Saturday, August 29, 2009

Not Every Brand of Tequila Has its Own Distillery

There are over 900 tequila brands currently out on the market, yet there are only 100+ tequila distilleries. This means that many brands of tequila actually end up coming from the same distillery.

Did you know that every one hundred percent agave tequila must have a NOM number on the bottle? What is a NOM and how do you know the product in the bottle is indeed tequila? How do you know where the tequila inside the bottle comes from? Read More...

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Virtual Spirit Brand Experience

So what if you are a new bartender who has a charming personality, but doesn’t know a whole lot about the different brands and the products that are carried behind the bar? What if you are an experienced bartender who is just looking for a little history on the different brands stocked behind the bar? Or what if you aren’t a bartender, but are looking for information about the many different liquor products out there? The Virtual Spirit Brand Experience is just for you.

The Virtual Spirit is a free online source, sponsored by Beam Global and is open to anyone over the age of 21 who seeks the knowledge. The Virtual Spirit website is organized into five parts: Spirits Certification Program, On-Site Kiosk Program, Download Library, MIXXIT and the Virtual Mixology Guide. Read More...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pimm's No. 1 Cup

Do you know what Pimm's No. 1 Cup is? Has your boss or a customer ever asked you, and you didn't know? My boss asked me the other day about this product and I had no clue. This interaction was the inspiration behind this particular article. Hey, you learn something new everyday. After reading my article, you wont ever have to say "I don't know" when someone asks you what Pimm's No. 1 Cup is.

Click here to find out what Pimm's No. 1 is

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Buena Vista @ Coda

Three weeks ago, Coda opened up its doors to San Francisco. Coda is a brand new jazz supper club and lounge that serves dinner and live jazz music, six nights a week, here in the Mission district, in San Francisco.

I am not only a bartender at Coda, but also the bar manager. I designed a very special cocktail menu for Coda featuring seven different drinks ranging from classic cocktails to creative specialties. In my new “Specialty Cocktail Feature”, I am going to feature each one of the specialty cocktails that can be found on the menu at Coda. I will also be featuring specialty cocktails from other various bars/restaurants here in San Francisco as well, in the near future.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Tequila Regulatory Council

According to Mexican laws and regulations, tequila is a distilled spirit that may only be produced in Mexico.

The Tequila Regulatory Council (AKA: Consejo Regulador del Tequila) was created in 1993. It is a nonprofit organization that consists of the Mexican government, bottling plants, distributors, tequila producers and blue agave growers. The purpose of the CRT is to ensure the integrity and authenticity of tequila to customers.

The CRT works closely with the Mexican government to make sure that when a customer purchases tequila, that they are indeed receiving the real thing.


Why Some Bottles of Tequila Have Worms Inside

I remember when my parents took a trip to Mexico together, while I was in high school. One of the souvenirs they brought back for me was a small bottle of tequila with a worm inside of it. I was intrigued. There was a worm inside a small bottle of tequila, but why? My mom believed that if you ate the worm, it would make you hallucinate. Sadly, I never did get a chance to see if the worm caused hallucinations. I was only in high school when I received the gift. By the time I was of a legal age to drink, my small souvenir bottle of tequila with a worm in it had long been lost. So what is the deal with tequila that has a worm inside the bottle? Read More...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Aperol? Yes, I Have It.

Last night, a group of three customers came up to the bar and each one of them had a question:

Guy #1: "May I have a glass of water?"
Bartender: "Yes, of course."

Guy #2: "May I see your beer list?"
Bartender: "Yes, of course."

Girl: "This is going to sound like a weird question, but do you have Aperol?"
Bartender: "Actually, yes I do."

I hadn't seen a smile that big, all night long. I told her that I had one bottle, but that I would have to retrieve it from my liquor room. One of the guys in the group was shocked that I had a liquor room. I asked him why he was so shocked. He thought that the storage behind the bar was enough room to keep everything. Hahaha. I told him that the liquor room is where I kept all my back-up soldiers.

The only reason why I knew about the existence of the one bottle of Aperol in the liquor room is because 1-I'm the bar manager of the place. I know my liquor room inside and out. I even know where all of the obscure, one-off random bottles of liqueurs are. And 2-I actually know what Aperol is and instantly pictured the bottle in my head.

Needless to say, once I pulled the bottle of Aperol out, the girl in the group was beyond excited. She had a special cocktail concoction that she had me create for her: Aperol, soda water, topped with persecco, garnished with a lemon twist. Even one of the guys ordered the same drink so I got to use up the rest of the bottle.

I really love making my customers happy. It's an awesome feeling. I informed them that they used the last of my bottle. They seemed okay with that. I hope they come back and try some of our specialty cocktails.

And for those of who you who have no clue as to what Aperol is exactly, I am going to let Wikipedia save the day for you:

"Aperol is an Italian aperitif originally produced by the Barbieri company, based in Padua. Aperol is now produced by the Campari company. While Aperol was originally created in 1919, it did not become successful until after World War II. Its ingredients are, among others, bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona.

Although it looks, tastes, and smells much like Campari, Aperol has an alcohol content of 11% - a little less than half of Campari. Campari is also slightly darker in color.

Aperol is the main ingredient in Spritz."


Designated Drivers

Scandinavia is responsible for introducing IKEA to the United States and the idea of having designated drivers.

So what is a designated driver?

A designated driver is a person who decides to remain sober, abstaining from alcohol in order to drive their friends home safely after a night of alcoholic consumption. Designated drivers are a safe alternative to driving under the influence. Besides the obvious safety reasons, being a designated driver also helps the environment by reducing the total amount of miles driven. The less miles driven means a savings on gas the emissions released into the air. Read More...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Virgin Drinks

“Hey Bartender, what if I don’t drink alcohol?“

Occasionally, I get a customer who throws me a curveball behind the bar. They don’t drink alcohol. These customers include minors (yes, I work in a restaurant), designated drivers, pregnant ladies, people on an important business meeting, non-drinkers or whatever the case may be. A really good bartender will be quick on their feet and be able to build a delicious and creative non-alcoholic drink for their non-drinking customer, something other than boring old soda or plain juice.

Sure there are the popular staples: the Virgin Marys (a Bloody Mary minus the vodka), the Shirley Temples (grenadine and either ginger ale or Sprite) and the Rob Roys (grenadine and Coke), but it’s nice to step out of the ordinary box and make up something really special for customers who don’t and/or can’t consume alcohol. Remember, these customers tip too. Read More...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Complaint? Criticism?

I know that not all of the customers that come in and saddle up at the bar are always going to be 100% satisfied with their drinks all the time. When a customer has a valid complaint and really isn't happy with their drink, I am always more than willing to make them something else, in hopes of having them satisfied. Working in the customer service industry like I do, I know that there will always be a few people, that no matter what you do, nothing is ever right in their eyes. You can make them a new drink until the cows come home and they will never be happy.

Case in point. I had a customer not too long ago who flagged me down and wanted to discuss his drink. Once he started chatting with me, I realized that it wasn't his own drink that he wanted to discuss, but his girlfriends. Already I was confused. If she didn't like her drink, why wasn't I having the discussion with her and not her boyfriend?

I asked him what the problem with the drink was. He said it was too sweet. I asked him if she would like me to make her another drink. He said no, granted the whole time I was talking about this chick's drink with her boyfriend, she wasn't making any eye contact with me whatsoever, making it very difficult for me to find out what the problem was in the first place.

After I extended the offer to make a new drink and was rejected, the guy continued to talk in circles asking if the drink was supposed to be sweet and what it was suppose to taste like. Also, while the guy was having this conversation with me, his whole upper half of his body was leaning over the bar and he was trying to grab my hand and hold it, while trying to emphasize what he was/wasn't saying. On a side note: I find customers that try to grab or touch me, creepy.

This is when I realized that they didn't want another drink, they just wanted to bitch and criticize the drink. I started to get a little frustrated because all I wanted to do was make her happy and get this guy out of my face. Anytime I offered to make another drink, a different type of drink at that, he kept telling me how much she didn't like the drink, leaving me really no option in how I could possibly make the whole situation better for them.

The dude sensed my frustration and took it as if I was taking the criticism of the drink personal. I wanted to tell him that I was actually getting fed up because it was obvious that there was nothing I could do for them that would make them happy and now they were taking me away from customers who were coming up to the bar, wanting to buy drinks.

I let the guy go in a couple more circles with his criticism before I walked away and poured them both a glass of ice water and set the glasses in front of them as a peace offering. Then I never went up to them again for the rest of the night.

Oh yeah and did I mention that when the girl originally paid for her and her boyfriend's drink, she stiffed me?

Patrón Part 4: Product Portfolio

When customers think of Patrón, they seem to be the most familiar with Patrón Silver and don’t realize that other types of tequila exist within the product line. Silver tequila isn’t aged. It is generally bottled right after the distillation process. This type of tequila is clear and for the most part, doesn’t have pronounced taste. This is why using blanco tequila is idea for mixed drinks such as Margaritas and Tequila Sunrises. It’s also why Patron Silver is so popular in the company’s product line.

In Patrón’s product portfolio, there are seven different tequila products, including Patrón Silver. Each of these products has their own unique color, aroma, taste and finish. Read More...

*This article includes a slideshow with pictures provided courtesy of The Patrón Spirits Company

Thursday, August 20, 2009

100th Article Anniversary!

Tomorrow I will post my 100th article on Where does the time go? I only started back in April...

National Bartender Examiner

Patrón Part 3: Bottles and Logo

The Bottle

Every Patrón bottle is unique and handmade. There are no two bottles alike. The bottles themselves are created from recycled glass. It is reported that about twenty percent of the bottles that are made are pulled off the production line due to imperfections. Patrón’s famous “Simply Perfect” tagline doesn’t just represent the quality of their tequila product and the ingredients they use to create the product, but also the container in which their product is shipped and sold in....

The Logo

Recently, I had the privileged of seeing and listening to, in person, Patrón's master distiller, Francisco Alcaraz discuss the Patrón product portfolio, the company's history and the process for how Patrón is made. This four-part series reflects the abundance of information I learned at that event.

One of the questions that were asked of Alcaraz was about the significance of Patrón’s bumblebee logo and how it came to be...Read More

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Patrón Part 2: Making Patrón

How does the number one ultra premium tequila brand in the world make its popular product? In six steps:



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Patrón Part 1: History

I am starting a four part series on my page called "Sixty Hands Equal One Bottle of Patrón." The first part is all about Patrón's history.

I understand that there are many other premium tequila brands out there besides Patrón. So why am I writing a four-part series on the brand? The reason is because Patrón is the number one selling premium tequila brand in the world. When most of my customers call for a tequila, they call for Patrón. Part of my job as a bartender is to inform my customers about all the brands I stock behind my bar. I can do my best to point my customers into the direction of a premium tequila (besides Patrón) that tastes good and might be in a lower price range, but in the end, I just have to give the customer exactly what they want.

Recently, I had the privileged of seeing and listening to, in person, Patrón's master distiller, Francisco Alcaraz discuss the Patrón product portfolio, the company's history and the process for how Patrón is made. This series will reflect the abundance of information I learned at that event.

Did you know that in order to make one bottle of Patrón, it takes 60 hands to do so?

Sixty hands equal one bottle of Patron Pt. I: History

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tequila How Tos and Fun Facts

In the spirit of celebrating Tequila Month all August, on, I present to you my most recent "Best Of" article featuring Tequila How Tos and Fun Facts:

When most people think of tequila, they remember that fun and crazy night, followed by praying to the Porcelain God the next morning. From that point on, these people vowed to never give tequila a second chance. For the entire month of August, is celebrating the spirit from Mexico by featuring many different articles about tequila. These articles include topics such as favorite drink recipes (like the uber popular margarita and all of it’s glorious variations), favorite food and marinate recipes (perfect for that BBQ to celebrate the remaining days of summer), where to find amazing tequila drinks and information on various tequila brands.

I have contributed a few tequila articles of my own this month, but wanted to pay homage to some of my favorite tequila articles that have been written by other Examiners on Some of us have a favorite tequila recipe or a favorite place to get tequila drinks in our hometown, but what if you aren’t very familiar with tequila itself? What if you are one of those people who have suffered a bad experience with tequila and have decided to never try the spirit again? This collection of “best of” articles featuring tequila how tos and fun facts is just for you. Who knows, maybe after reading these informational articles, you might be tempted to give tequila another chance. READ MORE...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Clearly Confused

As a bartender, I understand that there are people out there who drink and have no clue as to what it is that they are really drinking. Some people drink what their friends drink. Some people choose their beverages by what's being rapped or sung about on MTV. Some people will just have "whatever they're having."

I had a customer come in one time and didn't know what she wanted to drink. That's cool because that's what I, as a bartender, am behind the bar for. I am here to help my customers decide on something good to drink, for them. In order to get to that point, I have to ask a couple of questions. So this lady made it known that she wanted a scotch and asked me what kind of scotches I had. We had a few in-stock, some from three different geographic regions in Scotland. I asked her which region from Scotland she wanted her scotch to come from. She looked at me baffled. I don't think she knew anything about scotch. That was okay. We moved forward, or so I thought.

She asked me what kind of whiskey I had. I asked her if she wanted a Kentucky bourbon or a Tennessee whiskey because we have a number of different types of whiskeys in stock. Before I started rattling off my entire inventory of Bourbon, I needed to know which kind she preferred. Again, I got the deer caught in headlights look. Oh man.

Then she asked me what kind of Irish Whiskey I had. I told her two: Jamesons and Tullamore Dew. She ended up ordering a water and sipping off of her friend's Jameson on the rocks.

Sometimes, customers are clearly confused and there is nothing the bartender can do about it. I tried.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Southern Comfort is NOT Whiskey-Based

Southern Comfort. A product of the South. Created by a bartender in New Orleans in 1874. This product is used in popular recipes such as an Alabama Slammer, Slow Comfortable Screw, Scarlett O’Hara, and popular amongst the college-aged crowd, SoCo Lime shots.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that Southern Comfort is considered a liqueur. Southern Comfort doesn’t have a whiskey base, like most people believe there to be. Southern Comfort is a fruit, spiced, whiskey flavored liqueur. It’s a secret blend of flavors that include peach, orange, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon. Read more HERE about SoCo's history and fun facts.

Friday, August 14, 2009


If you have ever been behind a bar before, you might have noticed that space behind a bar is very limited. Behind the bar, there has to be a complete stock of liquor, mixers, ice, tools, glassware, bottled beer, bottled wine, bottled water, cash registers and/or POS terminals, sinks for washing dishes and hands and garbage cans. On a busy night there could be two or three bartenders working behind the bar with a barback. That’s a lot of people working fast and efficiently in a small, confined space....Saying “behind” is the same idea as if a person were working in a restaurant and yelling “corner” whenever they entered/exited the kitchen. Read More

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Agave Nectar

When I was a nightclub bartender, I always used Sweet & Sour Mix to make my Margaritas. Why wouldn’t I? I didn’t have to deal with squeezing any fresh lemon or lime juice. It made building the drink in that type of bar environment, faster. Most of the time, people who are at nightclubs aren’t looking for a drink to knock their taste bud socks off. They are just looking for a drink to get them drunk or buzzed in a relatively short amount of time.

It wasn’t until I started working in fine dining that I began working with a number of fresh ingredients to build the cocktails that I was serving. I started noticing that my cocktails tasted even better and were now being made on a whole new level. It was at this same time that I realized when it came to the difference between making a Margarita and a really good Margarita, I had to keep two tings in mind: choosing a premium blanco tequila made of 100% agave and selecting a quality sweetening agent. This is how I was first introduced to agave nectar. Read More...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

San Francisco, I Need You!

Hey San Francisco!

I am working on putting together a directory and writing an article for my Examiner page on all the different fun nighttime events in the city, every night of the week. If you work at a bar, restaurant, or club and have a special night or nights going on (any night of the week), please let me know that I can include you and your venue. Thanks!

Email me:

Veev Acai Spirit

I was cleaning out the liquor room a couple of weeks ago and found two bottles of Veev Acai Spirit. I had no idea what it was, how I would serve the product or even how to say acai. I knew that the acai berry is all the rage these days and is claimed to be a superfruit out of Brazil.

According to Veev’s website, Veev is the world’s first acai (ah-SIGH-ee) spirit. Acai is a Brazilian national fruit, which grows in the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest, is packed with nutrients and has “57% more antioxidants than pomegranates or blueberries and 30 times more heart-healthy anthocyanins than red wine.” Read More...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Classic Cocktails: Margarita

The Margarita is easily one of the most popular cocktails consumed here in the United States. Margaritas can be enjoyed on the rocks, served up in a martini glass, blended, with a salted rim or no salt at all. There are so many different variations to a Margarita such as a (name your fruit here) Margarita. In it’s basic, classic form, a Margarita is a member of the Sour family. In the Sour family of drinks, these drinks consist of any type of base liquor, lime or lemon juice and a non-alcoholic sweetening agent.

In Gary Regan’s book, “The Joy of Mixology”, Regan introduces a relative to the Sour family, the New Orleans Sour family. Read More...

Monday, August 10, 2009

What is Absolut?

When you think of Absolut, you immediately think of vodka. Even if you don’t drink vodka, like vodka or have ever tried Absolut, most people associate Absolut with vodka without any sort of hesitation. The reason why is due to their many (1,500 plus) print advertisements featuring an item in the shape of an Absolut bottle with the title in the center, at the bottom of the ad, which reads, “Absolut _________”. The Absolut ad campaign is the longest running ad campaign ever to date. It began running back in 1980 with photographer Steven Bronstein. Absolut was also one of the first consumer brands to embrace and represent the gay community in such a positive way. Read More...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

How to Handle Drunk Customers Who Want to Leave

Hey bartenders, this one is for you. Hey friends who go out drinking with one another, this is for you too. Let's make a pact to make sure everyone always gets home safe after a night of drinking.

Whenever a bartender serves a customer an alcoholic drink, that customer becomes the bartender’s responsibility. This is why it is important that if a customer comes into an establishment displaying signs of obvious intoxication, the bartender legally has to refuse service to that customer and ask them to leave. It makes sense. The bartender doesn’t have any idea how much that obviously intoxicated person has had to drink. Who knows? Maybe that one drink the bartender serves that customer will send them over the edge. Then the bartender is now responsible, even if this customer was over served somewhere else.......What does a bartender do when one of their customers becomes overly intoxicated? And worse, what if that customer wants to leave? Read More...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Tequila Ocho

Being a bar manager, I am now privy to trying all kinds of new and exciting products out on the market. Vendors and liquor reps always make the time to stop by bars and restaurants in hopes of getting the decision makers who decide on what gets stocked on the shelves, to try their new products.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the fortunate opportunity of trying a new tequila on the market called Tequila Ocho. Besides the fact that I had found the product itself extremely delicious and worthy of stocking on my shelves at Coda here in San Francisco, I also felt that this was a special type of tequila. Currently, there is nothing else out there on the market quite like Tequila Ocho. Read More...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Touchy, Touchy

So I get this snippy comment from a reader on in reference to my article on Angostura Bitters:

"I'm sorry? Caribbean attitude? Do you know how insulting this is? Here's a third option for you. Whether or not it was an accident, someone looked at the label, thought it was unique and exciting and went with it. Our attitude in the Caribbean is to embrace creativity. Lose the stereotype please and take note of the fact that the world' best bitters are made by us in Trinidad and Tobago. Maybe we have the RIGHT attitude?"

What this reader didn't realize is that the "Caribbean attitude" comment actually came directly from the Angostura Bitters website, which I clearly linked throughout my article.

According to the Angostura Bitters website:

""4. Many stories surround why the label ended up being too large for the bottle but probably the most well known is that it was simply a result of the laid back Caribbean attitude. When someone ordered the wrong size of label and the mistake was spotted, everyone thought someone else would correct it. When no one did, they decided to stick with the oversized label rather than change it and so it became the trade mark of the brand."

So it wasn't me who was doing the stereotyping like the reader accused me of doing, but it was actually the product from Trinidad and Tobago themselves claiming the stereotype and quite openly I might add. If the reader had only glanced at the website, they would have noticed that. But no, people nowadays are so damn touchy and quick to jump down anyone's throat over the piddliest shit. Seriously.

Instead of telling her to take a hike (which I would never do by the way), I kindly pointed her in the direction of the Angostura Bitters website and re quoted the website directly for her.

People. people, people. Some people are just too easily offended and in this case, for no good reason.


So I am not out on left field here because I received this comment on my actual article today:

Giselle Laronde-West says:
"Hi Kathleen. Thanks for featuring Angostura aromatic bitters. I am the PR manager at the place where it is made in Trinidad. Sorry to hear that someone was irate about something that you wrote about the bitters and the label. To me the article was very much to the point, accurate and interesting for someone who may not know about our product. As you know, every bartender should know the product and have it as part of their staples in the bar."

That comment was totally unsolicited. I used the product's website as a source and now I have a member of the product's PR department backing my article up.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Coda Specialty Cocktail Menu

Coda Specialty Cocktail Menu

On The Skizz
Jameson, fresh lemon juice, ginger beer, blood orange bitters and pomegranate juice.

Buena Vista
Lime, serrano chilli, pineapple, agave nectar, Leblon cachaca and El Jimador tequila.

Coda Martinez
Anchor Juniper, sweet vermouth, Maraschino liqueur and Angostura bitters.

Cherry Bomb
Skyy vodka, cherries, lime, simple syrup, mint and a float of sparkling wine.

Supper Club Sidecar

Hennessy Cognac, Cointreau, lemon and a sugared rim.

Mint Smash
Bulleit Bourbon, sugar, mint, club soda and crushed ice.

The Manhattan

(Ri) 1 rye whiskey, sweet vermouth and blood orange bitters.

Grand Opening

One of the many things I am learning as a bar manager is how to remain focused while being pulled in a number of different directions. Each day I manage, I get better and better, especially when I can be the problem solver. I hate not knowing the answer or fixing the situation. The worse feeling in the world, to me, has to be when I have to say, "I don't know."

Overall, our grand opening was really successful tonight. I'm not going to lie. There were a couple rough parts. I ran out of agave nectar because I only had one bottle, Stoli wasn't priced in the system and some of the sub-menus we needed on the bar side just weren't there (this one actually wasn't my fault). I expected there to be some hiccups, but overall there weren't any major problems.

I hope I did a good job tonight. I sure am loving every minute of it. I am learning so much. So, so much. This is what I really want to do. I have found my passion. And that my friends is the best feeling in the entire world.

My body is exhausted, but my mind keeps racing. I didn't even finish my Red Bull tonight.