Adventures in Bartending


With photos and video by Destin Haynes

The Dante’s Inferno. The Sugar High. The Cock Block.

One of the best parts of inventing a cocktail is coming up with the name.

That’s what we learned at Metropolitan Bartending School’s bar chef course, which teaches the secrets behind blending the best of the kitchen and the bar.

A stuffed moose head greets visitors to the Metropolitan Bartending School.

Led by Vancouver bartender extraordinaire Micah Dew, bartenders-in-training and casual drinkers alike are led through a three-and-a-half hour crash course on concocting delicious cocktails by stirring, shaking, blending and muddling fruits, vegetables and herbs with spirits.

Bar chef students are provided with a variety of fresh ingredients to use in the creation of cocktails.

Here’s what we came up with (try at your own risk):

The Southern Bell


Red pepper
Jim Beam whiskey
Ginger ale


Red pepper strip and rolled-up peach skin


Muddle peach and red pepper (a.k.a. Bell pepper. Get it?) in shaker glass. Add whiskey. Shake with ice and strain into glass. Fill with ginger ale. Garnish with strip of red pepper and rolled-up skin of peach.

The Harry Nilsson


Granny smith apple
Bacardi white rum
Coconut milk


Wedge of granny smith apple


Muddle apple, lime and pineapple in shaker glass. Add rum. Shake with ice and strain into glass. Fill with coconut milk (“She put the coconut in the lime…” Close enough). Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Sprinkle cinnamon on apple wedge. Use as garnish.

We concocted the spicy Southern Bell (left) and the tropics-inspired Harry Nilsson.

The enthusiastic Dew, who has 17 years in the industry and a talent for flair bartending (see video below), adds a generous splash of personal experience and knowledge to the 34-page textbook provided to students.

  • Use packets of granulated brown sugar from Starbucks in mojitos, he recommends — with apologies to the coffee retail giant.
  • Add spices to a Caesar before the liquor and Clamato, he suggests, which will allow you to salvage the booze if there’s something wrong with the Tabasco or Worcestershire.
  • Instead of using expensive alcohols in infusion experiments, try adding flavours to much cheaper simple syrup (one part sugar to one part boiling water).

Instructor and bartender extraordinaire Micah Dew demonstrates his flair skills.

One of the tricks to being a good bar chef, Dew says, is to remember that the smell, the look and the name all add to the drinker’s enjoyment of the cocktail.

So use fresh ingredients. And make sure the garnish serves a function, such as enhancing a subtle ingredient.

And finally, we recommend, don’t call your drink the Cock Block.

For more information on Metropolitan Bartending School, visit

Visit bartender Micah Dew’s personal website at

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