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Crafting Better, Smarter, Stronger, Beverage Professionals

Better Bartending 

Introducing the Bar Chef

A great Mixologist begins in the kitchen changing his title from Mixologist to Bar Chef.  The Idea behind a Bar Chef is to create and design his own cocktail.  When a bartender steps into a kitchen his range of possibilities open up tremendously.  Bars and restaurants themed around a concept or flavor benefit the most from Bar Chefs. 


A Bar Chef should have some ideas before coming into the kitchen but it won’t be until the Bar Chef is in the kitchen will they be able to create a unique style drink.  If Rose Mary is a common theme throughout the restaurant use it for one of your cocktails.  Rose Mary is a very potent herb with a distinct smell and taste and great for martinis.  However, if the Bar Chef should choose to step out of the box and use something different than an herb and use a root like ginger or a spice like anise, this is good at least the wheels are turning.  That is the idea behind being a Bar Chef, to make something different and more unique than the bar down the street, to gain popularity and to get notice.


A bartender can begin by squeezing their own juices, or cutting the simplest of fruit.  Technically, you can do all of this from behind a bar however, when in the kitchen you are able to discover new flavors your bar has not seen.  A Bar Chef will be able to create new items to feature behind the bar such as; simple syrups, foams, unique garnishes, bar snacks, authentic mixes and plenty more.  Most bars will attempt to just get by without these special nuances.   


The Bar Chef position is the hardest one of all the positions that a Mixologist can have.  Many people will not care for a lot of your drinks and you will never satisfy everyone.  A Bar Chef will have a lot of criticism and he or she must expect it.  Not even the most popular cocktail can satisfy everyone.     

Bar Chef Additions


A good bar should have a signature bar snack; simple bar mixes are not unique enough.  One of the greatest way to encourage people to come back is to offer simple bar snacks that no one else offers.  A Bar Chef should design something once again that is unique and utilizing the flavors offered through your kitchen.  Coating a pretzel or a peanut with wasabi or soy is excellent for an Asian restaurant.  Or do both and you’re your own mix, the possibilities are endless.



Any type of topping added a cocktail will cause people to raise an eyebrow.  These drinks make people converse, peculate and desire the cocktail being carried.  Also, some toppings blend in with the cocktail making it sweeter or softer. 



A great Bar Chef should take pride in cutting garnishes.  A Bar Chef will use nothing but the finest of fruit.  Garnishes are the topping of any type of cocktail.  In order to prepare the finest of Garnishes one must use only the freshest of the fruit that is offered to them.  Look for fruit without blemishes or discoloration.  These types of fruit will probably be bad or possibly even toxic to a guest.  No one wants hands all over their fruit, so please wear gloves. Every Bar is different and every bar uses a different type of fruit more than others.  It is impossible to say what fruit will be needed the most unless your bar or restaurant has a certain cocktail that everyone drinks.  It is best to start over everyday and cut new fruit.  This is time consuming however, your guests will appreciate the effort that you put forth.  Fruit can really bring out the beauty of a cocktail; if it is done properly.     



A Bar Chef should begin with the herbs in the kitchen.  If your kitchen offers Asian style food then the herbs will be different then what you may find in an Italian food kitchen.  Herbs are some of the best cocktail ingredients.  Herbs can not only change the flavor of a drink but it may also complement the food.  Some bars prefer to have a flavored version of a simple syrup, usually it is flavored by an herb that is commonly used in the restaurant.  However, you must be careful when doing this because some herbs may over power a cocktail and change the flavor altogether.  Nevertheless, every bar should have a simple syrup.  Whether it be the ritziest bar in town or the neighborhood bar down the street.  Simple syrups can make or break several cocktails, where sugar is no substitute for a good simple syrup.



A good Bar Chef will always make his own mixes rather than use store bought.  Create your own mix using spices and herbs acquired from your kitchen.  These mixes can sometimes be horrible but more often then not, they are unbelievably good.        



Using different spices from the kitchen can help spice up any cocktail.  These cocktails can be made either by muddling the spice with an herb or by simply dusting the top of the shaker before shaking.  Spices are often found as garnishes on top of whipped cream or rimmed along the glass. 



Syrups can help blend herbs, spices and any other style you maybe looking for.  Syrups typically run 1:1 ratio sugar to water.  However, Bar Chefs have been known to add spices to syrups to help the consistence of the spice in every drink.  Syrups blend with herbs nicely simply by steeping the herb in water prior to boiling the water will generate the flavor from the herb.  By adding sugar it only sweetens the flavor and enhances it.  

Bar Chef Recipes


1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 green apple

Dash of lemon juice

Preheat oven 200 F.  Bring water and lemon juice to a boil.  Add sugar.  Stir bring back to a boil.  Let cool.  Core an apple and slice.  Technically, you can slice them at any size, however the best is at 1/16 of an inch.  Let soak in the sugar water solution for a few minutes.  Lay the apple chips flat down on a baking pan covered with parchment paper.  Bake chips until crisp and toasted.  Remove chips let cool.  Store in an airtight bag or Tupperware dish.   



1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 medium apples, peeled and sliced

Bring brown sugar, water, butter, cornstarch and cinnamon to a boil; boil until thick, about two minutes. Stir in apples; cook until tender, 10 to 12 minutes.



1/4 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon crème de banana liqueur 

2 medium bananas, sliced
2 tablespoons rum
Ground cinnamon

In large skillet melt butter or margarine over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and banana liqueur, if desired. Cook and stir until sugar dissolves. Add bananas and rum, if desired. Cook until mixture is bubbly, stirring gently.



Bitters is a digestif style liqueur that every bar should have.  It is imperative in several drinks two main styles are Peychaud and Angostura. 



2 lb black grapes -- (may substitute any wine grape)

1/2 c sugar

1/2 c water 

Juice and

1 zest of lemon

1 c heavy cream

Wash and stem grapes. Pass grapes through a food mill, not allowing any seeds through but including all pieces of pulp on skin that come through.  Refrigerate. Make simple syrup by heating sugar and water until clear and refrigerator. When ingredients are cold, add simple syrup to grape pulp. Add lemon juice and zest and stir to mix well. Whip cream to soft peaks and fold into cold grape mixture.



3 ounce blue cheese crumbles

3 ounce cream cheese

3 pepper corns, cracked

1 clove of garlic, minced

Splash of vermouth

In a mixing bowl mix together the cream cheese, blue cheese crumbles, and vermouth.  Mix until smooth.  Add minced garlic and peppercorns.  Mix ingredients all together.  Put ingredients into a pastry bag.  Pipe the moose into a pimento free olive. 



2 cups fresh boysenberries
3 cups water
2 whole cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place boysenberries, water and cinnamon sticks in a small heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat for about 20 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and strain. Add molasses, sugar and vanilla extract.  Let cool.



1 cup Sugar

3/4 cup Water

Confectioners' sugar Rose or violet petals

Select choice blossoms and petals; wash gently, then spread on flat plates to dry.  Combine sugar and water; boil until spins a thread when dropped into ice water (230 to 234 degrees F on a candy thermometer).  Pour syrup into a bowl and place bowl on a bed of cracked ice.  When syrup begins to crystallize, hold blossoms with tweezers and dip one at a time into syrup.  Place petals on waxed paper to dry.  As they harden, dust with confectioners' sugar.



3 cup Citrus peel,

12 cup Cold water

 2 1/2 cup Sugar

1/2 cup Honey

1 3/4 cup water

Remove lemon rind from lemon.  Cut rind in several identical slices.  Boil peel with 6 cups cold water, uncovered, for 10 minutes.  In a large saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups sugar, honey and boiling water.  Bring to a boil, and boil about one minute.  Add cooked, drained peel and briskly simmer until almost all of the syrup has been absorbed, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Stir frequently to avoid sticking.  In large bowl, toss drained peel with remaining 1 cup sugar to coat well.  Spread pieces out on waxed paper to dry.  Store in tightly covered container.









2 cups ginger root

3 cups water

3 cups sugar

Slice ginger root to fit your project.  Boil water and sugar once the sugar is dissolved place ginger into the mixture let the ginger boil for about 20 minutes more for thicker slices of ginger.  Lay ginger flat on cookie sheet and cover with sugar.  Once ginger dries cover with sugar again and then place in an air tight container.


100 g Walnut halves
225 g Granulated sugar
1 Juice of orange made up with
150 ml Water
1 Grated rind of orange
1 tsp Powdered cinnamon
Spread walnuts on a baking and put in oven for 15 mins.  Put sugar in pan and add the orange juice.  Dissolve slowly and over a low heat and then bring to the boil and cook rapidly without stirring until the temperature reaches 116C.  Take the pan off the heat and add the orange rind, cinnamon and walnuts.  Stir until the mixture becomes creamy.  Turn out onto a plate and separate the walnuts.  Put into little paper cones as a gift or store in an airtight container.



Celery salt is a main ingredient in several drinks.  It can also be used on the rim of the glass.



Celery stalks should also be prepared prior to the shift.  You don’t want to serve an enourmous celery stalk in a small glass.  Leave the leaf portion attached to the celery but cut the stalk where the leaf portion is above the rim of the glass so it may be used to stir the drink.  Celery stalks are used in Bloody Mary's and other tomato juice based drinks.



Cherries are the easiest of all fruit.  However, a person preparing the cherries for use should always remember to excuse the cherries that do not have stems.  The stems make it easier to garnish the drink.  Some bars prefer that use only stemless cherries, so that the stem doesn’t mix into the drink.



1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt

Combine cocoa, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Add water and mix until smooth. Bring mixture to a boil. Allow it to boil for one minute, being careful that it does not boil over.  Remove from heat. When cool, add vanilla extract.

Chocolate syrup is used in chocolate martinis, of course but also good to have around for hot chocolates and other café mochas.



Cinnamon is found in several drinks mostly used as a topping on whipped cream or over the drink itself sometimes it is combined with sugar and used around the rim of a glass rubbed with a lime or lemon.



Cinnamon Sticks used to stir hot drinks and release the cinnamon flavor.



4 – 5 Citrus fruit (Oranges, Lemons, limes, pears, etc.)

1 cup sugar

Using a zester finely zest all fruit so that there is little if any skin left.  Add sugar and citrus zest to a zip lock bag and shake.  May need to add more zest to the sugar to give if more flavor.   



Crystallized Ginger often is used for sake or vodka drinks.



2 cups sugar

2 cups water

2 chopped cucumbers

½ cup mint

Blend cucumbers and mint together.  Boil 2 cups water in a sauce pan.  Pour in sugar bring water back to a boil.  Stir till all sugar has dissolved.  Pour in the cucumber mint mixture.  Turn heat off and let cool.  



3 cups sugar

4 cups water

2 4 inch pieces of ginger root (peeled and chopped)

3 ounces Fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons Vanilla extract

1 tablespoon ginger powder

1 ½ cup sparkling water Boil down ginger, sugar and water. 

Bring to a boil and let it boil for ten minutes.  Strain out ginger pieces and Let the ginger syrup cool.  Add lemon juice, vanilla extract and ginger powder to the ginger water and stir.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Add half and half sparkling water to ginger syrup in a whipped cream canister.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes shake and serve.      



1 cup Water

1 cup Sugar

¼ pound of Ginger

Bring one cup water and ¼ pound of ginger to a boil.  Pour sugar in and stir till dissolved. Let syrup cool.  Blend all ingredients.  Strain syrup through a cheese cloth.


6 - 10 ounces fresh chopped ginger
2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla flavoring
1 teaspoon lemon extract

Peel and finely chop the ginger. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the ginger, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes. Strain the liquid into a heatproof container, and stir in the vanilla and lemon



5 1/2 cups - lemonade syrup

3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup boiling water
3 cups lemon juice (16 lemons)
2 tablespoons lemon zest

In a 1 1/2-quart heat proof container, dissolve sugar in boiling water.  Cool.  Add lemon juice and peel, mixing well to combine.  Cover and store in refrigerator up to 1 week. 



1 cup Water

1 cup Sugar

Three Stocks of Lemongrass

Bring one cup water and three stocks of Lemongrass to a boil.  Pour sugar in and stir till dissolved. Let syrup cool.



1 cup sugar

1 cup water

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 1/2 cups packed fresh mint leaves, chopped

In a saucepan bring sugar, water, corn syrup and mint to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Simmer syrup, undisturbed, 2 minutes. Pour syrup through a fine sieve, pressing on solids. Cool at room temperature. Syrup keeps, covered, in the refrigerator for weeks.  Makes about 1 1/2 cups.



1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup orange Juice

1 packet gelatin

In a small saucepan boil orange juice.  Add sugar and wait till it begins to boil again.  Remove from heat and let cool for a minute.  In separate pan let gelatin bloom with little water.  Add gelatin mixture to simple syrup.  Mix together.  Let cool add to a whip cream canister.



Orchids are a necessity for fancy Polynesian drinks or even great with fruit based drinks, generally rum cocktails too.



½ cup of cream cheese

5 tablespoons cracked peppercorn

5 tablespoons garlic, minced

Mix all ingredients into a small mixing bowl.  Once garlic is evenly spread throughout the cream cheese; empty mixture into a pastry bag.  



¾ pound Ginger root

2 cup rice wine vinegar

¼ cup champagne vinegar

¼ cup cider vinegar

¾ cup sugar

2 tablespoons salt

Slice ginger very thin.  Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the sliced ginger.  Combine all ingredients and bring back to a boil.  Once at a boil remove from heat and let cool.  May serve for up to a month and the syrup is good for marinades.


2 cups rice wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
1 bay leaf
2 Thai bird chilies

1 large lotus root, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch disks

In a small non-reactive saucepan, combine the vinegar, salt, sugar, turmeric, bay and chilies and bring to a boil. Add lotus and reduce heat to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Take off heat and let stand until cool, then transfer to a jar with a lid and refrigerate overnight.



2 1/2 cups prickly pear juice
2/3 box pectin
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 cups granulated sugar

Mix the prickly pear juice, lemon juice, and pectin together in a saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Add the sugar and bring to another full rolling boil, then boil for 2 minutes. Ladle into jars to can, if you are canning them.



When using any type of berry for a garnish you must be very selective when choosing your berries.  Berries have a tendency to grow mold in almost any type of climate.  That is, even if berries are in a refrigerator they still have a tendency to grow mold.  Berries should only last for a day at the most and then get new berries.  Never serve a drink with a moldy berry this is not only disgusting but also can be harmful.  Typically, berries need little preparation if any.  Usually, berries are best served on a pick.



1 pint fresh raspberries
4 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar

Put the berries into a blender. Add half the sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Puree for about two minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved.   Add more sugar and more lemon juice until it tastes proper. After each addition puree for another minute or so until all the sugar is dissolved.  Add water to thin out mixture.



1 cup sugar

1 cup water

4 4-inch rosemary sprigs

Bring water to a boil.  Pour in sugar.  Let all sugar dissolve and add rosemary.  Bring back to a boil and remove from heat.



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