Sunday, January 30, 2011

Raleigh Bartending School - Day One (Threat of Snowpacolypse)

Weather is a funny thing here in NC, they say that "if you don't like it wait around and it will change."  The week we started at RBS we were waiting to be hit by what was being predicted to be a major storm.  In the end it resulted in lots of icy roads and some small actual accumulation.  When the storm would arrive kept being pushed back and what was supposed to start at 9am didn't arrive until 6pm that evening.  Still there was enough chaos created that it would effect the schedule for the week.

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Class starts Monday morning as expected, there are some small troubles on the road, but there always are in Raleigh, and we are all there more or less on time and ready to go.  There are three members of our 'class'; myself, a slightly older guy who we will call Clyde and a slightly younger lady we will call Julia.  The first lesson is a very simple one, read the first twenty or so pages of the book.  It is basic stuff, the rules of and how to open the and close the classroom, which will be turned into actually setting up and tearing down a real bar, the order of liquor in your well, and an example of setting up a back-bar and bar station.

From there we rolled right into class with bar terms and techniques, how to count a pour, and differences in glassware. 

With the incoming inclement weather it is decided that we will do a double lesson that first day in case we have to miss class the following day. 

So its freezing outside and the threat of snow is heavy, what should we start with.  How about tropical drinks?  The kind of thing that gets a boat-load of garnish and usually involves at least six ingredients.  Also the kind of drink where any 2 are only as different as what you top it with.  Welcome to bartending school.  So we start slinging ice and mixing bottles and shaking glasses.

After an hour or two of working on the tropicals  we move on to the next thing.  Drinks using cream.  The cream we are taught to use is the standard 'half and half' that people like in their coffee.  After a couple examples we are again left on our own to practice with our recipe lists.

Both the tropicals and cream drinks involve some mnemonics and acronyms for the ingredients.  Due to the double lessons day one ends a little later than expected.  We are given 21 recipes to take home and start memorizing.

Thats all for now,

Monday, January 17, 2011

Raleigh Bartending School - The Introduction

Its on a Thursday around noon that I walk into the "school" room to look around.  There is a long dark "L" shaped bar counter that prominently takes center stage, the kind of thing you would see in any pub, restaurant, or night club.  Behind the counter are three back walls, each fully stocked with liquor and liqueur bottles.  (These are, I will later learn, all filled with water and paints or food coloring to give them the appropriate colour and thickness.)  There are about seven other people in the room, some behind the bar mixing, and some in front ordering drinks out of a book or off of handwritten recipe cards.

As I take all of this in someone walks up to me and extends his hand, "Hi," he says, "I'm Anthony, We talked over the phone and I run the school."  He motions me through a door behind the bar and we head down a hallway to a set of offices set catty-corner to each other.  There is another instructor in the other office working on something on a computer.  Other than social niceties I would not speak with him for the duration of my classes.

Anthony directs me to a seat across from his desk and immediately starts talking about himself, the school, and the profession.  He got his start in a 4-Star restaurant learning the industries highest standards.  After some time behind bars and in management positions he established the school.   The school is part of a network with a a sister school in Charlotte, NC.  I also learn he is about 10 years older than I am.

Then the questions are directed toward me, do I like people, can I listen to, and tell, stories in a neutral setting and tone, have I ever worked in the service industry before?  I tell him some of my past, 9 years active duty military, Navy and Marines.  I have never worked in the service industry, but bar-tending is something that I have wanted to do for a couple years now.

Satisfied that I know what I am getting into he starts the sales pitch.  Programs and offers, two week or one week course, discounts for it being early in the year and 'due to the economy'.  I will be expected to complete 40 hours of classroom time, a written midterm and final, and have close to 100 recipes memorized by the time class is done.  There will be a speed test to test the memorization, and a free hand pour test for accuracy.

I sign up for the 2 week class at a heavy discount and am told to be there the following Monday morning at 9 am.

That's all for now,

Blog Recomendation

If you have ever wondered what life would be like living within the confines of a dragon, at least a green one, then I highly recommend the following blog to you:

Well written, comical, fantastic* writing.

That's all for now,

*in both the 'based on fantasy' and 'excellent' definitions.

Blog Relaunch

Why a relaunch?

The simple answer is, that I realized sometime back that I wasn't writing as often as I would like.

After thinking about it, I have decided to chalk that up to subject fatigue.  In the gaming genre there was already so much news and commentary that had existed where I ended up as just one more voice parroting tag lines and current trends.
When I first started writing the old blog I was working a, mostly, desk job that had me sitting in front of a computer from nearly 7am to 6pm.  This gave me lots to time to both work, and keep up with the current trends, ideas, and theorems from the gaming world.  I would use my small platform to draw attention to selections of what I read that I either agreed or disagreed with.  Over time my job changed and access to primary sources for these selections became less until finally I realized that I had not written anything in over a month, then two.

My initial experiment has left me with an even greater respect for the journalists, bloggers, and podcasters who get up everyday and find something new and shiny to write about on any subject. Though interesting, and even fun at times, it ultimately ended up not being right for me.

I have decided to remove the old stuff in favour of new stuff and relaunch with a less video-game, and more life, oriented focus.  There may still be some forays into the old media, but I intend for those to be rare.

Lets see where this takes us,