I grew up in bars. Friday nights I learned to shoot pool in bowling alley bar rooms after my mother finished league bowling. Saturday nights were spent throwing darts in the bar my father and uncle owned and operated. So, it wasn’t so strange that I turned to the hospitality industry after high school in order to pay for college. It was in the dim light of an Orlando tourist attraction, an oyster bar/sports bar, and a high end martini bar that I learned the complex subtleties of the barware that I served cocktails to patrons in each night.
Rosie O’ Grady’s in downtown Orlando was the highlight of it all. The live Dixieland Jazz band. The World Famous Flaming Hurricanes. It was a spectacle, and most of the drinks came with their own souvenir glass. I spent five years there learning the ropes of serving and bartending…in addition to my job as a Can-Can Girl. The colors on each my pieces reflect this larger-than-life room – the bright colors of a swirling Can-Can skirt, the shimmering outfits of Charleston and soft shoe dancers, and glimmering trumpets.
However, I did not begin to appreciate how the different shapes of barware affected the overall taste of beverages – specifically wine and martinis – until bartending at the Sinatra Bar of an Orlando chophouse. One of the factors I was most intrigued with was the way the heat of one’s hand changes the temperature of the cocktail, thereby affecting the taste from the first sip to the final swallow.
I throw each of my chalices in four parts and then assemble them for this very reason. Although, the ball and upper trumpet shape add a decorative element to the piece, they perform very important functions. Each piece is designed so that the hand will hold the ball and nestle under the upper trumpet shape without touching the beverage container at the top. This should allow the beverage to retain more of its original temperature and taste from start to finish.
It is in the spirit of the barware I have been around all my life that I strive to make these items of beauty and function – ones that viewers will want to take home with them as their own souvenirs from which to drink their favorite libations.