The Tasting Panel magazine

Oct 09

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PRO-file: Charles Fields C harles Fields started his career in bartend- ing about six years ago like many of us did—catering weddings and events. His next couple of moves landed him in bars where he cut his teeth on the basics and some high-volume bartending. He used his down time to study brands, wines and basically anything "bar" he could get his hands on. A few years ago he got the gig at Rumba in Nashville, where book smarts and practical bar- tending wed perfectly. —Eric Tecosky TP: What kind of bar is Rumba? Charles Fields: It's a rum bar, but because we have a global cuisine, we carry lots of boutique brands and amazing products, as well as exotic fruits, vegetables and herbs to concoct incredible cocktails with. TP: What is the beverage program like at Rumba, and how does it stand out from other bars in the area? CF: Our program is constantly evolving; we change our menu seasonally and, in turn, our wine list and cocktail menu. But I think what sets us apart is our bar staff; being part historian, part philoso- pher, part counselor (when needed) is something missing from bartenders in this day and age. Our bar staff takes pride in what they do. TP: What skill or skills do you feel makes a great bartender? CF: Well to add to the above statement, the ability to read people, to really listen, and to completely meet the needs of the guest. I also believe firmly in being clean, organized and aware; there's nothing worse than an aloof bartender. TP: What is your desert island cocktail and why? CF: Just give me a bottle of Chartreuse; it has the most complex flavor profile and is by far my favorite spirit. TP: What is your biggest pet peeve behind the bar? CF: Entitled attitudes and lazy work ethic really get under my skin. TP: Worst person you ever worked for/with? CF: I've been very fortunate, but there was a fellow employee I remember who ordered a Chardonnay and a Malbec from the bar, then came to the service window and asked which one was the red wine. Pathetic. TP: Best advice you ever got regarding bartending? CF: Don't take any shortcuts, only use fresh ingre- dients and do your homework. TP: Cocktail, The Thin Man or Coyote Ugly? CF: Thin Man. Ego has no place behind a well run bar; it's about service! TP: Least favorite cocktail to make and why? CF: Appletini . . . so over-done. TP: Best customer you ever had? CF: A gentleman from out of town who tipped great, then a week or so later mailed me a check and a letter thanking me for excellent service. TP: In your opinion, what's the "next big thing" in the bar world? CF: The hurting economy has forced people to rethink their service standards and do whatever it takes to get people in the door. I anxiously await the return of the great bartender. I think current trends with molecular mixology and pre-Prohibition cock- tails will bring science and history back to the fore- front. Couple that with the amazing products that are starting to emerge from the smaller corners of the world, with small batches becoming more available, and you've got a recipe for a delicious future. TP: Best line you ever heard someone use at a bar? CF: "Nashville is a drinking city with a music problem." TP: If I never saw a bottle of __________ behind a bar, I could die a happy man. CF: Inver House scotch. Please, if you're drinking that right now, put down the glass and walk away from it. TP: Original recipe? CF: Saint Christopher's Cup. Rumba, 3009 West End Ave., Nashville, TN; 615.321.1350 90 / the tasting panel / october 2009 Saint Christopher's Cup 1 oz. CooranBong vodka 1 oz. St-Germain elderflower liqueur Fresh strawberry purée 1 egg white 1 oz. Segura Viudas cava Shake first four ingredients and pour over the cava; top with house-made English laven- der bitters.

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