September 25th, 2014
Even the "Best Barman in the World" — so heralded by Forbes magazine — is not spared from critics. One who doesn't mince words once asked the Ritz Paris Hemingway Bar's Colin Field, "Why does your brain stop when you put the glass down?" referring to the discrepancy between his prowess at the bar with a less than inspiring menu of food to go with the drinks.
Field noted that, for a long time, even the best bars gave little thought to small bites, putting out little more than nuts, crackers or popcorn.
With that criticism, Field set out to change the way bars operate and collaborated on the development of the French-inspired L'Aperitif bar at La Mer. It's one of the places where his work comes to life via cocktails paired with neo-classic French amuse bouche ranging from foie gras with rose petal marmalade, to sumak shrimp with sweet chili aioli, setting the bar menu apart from others, where there is often no connection between food and cocktail.
Field is in town to showcase his work and philosophy during an "Art of Style" experience taking place 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 26 in Halekulani's Lewers Lounge. Patrons will be able to enjoy an interactive demonstration and tasting experience led by Field, with cocktails paired with an amuse bouche designed by executive chef Vikram Garg.
Tickets are priced at $160 per person inclusive of tax and gratuity. Limited seating is available for this event. For Dining Reservations, call (808) 923-2311 and for more information, visit http://www.halekulani.com/hotel/events.
During a media presentation, it was evident that to earn the title of "Best Barman in the World," one must be something of a psychologist and mind reader. He noted that most people have no idea what they want to drink, but circumstances—whether one is on a romantic date, a business meeting, or in need of relaxation—will determine what they are seeking.
"It's important for bartenders today to being aware who you are, to ask, 'For whom am I making this cocktail for?" he said. He studies dress and behavior to guide his recommendations.
He brought along all the tools of his trade, including artful glasses, a rounded shaker of his design that allows ice to move all around, puka-filled ice tongs that hold no water, and a smoker for imparting smoke to liquor.
"I particularly love cocktails, and love taking them out of the cocktail glass and putting it into a wine glass," he said, while also noting a trend toward mismatched glasses that he said started in Europe with Madonna's dinner parties.
Field will continue to serve as a guest bartender at L’Aperitif from Sept. 22 to 26, where patrons can put his skills to the test.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.