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Why aren't more bartenders up on their game?


Restaurants & Bars 76

Why aren't more bartenders up on their game?

nickls | May 4, 2010 12:18 PM

I enjoy making and drinking cocktails and have been surprised recently by the lack of knowledge of some bartenders around town.

I was at the Marliave for a party this weekend, and given their cocktail menu which contains a number of classics, was amazed when the bartender had to admit that he didn't know how to make either a mint julep (it was derby day) or an Aviation. I saw him send out a couple of juleps as tall drinks which made me shudder. Later, another bartender came up for a while to handle the crowd and she made some reportedly good Red Hooks for some friends, and was obviously much better than the guy we were stuck with most of the night.

A few days before that I was at Alibi for a work outing. I ordered one of their house Manhattans, and it had obviously been shaken as it arrived with an unattractive foam on top. Considering that they went to the trouble of specifying Black Maple Hill Bourbon, Dolin Sweet Vermouth, and Fee's Whiskey Barrel Bitters, I was surprised by this gaffe. The drinks were also huge and I was feeling rather intoxicated after two drinks.

On Friday I got a laugh at Bambara as I had to meet someone at the Hotel Marlowe. I asked the bartender if she knew how to make an Americano. She said yes, and I was thinking "nice". Then she comes back a couple minutes later and asks if I want milk or cream in that.

An easy mix-up, but I still thought it was hilarious. Anyway, once I specified the ingredients she made me a very nice Americano of the type I was expecting.

I realize some places are trying to cash in on the recent cocktail revival without backing it up with talented bartenders, but somehow I thought the bench would be deeper. I guess this is further evidence to stick with bartenders you know or the few places that are fully committed to a top bar program.

Personally, I will probably be sticking mostly to making cocktails at home.

Bambara Restaurant
25 Edwin H Land Blvd., Cambridge, MA 02141

10 Bosworth Street, Boston, MA 02108

Hotel Marlowe Restaurant
25 Edwin H Land Blvd, Cambridge, MA 02141

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