Superyacht Bartender Boot Camp

19 August 2010 By Misja Vorstermans

You want throw a cocktail party for charter guests or just make them something really special, but if you’ve never before taken a bartending course, you may not know where to begin.

For starters, keep it simple and go with the essentials. You need alcohol, ice, fruits, glassware and cocktail gear.

Always keep in mind – as a general rule – a cocktail consists of four components: sweet, sour, strong and weak.

If you translate these components to ingredients you will need:

Sweet: Sugar or sugar syrup, but you can also use things like honey as a sweetener. Think of your cordials and liqueurs as sweeteners, as well.

Sour: Make sure you have plenty lemons and/or limes instead of sour mix or other premixed additives.

Strong: This will be your vodka, rum, tequila or other liquors. Make sure you have high-quality spirits – your drink is only as good as the ingredients you put in.

Weak: Fruit juices, sodas and seltzers are some of the ingredients you will use to take the edge off of the spirits. Ice also is very important.

Gear and glassware are another key element to cocktails. Every yacht should have a shaker but if you don’t, be creative. It’s even possible to make a margarita in a tea kettle, but that’s a different story altogether. Glassware is a big part of the drink experience. For tropical drinks, use tiki mugs or hollowed out pineapple, but if you make a classic drink like a Manhattan or a dry Martini, use a classic Martini glass or an antique coupe.

Here are the Top 10 Tips for turning the average drink into a phenomenal, jaw-dropping, out-of-this-world beverage.

1. You need cold ice

This may sound strange, but if you have small ice cubes that are not that cold (i.e. only in the ice-cooler for eight hours), they will melt instantly in your drink causing too much dilution and loss of taste. So the insider's tip is to use double frozen ice (out of the ice machine and into the freezer, to cool it down even further).

2. Give it a rigorous shake

Don’t shake too long, or too quickly, eight to 10 seconds will do the job.

3. Lemons and limes

Use fresh lime or lemon juice squeezed on the spot. Lemons and/or limes start to oxidize after four hours leaving a bad aftertaste in your drink.

4. Consistency

Be exact with your measurements, it’s the only way to make your drinks taste fabulous every time.

5. Sweet to sour ratio

Never use more sugar than sour. Sugar will overpower the other flavours so the general rule is start with twice as much of your sour component, then add your sweet component.

6. Layered drinks

To create layers you have to follow this general rule: The higher the alcohol percentage the more it will float. The more sugar dissolved in the fluid (think cordials and liqueurs) the more it will sink.

7. Garnishes

Garnishes are a great way to put the finishing touches on a drink, but don’t overdo it. Make sure the garnish is stylish; please, no more fluorescent bendy straws.

8. Create your own wow factor

Freeze raspberries in your ice cubes create an exciting effect in your drink. Infuse vodka or rum with vanilla pods to create your own take on a traditional spirit.

9. Food pairing

Work with the chef and have him/her serve canapés that go well with the cocktail of the day.

10. Keep it fresh

Always use fresh ingredients. It’s the easiest way to create really great crisp flavors and layers in your drink.

Easy Cocktail Recipes


50ml Vodka

Fill up with fresh orange juice

Harvey Wallbanger

Float 20 ml of Galliano on top of the Screwdriver

Amaretto Sour

60ml Amaretto

30ml lemon juice

15ml sugar syrup

½ egg white (optional)

The cool thing about this drink is that you can substitute the Amaretto with lots of other spirits or liqueurs. Try a Cointreau, pisco or bourbon sour.

More contemporary drinks like the Organic Green Tea Cosmo, or the Maverick Martini are not hard to make and will certainly impress your guests.

Maverick Martini

30ml Absolut Vanilla (or vanilla infused vodka)

30ml passion fruit puree

20ml vanilla syrup

Garnish with half a passion fruit sweetened with vanilla sugar, floating in the cocktail. Serve with shot glass of prosecco and a teaspoon.

Explain to your guests to first scoop out and eat the passion fruit; experiencing the sweet and sour sensation. Then neutralize the taste buds with a sip of prosecco before fully enjoying the sweet and sour taste of the martini.

If you don’t have to right ingredients, try substituting strong for strong or sour for sour.

For example if you run out of vodka, try tequila instead. A Cosmopolitan made with tequila is called a Rude Cosmo, perhaps even tastier than the original. Or trade the cranberry juice for green tea.

Rude Cosmo

35ml tequila

15ml Cointreau

25ml cranberry juice

5ml fresh lime juice

Organic Green Tea Cosmo

35ml organic vodka (Square One)

15ml Cointreau

25ml green tea (homemade)

5ml fresh lime juice

Check out these websites for recipes, tips and tricks and courses that Triple S offers: for techniques and unique spirits for cool blog and podcast for training in France and Florida this autumn

Misja Vorstermans works for Global Bartending, an associate of Triple S. All of their award-winning bartenders are world-renown for their skills, taking top place in various bar shows year after year. Global Bartending bartenders can be seen behind the bar at our Triple S events. Also, they training the students in the Bartending and Barista course, part of the Exellence in Service hospitality training program, run by Triple S Training.