Although housed under the same roof, bars and kitchens are often seen as separate entities. You can, of course, eat at the bar and the bartenders make all the drinks for the “regular” table servers, but the two all too often couldn’t be more different.
Instead of maintaining the status quo, restaurateurs can bring the strengths of bartenders and chefs together to tap into each other’s expertise and make each other’s products unique and more enjoyable for guests.
For starters, bartenders can use back of the house knowledge for cocktail inspiration. Chefs know what fruits and vegetables are fresh and best served in their natural seasons. They can even go beyond just fresh ingredients and into preparation of those ingredients with carmelization or wood fired charring. Bartenders know how to make unforgettable drinks, and with new ingredients, the drinks will be better than ever.
These elements can bring a distinctive level to the drink not normally experienced. For example, New York restaurant Beacon offers a “Wood-Oven Roasted Bloody Mary as a year-round favorite. ‘We cut the tomatoes in half and roast them in the oven until slightly charred, then purée them with some tomato juice to loosen the mixture enough to allow it to be strained,’ says Chef Waldy Malouf.”
This obviously goes both ways with bartenders offering thoughts on drink trends that can be incorporated into menu dishes. For example, when bartenders notice more people drinking Bourbon, they can help concoct a new dish to capitalize.
According to the 2014 What’s Hot Chef Survey, food and liquor/beer pairings are in the top 10 “Hot” Alcohol rising trends. Additionally, “Culinary Cocktails” that use “savory and fresh ingredients found in the kitchen instead of at the bar” ranked #4.
This is a great way to keep guests excited and an opportunity for your chefs and bartenders to collaborate creatively. You never know how it could spark great ideas to add to your menu.