Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Penny Profiler #7

Elizabeth Galla.  The Tasting Room was an amazing vessel for meeting incredible people. I can point to a handful of you that came directly or by association.  Elizabeth is one of them who I happen to call one of my closest friends.  We’ve laughed over countless things and shed a few tears together.  She is funny as hell and one of the most capable and humble human beings I’ve ever met. 

Much to the chagrin of her Seattle fan base, she moved to Arizona for “the winter” or longer.  On a Seattle visit not too long ago she infused a few dozen pennies into the collection and the first real monetary investment of my business. 

These few little paragraphs could never summarize my appreciation.  Thank you for the pennies and believing in me Elizabeth, with or without signing on the dotted line.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Construction Speak

I am in the process of interviewing contractors right now, assembling my dream team for erecting my first bar.  Contractors or builders come in all shapes and sizes, literally and figuratively.  Normally I wouldn’t endorse a triangulated relationship but as one builder fondly referred to it as a three-legged stool, and this makes perfect sense.

In one corner we have Jen Doak (that’s me), the one with only a few absolutes in this design process.  There are several ideas and “feelings” in my head/heart that I anxiously await to bounce off the professionals. 
In another corner is the architect Shed Built ( and lastly the builder (unknown at this point). 
There is a new vocabulary to learn, spreadsheets to analyze, and questions to ask.  Here are the questions I have so far:

·         Are you licensed?
·         Do you carry general liability insurance?
·         Do you have workers comp insurance?
·         Do you guarantee your work?
·         Will you provide me with written lien waivers?
·         Will you be in charge once the project starts?
·         Do you pull all the required bldg permits?
·         What professional organizations are you a member of?
·         Request references from several suppliers 
·         Request references from several subs 
·         Have a detailed conversation on how billing & verification of invoices, hours, etc. will be worked
·         How will you perform quality checks, re-do's (get this in writing)
·         Make sure I am the one who picks out the materials. Let them know I want to be very involved in picking out hardware and paint and flooring and everything else. 
·         Make sure they won’t be taking any vacations mid-job 
·         What type of deposit do you require?
·         How do you stay on schedule or to a specific timeline?

I am excited and nervous for this component.  It will complete the design team and I know how important it is.  Not to mention, it makes this dream more of a reality.  I bet the food and drinks will taste better when I’m not just thinking about them but seeing them and experiencing in a real space, with real smells, and real people.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Viva la Daiquiri

Rum is quickly becoming my little darling.  I hope we see a resurrection for this classic drink. 

2 ounces Light Rum
1 ounce fresh lime juice
½ tsp. simple syrup

Put some Cuban music on and shake like you mean it.  Strain into a cocktail glass & garnish with a lime.
Like any good story there is controversy over the details of origin on this drink.  History and the dictionary point to lemon being the citrus of choice.  Blasphemy! 

The record states an American gets credit for this but I’m guessing the same people declared Columbus discovered America.  In any case history states that an American engineer by the name of Jennings Cox went to the little island off Cuba to work in the iron mines with his fellow comrades.  It was created after Mr. Coxs’ beverage of choice - gin - diminished and rum was added in its place. 

Regrettably, the Daiquiri’s reputation and good name have suffered since the emergence of happy hour Slurpee’s across the U.S. (no offense Elizabeth).  The true, more subtle frozen version was invented at the La Florida in Havana, allegedly inspired by Ernest Hemingway.  There is a place for in my heart and tastebuds for both versions.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

1875 Madeira

Seriously.  1875 Madeira.  18-freakin-75.  Now this is bar research I can really wrap my head around.  I have a dear friend Stewart Todd who is a Port/Sherry/Madeira geek, and that is putting it lightly.  Stewart is a contributor to the beloved website  and that is just a hobby.  One that he happens to be really good at.  Recently he and his lovely wife Jody invited me over for dinner and towards the end of the night as we were sitting around, Stewart poured me a mystery taste.  The acidity and wonderful aroma jumped out of the glass and wrapped itself around me like a hug.  I am not skilled in the department of estimating wine age but I promise you, that even the best of them would not have ever accurately guessed.  If I hadn’t known better, Stewart might have swapped out what was inside with something brand new.  This Madeira was 137 years old and tasted amazing.  I’m not sure when/if I’ll get another opportunity to taste something like that.  Clearly I need to stay in the good graces of the Todd's.  He is of course is trying his best to convince me to have something like that behind the bar to have available for other eno-nerds.  We’ll just have to see about that.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Penny Profiler #6

Kathleen & Brian Kemly via their dog Luna.  Their pup deserves the credit on this one.  If it weren’t for her, we might never have met. Neighbors can be a delightful experience, especially those with outgoing and charismatic personalities, not to mention chickens in their backyard with fresh eggs!   We’ve been known to float a river together, take hikes, drink vino, and picnic in the backyard.  Kathleen is an amazing visual artist that has a business illustrating children’s books ( and Brian is a talented electrician whose fleet can be spotted in and around the greater metro area (  I’m not sure if its part of the job description, but Brian is one of the best dirty joke tellers ever.  Kathleen is likely shuttering at the thought of me posting this but coming from someone who can barely remember them to tell, Brian recites them as though it’s a performance with perfect pitch and captivating authority.  All joking aside, I look forward to many more shared memories.  As neighbors and friends, my life is fuller with them a part of it.  Thanks for the sweet jar of Lincoln heads!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Most of you are probably familiar with this term.  Simply stated in the biz refers to a patron who is no longer welcome in an establishment or a term used as a way to communicate that an item is out of stock or sold out. 

Once again many historical suggestions for how this term came about.  This version brings a smile to my face…

Let’s go to NYC circa early 1900’s where there was a famous speakeasy called Chumley’s, located at 86 Bedford Street. During Prohibition, an entrance through an interior adjoining courtyard was used, as it provided privacy and discretion for customers. As was a New York tradition, the cops were on the payroll of the bar and would give a ring to the bar that they were coming for a raid. The bartender would then give the command "86 everybody!” which meant that everyone should hightail it out the 86 Bedford entrance because the cops were coming in through the courtyard door.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Penny Profiler #5

Meet Dan and Gail Buquicchio, and the late Marilyn Garlisch (Gail’s mom).  Dan entered my life first, circa 2000.  He was my mother’s chiropractor and I had just fallen down a set of stairs and needed some “alignment”.  I got much more.  Dan is a New Yorker with an unbridled passion and verve I was immediately drawn to.  He loves travel, food, wine, good company, and laughs at all my bad jokes.  I didn’t meet his wife for several years until our circles collided with mutual friends.  Gail is the big sister I wish that I’d always had.  She is intuitive, wise beyond her years, and one of the most graceful women I know.  Gail’s mom, with whom she was very close to, passed away eight years ago. 

A little background on Gail’s mom Marilyn… She kept a daily gratitude journal and her list often included very simple things like a hot cup of coffee, a great thunder & lightening storm, or grander things like the thrill of watching the winner of the Kentucky Derby cross the line, or her beloved Cubs or Chicago Bears win a game.   She loved music, people, food & drink, and most of all she loved to laugh.  

Now fast forward and Gail is without our mom.  She needed a sign that her mom was still watching over her and suddenly began to find pennies in random places.  Hence the shiny pennies.  This is their little nod to each other.  Gail has a moment of silence and reflects on of the woman she loves so deeply.  Gail has given me the pennies collected from this exchange.  To say that I feel honored or humbled is an understatement.  I wish that I had met her mom.  From the stories I’ve heard, I know we’d get along famously.  Thanks to all three of you!  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Gibson

There was a silly memory game I played while in bartending school to remember nuances about certain drinks.  I'm rather embarrassed to admit that in this case, Debbie Gibson singing ‘Shake Your Love’ pops in my head.  I’m sure she digs onions. 

Serve on the rocks or in a chilled stemmed glass, I prefer the latter.  In your shaker add ice, as few or many drops of Dry Vermouth for your taste, 2 ounces Vodka or Gin (latter wins again), shake your love, pour in glass, add cocktail onions for garnish.

We many never know the true origin of this cocktail as there are a few versions floating around.  My favorite is of an American banker named Gibson who would take his clients out for business lunches.   He would have the bartender serve him cold water, permitting him to remain sober while his clients, not so much.  The onion garnish served to distinguish his beverage from those of his clients.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Penny Profiler #4

Shirley Barclay.  Her penny donation was humble and her contribution to my life is epic.  Her credentials and accomplishments are plentiful and too numerous to list in detail here.  Our paths crossed with her work in Psychodrama.  She is a healer in two Native American traditions (Cherokee and Lakota).  She has taught in Europe, the Far East, the Middle East, the U.S., and South America.  She is a Wolf Clan Mother, Pipe Carrier, and Sun Dancer.  Her work in developing and encouraging the human spirit will have ripple effects for lifetimes to come.  The pennies are anonymous in the collection jar I’ve received so far, but I can’t help but think the other pennies are a little better off with her juju in the mix.  I know my life is richer because of Shirley.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Purpose, Vision, Mission

Purpose, Vision, Mission
Hot in the 80’s and 90’s and a foundation for business plans, mission, vision, and purpose statements can come off as a bit cliché, but in my book still relevant and useful today.

I was recently talking to my friend Kevin Klein (he just acts like a movie star) that works at Amazon about the potential origins of these statements and hypothesizing that big businesses were likely at the epicenter.  Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you decide.  Without question, I see value in doing this type of identity soul searching. Amazon has a set of core values that haven’t changed since their inception including (in no particular order): customer obsession; innovation; bias for action; high hiring bar; ownership; and frugality. Absolutely relevant when you consider their model today and the successes they’ve achieved.

Going down this road for Brimmer & Heeltap has been a little challenging.  I want to avoid pithy fillers and capture our core beliefs and values in a manner that gives us, our team, and community an authentic reality check. 

My purpose statement serves as a reminder of why I am doing this.  The vision statement is something we’ll share internally as a team, in an attempt to capture our aspirations and where we see ourselves down the line.  Lastly our mission statement is what we believe to be true about our DNA and want to share with the community.

Drum roll please...

Brimmer & Heeltap is a neighborhood gastropub that serves as a gathering place for excellent food and beverage offerings with a caring serving style.  Part old school tavern, part neighborhood cafe, it feels like it has always been there.  We cultivate genuine relationships with our guests, crew, community, and environment.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Penny Profiler #3

Meet the DuPont-Ghiglione Family:  Miron, Leeann & Zoey.  They are my neighbors, camping buddies, drinking wine in the backyard allies, Girl Scout cookie dealer (now on sale btw), cup of sugar snatcher, and so much more.   Upon a recent greeting in the front yard, Miron let me know he had some pennies to contribute to “the cause”.  Well that was an understatement.  According to Miron the talk at the water cooler in his office led someone to recall that a former employee who had been “let-go” a few years back had his own penny collection sitting in an abandoned locker.  Now I am the proud new momma.  If that wasn’t enough, Miron thought I needed a new vessel to keep the collection growing and loaned me a very cool, large, vintage jug with a few pennies of his own.  Thanks to the family for their contribution, for even Zoey (9 years old) gathered some from her room.  Touching.  Really freaking touching.

Pennies collected to date: 3,323.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I am not sure which reference to my title is more apropos; Ripley’s Believe It Or Not or the theme song to Greatest American Hero.  In any case, I passed.  I was shocked.  The test was supposed to be in two parts, the first written and then the practicals.  I felt confident about round one but thought I’d bomb the second half of the exam, which required me to make drinks on demand for the instructor (12 in 7 minutes or less).  Alas, he handed me my test and said, “It’s a full class today.  You were the first to hand in your written exam with a score of 97.5%.  I know you’ll pass so you can go.” I stood there dumbfounded unsure whether he was joking or might change his mind.  I accepted and bolted, certificate in hand. 

I think I’ll go celebrate with a Zombie…

You’ll need a pint glass filled with ice.  In order pour:
1 ounce light rum
½ ounce almond liqueur
½ ounce Triple Sec
Sweet & Sour
Orange Juice
Float ½ ounce of 151 rum on top
Garnish with a orange & cherry

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I Will Not Talk In Class! I Will Not Talk In Class!

Back in fourth grade at St. Anythony's Elementary School I had a memorable teacher, bless his soul, Mr. Lazor .  I liked him a lot, despite that fact I would often get into trouble.  His punishment for talking in class was to grab the dictionary and a tablet of paper and sit me outside the door of his classroom.  He’d flip open to a random page and have me start writing verbatim everything about each word until he came out to tell me to stop.  I’d like to think my vocabulary increased tenfold as a result of my outgoing ways. 

Now in class, I’m tasked with memorizing 150 drinks most of which  I’ll never make, drink, or serve.  Part of it feels like punishment as I’d rather be talking flavored bitters and exploring ryes.  That will be part two in my own classroom. 

As the test approaches, I’m doubtful of a pass from the instructor.  I know my earlier post eluded to my competitive nature BUT, the bulk (150+) of the drinks in my study guide are geared towards things like a Fuzzy Navel, Blow Job, Melon Ball, Banshee, and my new favorite… Adios Mother Fucker (happy to provide recipes upon request).  It has been implied that I could show up with a bottle of Crown Royal and receive a pass.  To be honest, I’d rather go buy myself a great bottle of something, invite some friends over and play bartender.  Stay tuned.

Friday, March 2, 2012

My Vantage Point This Week

Gives new meaning to sideways.  I can't figure out how to rotate this darn thing!

Let me get this out of the way first...  There is no booze on the premises.  I repeat, they are dummy bottles and we aren’t working with the real stuff.  Part of me was seriously bummed when I discovered this as I was hoping to taste my mistakes and successes.  It's part of learning after all.  On the flip side, the course would need to be a month long just to get all the work done if we were drinking too.

Bartending School has been interesting.  When I signed up for the week long class, I of course realized that Murray Stenson would not be the one teaching us the how-to of mixology.  That being said, I’m a little surprised that it is geared toward the lowest common denominator.   I feel like such a snob for saying that, but allow me to explain.  My knowledge base is naturally higher from working in the industry, ordering cocktails for myself, playing around at home, blah, blah, blah.  My counterparts have a) never worked in a restaurant or bar, b) are recovering drug/alcohol addicts (I kid you not), or c) entry level hospitality workers hoping to get a pay increase.  So the education offered is geared towards a much broader scope of bartending. 

While the cocktails I’m practicing are not ones I will ever serve in my own bar, I am learning helpful systems and interesting tid-bits.  These come to mind immediately:
·         Free Pours: this just means that I do not need to use a jigger to measure my pours any longer.  It’s super easy.  Just get a shot glass/jigger and count to four while filling it up.  You want to have the timing down to a four count as this will help in the other measurements.  1 shot = 1 ounce.  Therefore a one count equals a quarter ounce, two counts equals a half ounce, etc.  SO helpful. 
·         Speed Racks: GENIUS! You put your house pours right at your fingers.  The school has far more bottles than we’ll ever use but the premise works great.  You also keep the bottles in the same order every time so that you don’t even need to look at them when you grab ‘em.  They utilize Tequila, Scotch, Brandy, Whiskey, Gin, Vodka, Rum, Triple Sec.  There is even a little saying to help the bartenders remember the order: The Smartest Bartender Will Get Very Rich Tonight. 
·         Garnish! Before the class, I’d forget the straws, lime wedge, sugar rim, etc.  Not now!  It is both a functional aspect of the drink and visual aesthetic. 
·         Efficiency:  The knowledge of your own bar is paramount.  Know where everything is.  Keep it in the same place.  In only a few days working my station at school I barely need to look and just inherently know where things are kept.  Imagine a busy night and not knowing where everything is!
·         History of terms and drinks.  I’ll have some good fodder for a few postings on how certain drinks and other related industry terms came to be.