In this article I’ll be giving some tips on how to speed up service without lowering the quality of the drinks.
In the last article I wrote on this blog, I talked about how to preserve fresh fruit juices. Squeezing juice in advance, using criteria, can have some benefits, especially in very crowded bars. If you missed my article on juices, click here.
I’m talking about crowded places, because I believe that the quality of service is also reflected in how quickly drinks are served: even the world’s best cocktail can become unpleasant after 45 minutes of waiting.
First of all, it is fundamental to understand that not all places can offer the same proposal. I hope it is clear to everyone that in a 300-seat venue, offering drinks that are too elaborate for the sole purpose to amaze, can become difficult, bring little results and dissatisfy the clientele.
So if the service is too slow, one of the first things to do is to ask yourselves if the proposal is suitable for your working environment.
However, in many cases you can actually do without certain drinks. A bar on the beachfront can’t do without a Mojito, a Caipirinha or some tiki drinks, even though these drinks require considerable preparation time.
The first advice to speed up service is what I already wrote about in the article on juices: squeeze juices in advance, but beware of preservation. Fresh juices have a very short shelf-life. The same applies to premixes of non-alcoholic ingredients: beware of proper preservation.
The second recommendation is to prepare premixes that are already balanced with alcoholic products: for example a Zombie, a fantastic tiki drink, which however has 10 ingredients, of which 3 are rum. Mixing rum in advance is another easy enough method to prepare this drink more quickly. The same goes for the alcoholic part of a Long Island.
I don’t believe in completely pre-mixing all the ingredients, unless it’s a punch, because it is very important that the customer sees how the drink is prepared. Seeing a bartender work is always fascinating.
Third recommendation: when writing a drink list, try balancing your list of drinks according to the preparation techniques. Let me explain myself better: if you’ve decided to put 30 drinks on the menu, do not put 20 shaken drinks, 5 stirred and 5 muddled. Every order will be a living hell.
I think that, so far, I’ve given you tips that perhaps you already knew. Now let’s see how to speed up service by thinking about the ingredients.
I’ll try to explain this by giving two examples.
Quite often, during the courses I hold at the Drink Factory bartending school, I am asked how to speed up service when it comes to making a Mojito and a Caipirinha.
As for Mojitos, you can squeeze the lime juice in advance, but also use sugar syrup instead of grain sugar; this will avoid wasting time trying to dissolve the sugar in the lime juice. It’s worth highlighting that, from a technical point of view, when you find the right amount, the difference between liquid and grain sugar is practically none or at any rate, negligible.
The main problem, however, is linked to processing the mint: mint requires a little time to release its aroma. If you’re in a hurry, and want to aromatize more quickly, just increase the amount of mint in the Mojito: in the same processing time, the release of essential oils will be greater.
If however, you’re preparing an order for an entire table, you can start preparing the Mojito and stop after getting the mint and the rum ready, prepare other drinks, and then finish the Mojito with ice and soda.
If some of the steps on preparing a Mojito aren’t clear, you can read my article.
As far as a Caipirinha is concerned, reasoning always starts from the same concept: knowing the drink and the ingredients.
A Caipirinha has just 4 ingredients: sugar, lime, cachaça and ice. Nevertheless, the lime needs to be muddled and this will take time. The lime should be muddled to get the juice and oils from the peel, not just for the juice.
Smashing the lime and sugar in advance is probably the worst possible solution. Lime juice left in the open air oxidizes and all the essential oils extracted from the skin disappear in a matter of minutes, because they are extremely volatile.
Result? A Caipirinha that not only has little taste, but also a rancid aftertaste.
To speed up the preparation process of this drink (and perhaps make it even more flavorful) I recommend doing the following: remove the peel from some lime and flavor the cachaça. Using a zip-zester makes it easy and quick to remove the peel, and using rapid infusion, with the cream whipper, the time needed to flavour the cachaça is 30 minutes maximum. This way you won’t have to smash the lime because the peel’s precious essential oils will already be in the cachaça!
Then, you simply need to squeeze the lime, melt the sugar (or use liquid sugar), pour the flavoured cachaça and add ice (I use crushed ice to speed up the dilution). If you don’t want to leave out this drink’s aesthetic features, add little pieces of lime in the drink without smashing it.
To conclude, I believe that you don’t necessarily have to leave out some drinks, in mass contexts, even if the preparation can be slow. Good organization will allow you to find effective solutions, yet this requires more work before opening. The basic thing is to know the mixing techniques and ingredients so you can understand if the desired taste result is obtainable by preparing the drink in an alternative way.
This way of thinking is also applicable to other drinks, not just Mojitos and Caipirinhas. I have chosen these two because they are very common and rather laborious to prepare.
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