Hospitality highball: how hospitality education benefits from cocktails

02 December, 2022

Hospitality highball: how hospitality education benefits from cocktails

As the first hospitality school in Switzerland to dedicate an entire course to mixology, SHMS explains how bartending and hospitality are one and the same, and how mixology is ideal for student learning.

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By Swiss Education Group

3 minutes
Florent Sabatini teaches mixology to bachelor students

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For Mr. Florent Sabatini, who founded the mixology course at SHMS, mixology is more than making drinks behind the bar. Looking smart in his vest and sleeve garters, he is a role model of elegance as he teaches the bachelor’s program students in an SHMS demo kitchen. With how smoothly and artfully he pours out classy cocktails, he could easily be a character in a James Bond movie. The art of mixing drinks is a heartfelt passion that Mr. Sabatini had developed while working as a chef de rang in Paris and in luxury bars in Swiss hotels. Now, he loves to share his passion and experience with his students.

When asked how mixology fits in with hospitality, there is a hint of surprise in his answer, as if it was obvious. "Does a customer want to enjoy a cocktail before dinner at a restaurant? When a hotel client has a good time out or at the hotel bar, would they enjoy winding down with a drink, chatting with the bartender?" Mixology at its core, he says, is hospitality.

Mr. Sabatini instructs a student in his practical class
Mr. Sabatini instructs a student in his practical class

Cocktails (and mocktails) are served everywhere, from high-end restaurants to lavish gala events. It is vital for those working in hospitality to understand the basics of classic cocktails so that they can make recommendations to guests or use their experience to connect and socialize with business partners and coworkers. For many, cocktails are a great way to begin the evening and lead to an overall finer experience in dining and hospitality.

Which makes it a surprise that SHMS is the first, and perhaps only, Swiss hospitality school with a course focused solely on mixology.

Beyond its place in hospitality, mixology provides a great learning experience for students because it can be both methodical and creative. As he teaches students, Mr. Sabatini strongly incorporates one of the core standards of SHMS - learning the rules before breaking them. No other course demonstrates this better than this hands-on mixology class.

Like a scientist in a lab, Mr. Sabatini teaches his students the fundamentals – ingredients, what is shaken, what is stirred, the ins and outs of a Boston shaker, and the maximum amount of liqueur one should realistically use a cocktail - before the students themselves are allowed to then bend and break these rules to invent their own cocktails. Students practice discipline by being neat and keeping their tools and workspaces clean, but they also have fun with their imagination and creativity. Moving forward, students can even debut their cocktails in events that they organize within SHMS, and they can use their knowledge of cocktails to best pair a wider variety of beverages to different meals, giving more depth to their fine dining menus and event planning.

Students working the bar at their own event
Students working the bar at their own event

Mr. Sabatini himself is no stranger to the innovative side of mixology, leading students by example. He has developed a few signature cocktails for SHMS, such as the Back To School, a soon-to-be classic that will debut at the W Doha hotel in 2023. The Back To School cocktail is a fruity, summery drink the color of a sunset, whereas the 30 Years Later cocktail is a winter-themed drink dedicated to 30th anniversary of SHMS. Prepared using a bit of smoky flame and served in a snifter atop an old fashioned glass, the 30 Years Later is more complex, and watching Mr. Sabatini make it is a performance all on its own.

It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn mixology with Mr. Sabatini at SHMS and benefit from his expertise. The mixology class is part of the Food & Beverage (F&B) module that is part of the bachelor’s program at SHMS. To learn more about other amazing, unique courses that SHMS offers in the BA program, click here.

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By Swiss Education Group