Welcome to your Cocktail Education.
You are here because you have expressed an interest in learning how to make cocktails.
Perhaps you’re a professional bartender and aspiring mixologist seeking to learn the tricks of the trade. Or maybe an enthusiastic consumer of cocktails who wishes to become a producer.
You could be looking to spice up your next house party or impress your significant other. Or maybe you’re just bored and looking for a hobby.
Whatever your reasons, if you want to learn how to make great cocktails, you’ve come to the right place.
Your Cocktail Education begins here
You’ve probably been to cocktail bars and seen guys like me hard at work. Making 5 cocktails simultaneously and at high speed while barking out orders full of jargon to my minions and shamelessly flirting with the girls sat in front of me. Offering a bespoke service where I create new cocktails on the spot based on my customers’ tastes. Yet never spilling a drop nor making a mistake.
How do I do this? Does my brain contain an encyclopedic knowledge of every cocktail ever created which I can call forth and replicate at will?
It is true that if working as a professional cocktail bartender at a top bar you would need to memorize a lot of recipes. But this is not a matter of skill or understanding but strictly a question of speed. In that kind of fast paced environment you have no time to consult your recipe lists.
Instead, learning the art of creating cocktails is not a matter of memorizing and strictly following prescribed and approved recipes.
Not at all.
Instead it is a question of coming to understand the fundamental principles which underpin cocktails and learning how to successfully apply them. Once you can do that, everything else is merely details – which can be easily manipulated based on your own personal tastes and resources.
The purpose of this blog is to train you to understand these underlying principles. To teach you how to apply them to the less-than-ideal situations you’ll inevitably find yourself in in real life.
In short, to provide not simply a set of recipes for you to follow, but a true, broad and rounded Cocktail Education.
Like life, this is a journey. I will be your guide on this grand journey of exploration. Welcome!
About your guide
So, who am I to claim such wisdom?
My name is Thomas Farley, and I have over 15 years of professional experience of mixing, making and creating cocktails. During my professional career I have largely been based in the UK, working and drinking in top bars in the world class London Cocktail scene.
If you’d like to learn more about me, follow the links to the “About the Author” page.
As a young man I took up bartending to make some money to travel before going on to University, (College to my American readers). I found the topic of cocktails to be fascinating and threw myself into learning as much as I could about them.
It was a dispiriting exercise. There were (and are) seemingly hundreds of books about cocktails out there. But while they would give me recipes and anecdotes, I never found one which explained why I should make a drink a certain way.
To my way of thinking this was and is a fundamental oversight.
Cocktails and Philosophy
So I subjected the topic of Cocktails to my own brand of life Philosophy:
I researched widely, drawing knowledge, recipes and concepts from many different sources. Some were books, some were colleagues, some were random bars around the world.
I harshly questioned each and every assumption, every “fact” that was presented to me with the critical eye of a scientific background.
Many such “facts” and tidbits of received wisdom I deemed to be false, or arbitrary, or sheer bullshit masquerading as truth. These I rejected.
Others proved themselves to be based on more solid foundations. They were backed up by the science involved, or were otherwise accurate. These I accepted and made a part of my approach.
And I experimented widely, trying out new ideas or testing old ones. I never lacked for eager test subjects to try out my latest alcoholic experiments.
When I began to train new bartenders I was forced to reexamine old questions from new points of view. To consider what information really mattered and what was superfluous.
Over time I have honed my teaching methods, stripping away all the unnecessary bullshit to focus on the true essence of this art form.
The underlying principles.
I created simple yet powerful models as teaching tools to facilitate the understanding of these key principles.
Now when I train a new bartender I know exactly what I’m doing.
A True Cocktail Education
My aim for this blog is to take this small scale approach onto a larger stage.
You should understand that this blog will not be a simple set of recipes. Nor will it be a load of how-to articles. Instead, it will take a more rounded approach to help you develop a proper understanding of cocktails.
There will be plenty of posts which focus on a single, often classic cocktail. There will also be discussions on techniques, equipment and glassware.
But there will also be articles relating to the science underpinning the various mixing methods and thermodynamics of ice. Technical discussions regarding efficiency and speed. Insights into writing cocktail menus and setting popup bars for house parties.
And there will be anecdotes and tall tales. History and Philosophy. Flirtatious bullshit and irreverent comparisons.
What I intend to construct on this blog is more than a set of instructions and some cool pictures. I intend to take a broad, well rounded approach to the topic.
I intend to provide you with a true Cocktail Education.