dale degroff

The bartender Dale DeGroff and his career: tips and anecdotes

Hailed, “King Cocktail”, Dale DeGroff reveals stages of his career and gives a few tips for bartenders.

He began his career in 1970. When “there was no cocktail menu”. At the time, only cocktails like mimosa, bloody marys and champagne cocktails appeared, like the ones we tasted at a brunch. A time when people preferred cocktails like martini, or drink a Chardonnay, Perrier, high balls.

Inspired by his work as head bartender at a restaurant on Madison Avenue. Classic cocktails was the rule here. DeGroff nurtured his knowledge with a book by Jerry Thomas, How To Mix Drinks. Here, they only made cocktails with whisky, brandy and gin.

DeGroff says that today’s bartender shows more motivation and attachment to his tools. “In 1987 I hired 34 young bartenders and none appeared the first day with any kind of tools (…) Now everyone has their own kit“. He reveals to SCMP.

For him, his best advice to today’s bartender is “You must be a concierge, confident, whatever the client wants you to be. Pay attention. You only have 30 seconds. When regular customers come, greet them, even if you’re busy, because you know what? After a while, people will say ‘this place is great but it’s so crowded, let’s go somewhere else.”

You need to know how to handle several tasks at once and also do this with a smile on your face. Something important for DeGroff, to connect with people.

The Craft Of The Cocktail is Dale DeGroff’s book, which contains “Everything you need to know to be a master bartender with 500 recipes”.


Don’t drink and drive. Enjoy responsibly.

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