I get invited to many whiskey events, but Michter’s recently held one that I thought was an exceptionally good program. Michter’s hosted the Fort Nelson Fellowship Master Class and invited four bar managers from the Four Seasons Hotels from around the world to discuss creating a “destination bar”.  These are bars that cater not only to hotel guests, but also attract many locals because of their high quality cocktails, staff, and atmosphere. Louisville bar workers were invited to hear what they had to say and later, to have drinks made by these bar managers. There was no cost to the attendees as the purpose of the event was to further the education of the attendees. Food was served at both parts of the event.

The event was split into two parts. The first part was a two hour presentation in which each bar manager had a chance to discuss their bar and serve a drink they serve at the bar. It started with Philip Bischoff of the Bangkok Social Club. This bar is centered around an Argentinian décor and he served a cocktail called the Café Tortoni – Michter’s Bourbon, Coffee, Amaro, Citrus and Almond. He described his career that started in his native Germany and then moved to Asia, where he worked at several Four Seasons bars before moving to Bangkok. 

The next speaker was Keith Motsi from the Charles H. bar in Seoul, South Korea. The bar is inspired by the author Charles H. Baker, Jr.  For those who read my book reviews, you will recognize Baker as the author of The Gentleman’s Companion. Baker travelled the world during Prohibition, collecting food and cocktail recipes from around the world. Motsi served the Boracay Old Fashioned cocktail – Coconut-Aged Michter’s Bourbon, Foretti Biscotti, Demerara, Aromatic Bitters. Motsi was born in Africa but moved to London when he was young. He worked at several Four Seasons Hotel bars in Asia before landing in Seoul. The bar has a “speakeasy” theme and an art deco décor.  

The third speaker was Asish Sharma of the Surf City bar in Miami, Florida. The bar is a Champagne bar and he served a Mezcalita – Los Siete Misterios Doba-Yei, Citrus, Cucumber, Honey, Champagne, and Tajin. Shamara is originally from India and has worked a several Four Seasons bars in his career that include overlap with the first two speakers. He spoke about sustainability and using local ingredients in the bar.

The last speaker was Karen Arceyuth of the Nemare Bar at the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica. Her bar specializes in using locally produced foods, fruits and herbs in their food and cocktails. Costa Rica has a rich bounty to offer. Her cocktail was called Green Elixir – Los Siete Misterios Doba-Yei, Herbal Cordial, Lime, Agave, Sage Oleate, Juanilama & Cricket Salt, Tonic Float. She is a native of Costa Rica but has also served at various Four Season Hotels in her career.

The discussion after the presentation described what it took, in their opinion, to make a great destination bar. The main point always focused on two things – education and good attitude. Good service is a lifestyle. Make the customers happy and they will come back. Work well with your team and don’t be afraid to listen to what they have to say. 

After an hour break, the four Fellows served drinks at the bar at Fort Nelson from 5:00-9:00. Besides the drinks served earlier they made the following cocktails.

  • Arceyuth served a Latino Old Fashioned – Michter’s Bourbon, Vanilla, Orange Oleat, Cacao and Coffee Bitters, Smoked Cinnamon.
  • Bischoff served a cocktail called Kentucky – Michter’s Bourbon, Peach, Mint, Champagne.
  • Motsi served a cocktail called Raspberry Calling – Farmer’s Organic Gin, Korean Raspberry Wine, Fino Sherry, Lemon, Honey, Egg White.
  • Sharma served a cocktail called Satan’s Whiskers – Michters American Whiskey, Goro Amaro, Raspberry, Sweet Vermouth, Absinthe.

As the bar mangers made and served thir cocktails, they spoke freely with the attendees and answered many questions in some detail. The event was enjoyed by all and very educational. Michter’s always puts on a great event, but this one was outstanding. It served the Louisville bar community well and I hope that it will inspire the local bars to step up their game a notch or two.

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller and Michter’s