Sharing the Wisdom
At the moment I wrote this, I have just completed the three-month season of my Bartender course. As I always did, I would conclude the precious memories and share with my students at the end of each semester. What I really want to share is not only knowledge, but my personal experience and story so that they can learn from the wisdom.
I am not a greater bartender, but I very much enjoy every moment that I could interact with our customers. I was so fortunate to have stayed and worked in various bars and pubs in foreign countries. I found that I could learn from every single bartender as each person was unique. I have contacted with different kinds of people and these experience reminded me that " there is no right or wrong, only difference", which become my motto.
When I was aboard, much of my knowledge about bartending come from those bartenders and guests. We both are teachers and friends of each other. We shared bartending and tasting knowledge and all the funny happenings. In 2004, I have been working at a bar in Brighton, England for six months. The bar was always full house but the guests were mostly cool and calm on weekdays. The atmosphere hyped up drastically in weekends that was reminiscent the scene of the movie "Cocktail", in which Tom Cruise stood in front of the bar and the crowd of guests yelling "Gin Tonic! "," Rum n Coke! "," JD coke! "," 10 shots tequila "... and I acted like Tom Cruise in the way that I was in disarray (even though I was just a bar back). I would never forget there was a fellow bartender, around 45 year-old, who had a dominating charisma and performed sophistically. The way he moved, the rhythm he shook was so attractive to all people on the spot, including me certainly.
After conversation, I realized that he was a sailor and only worked for the bar occasionally. He told me many stories about sailing and bartending, one of them being the "Rock glass". It was said that the crews often drink spirits (including rum) on broad, so you may noticed Johnny Deep often said "Where is my Ron?" (Ron is the Spanish of Rum) in the movie ”Pirates of Caribbean”. They use “Rock glass” to serve the rum, in which the weight of the rock keep the glass stand firm on the staggering deck. It then evolved into the special Rock glass and ‘Old fashioned glass’ in bars and pubs today.
The fellow bartender has designed a cocktail exclusively for the bar – it’s high in alcohol content, which is a blend of eight different spirits, liqueur and beer. The overall palate is well-balanced and tastes like a cellared beer on the lemonade Lagertop. He called it "Graveyard", claiming that this is the "spirits and wines you must try before you die". This cocktail has become the local classic and also the inspiration of my signature cocktail "F ** ked up". He did not hesitate to share his knowledge, experience and skills, teaching me how to balance the taste between a variety of alcohol, so that the guests could enjoy the "Taste of Alcohol”.
In this era any information can also be found on the Internet, but wisdom can only be acquired from real life experiences and mutual sharing. Therefore I "share" with my students rather than "teach" them. In Bartending cocktail level two class, I asked the students to come up with a theme to create his/her own cocktail in addition to their regular written and practical test. Amongst their work submitted, I appreciate "Hollywood Road 60" in particular, which is created by Joseph. The cocktail integrates local food culture with bartending knowledge, and showing his enthusiasm and dedication in alcohol. With his permission, I would like to share this cocktail here with all of you.
Hollywood Road 60 by Joseph Cheung
To Joseph, the old Hong Kong (1960s) gives the impression of impoverished society yet it is full of charisma and local ambience. Sugarcane juice shop was back then one of the chic points for social gathering, in which people would listen to the radio together, gossiping any topics when they were drinking the sugarcane juice. There is still a sugarcane juice shop located amongst those bars in Hollywood Road - " Kung Lee". Fresh sugarcane is peeled off by hand every day, steamed and fresh juice is then squeezed out by the 30-year-old classic pressing machine. The juice is not only fresh, but exudes a natural grassy flavor. Using “King Lee” sugarcane juice as an ingredient, "Hollywood Road 60" copes with the theme by including Barcardi 8 year rum which is smooth and comprises a tone of oak. Then Lillet Blanc is added to keep the sweetness and also brings aromas of citrus and grapes to the cocktail. Soy Lethicin powder is added to stabilize the foam. After all stuffs are well mixed, bubble is injected to increase the creaminess. Serve it in a champagne glass and garnish it with lime zest. Cheers!
在外國期間，許多關於調酒的知識都來自酒吧裡認識的調酒師與客人，大家既像師長、亦像朋友，毫不吝嗇地分享調酒與品酒知識，也少不了酒吧的趣事。記得大概2004年，我在英國Brighton一間酒吧工作了半年，那間酒吧每天座無虛席，但平日的客人大都較冷靜，待到周末才會開懷暢飲。因此每到周末假日，酒吧的氣氛總會一下子高漲起來，那情景就像舊電影《Cocktail》中，Tom Cruise第一次站在吧檯前的一幕般，大堆客人擠在吧檯前叫嚷「Gin Tonic!」、「Rum n Coke!」、「JD coke!」、「10 shots tequila」…… 呼叫一直沒停止，而我亦像Tom Cruise一樣……一樣手忙腳亂（即使我當時只是一位bar back）！同樣在吧檯，有一位45歲的調酒師前輩，他氣定神閒、靈活舞動般逐一處理客人要求，大家毫不介意等待，反而專程走到他那邊落單，他那時的眼神與身體動律告訴我，當刻所享受的是我前所未有。
詳談過後才知道他原是一名船員，只會間中在酒吧工作，此後每次碰上他，我總能聽到很多關於行船與酒吧的故事，「Rock glass」就是其中之一。話說從前行船，船員多喝烈酒為主，當中包括冧酒，所以大家會看到Johnny Deep在《魔盜王》中經常會說「Where is my Ron?（Ron是Rum的西班牙語）」。而當時盛酒的器皿正是真正用石頭製作的Rock glass，其重量使之在不斷搖晃的船上不容易翻側，亦演變成今日我們在酒吧常用到特別重身的Rock glass和Old fashion glass。
這位前輩還特別為酒吧設計了一款雞尾酒──酒精很重，調和了八種不同的烈酒、基酒及啤酒，味道卻像窖藏啤酒對檸檬水Lagertop，味道平衡易入口，它的名字叫「Graveyard」，即是墳墓，玩味地表示這酒是「Spirits and wines must tastes before you die」。這杯雞尾酒成為當地經典，也是酒吧氣氛往往瞬間升溫原因之一，更成為我如今其中一杯派對雞尾酒「F**ked up」的靈魂泉源。還記得當天我向他請教，他了解過我的recipe與創作故事後，就毫不猶豫地分享他創作的技術與知識，教懂我如何平衡多種酒精味道的竅門，讓客人享受到「Taste of alcohol」。
在這個資訊發達的年代，任何資料也可在互聯網上搜尋得到，但從那些經驗中累積而來的智慧，就只有從相互分享中得來，配合實踐，絕對比單純的知識來得重要。所以在我而言，與其說在學院「教導」或「開班」，倒不如說跟大家「分享」來的自然。而在剛剛的Level 2 Bartending cocktail class中，同學們除了筆試、實務試和體險之外，我還要求他們想出一個主題去創作雞尾酒，當中我特別喜歡Joseph設計的「Hollywood Road 60」，他把香港的飲食智慧與調酒知識融合，表現出對杯中物的熱誠。在此，我特別得到他的准許，讓大家分享這杯雞尾酒。
六七十年代的舊香港給Joseph的印象，是經濟尚未起飛的殖民地香港，亦是最有魅力和本土味道。蔗汁鋪，是當時最「潮」的聚腳點，男男女女都會在蔗汁鋪聚會, 一邊享受蔗汁，一邊收聽收音機 ,就像現今的酒吧。今天於酒吧林立荷里活道上仍有一間蔗汁鋪保留着舊日的情懷 —「公利」。公利每天用人手去皮，再蒸熟甘蔗，更用上30年歷史的榨汁機榨出甘蔗汁。甘蔗汁不但新鮮，還帶有天然蔗糖和清甜的芳草香味。「Hollywood Road 60」用上公利的甘蔗汁, 配合Barcardi 8 year aged rum，去襯托甘蔗的主題，也取其順滑和複雜的橡木筒香味。以Lillet Blanc 保持雞尾酒的甜度，也帶來一絲柑橘和提子的香氣。再加入Soy Lethicin powder 用來穩定泡沫。調和後這杯雞尾酒最後會打入氣泡來增加香檳的口感。倒入香檳杯中再加上長青檸皮，Hollywood Road 60 便完成了！飲杯！