Experiment with mixes, set no limits
It is no easy feat to become a world renowned bartender, especially as a woman. Lauren Mote reveals to Asmita Sarkar how she gained her expertise
Mixologist Lauren Mote doesn’t believe that the challenges she faced as a bartender were related to her gender. Every person has a unique journey and she too worked hard to gain the global fame that she enjoys today. However, hiring practices are changing and hopefully this means that job criteria and financial hierarchy are changing too, she added.
As Diageo Global Reserve’s brand ambassador, she said, “Markets like Canada, the USA, United Kingdom, western Europe and Australia have a significant number of women working behind the bar whereas emerging markets have a lot less. We still have a long road ahead of us to make real change in our global industry but we are on the right track,” Mote said.
A rebel and a powerhouse, she advised young women interested in mixology to “seize every opportunity to work with people who value you for your skills and abilities.” She doesn’t want them to change in the face of adversity or succumb to the status quo.
“It’ll be tough to rise above, but you have a voice and the ability to command a room, so use the stage wisely. It might take a long time to create an audience, but once you do, make sure you have something powerful to say. In our industry, as in many others that are public-facing, it takes a lifetime to build a positive reputation and just seconds to destroy it. Keep that in mind with each step, each interaction and each decision. Bring those that have helped you along the way into the fold and build an army of strong, powerful professionals – they deserve to be heard, too,” she said.
The world of cocktails is changing and it is no longer only about making the expected, traditional concoctions. The Canadian cocktailian said that the trends to look out for include sustainability, signature serves and culinary cocktails. “The world is waking up to the impact their choices have on the environment and sustainable practices and ingredients are becoming increasingly important.
Mixologists who embrace this new reality are the ones who will flourish and there is an opportunity for the industry to get behind some ‘easy to execute’ initiatives,” she said.
A significant part of travel itineraries have started including the world’s best bars as ‘must visit’ destinations for drink-savvy tourists. In 2018, we expect to see a rise in signature serves as bar owners give a free rein to talented mixologists to create unique drink experiences. Chefs and bartenders have also begun to collaborate on flavour development. There is a symbiosis in the process with more bartenders getting involved in the kitchen and using classical culinary techniques as a new way (for the bar) to preserve, extract and develop flavours.
“With the rise in the last decade of celebrity chefs and interest in cuisine, the most enlightened mixologists will experiment with flavours, ingredients and techniques from their peers in the world of fine dining,” she said.
For her, the best cocktail depends on the season, the time, the place and the occasion and yet the Negroni is what she would choose most of the time. Her ideal version is heavy on the Tanqueray No. TEN Gin. It would have standard pour bitter liqueur and lower on the vermouth. Then stir and serve over big cubes and long flap of orange peel expressed over the glass and dropped in.
“I always eat the orange afterwards as a palate cleanser. These days, I am also falling in love with the Johnnie Walker Black highball all over again – it’s just delicious,” she said.
Mote also says that on the technical front, bartenders commonly misuse sugar and acid.
"Understanding that sugar is to the bar what salt is to the kitchen is important in our quest for balance, and certainly one must consider acidity and bitterness too. When all the six tastes come together - sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent and pungent - it pushes flavours forward and helps create balance. The more bartenders that learn to cook and understand these principles, the better their cocktails will be each and every time," she said.
She says that a bartender is a steward of all things food and beverage culture: tea, coffee, spirits, wine, beer, food and ingredients, flavour and complexity - you name it!
"So, you've got to have an incredible depth and breadth of category knowledge and the ability to communicate this knowledge to your customers with skill and creativity. Being in the customer service industry, you've also got to have top-notch interpersonal skills and a selfless attitude, ultimately putting others needs ahead of your own," she said.
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