Raising the bar

WHITEHOUSE, Westmoreland — Bartenders at Sandals Resorts are pouring to a different rhythm and humming to a new beat, and trainer Dave Simpson knows why.

A veteran bartender and entrepreneur, Simpson has been at the forefront of performance and flair bartending for many years and is the mastermind behind ‘Flairfest’, Canada’s longest-running bartender competition.

Working alongside Sandals Resorts International’s Corporate Manager for Bar and Beverage Operations Troy King, Simpson has been conducting training sessions with Sandals bartenders across Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Negril. Now he is at Sandals South Coast for a check-up with the resort’s bar team.

According to King, “We were able to procure the services of a true professional in the bar industry with Mr Dave Simpson. Mr Simpson has been in the industry for over 25 years and can connect with our bar teams because he too is a bartender in the trenches and owns a beverage company in Canada. With him leading the current training programme that highlights bar customer service and bar equipment handling, we are able to focus on two of the most important aspects of the bar — the guest experience and perfect cocktails. It is a great opportunity for our bar team members to refocus on how important the bar experience is from our guests’ point of view, as well as pour a perfectly balanced cocktail. I am very excited to watch our department continue to develop the team and watch what they learned put into action.”

“At Sandals we’re always upping our game so there are new menus that are rolling out including hand-crafted cocktail experiences, and with that comes new tools and the need for greater precision,” said Sandals South Coast Bar Manager Anthony Drummond. The balance of a single cocktail and the consistency of cocktails across multiple bars and bartenders is a critical focus for him, and he says Simpson’s training sessions with his bartenders focused on achieving exactly that.

During the training, bartenders learned the correct use of bar tools like jiggers. The jigger is perhaps the most reliable and accurate method of controlling the amount of liquor and mix that goes into a cocktail. They also learned various techniques for free pouring to achieve the most accuracy.

Simpson says the intent here is to build confidence and bartending fundamentals, techniques, and mechanics with Sandals’ bartenders so that the company can continue to raise the bar on their offerings and methods.

“I am often assigned to high-traffic bars so being able to step away from the bar and work on sharpening the accuracy of my ‘pour’ was a plus for me,” he said.

“As a result of these training sessions conducted by Mr Simpson the team is excited about delivering the best service. They are very enthusiastic about what’s happening behind the Sandals bar and the offerings to come,” said Drummond. “We intend to build on this momentum as part of the way forward,” he added.

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