Remember, Remember (an ode to Niccolo Machiavelli)

For some reason, in college, I ended up reading Machiavelli’s The Prince in about seven different classes. The treatise is very short, but in being short it gets to the point very quickly. I like and dislike many principles in work, but I believe it can be used in the present day world.

Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage.

I’m going to just throw this out there. The three of use are young and have never owned a business. Is that stopping us? Of course not. Hell, we think it’s a big advantage. We don’t have the bad habits that we see other owners have. We can see businesses from the outside and observe what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. We want and need to succeed. In our youth, we may have far flung dreams and high hopes, but what we do have is a firm base in reality. We know this will not be a cakewalk, but we will use that to our advantage. Our place shall succeed, but only because it will be done with intelligence and dedication.

I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.

The wheel needs to be reinvented. It’s stuck in the mud and all it’s doing is spinning without any direction or will to move forward. We are not trying to make cocktails better than anyone in the city – we’re trying to make cocktails right. We will use proper and fresh ingredients. We will educate the consumer. We want to be that movement that changes the Boston cocktail scene. We will look to the past for amazing cocktails, but we are living in the present. We want to invent cocktails that will be in books two hundred years in the future and from there will inspire those to make drinks that will last two hundred years beyond that. It is quite easy to make a tasty beverage, but it is quite another matter to make something timeless. We will do that.

We will not base our wines on Cabs and Pinot. We will find a little known red grape known only to a village in Hungary. We will find a Swiss white varietal that will blow riesling out of the water. The world is huge, my friends. There is so much to see and experience and we want to take you on that journey without leaving your barstool.

But we are not chastising all things from the past. We want you to come in and enjoy a shot and a beer. We want you to feel comfortable in doing this and not pressured to have a cocktail because that’s the thing to do. I will happily give you a gin and tonic. Damnit, I love a gin and tonic on a hot summer day.

We will just have a bar that does it right. We want to be that movement that everyone follows.

He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command.

Machiavelli is, of course, relating this to a standing army, but the same can be said about the army one hires to man an establishment. This army can make or break you. You can have the best group of servers in the business, but untamed talent can go awry. In The Prince Machiavelli has a quote which I do not agree with, “The answer is of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved.” I believe that you have to be feared and loved. It is a necessity to be able to walk that razor’s edge in order to have a successful workforce. It’s kind of like being that parent that you can always have fun with, but when you get detention you don’t want to tell them – not because they’ll be angry, but because they’ll be disappointed in you. That’s the way, I believe, a staff should be managed.

Before all else, be armed.

…with knowledge and ambition.

Published in: on November 5, 2009 at 4:48 am  Leave a Comment  

We work to become, not to acquire.

Elbert Hubbard was a philosopher, writer, and artist. It is the aforementioned quote that I stumbled across the other day that started to stir thoughts in my mind. You see, it is the majority of society that works to acquire. Why else work, one might ask. The majority assumes that you “become” via school, education, and certification.

But as it is always, it is the majority that rests complacent in the level known as mediocrity.

I’ve been thinking, stirring, shaking, tasting and talking…how does one instill in their employees, their colleagues, their partners, and teammates that a career is something more than a means to an end? Yes, we certainly aim to…no – it is imperative that we provide an environment conducive to monetary reward substantial enough for our partners to live comfortably.

Above that, Treason and Plot is about progress, challenge, and self-fulfillment. To bring the concept of employment and career to another level is easily obtainable if you can bring your staff’s mindset to a point where they can see beyond hours and the obvious, and come to the realization that they define the establishment. And because they define the establishment, they will be treated and rewarded as such. I think it’s difficult for someone to consistently take pride in a workplace if all they see in return are rewards on the management’s walls and the same god damn paycheck in their pocket.

For me there are many different levels and requirements that have to be met in order to make an establishment more than its competitor’s. I think it’s this philosophy, though, that when the proper circumstances are provided makes the difference. Add this to our list of intentions.

cb

Published in: on September 13, 2009 at 1:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Past, Present, Future

Since I hold a degree in history I know the importance of knowing and respecting the past.

I know we are entering another classic age of the cocktail. But in this new classic age, will we only admire the past or will we create a new notion of the cocktail that will be remembered 200 years in the future, much like the Old Fashioned?

One has to understand the past in order to make the future better. Simple is fantastic, as I had mentioned earlier, but the future holds endless possibilities.

But where do we draw the line between future classics and marketing anomalies?

I want comments on this.

But I will leave you with a small progression in which I will compare four authors to four cocktails, tell me if you agree…Sazerac, Pegu Club, Whiskey Smash, Flirtini is to William Shakespeare, George Orwell, Stephen King, Danielle Steele…

-ab

Published in: on August 12, 2009 at 10:48 am  Comments (1)  

Teamwork is Infrastructure

A restaurant is only as strong as its infrastructure. If the kitchen’s equipment is not of good standard the food will not be either. If the computer system does not have the proper software to help run the business, that business will not be efficient. These are but minor issues in the grand scheme of things, but it goes by the same mantra, “a penny saved is a penny earned.” Having every gear, no matter how small, working in the machine ensures that the machine will work smoothly.

More important than the physical workings of an establishment are its people. The employees can make and can break an establishment. The mantra in which I believe when employing people is, “you do not work FOR me, you work WITH me.” We are a team. We all are cogs in the mechanism.  I will clean the bottles. I will wash dishes. I will run food. I will mop the floor. I will not leave that for barbacks, the dishwashers, or the cleaning crews if I can capably do it. But that means anyone who is my employ will do the same. We all take ownership. If all of us work together to make the establishment better more people will enjoy themselves when they walk through the door. If more people are happy when they come in then they will spend more money and tell others to come in and they, in turn, will spend more money.

In the end, we’re just sellin’ candy, makin’ money.

-ab

Published in: on August 1, 2009 at 1:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

We stand as the manifested equivalent of three buckets of water and a hand full of minerals

Cocktails can be broken down in the same way – spirit, sugar, water, bitters, citrus. And just the way the human body can be so complex from so little, so can cocktails.

Take the Old Fashioned, for instance. Two dashes of Angostura bitters, Two dashes of orange bitters (I love Angostura Orange), some sugar and a whole lotta rye whiskey. Pour that over an ice chunk. So simple, but as the water from the ice breaks the ether chains of the whiskey the full flavor of the drink is realized. Add some lemon zest over the top and you have yourself a bangin’ cocktail. So simple, yet so beautiful.

Always keep it simple.*

When inventing a cocktail start with as little as possible. Take the Prince Edward cocktail. Drambuie, Lillet Blanc, and Scotch. The smokiness of the Scotch is enhanced by the sweetness of the Drambuie. The subtle citrus of the Lillet balances the cocktail perfectly and can be enhanced with piece of orange as garnish.

So simple and so tasty.

~~~

*So says the man who loves Jet Pilots – 3 different types of rum, cinnamon syrup, falernum, lime, grapefruit, a few drops of Herbsaint, and Angostura bitters. That’s not simple, but it’s sooo good!

~~~

By the by, the title of this entry comes from the slam poet Saul Williams entitled “Coded Language.”

-ab

Published in: on July 30, 2009 at 5:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Striking the Balance

Q: What should every drink be?

A: Balanced…

…but striking that balance is tricky.  The problem with balance is that not all drinks are balanced on the palates of bartenders. Everyone has a different idea of what balance is.

A good portion of the public, as I addressed earlier, has a sweet palate. They want there pomagranite mango infused vodka martini with a sugar rim and a strawberry on top. That’s fine for them. They don’t want to taste the alcohol, they just want to sip something that tastes like it will rot your teeth and looks like a sunset on Tahiti. That’s fine. There is a demand for that and people are making fortunes from it. Also, brands are making fortunes for all these flavor infused vodkas and rums, which cost next to nothing to produce.

Let’s move on to the balance of known cocktails. Let’s start with the bane of bartenders – the Mojito. It is such a simple drink that has gone so awry. Bartenders take a beautiful drink and mess it up by shaking the hell out of the mint or adding too much sugar. The lime and the sugar should just be enough to balance out the rum and the mint should only be hinted at in the drink to add a herbaceous characteristic. If done right, it’s a great drink with a deep history either dating back to the 16th century with “El Draque” in honor of Sir Francis Drake ( I wrote many papers of that gentleman (pirate) in college) or to the African slaves in Cuba in the 19th century. When balanced, it’s a classic.

Take the Seelbach – Bourbon, Cointreau, 7 dashes of Angostura Bitters, 7 dashes of Peychaud bitters, and topped with Champagne. To a cocktail geek, it’s a fantastic Pre-Prohibition cocktail (It’s one of my favorites). To a sweet palate, they would have a hard time choking it down.

Here’s the rub – world class bartenders say I have a sweet palate, but I love bitters in my cocktails and the more the better.

So, where is the balance?

I believe the balance is being able to understand not just the cocktail, but to whom you are serving.  The Rogue Cocktails recipe book has a great line, “Recipes are guidelines, not gospel.”

Take, for instance, reality TV. I personally don’t like it, but I understand why people do.  I don’t like the Yankees (Sox fan, if you didn’t know), but I’m a fan of baseball foremost, so I respect the history and the story of the Bronx Bombers.

What I’m saying is take that pomagranite mango infused vodka martini add some acidity or some bitters (maybe Campari), take out that martini part and call it a cocktail, and serve it to your bar patron. They will have their sweet little drink, but maybe, just maybe they’ll start to understand that you moved their drink toward the middle of the spectrum – maybe not dead center, but somewhere in the realm of where that drink needs to be…

…then you can move them on to a Pegu Club.

-ab

Published in: on July 28, 2009 at 6:27 pm  Comments (2)