"Magic in A Glass": Mixology Mastery with BarprintsMar 29, 2022
Like cooking, mixology is more than just following a recipe. It’s about having the right tools and techniques. It’s about understanding the flavors and intensity of the ingredients being used and how each interacts with the others. It’s about glassware and ice – shape and size for both. Above all, it’s about making “magic in a glass” for the person who is going to enjoy what you’ve made, even if that person is you.
I always wanted to be a bartender. Like the female version of Tom Cruise in Cocktail with all the flair moves and finesse or the sultry Russian spy shaking (not stirring) a martini for 007. I love the ritualistic nature of mixology. I love how particular people are about how they like their drink and the conversations that happen at a great bar.
After graduating college, I worked for a spell at a nightclub and cocktail lounge in downtown Denver. It was fancy enough to get away with putting “mixologist” on my resume for the rest of my life (I’ve never not embellished on a resume anyway…) but in reality, I was mostly making two-ingredient drinks like “RBV’s” (Red Bull/Vodka) and Jack and Cokes as quickly as possible with the occasional “Gummy Bear” or “Green Tea” shot in the rotation. Sure, we had a signature cocktail program, but after about 9:30 pm that stuff went out the window and our focus was on volume. I learned how to work on my feet for 10 hours without stopping and how to breathe less than a normal human because I was strapped into a black velvet corset all night (not joking). What I didn’t learn was how to craft a cocktail the way my resume implied.
Fast forward just a pinch over ten years and I’ve evolved into a Certified Wine Nerd and, go figure, I still love a delicious cocktail.
On March 3, 2020, I arrived home from a ten-day saké tour in Japan. While in Japan I found myself with a fresh perspective on the world of fine beverages. Saké, of course, was the focus but while in Japan I visited two of the most remarkable cocktail bars I’ve ever been to. Nokishita 711 (Kyoto) and Gen Yamamoto (Tokyo). The Japanese approach to presentation and gastronomy is unlike anything I’ve seen here at home. Back at home, I was ready to get new cocktails and interesting sakés in people’s hands. Life had other plans for us though and less than two weeks later Colorado went under full lockdown as COVID-19 raged around the world.
Like many of us, being confined to my house inspired me to look for ways to diversify my knowledge and skillsets using tools available online. I played with different online programs throughout 2020 but it wasn't until the following year that I discovered Barprints.
At first, I was following the account on Instagram and drooling over the gorgeous cocktails founder and chief mixologist, Sam James Jr, shares from both his own bar and other great bartenders around the world. When I realized he offers an online mixology course, I knew I had to try it.
The course material is presented in a combination of text and videos. Sam’s approach is casual but deeply informative. Throughout the program, he shows you how and why to use certain tools and glassware, the techniques that work best for certain situations, and recipes for Classic Cocktails and his own creations. Informed just enough to be dangerous, Sam brought me to a place where I felt like I’d earned some chops at the bar. With foundational knowledge in mind, it’s then that the fun began! Bartending is about creativity and expression. Once I knew the rules, I got to start breaking them and personalizing my concoctions. This is the best part!!
I recommend this program to anyone who is interested in learning more about mixology and hospitality in general. I’m such a fan that I invited Sam to join me on this week’s episode of The Wine Ship Podcast to share his story and how he came to create the Barprints ‘Mixology Mastery’ Online Course.
Sam's story begins in his native Jamaica where he grew up in a hotel and found a passion for cocktails and service before he was old enough to legally drink in the US. Over the years, his knowledge and commitment only expanded, and today he’s able to offer this wonderful platform no matter where you are on the planet.
Listen to the episode
I hope this introduction to Sam inspires you to take your mixology game to the next level! My perspective has shifted so much with this program and I hope it does the same for you!
Enough talk about cocktails... let's make one! I created a wine-based springtime cocktail recipe in honor of Sam this week! Check it out!
Want to learn more about cocktails and mixology? Join The Wine Ship Club to gain access to our library of educational tools and recipes!
As always, thank you for being a part of our journey through wine, cocktails, and beyond!
Cheers! - Montana Rae
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