Shaken all over

05 July 2004
Shaken all over

Well, it's all happening in Birmingham. New bars and boutique hotels are opening with heartening regularity, so it's no surprise that Adam Freeth chose to open his bar school there.

Called Shaker BarSchool, it's housed in a Grade II-listed, 1930s-built, former industrial unit, a stone's throw from the new £350m Bullring Shopping Centre, with its futuristic Selfridges.

"We wanted to be as central as we could be in the UK," explains Freeth, the school's managing director. He has trained staff from some of the UK's biggest hospitality companies, among them Hilton Group, Scottish & Newcastle, Luminar Leisure and Cunard Ocean Liners.

The new 1,000sq ft facility - "think of it like a high-street bar but without the punters," says Freeth - is a big jump for the company, Shaker UK, which started life as a stand-alone bartending course in January 2001. The school now delivers hands-on training, which leads to industry-recognised qualifications. "We're trying to promote professionalism and recognition in the industry," Freeth declares.

Course modules include The Customer (including an item on coping with binge-drinkers), The Bar Environment, The Products and The Mechanics of Bartending, with sub-sections taking students through the history of cocktails, bar preparation and keep, sales, tools of the trade and - the most important section, says Freeth - classic and contemporary cocktails. "We take a very classic approach here," he says.

Anil Sabharwal (left) and Adam Freeth: solid foundation for shake and mix
What makes Freeth such a cocktail whiz? "I've been involved in the industry since I was knee-high," he explains. "I grew up in a pub, first worked in Ibiza at 16, ran bars at university, then did seasons in Crete and elsewhere." He can add a degree in Leisure and Business Management and a Masters in Business Management and Entrepreneurship. And he's still only 25. He has recruited former national bartending champion Anil Sabharwal as the company's training director, in addition to four full-time and 15 part-time staff. "Anil looks after the flair side of things," explains Freeth, who reveals that he's setting up a "flair" bar in Leeds. "It's a small part of our business, but there is a demand for it." Demand for the rest of it, though, is huge. "I think we're ahead of any other country at the moment with regard to cocktails," says Freeth, who is heading out to Hong Kong shortly to explore business opportunities, in addition to guest-speaking at a two-day bar conference in India next month. Here's a man worth watching. ShortsA case for cocktails Here's a gift for every budding bartender - the Create Cocktail Case. Designed by cocktail maestros Charlie Homberger and Dan Wilks, from Purple Bar and Long Bar at London's Sanderson, the nifty plastic case conceals all the kit you need to make the perfect cocktail, with strainers, shaker, paring knife, stirring spoon, etc. There's also a cocktail guide, with recipes contributed by the country's top drinking spots, including Milk & Honey, Hakkasan, Townhouse, Oloroso and Rick's Bar. "We wanted to develop a cocktail-making kit which would appeal to both industry professionals and general enthusiasts - we're also keen to educate consumers and overcome prejudices that cocktails are hard to make," explains Homberger, who sourced items from specialist shops. The Create Cocktail Case is available to buy online at www.createcocktails. com, at £79.99 plus postage and packaging. Giving it the edge Norfolk-based Hanbury Foods (01553 636842) has come up with another bartender's tool - Edge Salt and Sugars. As you'd expect, these are flavoured salts and sugars to rub around the rim of your cocktail glasses. There are a few flavours in the range. On the salt front, there's Tequila Salt (sea salt laced with lime-juice concentrate), while the Bloody Mary Salt includes chilli, celery and hot paprika. For now, there are just two Edge Sugars - Gin Fizz Sugar (lemon) and Vodka Cocktail Sugar (lime). Prices start at £1.20 for an 80g tin. |From Russia with love To celebrate the opening of Tamara de Lempicka: Art Deco Icon, the exhibition showing at the Royal Academy in London's Piccadilly until the end of August, Claridge's Bar in nearby Mayfair is offering the Red Hot White Russian - at £8.75 instead of £10.75 to those who produce their ticket stub. The cocktail was created by head barman Aidan Bryan and is his take on the traditional White Russian - Kahl£a shaken with raspberry Stolichnaya vodka, Chambord, fresh raspberries and cream.
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