"Bar chef” is a modern term for a “mixologist,” or a person who concocts drinks. Both terms are used to differentiate from the stardard job title of “bartender.”
Austrian-born Albert Trummer is credited with coining “bar chef” in 2000.
Thirsty City: The Bar Chef!
By Brock Shepherd in Liqueur in General
Bar Chef? What the hell is a Bar Chef? We’ve got our bartenders and we’ve dealt with mixologists… but Bar Chef? Well, like it or not, the almighty breed is coming to a bar near you. Toronto hasn’t seen the trend to hit our shores yet, but it’s on its way. Fast.
Originating in London, England, at places like Lab and Duke’s Bar, it’s really just bringing the art of tending bar back to its roots, when barkeeps would create their own bitters mix, use only fresh ingredients, and carve ice off of a giant block.
But with the onslaught of Chefs being enamored like rockstars (albeit working every single day like they were on a world tour), perhaps it was inevitable that bartenders would get their fair share of praise.
Of course, New York City was the next to jump on the bandwagon: establishments like the Milk & Honey or the Pegu Club in Soho, which even has drinks ‘seasonings’ on the tables - droppers of house made bitters, lemon, lime & simple syrup for those to adjust the flavour to their liking.
Bar Chef—Albert Trummer
Theme Magazine - UK, October 2001
Chef Geoffrey Zakarian opened Town a bar/restaurant in the Chambers Hotel this year in New York City and even in this challenging environment of post September 11th, it quickly became the new destination. Although the bar is small, it spills out into the lobby lounge and up to a mezzanine/loft area overlooking the lobby that is set up as a second lounge area. The bar program started out a bit shaky but then chef Zakarian hired Albert Trummer, an Austrian who worked for a short stint with chef David Bouley at Danube. Albert gave me his business card the on my first of many trips to his bar and it read Bar Chef under his name.
After an hour or two at the bar watching his drink execution and studying his mise en place, it was apparent that Bar Chef was more than just an affectation. Albert has worked for talented chefs and adopted their approach to running a kitchen as a blueprint for setting up his bar. This is the most important and revolutionary trend I have seen in the bar business in years. Albert is one of many young beverage professionals who have benefited from sea change in the culinary world that first swept the United States and has now changed the dining scene in London. Diners on both sides of the Atlantic are in the middle of a passionate love affair with big flavor, whether ethnic, regional or a fusion of many cuisine’s. This change has greatly impacted the bar. There is a growing demand for well-made new and classic cocktails with big flavor and fresh ingredients. Young professionals like Albert are dedicated to meeting that demand.
New York (NY) Times
With Bar Chefs, Happy Hour Goes Haute
BY WARREN ST. JOHN
Published: Sunday, February 24, 2002
ALBERT TRUMMER, the 32-year-old Austrian-born cocktail impresario at Town, is making a drink, the Town Absinthe, and conversation at the bar has stopped.
Mr. Trummer is no ordinary bartender. Stalks of lemon grass, fresh black cherries and plums adorn his bar, along with a chemistry lab’s worth of bottles and vials containing secret homemade elixirs of bitters, grenadine and peach purÃ©e. Mr. Trummer nonchalantly claims to have a ‘’few hundred’’ cocktail recipes committed to memory. He has a steady salary of $35,000 a year plus tips, two assistants and liquor bottles that are replenished by what he calls a ‘’commis du bar’’—a helper known in the trade as a bar back—and his name is featured prominently on Town’s cocktail menu. Mr. Trummer is the first to tell you that the word ‘’bartender’’ just doesn’t do him justice.
‘’My title is bar chef,’’ he said. ‘’I treat my bar like a kitchen.’’
If there is a downside to the rise of the bar chef, it is in the longer—sometimes much longer—waits at the bar, especially frustrating for the patron who simply wants a cold beer. ‘’It got to the point here where my bartenders were all quitting because they not only had to learn 20 specialty cocktails on our menu but they had to relearn how to make all the other ones too,’’ said Keith Treyball, the general manager of the Tonic in Chelsea, where Miss Saunders worked before going to the Carlyle.
There’s the bartender, and then there’s the mixologist
Bar chefs are bringing back the classic cocktails and creating their own
Joanne Sasvari, Special to the Sun
Published: Thursday, November 23, 2006
The latest trend—and the oldest tradition—in mixing drinks is the bar chef or, more fancily, the “chef du bar.”
Bar chefs create drinks the way chefs create meals, using seasonal ingredients and complementary flavours. They use fresh herbs, housemade bitters, juices squeezed to order and the finest liquor.
It’s actually the way drinks were made 200 years ago when the the term “cocktail” was invented.
Now bar chefs are not only bringing back such classic drinks as mules, sours and fizzes, they’re also creating a whole new repertoire of culinarily inspired cocktails.
At Chambar, for instance, bar manager Josh Pape refuses to call himself a bar chef “because I’m not that pretentious.” But, he adds, “I do enjoy making drinks and taking it a bit more seriously like a chef would.”
New York (NY) Times
Shaken & Stirred
The Perfect Remedies for All Conditions
By JONATHAN MILES
Published: September 19, 2008
“I CAN’T call myself a doctor, because that goes too far,” said Albert Trummer, as he arranged a row of amber-colored cork-lidded pharmaceutical bottles beside a tall glass beaker on the bar at Apotheke, a new lounge in Chinatown.
Not that Mr. Trummer, who makes his living mixing drinks, hasn’t flirted with big titles before: Eight years ago, he coined the term bar chef, to differentiate his work from that of your average barkeep. But as of a week and a half ago — when the Austrian-born Mr. Trummer and two partners opened Apotheke (German for pharmacy) on a crook of Doyers Street — Mr. Trummer began sporting a new title: apotheker.
The Atlantic Food Channel
The Story of the American Mixologist
Mar 25 2009, 8:40 am by Derek Brown
Other difficult terms include “bar chef” and “mixicologist.” The bar chef Albert Trummer is purported to have been the first to use the term “bar chef,” and it makes sense—especially if he was looking to identify with the kitchen. In an interview with Gothamist Albert explains, “A bar chef is a little different. A bar chef is someone who works closely with the kitchen—not someone who puts three raspberries in a cocktail.”