(Hello out there! I know it’s been a long while…I’ve been dedicating all my writing energies to my English 101 class, which is why I’m here today. Our in-class assignment for Saturday the 7th was to crank out a 600-800 word essay developed by process analysis. Since I earned an A, I dedided to post my work for any to enjoy! If you try the recipe, let me know what you think!)
There are many positive qualities one must possess to be a successful bartender, but key to being a great bartender is making a perfect drink. The perfect drink should be both aesthetically pleasing with an appropriate aroma and flavor balance. At Red Robin, the most popular house drink is a Sand in Your Shorts, which requires a specific method of building to result in a beautiful, delicious, and refreshing cocktail.
We begin with the appropriate glassware; remove a thistle glass from the rack above the well. Thistle glasses are identified by their footed base, bulbous bottom, and high, flared edges. Be sure the glass is clean before filling it to the top with ice. The ice should be free of debris; stray sprinkles (a.k.a. jimmies) from over-zealous servers garnishing their milkshakes too close to the bar’s ice well are often to be found.
After the clean glass is set with ice, it is time to start pouring. The vodka and triple sec are added first. Their bottles are conveniently located in the speed rack at knee level right up at the well. Take a bottle in each hand and free-pour a 2-count measure (1/2 oz. each) into the thistle. The next 2 liquors to add are the Midori and peach schnapps. These bottles are also next to each other in the speed rack, but over toward the right where the more expensive bottles of liquor are stored. Pour in the same manner and amount as the vodka and triple sec. Should any of these bottles run empty during pouring, simply remove the pour spout, throw away the empty bottle, and replace the pour spout in a new bottle from the storage area on the wall of the bar.
Once the initial four liquors are in, the straw should be placed in the glass. The color pattern of this drink is the sincerest part of its charm. Inserting the straw after the more colorful fruit juices and Chambord are added will agitate the layers of colors, thereby decreasing the cocktail’s visual appeal. One ounce of sweet and sour is added next. This mixer is located in the juice well to the left of the speed racks. One can tell when one ounce has been poured by the height of the liquid in the glass; at this point the level of liquids should reach the top of the bulbous portion of the thistle glass. From the juice well, take the orange juice and cranberry juice in each hand and pour approximately three ounces of each juice into the glass until they reach the top of the ice. Some of the ice will settle during this process, so a few more cubes should be gently added to the glass. There should now be a space of 1/2 to 3/4 inch at the top where there is no liquid. This space is necessary to accommodate the final float of liqueur, and to keep the drink from splashing over the sides of the glass while a server walks with it. The final liqueur, Chambord, is located behind the milkshake machine. A half-ounce float of Chambord is a beautiful top to this drink. To successfully float the Chambord, pour slowly and aim for the ice rather than the liquid. Allow the Chambord to release slowly down the ice and into the drink; its royal shade of purple will remain independently on top until the drink reaches the guest.
Ready to deliver this beautiful concoction? Not just yet. An orange wedge should be placed delicately on the rim of the glass. Be careful not to upset this beautiful drink you’ve worked so hard to build! And, per Red Robin standards, do all you can to get this miniature piece of art to the guest within four minutes of the drink ticket coming up on your printer. In some cases, a server may already be standing at your well urgently awaiting the drink. Occasionally, the bartender will find him or her self calling for a drink runner – any available server, busser or hostess – to ensure timely delivery of the drink. But the most fun is taking the time to deliver the drink oneself. I enjoy delivering the drinks I’ve made to guests. I am proud to show off my talent and I let the guests know it!
I have been practicing the art of bartending for over ten years and have enjoyed nearly every minute of it. It is an art involving many talents like the ability to talk to, engage, and endear guests, think and work at an outrageous pace, and organizing and prioritizing every task of every moment as it comes flying along. But if you can pay attention to the simple details of building a perfect drink and follow through with diligence, you’re already on the road to being a successful bartender.