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  • Chris LeBeau

First two sessions and two lessons

Before any concept launches, you have ideas about what will will be impactful and won't. You believe you have a few "magic tricks” on hand but when game time arrives, about half the rabbits don’t appear from your hat. This is the journey. Idea, experiment, result, iterate. 


But as I think about my cocktail venture what I am constantly on the lookout for is best put by Tim Ferries in The 4 Hour Chef writing, “I don’t care why people pick up cookbooks. I’m much more interested in why they put one down.” Similarly, much of my premise and interest has been around, what makes someone feel overwhelmed or unintelligent. What ends their curiosity as opposed to feeds it? 

My third and final soft launch class is coming up this Friday but here are three things I’m already keeping an eye on to see how often they ease concerns


1) “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down"

So far several guests have come through identifying that spirit-forward cocktails like the Manhattans or Old Fashioned isn’t there thing. The intense bourbon or rye personality of these takes the pleasure out of the drink for them. After they’ve made each of these in class, I’ve asked the guest to add a 1/4-1/2 oz of simple syrup (Old Fashioned) or sweet vermouth (Manhattan) and a number of times, they found it noticeably different and much more enjoyable. 


While in every instance it didn't become their new BFF, what they experienced first-hand was the ability of a sweetener to soften and round out the strong flavors of a spirit. A Manhattan typically calls fo 1 oz of vermouth. If you know to have it made or make it for yourself with a little extra, you’re on your way. 


2) Tasting an unbalanced drink helps you appreciate and recognize a balanced one


One of the primary catalysts for me in launching this idea comes back to the fact that we almost always drink cocktails individually rather than side-by-side. This makes it much more difficult for the lay-person to notice, let alone describe to a bartender or even fix on their own. For a couple of the drinks I oversee people making, after they have sampled theirs and tweaked if necessary, I present them with what I deem a broken version of the drink. One where amped up a particular ingredient or perhaps backed one off or left something out entirely.  


Guests have said that contrasting the two has helped them appreciate and better understand one quality vs a next and they really seem to enjoy fixing something when it is “broken”. 


I'm glad to know my guests have been enjoying themselves and learning a lot. I certainly know I have already learned a lot while in the process of trying to pull this thing off.



Here's to #CocktailConfidence

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Increasing your cocktail confidence around drink making, tasting, and decoding bar menus