How to make and sell the perfect cocktail with Colin Field.
Colin Field, Head Bartender of the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Paris is widely known as one of the Best Bartenders in the World. Each year, he returns to César Ritz Colleges to give a highly informative and entertaining Mixology Masterclass.
César Ritz Colleges Switzerland is an important part of the Ritz family. The Ritz is synonymous with class, style, excellence and service and I hope to pass on the passions that make the Ritz the Ritz with the students.
Academic, historian, bon vivant, world traveller – bartender. However you want to describe Mr. Colin Field, if you ever get the chance to meet him behind the bar he will most likely teach you something you didn’t know, bring a smile to your face and make a lasting impression all while serving you up the perfect drink you didn’t even know you needed!
On how to make the perfect cocktail…
All the best cocktails have only 3 ingredients. Although there are a few exceptions, the most popular cocktails that have stood the test of time meet this rule.
To create a well-balanced cocktail you should consider the base alcohol as the star of the cocktail and the two remaining ingredients as the perfuming agent and the texture agent. For example in a Manhattan, the Whiskey is the base alcohol, the perfuming agent is the Bitters and the texture comes from the Vermouth.
On the questions to ask before making a cocktail…
Making the perfect drink is not about the cocktail… It’s about the person. When I make cocktails for helicopter pilots, I insist on going up in the helicopters with them to learn about them beforehand. Understanding the people you are serving to is a key component of any drink you make and this comes down to a few simple things.
On how to sell a cocktail…
A good bartender never takes an order. A bartender needs to control the bar and therefore the orders that come in to ensure everything runs like a well-oiled machine. For this reason you need to understand (and convince) your client what they want even before they may know themselves!
To sell a cocktail you need to prime the client’s imagination and create the setting.
On his personal choice for cocktails…
The cocktail I order always depends on the way I am dressed.
If I’m wearing a tweed jacket, corduroy trousers, brown shoes and brown belt – a bourbon Manhattan would be my drink of choice.
If I was stranded on a deserted island and had to choose one cocktail to drink every day – I would choose the Calvados and Champagne cocktail Serendipity.
And of course, I would never drink a dry martini unless I was wearing a suit and tie.
On the importance of education…
Mixology is a craft, and when a truly skilled bartender has the proper training and education it becomes elevated to an artform.
Bartending in France has a Degree equivalent exam under the control of the prestigious Sorbonne University. It is the first country in the world to recognize the profession and for over 10 years I worked together with the Ministry of Education to get this recognition – something I believe very passionately in. Every member of my team went to Hotel School and hold the “Meilleures Ouvriers de France” distinction.
On life as an internationally renowned bartender…
My professional life is extremely varied. I’ve worked on the Orient Express, private yachts and recently started working on in the Premier Class of SAS Air France flights.
The Ritz is about enjoying people and passion and I am their ambassador. It can be very glamourous at times.
On the importance of communicating an emotion…
When I create something, there is always a reason behind it. I hope this message gets passed on to other professions including the students at Culinary Arts Academy. For example if their chef asks them tomorrow to create a dish with Chicken, I want them to ask themselves what they want to communicate with their dish and what is their objective with creating it – and actually take it one step further and create an emotion.