TRICKS OF THE TRADE
Culinary powerhouse Bompas and Parr - best known for their food installation made of fruit punch and their gastronomic scratch-and-sniff meal - investigate how bartenders can improve relationships with their customers using esoteric skills and subconscious behavioural techniques…
From elegant cocktail stirring while barely moving a muscle to manipulating the passage of ice around a cobbler shaker as you perfect the hard shake - these are all skills a bartender hopes to master.
And as you well know, if you’re looking to use more unpredictable skills and tap into your subconscious abilities you can improve your relationship with customers.
We can’t give you all the answers, rather offer new areas for you to explore, that will set you apart from the rest of the pack - enjoy the read…
A good story always lies behind a great drink – from the origins of the Manhattan to the convoluted history of the Margarita. Story-telling raises anticipation of a drink, sealing it in the customer’s memory and it enables them to repeat their anecdotes to friends.
As every good bartender knows, creating bespoke products from scratch to impress hard-worn customers is increasingly becoming more difficult. We know it’s not any easy sell - how many different ways can you really cold-press your fruit juices, infuse your spirits in temperature-controlled caves and make your own blend of coffee for your espresso martinis?
But where you can ‘knock their socks off’ is by including unpredictable, esoteric and potentially downright shocking ingredients in your homemade stocks – whether that’s with bitters, vermouth, infusion or distillation.
We once made a range of Occult Jams - to anyone who doesn’t know, these jams aimed to unlock the secrets of eternal life and were our small triumph over mortality - which contained a sliver of wood from Nelson’s ship HMS Victory, sand from the Great Pyramid at Giza and even a lock of Princess Diana’s hair.
The point is that customers won’t ever taste these items; they only need to come into contact with the rest of the ingredients to feel that they are experiencing something new…and boy does it make a great story.
Just remember that each bespoke item you make becomes a genuine world-first. With every bar boasting its own antiquities, the only limit to this is the bartender’s imagination.
Watch this Face
Did you know you can tell a lot from a face? And that mastering the art of micro-expressions and understanding the subliminal wishes of your customers will set you apart from your competition.
A micro-expression is a brief involuntary expression of emotion which can occur as fast as 1/30th of a second.
Unlike normal facial expressions, it’s difficult to voluntarily produce or neutralize micro-expressions which can reveal any of the seven emotions universally expressed in the face: disgust, anger, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise and contempt.
Initially identified in the 1960s, scientists have demonstrated that micro-expressions manifest a proposition first suggested by Charles Darwin: that the ways in which we express ourselves are innate and universal.
The Curse of the Chapped Hands
Paronychia might to you or I sound like a species of elegant cockatoo or a dazzling flower but unfortunately it’s something that’s a little less glamorous. It’s actually the official name for ‘bar rot’ – an inflammation of a bartender’s fingernails.
With more and more customers making judgments about the hygiene standards of their servers, it pays to pay attention to your phalanges!
It happens as the result of incessant hand washing and drying, cold and hot water, soap suds and sanitiser and extreme changes in temperature, think ice cold shakers, coupled with acidic lemon and lime juice resulting in cracked skin and open wounds.
So what to do? Avoid coming into physical contact with citric acid during prep time by using tongs, toothpicks or using rubber gloves (top tip: try tattooists’ gloves as they’re designed to be grippy when wet).
Tricks of the Trade
Since the dawn of time food, drink and magic have been intertwined. There are references to magic in the ancient Egyptian Westcar Papyrus dating back to 2,000 BC.
Magic can have a place in a modern bar. Just as flair bartending can manifest elements of competition so too can small elements of magic like sleight of hand, psychology and science. These can also add some visual theater to your cocktail-making abilities.
‘Magnetic’ hands, levitation, vanishing and reappearing, spoon-bending and tricks with coins can all be mastered by delving into YouTube.
Impress your patrons with these tricks and they’ll be totally under your spell…
Color me Happy
One of the most obvious aspects of the latest understanding of multi-sensory science is the role of color in flavor perception.
At its most basic, it’s the observation that certain colors can enhance the taste and amplify the flavor characteristics of a product or finished drink.
So green could exude ‘fresh’ credentials as well as suggest ‘sourness’; red can make things appear ‘sweeter’ (or at least the absence of bitterness) and so on.
We recommend a quick scout on the internet for the works of ‘Flavor Journal’ which will allow bartenders to adopt simple mechanisms for amplifying the perception of the flavor of their drinks – from colored bev-naps tailored to particular cocktails, to colored vessels to toy with your customers’ tastebuds. And then there’s always the option to play with the lighting scheme, selecting a color to match what people are drinking at a particular table.
Bompas and Parr specialises in flavor-based experiences and their exceptional work has taken them everywhere from London to Louis Vuitton in Paris. To keep up to speed on all that’s going on follow them @BompasandParr