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Q&A With Bobbie “G” Gleason
Master Mixologist and Guinness World Record Holder

After 24 years of training, consulting, winning awards and setting records, Bobby “G” Gleason is a true expert in all things cocktail related. He started his successful career in South Florida nightclubs in 1984; eventually relocated to Las Vegas—where he opened bars at the Mirage Hotel, Treasure Island and the Bellagio; and has won numerous national and international cocktail contests, including Bartender Magazine’s New York International Cocktail Competition.

Gleason is also the current Guinness World Record holder for “Most Cocktails Made in an Hour.” This past February at the Nightclub & Bar Convention Show, he used DeKuyper and Sauza tequila products to make 253 unique cocktails, averaging more than four cocktails a minute to smash the old record of 179. “I was worried that I might get tired, but it was so much fun!” says Gleason.

In his current position as the manager of on-premise training for Future Brands LLC (the U.S. sales and distribution operation for Beam Global Spirits & Wine Inc.), he’s been conducting seminars for bartenders and consumers all over the country and helping bars, clubs and restaurants create new cocktail lists. “In doing so, we’re seeing more and more cocktails being created by the bartenders themselves, thereby giving them a sense of pride—and an increase in sales,” explains Gleason. He is also a national ambassador of the United States Bartenders Guild.

Here are some of his opinions on today’s hottest drink trends:

What are the biggest trends you’re seeing right now?
Fresh fruits of the season are being combined with spices and herbs, which create new cocktails that can be paired with meals. So, we’re seeing a growing number of bartenders and chefs working together. To me, the four key phrases in cocktails this year are premium spirits, fresh ingredients, spicy and savory.

How are these trends played out in the Southeast region?
Bartenders are beginning to produce innovative cocktail ideas that are useful to their own environment. In Florida, mangoes, berries and figs are popular, and since they’re right in the local store, they’re easy to use. And the mojito is still the hottest cocktail around. Nothing replaces that fresh mint. When I do my presentations, I teach a mojito and a mint julep as well as ways to store the mint properly ahead of time.

What about premium spirits?
Customers want a quality spirit at a fair price. Today’s consumers are more educated and know about the products. They’re turning to the premium spirit category, especially rum, gin and others. They’ll pay more because they know what they want.

What trends are you seeing across the country?
Plymouth Slo Gin, especially with tonic, is popping up all over and starting to come on strong in Miami. And absinthe … now that it’s back after being banned for 100 years, it’s a huge craze with the whole “try something taboo” thing. It’s very potent, though, so bartenders need to really explain the whole sugar drip process carefully.

So the overall trend is …
Classic cocktails are being revived and updated with new twists. Consumers are no longer accepting plain cocktails. They want a unique, flavorful experience.

How can someone contact you to conduct an on-site training session at their bar?
Just have them contact me through the Jim Beam supplier in their particular market and set it up through their Future Brands rep.

Finally, what’s coming up for you in the future?
I’m currently working on my holiday cocktails and will continue traveling the country promoting our brands and responsible drinking—hopefully in a location near you!

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