Hard Seltzers or handcrafted? Students compare cocktails at FIU Bartender’s Guild meeting

The teaching bar during the spicy margarita mixing lesson | Sofia Bellon, Panther NOW

Sofia Bellon | Contributing Writer

In a joint workshop and general body meeting on Tuesday, July 2, the Bartenders Guild engaged attendees in a lively discussion about the rise of “ready-to-drink” cocktails and their impact on drinking and bartending culture.

To kick off the event, board members of the guild hosted a workshop where participants were welcomed to the learning bar at the FIU Biscayne Bay Campus Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Lab. 

Guild members guided students through the making of a spicy margarita using all the tools and techniques of a professional bar. 

“For us the most important thing is experiential education… and helping students understand what’s in the glass, where it came from, and how different things impact that,” says Mitchell Meredith, the Program Manager for the Barcardí Center of Excellence.

Students were welcome to taste their drinks and compare it to a RTD spicy margarita, paving the way to discussion about the quality of the handcrafted drink versus the canned one.

The general body meeting promptly followed the workshop and was led by senior Hospitality student and guild President Isabella Perez.

“We don’t promote consumption, but [the information] helps you… so you can have more knowledge on how to order and the history of the drinks,” says Perez.

This goal of the Bartenders Guild was evident in the presentation content.

In an engaging discussion, students were asked what they knew about RTDs and how they differed from other cocktails. They were also asked to consider how the trends involving RTDs have evolved over time with a focus on life post-COVID-19.

After the presentation of this general knowledge, members of the guild handed out samples of various RTDs for attendees to taste. 

Samples included Barcardí rum punches and a Cazadores paloma, a drink traditionally made with tequila, grapefruit soda, and lime.

Students were guided in the tasting by guild members who helped them identify flavor profiles in the drinks and discuss how different ingredients may impact the quality of the RTDs.

There was an additional sample of a ready-to-serve espresso martini prepared by a member of the Bartenders Guild. With this sample students were able to understand the difference between a RTD drink and a RTS which requires extra preparation.

A diverse audience created a lively environment and the guild members enthusiastically answered questions throughout the meeting, facilitating learning for everyone.

“We have nursing students and marine science majors that want to learn another skill… You have nothing to lose… Just say yes to things,” says Meredith. 

The Bartenders Guild meetings are open to all FIU students over the age of 18, regardless of their area of study.

Meredith encourages interested students to attend the meetings as a carefree and entertaining way to maximize their college experience.

“It’s very approachable. You can show up with minimal or no knowledge at all and walk out having learned something… We want it to be open, we want it to be comfortable, and we want students to ask questions,” he says.

If students are interested in a similar hands-on experience but mixology isn’t their thing, the Bartenders Guild also has two “sister clubs”: the Coffee Guild and the Wine Guild.
Bartenders Guild meetings are biweekly on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. and more information can be found on their Instagram.

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