Raising The Bar

This information originated in American English.

May 04, 2012

Back in February the Brand Marketing Team held our Quarterly Team Meeting at Hilton Alexandria Old Town. The Regional Team wanted to do something fun and interesting so the Catering Sales Manager Lindsay Kahler suggested a 'Mixology' Event with their bartender Jesse Dean. With very little guidance from us, Jesse put on an extraordinary event, complete with drink options to satisfy everyone's fancy paired with delicious hors d'oeuvres.  Jesse has become quite the staple at the bar being recently named as a Hilton "Bar Ambassador."  His passion for mixology is evident when he is behind the bar taking time to personalize drink orders by inquiring into a guest's likes and dislikes, rather than simply handing them the cocktail menu.  A perfect example is the picture, above, taken by one of his guests as he fulfills a request for fruity tequila shots.

Jesse paired the patron's request for tequila with the classic flavor combination of fresh tart lime, incorporated some beautiful mangoes for their sweet fruitiness ,and made use of the modern technique of quick carbonation to add some texture and show.  To finish layering the cocktail flavors, Jesse gently rubbed the oils of a fresh habanero to spice up the rim of the glass -- more than satisfying the customer's wishes and providing an unexpected and memorable show. 

As a Master Barman, Jesse believes that when behind the bar, you're on a stage.  Take the time to personalize drinks, and take time to add those final touches that are crucial for delivering a great guest experience.  Use the best, local ingredients possible and take time to make and keep fresh mixers, purees and garnishes on hand.  Keep things seasonal, and always offer alternatives.  For example, if someone orders a bourbon and Coke, try and notice if their just ordering this because they really don't know cocktails.  If this is the case, let them know that you can make for them other cocktails with a similar flavor profile that they might like to try. 

Jesse's past education includes attending the French Culinary Institute, Washington Sommelier Society and Woodford Reserve Bourbon Academy.  In addition to helping put on charity events for the Smithsonian Institution and the Red Cross, Jesse runs the Libations Bar School, his artisinal bar & spirits school in Washington D.C.  

If your interested in new bar news, recipes and cocktail trends, you can see his Bartending & Spirits blog.

Jesse Dean, Master Mixologist, Hilton Old Town Alexandria, is a seven year Hilton Team Member.

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