Colin Field, one of the world's best bartenders, share his rule of thirds and how it applies to making the perfect cocktail.
Colin Field is the head bartender of the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Paris. Historian, bon vivant, world traveller - these are some of the ingredients which make him one of the best bartenders in the world. However you want to describe Colin Field, if you ever get the chance to meet him behind a 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! Luckily for our students, he visits César Ritz Colleges Switzerland once a year to teach an entertaining mixology masterclass.
“César Ritz Colleges is an important part of the Ritz family. The ingredients that have made the Ritz what it is today - class, excellence, and service - are what I try to share with students. Mixology is a craft, and when a truly skilled bartender has the proper training and education, it becomes elevated to an art form.” Colin Field has exercised his art all over the world, from the glamorous Orient Express to luxurious private yachts and premier class flights.
All the best cocktails have only 3 ingredients. Although there are a few exceptions, the 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, whiskey is the base alcohol, the bitters provide the perfuming agent, and the texture comes from the vermouth.”
Making the perfect drink is not just about the cocktail … it’s about the person. "When I make cocktails for helicopter pilots," shares Colin Field, "I insist on going up with them to get to know them beforehand. Understanding the people you are serving to is a key component of any drink you make and this boils down to a few simple things.
When I create something, there is always a reason behind it. This applies to any profession really. As a chef for example, if you are asked to create a dish with chicken, you should think about what you want to communicate with your dish and what emotion you would like to create."
A good bartender never takes an order. A bartender needs to control the bar and ensure that 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," explains Colin Field. "You can do this by priming the client’s imagination and creating the setting."
And what kind of cocktail could one sell to a seasoned bartender like Colin Field?
“The cocktail I order always depends on how I am dressed. If I’m wearing a tweed jacket, corduroy trousers, brown shoes and a brown belt – a bourbon Manhattan would be my drink of choice. If I were stranded on a deserted island and had to choose one cocktail to drink every day – I would choose Serendipity, a calvados and champagne cocktail. And of course, I would never drink a dry martini unless I was wearing a suit and tie!"