Master Class: Beam's MIXXIT! Bar Program
By: David Mahoney
Photos by: Brett Kramer
Although he plays a starring role in Beam Global’s new MIXXIT! online training program for bartenders, master mixologist Bobby “G” Gleason knows from experience leading on-site training seminars that bartenders can be less than enthusiastic about the prospect of professional instruction.
Bobby "G" Gleason.
“There’s a meeting at 9 or 10 in the morning, and a bartender’s been working the night before until 2. They’re thinking, I don’t want to be here—what’s this guy going to teach me?” says Gleason. “But then you start out and hit them with something that makes them think, wow, that really makes sense. Now you’ve grabbed their attention. And before the day’s over, they’re your biggest fan.”
“The MIXXIT! program does just that,” he continues. “It teaches them the basics, and lets them learn that, yes, there is a reason that you do it this way, and here’s why."
MIXXIT! is a key component of Beam Global’s newly expanded Virtual Spirit All Access education platform. What started out a few years ago as a password-protected program offered on a limited basis to Beam’s distributors and retail partners is now readily available to the trade anywhere on the planet, explains Kathleen DiBenedetto, Beam Global’s Director of Product Knowledge and Brand Education. While MIXXIT! is clearly intended to enhance awareness of Beam Global’s brands, DiBenedetto says that the program provides universally useful resources for bartenders.
“We’ll show demonstrations with our brands, but it is about the architecture of the drink and professional bartending skills,” she says. “We’re hoping that by helping the bar, they’ll see the value in what we’re bringing to the table.”
|Philip Raimondo, another member of Beam Global’s international team of master mixologists—which also includes Wayne Collins and Andy Gemmel in the U.K. and Jason Crawley in Australia—says that MIXXIT! teaches the correct techniques for making drinks regardless of where a bartender works or how long they’ve been in the business.
“Flipping a hamburger at T.G.I.Friday’s is the same as flipping a hamburger at Chili’s,” says Raimondo. “There’s only one right way to flip a hamburger. The same thing goes for drinks—there’s really only one right way to make a Margarita. The recipes might be a little different, the portions of the spirits might be a little different, but the technique that goes into properly crafting and serving that drink is going to be the same, no matter what. Stirring a drink is stirring a drink.
Those are the standards that we bring to the table to get everyone on the same playing field, whether they’ve been bartending for three months or 23 years.”
“The MIXXIT! program gives these guys a solid base to build from,” adds Gleason. “It’s like a house—if you don’t build a good base, your house isn’t going to be stable. We give them a great base and show them the things that they can do, and they really appreciate it.” One of the most important topics covered in the online courses is what Gleason refers to as “the anatomy of a cocktail”: identifying the fundamental elements—such as base spirits, sweeteners, and juices—that make up any drink. “When you teach them that, and how you can use those different components in that formula, they can go out and create their own cocktails. And that’s how bartenders become famous."
“While MIXXIT! can’t make a boring bartender into one that brings customers back time and again, it can definitely give a leg up to the bartender with charm and ambition,” says Raimondo. “Hire the smile, hire the great personality, hire the person who has a lot of passion and provide them with the tools and resources they need to be successful, and you’ll have a lifelong bartender who will go on to do amazing things.”
“There’s passion within everybody,” adds Gleason. “We take that spark of passion and fan it into a fire, then let them take it the rest of the way.”
For more information on Beam Global’s MIXXIT! education program, visit www.virtualspirit.org/allaccess.
Coctails from Beam Global's MIXXIT! Program
Philip Raimondo's Effen Pomegranate Martini
1 part Effen Vodka
1 part fresh lemon juice
1 part simple syrup
1 part DeKuyper Pomegranate Liqueur
Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
|Bobby “G” Gleason’s Red Hot Stag
1 part Red Stag by Jim Beam
½ part fresh lemon juice
½ part simple syrup
1 part Funkin Mango Purée
2 dashes Tabasco
Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.