In Bartenders We Trust – An Insider’s Guide to Drinking Like a Pro
Bartenders are the rock stars of the social scene, maestros of every great night out and the ones blamed for the sore heads the next day! Like we forced you to drink the last shot!
On a night out, they’re in control of your inebriation’s destiny. You should always treat thy bartender with respect, we are people too, not just serving machines: never wave money, click fingers, always be nice and respectful and it’ll be reciprocated! As my dad says, its nice to be nice, it doesn’t cost anything to be nice!
And to answer the age-old question, after a night of doling drinks out to the thirsting public, how do bartenders wind down, how or what to order when drinking like a bartender?
Remember, bartenders are consumers also, albeit well informed consumers, with preferences and likes and dislikes. And like normal people, bartenders like to relax after a shift or enjoy there nights off by partaking in a tipple or two.
And it’s usually a given that bartenders would be quite thirsty after a shift or on their nights off! They’ve been watching their faithful customers quaffing on a vast array of libations, carefully prepared, poured or decanted for their enjoyment by their friendly hard-working bartender.
Also, on any given night out, our bartenders (be they a pint puller, wine tender, craft beer technician or mixologist magician) are all required to be part priest, chef, policeman, referee, psychologist and creative wizard and the go-to for all your bar requirements and a friend to all.
Bartenders are providers of a friendly welcome, a judgement free ear to listen to wows. Ok, we don’t cure illness, we aren’t resolving world hunger , but the service we do provide is helping aid great experiences in all shapes and sizes.
So, after a long shift or week what amazing elixir do bartenders imbibe? The common trend amongst the career bartenders is the tendency to favour the classic cocktails. Strong and robust tipples, full of flavour and complex.
In Bartenders We trust
Like most creative professions, bartenders are guides in the way of their craft. Bartenders are the true bar influencers, there passions and tastes become direction for consumer, either be it, their guidance with wine, beer or spirit recommendations. The creation of new drinks are driven by the bartenders’ tastes and perception of the current trends.
I love the classics, if I was ordering a cocktail, it really depends on my humour, cocktail drinking for me tends to be premeditated as it is for most bartenders. Well planned visits to establishments with great reputations for mixed drinks, bars where friends work, or completely explorative visits to the new cocktail spots.
Three, is the magic number!
Most of the time after a busy evening, the simpler the drink the better, some of the go to drinks in the bartender’s arsenal are the Negroni and the Old Fashioned, and these favourites are go to drinks when ordering cocktails on nights off, distinctive and tasty drinks. Three-part classic concoctions, these are truly poster child bartender drinks.
The Negroni is an easily replicated marvel with equal ratios of gin to Campari to sweet vermouth. Classic, and delicious. An Italian wonder created in and around the 1860’s and made with a simple orange garnish, stirred down with ice. No fuss no muss! A bitter inviting complex drink. Simply delicious.
Negroni (my favourite)
– 30 ml Glendalough Wild Botanical gin
– 30 ml Campari
– 30 ml sweet vermouth
Stirred with ice, to achieve correct chill and dilution. Simple!
The Old Fashioned
The old fashioned is considered to be the grand-daddy of the all modern cocktails, the first single serve offering: a stimulating mixture of whiskey, sugar, bitters and water (obtained from ice dilution and or the addition of chilled water to better control dilution).
As cocktail culture has caught on and people have got serious about their cocktails, everyone in part is better educated. And the Old Fashioned is a favourite of most bartenders and the Smoked Old Fashioned is one of those drinks that stands very much in its classic roots, but the variant’s in ingredients and the utilisation of smoke to enhance the flavour and raises the presentation to new heights. Which suits bartenders hunger for full flavoured tipples and its popularity amongst bartenders has aided its resurgence in all its forms.
Old Fashioned (my go to recipe)
– 50 ml Bulleit Bourbon
– 10 ml sugar syrup
– 3 dash Angostura bitters
Add all ingredients to whiskey tumbler gradually with cubed ice and stir for several minutes until correct dilution and chill is achieved.
Beer – In all shapes and sizes!
From time inmemorial, beer has always been a favourite of the trade, Ireland being still a country that has a massive love and consumption of beer in all styles, has a vast array of local generic and craft offering for all tastes. When it comes to beer I tend to favour IPA’s, I prefer full flavoured tipples, bitter and citrus forward.
Guinness is always a favourite, but again when a bartender drinks there’s always pre-thought, going for Guinness we aim for spots with great pints. Being well informed is at the core of most bartender’s repertoire. For a craft beer I love P’Macs on Stephen Street and for a great pint of Guinness, I adore O’Donoghues on Merrion row.
Dew and Brew
Bartenders like to drink. And most bartenders drink well, but at the end of a shift or on their down time, bartenders favour the simple beer-and-shot, a ball of malt and a pint of plain is an old-school Irish way of drinking, pairing a good whiskey with a favourite beer, also known as a Boilermaker. Said to be named that way due to being a favourite of the locomotive workforce of the 19th century. Skip ahead to modern day and bartenders have taken up concept again, just consuming better quality whiskey, with suitable pairings.
Tullamore Dew 12 year with a pint of Guinness is a match made in heaven, a favourite of mine, take a sip of whiskey, then some Guinness, the DNA of both liquids have a lot in common. And with craft beer explosion and with the vast variety of beer choices now available, the pairing opportunities are almost limitless, simple and explorative ways to enjoy another level of taste.
Before there was an explosion in Gin consumption all over the world, gin and tonics where go-to potations of the bartender kind, once considered passé, the stuff quaffed by grannies. Miss conception kept barriers raised around this refreshing, full flavoured tipple, that can be raised to new levels, with simple garnish addition.
Tanqueray with Indian tonic and fresh grapefruit and lime is one of my favourite simple serves. G&T’s are still popular amongst the trade and again, this has added in gin’s increasing popularity. And this has meant there’s loads of amazing gins being created in Ireland, pushing the boundaries of gin perception. So Irish bartenders are loving these brands and Irish products are being recommended across the board.
Where do the Wild-Tenders go!
No one does hospitality like the Irish! Its hard-working representatives like to partake also on their downtime, either after shift, or during the hospitality industry weekend; Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. And there are venues all over the country that cater and offer industry nights.
Amongst the industry, considered one of the best industry nights is held in Zozimus. Great drink deals that differ every week. On the Monday they discount everything – €4 pints and €8 cocktails made by well trained staff. You will always find the bar filled with workers from numerous bars all over Dublin.
The Chelsea Drugstore‘s Sunday industry focused night is one to check out. The Exchequer is still an industry favourite any night of the week, for a nice bite and relaxed pint and friendly welcome. And if you want a high energy industry night, Xico on a Monday, 50% off, and a pure party vibe.
Take guidance from how your bartender rolls, embrace the direction, but always drink responsibly!
Darren Geraghty, is the Bar Manager and cocktail specialist for Candlelight Bar @ Siam Thai Dundrum and Malahide and well-respected consultant, started his career in 2000 and has represented Ireland on the world cocktail stage and won numerous Irish titles.
At Candlelight Bar, he has built the brand and bar team, focusing on of high quality but reasonably priced drinks, excellent customer service and a distinctive splash of speakeasy styled flair and theatre. The award winning Candlelight Bar has secured two for the Irish Craft Cocktail Bar Awards Best in Leinster 2016 and 2017, RAI Best Cocktail Experience and Sky Bar Awards Best Restaurant Bar 2017.