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Making your case to cost-conscious mgmt.


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I salute your commitment to fresh ingredients and classic service behind the bar.

Unfortunately, it's clear that many bar managers disagree, even at the upper end of the price spectrum. I can imagine the first reaction many might have to your way of doing things is, "So what about my cost controls? Right out the window?! I'll be out on the street in six months...."

How do you go about making your case in these circumstances? Can it be done, or do you generally only work with establishments that have made a commitment to quality from the top?

Thanks again for joining us.

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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I am presently providing bar training to a large hotel group in the northeast. My main goal is to convince the senior management that a fresh juice cocktail program is not only possible but necessary if their bars are to reflect the excellence they achieve in the rest of their operation. During a recent seminar I tasted the bar and middle management staffs on three different alternatives for citrus juice; sour mix from the soda gun, frozen fresh squeezed juices available locally, and juice squeezed fresh on premise. The difference was so dramatic it is impossible to think that management would want anything but fresh squeezed.

How To Make it Happen? Owners and managers must sit down and discuss the following points so everyone is on board. after the whole process is finished and in place regular pre-service meetings with bar, prep people purchasing people and management are absolutely necessary. Remember this is not just a little change it is the same as changing the whole menu in the kitchen and needs much planning and training.

1. Make the leap of faith and decide it must happen.

2. Meet with the Purchasing department, bartenders and barbacks, food and beverage controller, and the room managers to outline the program from beginning to end.

3. Purchase the proper fruit for juicing and for garnish. This will mean training the purchasing staff in some aspects of bar operation the same as they have been trained to respond to the chef’s needs.

4. Purchasing must store the fruit that will be used the following day at room temperature. Cold fruit is stingy and will cut the output almost in half and that is big money!

5. Next, step up the line is the barback or prep-person. They must be trained to recognize the proper fruit for juicing and for garnish. Improper usage can be very costly. The amounts they squeeze must be determined by the business on different days. Fresh juice can be used for three services: lunch, dinner and the following lunch, but only if it is constantly under refrigeration. After three services it must be dumped.

6. The bartenders cannot keep the juice on the speed rack it must be refrigerated. The lunch bartender should use the juice from the night before and then dispose of it after lunch. The new batch should be delivered after lunch to avoid mixing. Lunch usage will be low in most cases anyway.

7. Finally and the most important aspect of the program is training the bartenders in the recipes with fresh juice. This will mean how to use and prepare simple syrup. I recommend simple syrup at 50 brix (half sugar and half water), that is prepared cold. Even at the Rainbow Room, as busy as we were, we never used more then three or four litters per bar per night. We could prepare another liter in the bottle in four minutes if we Ran out during service. Fill the bottle half way with sugar and then to the top with water. Cork the bottle, turn it upside down and shake until the sugar is dissolved. After a few minutes if there is some sediment of sugar give it another quick shake and it is ready for immediate use no cooking or cooling.

8. With recipe comes costing, of course the food and beverage controller will have to cost out the recipe, a fresh juice program will affect the price of the drink. The recipes must be completely costed out …and don’t forget the garnish. If a creative bartender decides to use a vanilla bean as a garnish, your cost for that drink just jumped $1.50!

9. Finally the proportions; sour drinks made fresh are difficult. The lemon and lime juice is so concentrated compared to sour mix most bartenders are prone to overuse it. USE THIS FORMULA it will work for all your sour drinks:

3/4 part sour

1 part sweet

1 1/2 to 2 parts strong

For example for a Margarita the recipe would be;

¾ ounces lime juice

1 ounce Triple sec or Cointreau

2 ounces tequila

That formula will please 95% of your customers and for the rest add a squeeze of lime or a splash of simple syrup to their taste.

The culinary world is exploding with innovations in recipe, ingredient, technique, The bar has to follow suit.


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