Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Deep Breath, A Sigh of Relief and A Raised Hand

Sitting in La Guardia, this morning, the intensity of this past week rolls off my shoulders and settles into a warm, little comforting place in the back of my mind. I’ve done it. I went through B.A.R. training (12 hours per day for 4 days, followed by the exam day, which is comprised of shaking and stirring; a multi-page written exam; and a blind tasting evaluation.)

The course is chock-full of information, and not designed for beginners. It is definitely a program for industry professionals, and despite my 2 1/2 years as “The Liquid Muse,” I found it incredibly challenging.

The teachers are passionate and informed leaders in the world of wine and spirits. Does it get any better than having Dale DeGroff, Paul Pacult, Doug Frost, Steve Olson and David Wondrich share their knowledge and experience all day, everyday, several days in a row? Not to mention Andy Seymore, Willy Shine, Aisha Sharpe and Leo DeGroff to support their efforts? My only complaint is not having more time to go over the many details they each had to impart and the many questions each new question conjured up.

As the panel of award-winning, renowned experts galloped through centuries of history, blind tastings of all the major spirits categories, and the study of practical application of all of it, I had moments of wondering just how I’d retain every important name, date, place and tasting note. They did their best, of course, to address our questions, but to keep moving along at a healthy clip and squeeze the whole program into a few days, it was integral that every student showed up with a solid foundation of knowledge already.

And, that’s the way it should be, right? In order for the B.A.R. program to mean something and have this certification carry some weight, it needs to be difficult. It is meant to be the test that separates the “men” from the “boys,” if you will. We get the results of our exams back in 6 weeks. Apparently, we will be reached by phone and the outcome will be explained to us – where we did well, where we could improve, and ultimately, if we can put those three little letters “B.A.R.” on our resumes.

No matter what, I do know that I’ve come out with a deeper understanding of the exciting field I work in. I’ve made some new friends from around the country, and went through the trenches with some of my existing ones. I’m ready to dip my nose into many more books and glasses to continue educating myself with both the history of cocktails, and the cutting edge trends on the horizon. And, I have a million more questions to pose…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Way to go Natalie.
I feel confident in your passing the B.A.R.
It had to be awesome being under the tutelage of such highly esteemed professionals. A high degree of knowledge in any field takes time and effort.
Wishing you the best in all your future endeavors.

Bruce Tomlinson