy book from the Employees Only Bar, but Bar Manager Robert Krueger found it in an book from the 1930’s called Booth’s Cocktail Book.

1 ¾ oz high proof Rye, such as Wild Turkey 101

1 oz Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

¾ oz Simple Syrup

Place above ingredients in a Collins glass with ice and give a brief shake, (“short shake”).

Top with 3 oz Club Soda and then float ¾ oz of dry Red Wine on top.  (Try using an iSi Soda Siphon for the Club Soda)

This is a variation on the New York Sour with the addition of Club Soda. A nice drink and very festive looking.

Toast of the Week:

From the book Toasts

Here’s to the present – and to hell with the past.

A health to the future and joy to the last!

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Meehan’s Bartender Manual

December 6th, 2017

Meehan’s Bartender Manual by Jim Meehan is, true to its name, a Manual.

It details how to layout a bar from start to finish. The section called “The Physical Bar” is extremely specific, starting with the location for your establishment – considering everything from the population density to income levels and more. Then the theme of the bar, or even, “do you really want one of those”. Then moving on to building the interior, the book gives detailed measurements of the ideal distance from the back edge of the bar to the front of the back bar, where the ice bins, coolers POS and more should be placed.

The book gives specific case studies and detailed technical drawings of famous bars such as the NoMad and Dead Rabbit.

There are pages about the sequence of building one round of 11 particularly complicated cocktails. I’ve been thinking about that section constantly at work, trying to maximize my workflow.

Information about icing, stirring, shaking, tasting and much more.

Then there are also 100 great cocktail recipes.

Honestly, this is a must-have book. There are many important details on designing a bar, service plus spirit & cocktail knowledge.

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Kuma Turmeric Liqueur, Plus Reimagining the G&T

November 29th, 2017

We’ll talk with Chet Holstein who makes Kuma Turmeric Liqueur in Washington State. We’ll talk about his unusual and delicious product.

Plus the humble Gin and Tonic - how can we change things up a little?

It’s the Bartender Journey Podcast No. 236! 
Listen with the audio player on this page, or subscribe in Apple Podcasts, Android or Stitcher Radio.

Tonic began as a medicine many years ago.

According to Wikipedia:

"Quinine was added to a drink to protect against malaria. It was originally intended for consumption in tropical areas of South Asia and Africa, where the disease is endemic.

"Quinine powder was so bitter that British officials stationed in early 19th Century India and other tropical posts began mixing the powder with soda and sugar, and a basic tonic water was created. The first commercial tonic water was produced in 1858.[1] The mixed drink gin and tonic also originated in British colonial India, when the British population would mix their medicinal quinine tonic with gin."

Many bars are making there own Tonic syrups, which are then mixed with seltzer to make Tonic water.  Brands like El Guapo Bitters also sell great bottled Tonic syrup.

There are many possiblities for a G&T.  I love a healthy dash of fresh lime juice in my G&T.  You can add some of Chet's Kuma Turmeric Liqueur, or some El Guapo Rose Cordial, (which is up for a 2018 Good Food Award btw).

Another option is to serve your G&T with fresh herbs & fruit in a big wine glass, the way they often do in Spain.

Book of the Week:

Ed McMahon's Barside Companion

Upcoming Episode - Classic Daiquiri.  Your chance to be involved!

We are planning a future episdoe dedicated the Classic Daiquiri. We’d love for you to be involved! Record your favorite Daiquiri recipe or story with a voice recorder on your phone and email to brian@bartenderjounrey.net

If we have any subscribers that represent a Rum brand and would like to send some samples along for us to play with, please get in touch! You can use the same email address brian@bartenderjounrey.net

So get your input for the Daiquiri show to me by 12/20/17 and we’ll aim to release that episode as the first Bartender Journey episode of 2018.

Toast of the Week:

Here’s to our guest! Friends of our Friend’s is double our friend. Here to them!


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Live From Bar Institute with Josh Davis and Friends

November 22nd, 2017

It’s the Bartender Journey Podcast #235. Listen with the audio player on this page, or subscribe in Apple Podcasts, Android or Stitcher Radio.

  • Bar Institute was in NY last week. Lush Life is the organization that puts this on and they do an amazing job. They also produce Camp Runamuck and Cane Camp. Bar Institute is classes, parties, tastings, and networking.
  • The speakers at the Bar Institute classes are all amazing and all volunteer - great people that want to help raise the industry.
  • One amazing class taught by Jackie Summers, Alexandra Farrington and Joanna Carpenter was An Intersectional Guide to Dismantling Systemic Racism and Sexism in Hospitality #YouToo
  • This week on the show we talk with Josh Davis who works with Lush Life in addition to being Bar Manager at The Bureau Bar in Chicago.
  • Book of the Week comes to us from Hazel Alvarado.
    The Thinking Girl's Guide to Drinking: (Cocktails without Regrets)
  • We are looking for sponsors for the Bartender Journey Podcast. If you know of anyone who might be a good fit, I’d love to hear from you. You can email me directly at brian@bartenderjourney.net.

Cocktail of the Week
The Vieux Carré is a wonderful cocktail that was invented at the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans around 1938.

1 oz Cognac

1 oz Rye Whiskey

1 oz Sweet Vermouth

¼ teaspoon (Bar Spoon)

2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Its not traditional, but I add a bar spoon of Grand Marnier. It adds just a little extra complexity to the drink.

Stir that up and serve it over ice in an Old Fashioned glass. Lemon twist.

Even though this drink was originated in a hot place (New Orleans) its actually a great autumn cocktail.

Ok let’s talk to Josh Davis and friends on the floor of the Brooklyn Expo Center.

Always a pleasure hanging out with Josh. Josh is talking about starting his own podcast…how’s that coming Buddy?!

Toast of the Week:

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life."


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Save the World with Paper Straws

November 16th, 2017

At our USBG meeting this month we talk with Brooke Toscano, who is passionate about spreading the word about paper straws. Brooke is also an Angel’s Envy Whiskey Guardian.

Brooke shares a great discount code with us for 50% off an order of $150 or more of paper straws from the Aardvark Straws Company. Use the discount code ANGELSENVY50 at checkout.

We also speak to our friend Willie Mack who we met at Bar Methods. Willie is a Bartender at the Barclays Center.

It’s the Bartender Journey Podcast #234. Listen with the audio player on this page, or subscribe in Apple Podcasts, Android or Stitcher Radio.

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Wine Knowledge for Bartenders with Monika Elling

November 9th, 2017

While Bartenders can not be expected to have Sommelier level wine education, we certainly need to be knowledgeable about what we are serving and how to make recommendations to our guests.

We chat with Monika Elling, author of Wine 123: All you need to know about wine in 90 minutes or less

It’s the Bartender Journey Podcast #233. Listen with the audio player on this page, or subscribe in Apple Podcasts, Android or Stitcher Radio.

Over the past 232 episodes of Bartender Journey we’ve only talked about wine once.  Way back in show #105 we spoke with Elizabeth Schneider of the Wine For Normal People podcast.

Wine 123 packs a lot of knowledge into a small package that is very easy to digest.

Of course Monika Elling’s Wine 123: All you need to know about wine in 90 minutes or less is our Book of the Week.  It’s a perfect crash course on wine.

For our cocktail of the week I suppose we could have come up with something obscure, but Sangria makes people so happy.  Searching for a way to make it à La Minute, I found the answer on Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s site.

He uses Red Wine, Grand Marnier, Fresh Orange Juice, Simple Syrup and a dash of Angostura bitters.  Brilliant!  It’s delicious and a real crowd pleaser.  I’ll let you experiment with the proportions for making one glass.  Suffice to say, a little bit of each modifier goes a long way - the drink should be mostly wine in the end.  Mix it all in a big wine glass, and an orange, lemon and lime wedge and then add ice at the end.  This same recipe works with white wine, for a nice White Sangria.

If this show has helped you, entertained you, etc and you’d like to see it continue, please consider leaving a little something in our Tip Cup.  Please help support this show and help keep the audio flowing.

Also, if you work for a brand or other business that would benefit from reaching our community of Bartenders and Enthusiasts, please get it touch to find out about sponsorship opportunities.  Use our contact page.

Toast of the Week:

Here’s to water...water devine-

It dews the grapes that give us wine.

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Bartender Enrico Gonzato from Dandelyan: World’s Best Cocktail Bar 2017

November 1st, 2017

It was an eventful Monday this week. Our USBG NY chapter meeting was held in Brooklyn at The Counting Room. It was sponsored by Highland Park scotch.   They welcomed us with some delicious Highland Park Old Fashions and tasted us on the Highland Park 12, and their Magnus, Valkyrie expressions. It was a Viking theme for the afternoon. Jordon Zimmerman from the brand took great care of us and it was another amazing USBG meeting.

It’s the Bartender Journey Podcast #232. Listen with the audio player on this page, or subscribe in Apple PodcastsAndroid or Stitcher Radio.

Alan Katz was also at the meeting. His NY Distilling Company is just a few blocks away from The Counting Room, and he invited me to visit, as I had not been to his place before. He may have gotten more than he bargained for because I dragged about 10 friends along with me! Of course he was a very gracious host and we had a nice time checking out the distillery and the great attached bar.

Along for the ride was our great friend Craig Shiedlo who in turn had a friend in tow that he met at a cocktail competition. Enrico Gonzato who is a Bartender at Dandelyan in London. Dandelyan, of course has won many awards, including “World’s Best Cocktail Bar” at the Spirited Awards during Tales of the Cocktail in 2017. Dandelyan was founded by our friend Ryan Chetiyawardana, who we spoke with at the Dead Rabbit on episode 150.

Book of the Week: Ryan Chetiyawardana’s Good Things To Drink, with Mr. Lyan & Friends. This is a beautiful book filled with tons of innovative recipes and gorgeous photography.

Cocktail of the Week:

Perfect Manhattan. It’s the beginning of November and that sounds like just the thing. The Perfect Manhattan splits the vermouth 50/50 sweet and dry. It makes it a little lighter and brighter.

2 oz Rye Whiskey.

½ Dry Vermouth

½ Sweet Vermouth

Dash of Orange Bitters.

Lemon Twist

Unrelated Podcast Suggestion of the Week:
Brought to you by Sudio Bluetooth Headphones, making great sounding and great looking headphones in Sweden. Go to sudiosweden.com and use the discount code “bart enderjourney” for 15% off your Sudio wireless headphones and to show your support for the Bartender Journey Podcast.

The Unrelated Podcast Suggestion of the Week :

Star Talk with Neil DeGrass Tyson.

Dr. Tyson is an Astrophysicist. He has a wonderful approachable and entertaining way of getting really fascinating information across. He always has a professional comedian as a co host on the show, and you laugh while you learn. Give it a try! Its called Star Talk.

Toast of the Week:

May your blessings outnumber

The shamrocks that grow,

And may trouble avoid you

Wherever you go

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Washington D.C. Bar Scene and Drambuie Cocktail Competition

October 25th, 2017

This week on the podcast, it’s another edition of Bartender Journey City Spotlight, as Hazel travels to Washington DC.  She chats with Rico Wisnera bartender from the Adams Morgan neighborhood that has been in the DC cocktail scene for over 20 years.
He first started at a country club and then went onto work at a variety of places including Baltimore Inner Harbor, McCormick & Schmick’s, Dave & Buster’s, Graffiato, Ambar and Bonfire. He has been featured in media including Zagat, Washingtonian and the DC Eater and CBS Local and his last competition was this week at the Drambuie Cocktail Competition at Quarter and Glory.
Pics from the DC trip will be posted on the Bartender Journey Facebook page.
Visit Rico behind the stick at Rosario DC and the pop up Halloween Bar, Pub Dread!

Hazel also chats with French Scotty, bartender at Five to One.

Cocktail of the Week
"Done Got Wise"

1 1/2 oz Drambuie
1 oz creme de cacao
1/2 oz Monkey Shoulder
1 1/2 oz espresso
1 Dash Angostura Aromatic Bitters

National Drambuie Brand Ambassador Vance Henderson makes an appearance on the podcast this week explaining the Drambuie Cocktail Competition.  (We spent an entire episode to speaking with our friend Vance on Bartender Journey Podcast number 207).

Unrelated Podcast Suggestion of the Week:
Brought to you by Sudio Bluetooth Headphonesout of Sweden making great sounding and great looking headphones. Go to sudiosweden.com and use the discount code “bartenderjourney” for 15% off your Sudio wireless headphones and to show your support for the Bartender Journey Podcast.

The Unrelated Podcast Suggestion of the Week is No Such Thing As A Fish.  
In this podcast 4 or so people get together each week with a strange fact and talk about it. The hosts are hysterical and smart and the shows are always very entertaining.  You can take some of these goofy facts and use them to start conversations at your bar.  The hosts are English and it is what I guess you’d call modern English humor. Check it out!

Book of the Week:
The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World's First Classic Cocktail, with Recipes and Lore by Robert Simonson
Well the Old Fashioned is everywhere these days and this is a comprehensive guide to the whiskey, sugar and bitters classic.
There is history plus more than forty cocktail recipes, including variations, regional twists, and contemporary updates from top bartenders around the country.

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