Meet our Team: Dylan Barwise

by Charley Zimmerman

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Dylan Barwise
Sous Chef
Kennebunk, ME

Charley Zimmerman: How did you get into cooking? 

Dylan Barwise: I started working as a dishwasher at the White Barn Inn at the age of 15. We lost a couple of cooks, and I was sort of thrusted into it. It was stressful at first, but I got the hang of it. 

My first real teacher was David Anton, he really took me under his wing and made me feel comfortable in the kitchen. I learned how to do the basics, like knife skills, sauces, reductions, purees, the building blocks of cooking. 

I did breakfast shifts for a year before I took a class at the Portland Art and Technology High School, where I spent four hours each morning learning the basics of baking. Six months into the class, I got an official apprenticeship at the White Barn, where I was able to finish out my senior year as a baker, and worked the line on the weekends. 

And honestly, I hated baking. I hated the early, solitary hours, and how much perfection it demanded. Looking back, however, it made me more focused. It made me a better cook. 

CZ: How long have you been at Old Vines? 

DB: This is my 4th year. 

CZ: What do your job duties include? 

DB: I try to make sure the team is in good spirits, and get to things that Joel can't: cleaning, ordering, keeping track of inventory, ideas for snacks and specials, managing people to a certain extent. 

CZ: What are some of your favorite things about the job? 

DB: Having the opportunity to create something new, to work with new food and techniques. I love constantly learning and bettering myself as a cook, becoming more refined. I learn a lot from Joel and I love trying to perfect the things he teaches me, but I love that I am able to teach him things too. 

CZ: What are some of your least favorite things about the job?

DB: Chicken meatballs. 

I'm kidding. I get stressed working the line, it's very intense - especially as we move into the busy season, especially as Old Vines is just busier in general. It's very different from when I first started. It's hard having the Sous Chef position at my age, people think that I'm young and inexperienced, but that's not true. 

CZ: What are your long-term goals? 

DB I would like to become head chef at some point. Definitely to keep growing and to keep pushing myself. 

CZ: What do you like about working at Old Vines? 

DB: The people, our team. I love everyone, even if it doesn't seem like it all the time. Everyone cares about each other, everyone's trying to help everyone else. It's a really unified team, everyone works for the common good. And, at the end of the shift, no matter how trying, we can always sit down and have a drink together. 

CZ: What's the biggest challenge Old Vines has posed to you? 

DB: In a professional sense, trying to keep things new and fresh. Creating menus is a lot of work, to come up with new dishes, to think about stuff that people want. It's a lot of work, but its a really satisfying accomplishment. 

In a personal sense, Old Vines has challenge me to mature and to take myself and my job seriously, and not only seriously but to take pride in the work that I ... we ... do here. 

CZ: Finally, where do you go out to eat in town, when you do? 

DB: White Barn Inn, any day of the week -- though I admit I am biased. Earth, I have never been but it's on the top of my list to try. 

What Happened in Vegas, Part II

by Jon Ellms

In our last blog post, we told you about what we learned on our first trip to the Bar and Nightclub Show in Las Vegas. We joined 36,000 other industry professionals to stay on top of the trends and technology driving guest experiences in bars, nightclubs, and restaurants worldwide.

Once the sessions were over, it was time to hit the show floor.

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 James and Kylie meet Jon Taffer of Bar Rescue. (Hopefully, their first and last meeting with Jon.)

James and Kylie meet Jon Taffer of Bar Rescue. (Hopefully, their first and last meeting with Jon.)

 I tried to convince James that a fake snow machine could take our Avalanche party to the next level. I lost that argument.

I tried to convince James that a fake snow machine could take our Avalanche party to the next level. I lost that argument.

 Nightclubs are using a new generation of experiential activities to entice guests. 

Nightclubs are using a new generation of experiential activities to entice guests. 

 Inexpensive LED technology is popping up everywhere....

Inexpensive LED technology is popping up everywhere....

 ... and when LED candles just aren't enough ....

... and when LED candles just aren't enough ....

 With hundreds of exhibitors, there was a lot to see.

With hundreds of exhibitors, there was a lot to see.

 Apparently, there have been big advances in hookah technoloyg.

Apparently, there have been big advances in hookah technoloyg.

 Super Soaker, Veuve Cliquot edition.

Super Soaker, Veuve Cliquot edition.

 Mixologist Raymond Edwards serves a Queen Park Swizzle in the Angostura booth.

Mixologist Raymond Edwards serves a Queen Park Swizzle in the Angostura booth.

 Industry press calls pickle juice "a trend to watch" in 2018.

Industry press calls pickle juice "a trend to watch" in 2018.

 Farm to table cocktails

Farm to table cocktails

 And when all else fails, default to smoked fish.

And when all else fails, default to smoked fish.

What Happened in Vegas, Part I

by Jon Ellms

Rick, James, Sam and I are wrapping up our first trip to the Bar and Nightclub Show in Las Vegas. We joined thousands of industry professionals to stay on top of the trends and technology driving customer experiences in bars, nightclubs, and restaurants worldwide.

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Like our trip to Euroshop in 2017, we went to learn what's new and what guests like the most. And we go to get inspired and recharged. 

It's been a great trip! We met successful and aspiring entrepreneurs, hundreds of heavily-bearded bartenders, industry consultants, and a wild bunch of exhibitors selling the latest and greatest in technology, promotions, equipment, and just silly stuff. There were equipment demonstrations, cocktail competitions, and nightclub tours.

And very little sleep.

 James, Kylie, Rick and I hit the show floor. Sam was hanging out at the cocktail competition.

James, Kylie, Rick and I hit the show floor. Sam was hanging out at the cocktail competition.

We learned that vodka sales are down globally, but up slightly in the US. Brown drinks are trending up - big time - and that the Moscow Mule made the biggest jump in market share in 2017.  Margaritas remain the number #1 cocktail in US restaurants and bars.

In 2017, the top five craft beers lost market share, but smaller craft brewers flourished, and the whole category grew at a good clip, especially among millennials .... who - despite being fans of craft beer - also drink a lot of mass-produced American beer!

And wine? Research shows that yet again, merlot, chardonnay, white zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, and pinot noir top most people's lists when dining/drinking out. Really exciting is the popularity of fine wine among consumers 25-34 years old. 

The next frontier? As states decriminalize the drug, cannabis is finding its way into cocktails, especially in New York and LA. Slowly. State liquor laws and safety concerns around pot's interaction with alcohol are the two biggest obstacles to more widespread use.

Want a deeper dive? Check out some of the slides we saw this morning ... (and saving yourself the $7,500 fee they charge for the full research report!)

In our next post, we'll share higlights from the trade show floor. The new, the cool, and the wacky ... from LED trees to fake snow to automated hookah pipes...

2018 Employee Appreciation Cruise

by Jon Ellms

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Winter break isn't all fun and games. But it's mostly fun and games.  

While friends back home were getting Old Vines ready to properly kick off its 10th season, the rest of us zipped down to the Caribbean for seven days at sea on Royal Caribbean's magnificent (and massive) new Harmony of the Seas. St Maarten, San Juan, and Labadee will never be the same!

For Rick, James, and me, it's a way to say thank you to our team for all of their hard work, while we all unwind and recharge for another great season.

We welcome our new business partner!

by Jon Ellms

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Rick and I are happy to announce that our general manager, James Warwick, has purchased an equity stake in Old Vines.

A native of greater London, James first came to the Kennebunks in 2013, gaining valuable experience at The White Barn Inn and Striper’s Waterfront Restaurant before joining Old Vines in March, 2015.

Over the past three years, James has been instrumental in the evolution of Old Vines.  Under his leadership, we have expanded our dinner menu, continued our tradition of fine wine and craft cocktails, and have hosted a wide array of private parties and unique events.

James is behind our popular weekly industry night (where we recognize our fellow restaurant industry friends with a 50% discount) as well as wine tastings, “get behind the bar” cocktail classes, and our themed family wine dinners. More great things are planned for 2018.

We are very proud of our entire team. From the kitchen to the front of the house, our exceptional employees are dedicated to delighting our guests. And James is the glue that keeps our team together. Rick and I couldn’t be happier to have him as a business partner.

Perfecting the Home Bar

by Charley Zimmerman

If you are a lover of cocktails hoping to re-create some of your favorites at home, you might find yourself lacking the proper tools. Most made-for-home bar products are a disaster, proving to be leaky, difficult to use, or just generally confusing.

If you want to get serious without breaking the bank, here are a few industry-recommended tools to make sure your next cocktail party is a hit. 

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JIGGERS

There is a secret that most bartenders don't want you to know.

Our cocktails don't taste good because of our fancy shaking techniques, or because we flame an orange just right over the drink. Our drinks taste good because we follow a recipe, and just like the home cook, we measure our ingredients. Hence, the almighty jigger. It is a mistake to think that a bartender who jiggers every drink is inexperienced; on the contrary, an experienced bartender with fast jiggering skills can make some of the best tasting and most accurate drinks. Additionally, knowing the formulae for balanced drinks makes a jigger-friendly bartender able to make off the cuff drinks that much better. Jiggers rule. 

Ready to buy? Have a look at the OXO Steel Double Jigger.

 

SHAKING TINS

Shaking tins are the bread and butter of cocktail making; without serious tins, you might as well just pour yourself a highball. Tin-on-tin sets are the only way to go for the even mildly serious home bartender. The Boston shaker (consisting of a metal tin and a pint glass) were primarily meant for bartenders who eye-ball their liquids instead of measuring -- and as we now know, measuring is the best way to go. Tin-on-tin sets last longer than glass, have less chance of shattering in your hand, and cool down faster than glass. 

Check out these Koriko weighted shaking tins.

 

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STRAINERS

After you've shaken the hell out of your cocktail, you need a way to separate it from all that ice. Hawthorne strainers have a metal spring fixed around the edge of the rim that acts as a type of sieve. The Hawthorne strainer can be quite the interactive tool: apply pressure and push against the spring, and you can limit how much ice/muddled fruit/etc passes through. Lighten up your pressure and pull back, and you can let more through, as you desire. Mesh conical strainers can be used in tandem with your Hawthorne strainer to make sure you catch everything. When you shake good and hard in your shaking tins, the ice inside is going to break up, leaving ice crystals in your cocktail. These crystals are not going to keep your drink cold very long; in fact, they will melt quickly and dilute your drink very fast. It's all a matter of taste and preference, though, so experiment and see what you prefer! 

I recommend the OXO Steel Cocktail Strainer and the Coco Strainer.

 

BAR SPOONS

Not all cocktails are made equally. Some things, like your classic Manhattans or Martinis, are better stirred -- not shaken. Again, this is a matter of taste and preference, however, there are a few guidelines. As a general rule, cocktails which contain fruit juices are shaken, and cocktails that consist of only alcohol are stirred. Have you ever put a bottle of vodka in the freezer? This is the consistence you are looking for from a stirred cocktail: an icy cold, velvety smooth drink. For this you will, of course, need a stirring spoon. Bar spoons have straight, long handles that are often threaded for better grip. Learning to stir properly can take some time, but there is one quick trick -- take your spoon, and hold it upside down!  Holding the spoon end and stirring with the handle requires less practice and is far easier. 

I recommend the stainless steel Teardrop bar spoon

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You can stir a cocktail in anything, as long as your spoon has a clear path. Keep your stir smooth and your ice undisturbed as possible to keep air from getting into the mix -- air creates bubbles which will ruin your velvety texture. You can find a variety of beautiful Japanese Yarai mixing glasses online, but they can be expensive and break easily (at least in the fast pace of a professional bar). 

There are a handful of other tools essential to the professional bartender, but these four essentials will turn your home bar from frustrating to, well, intoxicatingly easy.

Cheers! 

Charley Zimmerman
October 6, 2017

We're Beaming!

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We are so proud to have been recognized by The Chamber of Commerce of Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel at their annual meeting this past Thursday.

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According to Chamber board member Michelle Moore Allen, "The President's Award recognizes individual or group effort which, through professional or civic deeds, has made a significant contribution to the high quality of life we enjoy in our communities, or the enhancement of community or regional assets.  This award recognizes accomplishment achieved through non-profit organizations, public sector activities, or business efforts."

Our team couldn't be more proud to be part of the community that has supported us so much!