Educating Bartenders Worldwide.
By Beverage Trade Network
Jason Lam really enjoys meditation. In a line of work that has you catering to other people’s experience, it’s nice to take the time to focus on your own mental wellness. He is the Bar Manager at Sens Restaurant, San Francisco. Jason Lam is also a judge at the upcoming 2021 Bartender Spirits Awards.
A run-in with a friend from college who was managing a nightclub at the time in downtown SF. I had quit a 10-year career in biotech marketing and was looking for a different life path.
I think the bartender has to consider what elements are missing that a patron normally experiences from their establishment. If there is no outdoor/indoor seating, factors such as lighting, ambiance, conversation - those are all stripped from the guest experience and all you have to offer is a to-go cocktail. In that sense, you have to be very creative in things such as presentation, menu descriptions, and great ingredients. What makes them want to purchase alcohol with their to-go meal instead of buying something at the market?
Jason Lam at home
Communication always stands out, as it is a cornerstone in building relationships with both co-workers and guests. After that would be creativity and organization, which go hand in hand in creating better logistics behind the bar, improving cocktail quality and consistency, and giving guests an amazing experience all around.
I try to consider the demographics of our guests and what seems to excite them. Products with an amazing backstory or unique ingredients are always interesting as long as they aren’t gimmicky. There’s a balance in our spirits of novel products to introduce to our guests as well as tried and true staples that are always in demand.
Programs that involve regular visits have worked the best for both us and the suppliers. Regular facetime builds trust, brand familiarity with staff, and suppliers learn more about our specific needs.
I think a more creative approach with ingredients will be in demand. Many pre-packaged products have been introduced because of quarantine, so when bars and restaurants reopen, guests will want to experience something they are not able to reproduce at home. I think the drink garnish will play a larger role in the overall presentation of the cocktail in terms of engendering trust in professional preparation.
Sens Restaurant, San Francisco, pre-covid times - a busy affair
I really like to see inventory move! Besides revenue, it means that the bar program is working, product selection was reflective of demand, and people are having a good time. It’s one of the measurements of success that I enjoy.
I just finished Westworld and I can’t wait for the next season!
I’d choose gin because of it’s high level of mixability while still contributing to the flavor profile of the cocktail
Unfortunately we are currently closed until restrictions are lifted in San Francisco since we are located in the Financial District and most offices are vacant.
Ask questions. Don’t be intimidated by those that have more experience. Most bartenders that I’ve known are proud of their craft and would happily share what they know. Also take home some empty bottles, fill with water, add a pour spout, and practice pouring. A good chunk of bartending is muscle memory, so the more familiar you are with the movements, the less mental energy it’ll require at work, which means you can spend more time multi-tasking, engaging with guests, etc.
I say brandy. It’s not a call spirit by any means in our area, but we’ve had great successes with brandy cocktails in our happy hour programs.
I think the establishment will have to create an atmosphere that gives guests confidence in cleanliness. I expect FOH and BOH will likely be wearing masks for the rest of the year, if not more. However, I do think people are excited to engage socially when the time is right, and it will be a great boon for those establishments that are left.
I think masks will likely be a factor in the long run, more likely at restaurants than neighborhood or dive bars. I think consumers will have a lot more options in pre-packaged drinks as well.
Usually drinks on our cocktail menu sell the most. Before shutdown, it was called the Scarlet Carson (Tito’s vodka, pressed beets, French elderflower, rosemary reduction, and fresh lemon juice
I’m hoping to say goodbye to the to-go cocktail. I think it strips away so much of the experience of enjoying a well made cocktail in conjunction with the overall atmosphere a restaurant or bar is trying to create for their guests.