Posts Tagged ‘Michael Neff’

MANHATTAN AND BROOKLYN BARTENDERS’ BLENDED WHISKY BATTLE

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Great King Street Competition
By Vincenza Di Maggio

Photo by Clay Williams. Courtesy of Compass Box Whisky

Challenged with the task of creating enlightened whisky cocktails bartenders from Brooklyn and Manhattan went head to head in a cocktail competition featuring Great King Street, Compass Box Whisky’s versatile new blended range which challenges old school thinking that the only way to enjoy Scotch is sipping it neat from a rocks glass.

The deliciously diverse variety of recipes presented in the competition – such as Abigail Gullo’s cocktail the “Charlie Hustle” which incorporated rosemary-infused maple syrup, and Max Messier’s cocktail “Red Skies at Night” which included the use of winter spiced chai concentrate – demonstrated that the blend is indeed the most versatile style of Scotch whisky.


Compass Box Whisky company founder John Glaser once again defies traditional thinking about whisky; eschewing the thought that it should be drunk on its own. He fittingly named Great King Street for a street in New Town Edinburgh, Scotland whose Georgian neo-classical architecture expresses

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MANAGING EXPECTATIONS

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

By Michael Neff

Hospitality as a business is unique, in that anyone who throws a decent dinner-party or mixes cocktails in their kitchen thinks at some point that they have what it takes to work enter the field as a fully-formed professional. I love to cook, and all my friends think I should open a restaurant. Oh, yeah? I can use a calculator, but that doesn’t mean you want me keeping your books.

Building a meal, and running a profitable establishment are two very different beasts. Of all the skills necessary to run a restaurant or bar, the hardest to learn and most important to eventual success is effective management. A good manager is worth her weight in gold, and can be the difference between a fulfilled staff who knows their business, and a sign in the window that reads, “Restaurant for Lease.”

There are many paths that can lead you in to the service business. You can start from the bottom and work your way up. You can go to a school of some sort, which only really works for back-of-house, as I know of no “Waiting Table School” and the bartending schools I’ve seen aren’t worth the time it takes to retrain its graduates. These days, you can apprentice, an option that didn’t really exist until fairly recently.

Or you can do what I did, and lie.

After many years in the business, I don’t recommend the latter course for most people. You’re almost always found out, and end up in a less favorable position than if you had been honest from the beginning and fessed up that you don’t know what you’re doing. Waiting tables takes a lot of skill, as does effectively bussing, hosting, and bartending. It’s very difficult to fake your way through the early stages of these jobs without causing yourself, your bar, and your clientele a fair amount of grief.

I am now not only established as a career bartender, but I own two bars of my own; one of which boasts a fifty-seat dining room. While I had worked for years to perfect the craft of tending bar, when my partners and I opened our first place over two years ago, I realized that the biggest aspect of the hospitality business that I had neglected was management. Sure, I could run a bar, write a schedule, order for the week, and make sure that the lights are turned on and off at the appropriate time, but there was always a point where a problem occurred that required the voice of someone in a higher pay-grade.

Now we are the ones getting phone calls at 3 am when half the power goes out. We have to figure out what to do when the sixty-person party on a Friday night becomes seventy-five. There is no higher pay-grade, so we are called to deal with everything from accountants to plumbers to event-planning. It’s difficult and stressful, and I now have a lot more compassion for

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BE THE ACME BARTENDER

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

When mixing cocktails isn’t enough
By Michael Neff and Sean Kenyon
And Francine Cohen

Photo courtesy of Cherry Heering

This year at Tales of the Cocktail (www.talesofthecocktail.com) there was so much knowledge and fun flying around between the plethora of seminars on everything from ice programs, to rotovapped scotch (www.theglenlivet.com), brand ambassador roles, effective menu design and all the great parties (Thank you Charlotte Voisey and Miguel Calvo for taking us back to the 1940s with your William Grant Portfolio Shore Leave party www.grantusa.com)

Of course, when it comes to fun, it would be impossible to leave out the week’s big fundraiser, Pig & Punch, which was created by the Bon Vivants (www.bonvivants-sf.com) and raised $6,000 for Kingsley House (www.kingsleyhouse.org). The rain couldn’t dampen anyone’s joy about being there.

But one less than joyful refrain was heard again and again; overheard at the pool, in passing in the Hotel Monteleone’s lobby (www.hotelmonteleone.com), and late at night whispered in the doorway of the Alibi…word on the street was a plea for a return to bartending and all that that encompasses- in short a shift towards the mindset that service is king and elitism is out.

Two well spoken and seasoned bartenders made this the topic of their columns in the esteemed publications to which they regularly contribute. On the left side of the country, in Denver’s Westword.com Sean Kenyon opined about titles on business cards and what they really should represent. On the right, on Serious Eats.com Michael Neff had a few choice words to say about bartenders after being inspired by his daily interaction with the busy bartender at Acme (www.acmeoyster.com).

You can read all about it here:

Behind the Bar
Sean Kenyon knows how to pour out both drinks and advice. A third-generation bar man with 25 years behind the bar, he is a student of cocktail history, a United States Bartenders Guild-certified Spirits Professional and a BAR Ready graduate of the prestigious Beverage Alcohol Resource Program. You can often find him behind the bar at Euclid Hall (www.euclidhall.com) and here most weeks, where he’ll answer your questions.

I just returned from Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, the biggest cocktail party/bartending/spirits convention in the world. While looking through the stacks of business cards I collected, I found the following lofty titles for bartenders: Mixologist, Master Mixologist, Master Bartender (says who?), Cocktail Chef, Liquid Chef, Craft Cocktail Specialist, Cocktailian, Cocktail Artist…
All just fancier names for one job. Bartender.

My father — who, in fact, is a bartender — used to say,

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