Thursday, September 25, 2014

'Best Barman in the World' shares his craft at Halekulani

Nadine Kam photos
Colin Field, hailed as the “Best Barman in the World” by Forbes magazine, spoons spuma of celery over a Bloody Mary-style cocktail during a demonstration at Halekulani. He has no names for creations he served during a media presentation, believing—in European fashion—that the naming tradition is not to be taken lightly, so takes time.

Even the “Best Barman in the World”—so heralded by Forbes magazine—is not spared from critics. One who doesn’t mince words once asked the Ritz Paris Hemingway Bar’s Colin Field, “Why does your brain stop when you put the glass down?” referring to the discrepancy between his prowess at the bar with a less than inspiring menu of food to go with the drinks.

Field noted that, for a long time, even the best bars gave little thought to small bites, putting out little more than nuts, crackers or popcorn.

With that criticism, Field set out to change the way bars operate and collaborated on the development of the French-inspired L’Aperitif bar at La Mer. It’s one of the places where his work comes to life via cocktails paired with neo-classic French amuse bouche ranging from foie gras with rose petal marmalade, to sumak shrimp with sweet chili aioli, setting the bar menu apart from others, where there is often no connection between food and cocktail.

Accompanying Field’s cocktail was Vikram Garg’s fabulous accompaniment of beef carpaccio, wrapped around tofu and olive tapenade.

Field is in town to showcase his work and philosophy during an “Art of Style” experience taking place 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 26 in Halekulani’s Lewers Lounge. Patrons will be able to enjoy an interactive demonstration and tasting experience led by Field, with cocktails paired with an amuse bouche designed by executive chef Vikram Garg.

Tickets are priced at $160 per person inclusive of tax and gratuity. Limited seating is available for this event. For Dining Reservations, call (808) 923-2311 and for more information, visit

More of Field’s libations, featuring tequila, agave and yuzu, with a rim of Hawaiian black lack salt.

Chef Vikram Garg said that his first thought upon learning of the tequila cocktail was ceviche. Saying, “The sweetness and heat of this cocktail excited me,” he created this amuse of baby scallops with coconut cream and sauce of roasted tomatoes, onions and jalapeños.

Field will continue to serve as a guest bartender at L’Aperitif from Sept. 22 to 26, where patrons can put his skills to the test.

During a media presentation, it was evident that to earn the title of “Best Barman in the World,” one must be something of a psychologist and mind reader. He noted that most people have no idea what they want to drink, but circumstances—whether one is on a romantic date, a business meeting, or in need of relaxation—will determine what they are seeking.

“It’s important for bartenders today to being aware who you are, to ask, ‘For whom am I making this cocktail for?” he said. He studies dress and behavior to guide his recommendations.

Colin Field infused Maker’s Mark bourbon whisky with kiawe wood smoke.

He brought along all the tools of his trade, including artful glasses, a rounded shaker of his design that allows ice to move all around, puka-filled ice tongs that hold no water, and a smoker for imparting smoke to liquor.

“I particularly love cocktails, and love taking them out of the cocktail glass and putting it into a wine glass,” he said, while also noting a trend toward mismatched glasses that he said started in Europe with Madonna’s dinner parties.

The smoked bourbon was served on the rocks with a perfect bite of aged Parmesan, maple syrup and arugula.

L’Aperitif has begun aging its own bitters in countertop oak barrels.

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