To my fellow troops,
For my first of many contributions, I would like to start by saying thank you. To all of you whom I have met, it remains an honor and privilege to work in the same industry and be constantly inspired by your talent. To all of us who have yet to meet each other, let’s make this a platform upon which we can change that! There is an endless amount we can learn from each other in the interest of strengthening our community and our profession; BarX will be an outlet to accomplish just that. My experiences in our industry thus far can best explain why I am so passionate about this program.
I began bartending in the summer of 2008 and quickly fell in love with the craft. I was overcome by an eagerness to take advantage of every opportunity to expand my knowledge and contribute to our community. In the winter of 2010, while working at the three locations of Bar & Books in NYC, I was given the opportunity to do a bartender exchange with the lead barman, Radek Smerda, from the two outposts of Bar & Books in Prague. I worked at both Prague bars for 10 days while Radek worked at Bar & Books NYC. It was an instrumental experience both personally and professionally. I acclimated to a different lifestyle characterized by leisure and the highest appreciation of the hospitality industry that I had ever experienced. Bar & Books Prague was a perfect reflection of its focus on customer attention and execution of technique and taste. I absorbed a different approach to service, was able to perfect my craft daily and upon my return, applied a new, expanded mentality to our industry. Radek and I were able to exchange our experiences, praises and criticisms, and as a result, both bar programs were strengthened and the company became more unified with definitive leadership and a common vision.
A year later, I was presented with the opportunity to open and build the bar program at Dick & Jane’s in Brooklyn. Bar & Books gave me the tools I needed to take on this new challenge and I am so happy I did. In early summer 2012, I received an email from Ben Warren, business development manager of The Jones Bar Group in Leeds, England, inquiring about recipe submissions for the cocktail list at Brooklyn Bar, one of six bars in the group. He was working on a new cocktail menu to make Brooklyn Bar as authentic to Brooklyn as possible. After sharing some of our most popular recipes, we proposed a bartender exchange between Dick & Jane’s and the bars under the Jones Bar Group. On Wednesday, September 19, 2012, Brooklyn Bar hosted a cocktail competition between 12 of the bartenders working for the group, sponsored by Russian Standard, Pernod-Ricard, Samuel Adams and some local publications in Leeds, the winner of which, Alex Carr, received the prize of a week in New York to work at Dick & Jane’s. He was here for the last week in November. Not only did we learn a lot from each other but we have expanded the possibilities in the future, just one of which includes bringing Alex back for Tales of The Cocktail.
My trip to Leeds to work in the six bars with the Jones Group is coming shortly and I cannot wait to report back! In the meantime, I will be working on potential opportunities for all of you and doing my best to represent you as part of the new USBG Council in New York.
Stay tuned and stay awesome,
How to get involved:
- First get the support of your employer. Hosting a swap generates positive PR to regular patrons while allowing a bartender to travel affords enhanced free training and exposure to the latest trends, techniques and recipes to bring back to your home bar! If you need assistance in explaining the benefits, as well as hearing success stories, of BarX please reach out to Jessie (Jessie@ShakeStir.com).
- Post your position, job description, any relevant tags (e.g. city, beach, warm weather, skiing, etc.) for where you work as well as the date(s) of your desired exchange. You can create as many separate BarX opportunities as you like. Just because you post a BarX opportunity doesn't mean you have to accept an applicant for the position.
- Check your ‘Opportunities I've Posted’ page regularly to see who's applied (applicants appear by clicking on the blue title for any position posted) then view, print or email their ShakeStir profile to see if their credentials fit the bill. We repeat: there is absolutely no obligation to accept any applicants – if the fits not there keep on looking.
- If an applicant looks good and the fit may make sense, take the discussion offline by clicking on "Send email to [name]" to let the applicant know. From there it's up to you and your applicant to work out the specifics (shifts, transportation, housing, pay, etc.) and make it all work.
Jessie's inside tips:
- Create a unique cocktail or cocktail list for your visiting bar before you arrive to show off your skills and leave your mark while you're there.
- Be Professional. Just as you would at your home bar, be on time, well groomed, respectful of the traditions and customs of your visiting bar and be a team player!
- Help out locally. We strongly encourage at least one of your shifts to be a fundraising event for a local charity. Research what is needed in the area and find a cause that you are passionate about.
- Keep a journal to record observations about different techniques, trends, equipment and perspectives that you come across, both for bartending and for hospitality. This is a great way to ensure you bring best practices back to your home bar while convincing your employer that the exchange was worthwhile (and can be done again!).
- Reach out to local brand representatives to sponsor a BarX exchange. You've supported them, now BarX is a great opportunity for them to support you while also raising awareness and goodwill for their brand in other markets. Everybody wins.
- If you don't know an applicant to the opportunity you've posted, look on ShakeStir to see who that person is friends with. Bartending is a tight knit community…referrals are not hard to come by.
- Don't forget to log back into ‘Opportunities I've Posted’ to review new applicants and either ‘Accept BarX Application’ or ‘Decline BarX Application’ after you've found a match or decided a fit didn't work. Everyone deserves the courtesy of a reply.
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