Monday, March 24, 2014

Elayne Duff Visits CT

Last week I had the pleasure of having one of the most exciting and fun bartenders around come in for a special training and then guest bartender appearance.  Elayne Duff, head bartender/mixologist for Diageo, was kind enough to make the trek up to the Hartford area and visit with nearly 70 of my staff for a great afternoon of cocktail building techniques and strategy, as well as some great new items to think about.  She also then gave a few hours of fun and mixing behind the bar for a celebrity guest appearance during happy hour.  It being St Patrick's Day we were busy from the get-go and Elayne was a huge hit with the crowd, some of which were Elayne groupies.
Me and Elayne Duff at Max Fish, Glastonbury

A couple of the really important points that Elayne made to the staff had to do with better understanding of what you are actually doing when building a drink.  The point about tasting all your drinks is a vital one that a lot of bartenders miss.  I don't know too many chefs that will not taste their food as it is conceived and presented, and every component as it is prepared.  Bartenders need to do the same.  This is how you learn what a properly made drink tastes like and learn how balance components in the drink.  Hard to do if you are not tasting.

The other big point she made has to do with understanding ingredients and how they work together.  My monthly focus this month with staff training is focused on service staff and their knowledge of how cocktails are built.  It became apparent from the very first session that a lot of staff, both young and old, had never had some fundamental classic recipes, such as a Martini (gin not vodka), Manhattan, Daiquiri, Old Fashioned, Ward 8, etc.  I started making some of these for my guys and they were really surprised at how good and elegant these drinks were.  Most were also shocked at the Martini and how good it is when made with fresh Vermouth that has not been left sitting in the well for months.

A appreciate Elayne's time and I know my staff really got a lot out of this visit from the feedback that I have been receiving all week.  We all learned a lot.

You can learn more about Elayne and what she does on her website - duffontherocks.com

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