Called to the bar

  • In charge: Tiffany Swann, bartender and instructor for Bar Train Bermuda (Photograph supplied)

    In charge: Tiffany Swann, bartender and instructor for Bar Train Bermuda (Photograph supplied)

  • Master mixers: Tiffany Swann, front right, with her students and representatives from the hospitality industry

    Master mixers: Tiffany Swann, front right, with her students and representatives from the hospitality industry

  • Going for it: Tiffany Swann’s students in action (Photograph supplied)

    Going for it: Tiffany Swann’s students in action (Photograph supplied)

  • Going for it: Tiffany Swann’s students in action (Photograph supplied)

    Going for it: Tiffany Swann’s students in action (Photograph supplied)

  • Ghoulishly good: A Halloween themed cocktail by one of Tiffany Swann’s students (Photograph supplied)

    Ghoulishly good: A Halloween themed cocktail by one of Tiffany Swann’s students (Photograph supplied)


While James Bond possessed impeccable skills as a British Secret Service agent, he was useless at ordering cocktails.

According to Tiffany Swann, shaking a martini creates a watery drink that ruins the entire experience.

It is one little gem in the wealth of knowledge she shares with students as part of her Bermuda College course, Bar Train Bermuda.

“It wasn’t until James Bond ordered it shaken that everyone started ordering it shaken,” Ms Swann laughed.

“If we are behind the bar, we are going to stir a martini, unless they ask for it to be shaken. There is a big difference. If it is shaken there will be melted ice in the shaker and a martini is not meant to be diluted. Stirring it chills it, shaking it dilutes it.

“These are the skills we learn in class. When it comes to technique, we need to know when to shake, when to stir, when to throw, when to double strain ...”

The Berkeley Institute graduate got into bartending to earn money while studying computer and graphic design at Alabama A&M University. Once she had completed her degree, however, she found it hard to give the hustle up.

“I love the creativity. It is not a job it is a craft,” she said.

For more than ten years, she worked as operations manager for multiple industry-related businesses. She has been teaching the college course since 2016.

About 70 per cent of her students land jobs within a week of completing the seven-week programme. The course includes rum tastings and tours of Gosling’s and Bacardi and, while it is fun, Ms Swann warns that it is no easy ride.

“It is a bartending boot camp. Everything is timed and it is high-pressured training, but we train you for real-life situations. There are four main tests. The free-pouring test is first. You need to be able to pour exact measurements; if not, you can’t know your drinks.

“Then comes technique, precision and speed in that order. From that point, we have a minibar set up with about 200 miniature bottles that they have to know by heart. [The bottles] get mixed up and they have to put them back in order in about 20 minutes or less. It is all about speed. Time is money behind the bar and with speed we can serve the guests more fluently.

“Over-pouring or under-pouring is what you call stealing, because you are stealing from the company or the customer. It is a science.”

She added that there is a lot more to the course than simply creating the drinks.

“We are teaching you how to control your emotions, how to compose yourself and how to handle customers as well as how to make great cocktails.”

Next year, she plans to rebrand Bar Train Bermuda as a fully fledged business. Behind the Bar will offer training, host events and provide staff for functions island-wide.

On Wednesday, her students put what they had learnt to work in front of a live audience for Crimson Moon Hallowe’en Cocktail Competition, an annual event. Her hope is to offer similar opportunities abroad in the near future, such as the Diageo Reserve World Class bartending competition.

“The Bermudian community is chipping in to make sure we hold the standards up high,” she said.

“There are worldwide competitions that we should be entering sometime soon. Bermuda is just one small facet, you can get paid to travel around the world and teach about alcohol and be an ambassador.”

Follow Bar Train Bermuda on Instagram: @bartrainbda. Sign up for the course at the Professional & Career Education Department on the Bermuda College campus

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Published Nov 1, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Nov 1, 2019 at 8:05 am)

Called to the bar

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