Cocktails, Creativity & COVID-19


Cocktails, Creativity & COVID-19

Bar None

with Debbian Spence-Minott

Thursday, April 02, 2020

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Globally, a restriction on the opening of bars has been implemented, and Jamaica is no exception. Bars across Jamaica that were once the centre of entertainment activities are now ghost towns but hopefully not for long. With no bars open it means that bartenders across the island have their hands free. Therefore, in the spirit of keeping hope alive and the bartending community in our foremost thoughts, as well as nurturing the creative spirit, I developed an at-home bartender challenge via Instagram and asked as many bartenders to use this free time creatively. Bartenders were encouraged to look within their immediate surroundings to find ingredients that they could use to create their own unique cocktails. The bartenders answered the call! Within a few hours entries were submitted. A multiplier effect was also created as these bartenders challenged their friends and colleagues to join in the activity, even if only for bragging rights. Numerous entries were received and reposted online via Instagram . This week, I'll highlight one of the entrants — Trevor Luke, the Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards Outstanding Bartender of the Year. Luke lived up to his title with his outstanding entry which demonstrated his distinct passion for bartending and mixology, bar none!

Formula 876

Luke gave his interpretation of a 'COVID cure' with his cocktail, aptly named The Formula 876. The Formula 876 is made using spirulina, fever grass syrup, lime juice, white overproof rum, orange liqueur, ginger, coconut water and fever grass tea. When Luke was asked what inspired him to concoct such a drink with these specific ingredients, he indicated that first, the name Formula 876 reflected a cure specific to Jamaica. If the cure is specific to Jamaica, then the ingredients must also be reflective of Jamaican culture, said Luke. Spirulina is perceived to be a superfood high in antioxidant properties. Fever grass (the tea) is a Jamaican remedy for coughs, fever and pain. White overproof rum is a household name in Jamaica as the product is used for a multiplicity of remedial purposes. Orange liqueur and lime juice provide vitamin C. Ginger settles the stomach and aids in digestion, and coconut water is used to 'wash off' your heart. Yes, it sounds like a chemistry lab. That is what the art form of mixology is about — thoughtfully putting together different ingredients with a particular outcome in mind, but also providing entertainment and intrigue at the bar.

The bar game has certainly been elevated a notch as we continue to move away from the stereotypical notion that the bar is just a place for drunks and problems. Bartenders like Luke demonstrate that it takes a special talent, passion, and innovation to deliver at this level. Kudos to you, Trevor Luke, and the other amazing bartenders who continue to blaze the trail in solidifying the bartending craft and elevating the bar. Once we have the approvals to be bar-hopping again, a trip to your preferred spots will certainly be high on the agenda.

Readers' Grapevine Club: If you are new to wines and want to join us on our wine discovery, then this is for you. On the third Thursday of each month, I will highlight your feedback on our grape variety/vine of the month. The Grapevine of the month is merlot. There should be a bottle somewhere lying around the house. Share with me your feedback on what you thought about the wine and your overall wine experience.

Grapevine of the Month: Merlot

Readers' Feedback:

Extraordinary wonder and joy are interwoven through ordinary life, seek for them relentlessly. Please share with me your wines, spirits and cocktail experiences or comments on the above article at, or follow me on IG @debbiansm #barnoneja.

Debbian Spence-Minott

An Alumna of the US Sommelier Association

CEO of the Academy of Bartending, Spirits & Wines

President, Jamaica Union of Bartenders and Mixologists (JUBAM) Limited

Marketing Studies Lecturer – The University of Technology, Jamaica

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