Working behind Barcelona’s bars
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After meeting up with a local agent, Jesper and I managed to secure two very different kind of bartending jobs. Collage is a cocktail bar with a lounge-type feel to it, and El Bombón is mor elf a salsa bar with Mojitos being the most popular drink by far. Just so you know, this also happens to be the place where we came across Leo. Initially we would run separate shifts, but when management agreed that it would be okay if we went back and forth, we ended up splitting our time in both of those bars. We would both work at Collage from 6pm until 11pm and then one of us would then go to El Bombón from 11pm to 1am. Basically we rotated that last shift.
Just another day in the office[/ebs_redbox]
Now unlike Jesper, I have never worked in a high-end cocktail bar up until Collage and I was very excited to get a taste for what it was like. Jesper having worked at Ruby in Copenhagen had an understanding of what it was like, nonetheless we were both extremely excited to start working in Barcelona. I was curious if the language barrier would create a problem with how well we would do behind the bar. However, most people spoke English, and in the very hard cases, pointing at someone else’s drink usually did the trick too.
Are you being served?[/ebs_redbox]
Our first shift at Collage happens to be in the ultra-trendy Born district of Barcelona. Once we got there, we hooked up with the bar manager Lorenzo. After a quick tour of the bar stations, we got the idea. Collage offers relatively little space, so there is never more than about 30 people sitting down. As a bartender, this buys you the time you need to prepare your cocktails with the little details and touches that created Collage’s reputation over time. Lorenzo falls back on almost twenty years of experience in the trade, and his formula works really well. You’re talking to the customer as you prepare their drinks, and Lorenzo’s recipes are nothing short of spectacular.
The man himself preparing supreme cocktails[/ebs_redbox]
Before we knew it the first shift at Collage had come to an end and it was time to head over to El Bombón for a completely different experience. There’s warm colors, salsa music, and Mojitos being made left, right and centre. We were greeted by Leo who gave us a quick rundown on the bar, it was a pretty simple affair, and within 5 minutes we were ready to start making drinks. It was hard not to get into a dancing mood while your here. Without even realizing you start moving your body to the Salsa music, even us guys.
All in all, Collage was the place where we learnt and kept learning, whereas El Bombón is that bar where a shift is almost like hanging out yourself. At Collage, I perfected my rolling technique of mixing a drink where you pour the liquid from one glass to the other while slowly stretching your arms creating a long stream of liquid. It’s a continues motion and takes some time to master for sure. Collage also had some show drinks, where halfway through the thing would be lit, and everyone just stops in their tracks to see what you were doing. Oh Collage…
Looking back at Barcelona, the experience was amazing and we learnt so many different aspects of bartending. Collage allowed us a peak into the fine art of mixology, how to try to improve a cocktail and always make little personal adjustments to a cocktail please the customer. El Bombón taught us how to have tons of fun and yet remain professional. Speed of service and knowing when to show a little of and when to just make the drinks as fast as you can.