The Modern Butlers’ Journal, April 2015, International Institute of Modern Butlers

  BlueLogo2011web The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 11, issue 4

International Institute of Modern Butlers

IIMB Chairman Steven Ferry The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012 Message from the Chairman 

It seems no year is complete without a butler falling foul of unethical behavior in the employer’s home—such as cases reported in Miami and France over the last two years. This one is from South Africa.

“ANC veteran, Mathews Phosa, is locked in an ugly public wrangle with his former butler, who accuses him [Mr. Phosa] of using theft and fraud charges to ‘silence’ him because he has information that could damage the politician’s reputation.”

The butler, Mr. Venter, had resigned and refused to hand over personal information about the employer that he, the butler, had stored on his personal laptop. “It was not like I was going to sell stories to the media; it wouldn’t have been wise for me to speak badly about my former employer. Little did I know that this would be the start of a never-ending nightmare.”

According to the newspaper, “At the heart of the row are Venter’s claims, reported at the weekend, that he saw Phosa writing a document accusing Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza of being an apartheid-era spy.” Whereas, Mr. Phosa claimed he had received the report anonymously and had passed it on to authorities as such. So Premier Mabuza is suing Mr. Phosa, and the butler is caught in the middle.

The butler’s view is that “he was not involved in politics and merely wanted to do what was right.” He also reports that he was intimidated by the politician’s head of security, who told him to move to another city and the cases would go away; and apparently arranged for the butler’s car to be shot at—so the butler is now embroiled in  two criminal cases against this head of security because “My life is in danger.” For his part, the head of security claims the butler “lives in his own little world where he makes up stuff.”

While employed for ten months by Mr. Phosa, the relationship was warm to start but soured after Mr. Venter asked for compassionate leave to travel to Pretoria to visit his dying father. According to Mr. Venter, Mr. Phosa refused, so the butler decided to resign.

Mr. Phosa reports, however, that “I approved his first request for leave. He came back a week later with another request, and I refused. He [Venter] then resigned and offered to serve out his notice, but then said he must leave immediately—so I fired him,” Phosa said.

High drama for a butler who no doubt signed on for what he imagined to be a discreet and genteel profession.

The solution is to disengage from unethical employers—which this butler did, but he did not appear to do so because of the reported unethical act of the employer, which presumably the butler was willing to live with until he suffered a personal upset with the employer. Only then did he beat the drum about the unethical act of the employer. But, if a correct statement of his position, his flexible level of ethics and apparent dishonesty weaken his position.

And in disengaging, he violated one important rule: either disconnect completely (such as returning the files requested by the former employer); or leave with enough information to guarantee that a) any harm coming to your good person would result in their publication/turning over to the former-employer’s enemies; and b) that you have no interest in using the information, for without it, there is no leverage. Alternatively, find a police authority (if possible) that is senior to and out of the influence of the former employer, and so likely to take action to remedy the unethical behavior (and gathering as much hard evidence as possible before leaving).

Armchair advice is easy to dispense, but the above is a viable game plan for anyone finding themselves in such a tricky situation. For the butler, seeing and hearing all, is bound to see or hear something he would rather he had not seen or heard. While he normally keeps his own counsel, there are times when a higher standard of ethics in the butler than the employer must override the generally correct mantra to stay mum. This is a decision we each make according to our own standards and codes, but the situation can be most harrowing, sometimes leading to rash action or inaction. Hence this blueprint for action may prove useful.

Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) of the popular series, Downton Abbey
Dowager* Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) of the popular TV series, Downton Abbey

*Dowager: a widow with a title (or property) derived from her late husband.

The acerbic (sharp and forthright) wit of this character, married to the subtle understanding of the workings of the English class system—within which our profession developed over the centuries—helps put in perspective the development of the traditional, conservative and mute butler persona. The Dowager Countess of Grantham mouths astute witticisms (zingers such as the one above), but also frequently provides comments that betray the dismissive view of others held by those who try hard to maintain the illusion of their own superiority in the absence of any actual production and contribution to others: the idle rich, yes, but also the criminal class, and others, no matter their station in life, who try to put down rather than build up. In actual fact, as Downton Abbey-philes know, the Dowager Countess of Grantham character does care about her own family, at least, and is portrayed as basically a kind person, despite being trapped into forwarding the expectations of her too-fast-disappearing milieu (a person’s social environment).

Butlers in the Media

What do overboots for children (boots to wear over regular shoes when in the snow), a restaurant in Australia,  and a Carpet, Tile, & Grout Cleaning company in Florida all have in common? They are all called The Butler and represent the latest commercial adoption of our profession to advertise superior standards in their own line of work.

And where else are “Butlers” being employed these days for the same reason? At a dentist in Japan, a photo booth in Australia, the public beach in San Diego, the wilds of Scotland (a forest ranger turned “Picnic Butler”), and a “Personal Shopping and Styling Butler” in Hong Kong.

Along the same lines, what MBJ would be complete without some comment on butler robots? We have Sigourney Weaver to thank for wanting a robot butler after starring in new movie called Chappie alongside a police droid reprogrammed to feel and think like a human. Ms. Weaver is looking for a helpful and thoughtful robot at home. “I’m sure you could program a robot to do all kinds of useful things. I think they’re trying to create a butler robot for people, which would be useful. I’d like a cheerful robot, for company. ‘Would you like a cup of tea?’ That’s the kind of robot I would want…that’s my level; not very destructive but lovable.” Hmmm, anyone feel qualified to apply?

The Chairman was interviewed for an article in this in-flight magazine.

Knib Letters to the Editor

We recently completed the first phase of butler training at the largest construction project in the Western Hemisphere—BahaMar Resort and Rosewood at BahaMar—an interesting (and a first) mix of several brands sharing the same property. Some of the letters received after we left show that we are achieving our mission, as laid out on the Institute’s home page:

“In this tradition, the Institute is now focused on a new phase that we see as the future need and direction of the industry: pioneering the nurturing of individuals who can bring about a greater zest for, and appreciation of, life, both in the people they serve and in themselves. This means our training includes the mechanical skills of butling—be they orchestrating a party for 200 or the acquiring, manning, and managing of a large estate. But more importantly, drawing on our backgrounds as counselors and teachers, the training brings about an understanding of people, whether employees, vendors, guests, or employers, and how to make them all work together in their different roles to the benefit of all. Life did not come with a manual: we seek to remedy that lack in the specific sphere of providing service to others.”

“The little training I received [he arrived half way through the training] was truly mind-boggling and life changing. I came in with the mindset of ‘I won’t need much training as I’ve been a butler,’ yet I have learned more in ten days than in two years in the field…. I will truly enjoy your return in October.” DB

“I thought I knew everything I needed to know with regard to Butler Service and was so wrong…. I am forever changed.” DW

“I want to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for all the training and mentoring that I have received over the past three-to-four weeks, which has really transformed my life professionally and personally, sending my life and career path on the up and up.” LH

“The training is so real and true that we have practiced it in our lives and so made us better people, able to deal with different situations that were hard to deal with in the past, and which also will be so useful to apply to our guest for better results. For me personally, I needed this training at this stage of my career, I have waited for it so long and finally I have it, and it is worth it and exceeded my expectations as well as everyone else’s in the team.” MA

“I may have never said this before, but you both have made such a wonderful impact on my life and the opportunities I have embarked upon…I am a butler in all that I do because of you. Thank you!” GB

Soap and Fruit Carvings

We reported earlier on the fruit carvings of one enterprising butler in a boutique, private hotel in Florida, and wanted to share a couple of his fruit carvings:

Turndown fruit amenity for a wedding couple
Turndown fruit amenity for a wedding couple








A turndown amenity for a concert pianist
A turndown amenity for a concert pianist








And here a couple of samples of his soap carvings.









Bear in mind, this butler, whose name is Kobi, did not go to sculpture school or have any outside assistance in making these sculptures, but simply recognized that creativity, driven by caring and directed toward personalization, lie at the heart of superior service. He saw an opportunity with these normally mundane offerings of soap and fruit, that generally are simply presented as nature made them, or cut into smaller pieces (or for soaps, usually in simple, geometric shapes) to create something valuable and noteworthy for the guests. I have seen the same in the Maldives, for instance, where the butlers carve elaborate dhonis (traditional sailing boats) out of coconut shells and fiber for their guests. In fact, we still have some on shelves in our houses in Florida and the Rockies, because the care that went into their creation carries great power.

Kobi offers these pointers for anyone wanting to go down the same road with soap:

“Quite a while ago I bought a large block of special soap that can be melted in the microwave, have color/scent added to it, and be molded back into a soap bar. The good thing about this is that it is soft and very convenient to work with; and secondly, it is perfect to practice carving, as you can simply re-melt it and use it again for a new carving, instead of wasting soap bars when your creation is not up to standards.

For this sculpture of an egret (the white bird), I did use a large chunk of soap, but the bird is not one whole piece: the wings, the beak, and the pedestal were made separately and attached to the body using quite a simple technique that I learned accidentally. Originally, I attempted to use a glue gun to glue the pieces together (as suggested in different references I had read) but the glue wouldn’t stick to the soap directly. What I noticed however, is that when the hot tip of the gun touched the soap, it melted. So I simply began to use the glue gun to melt together the different sections. Simple, effective, and much cleaner than using glue.

It has been quite an interesting journey, I must say. Thank you for your interest in it.”

Amer1x1inch The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012

Let’s Talk about Spirits, Part 14

by Amer Vargas 


“Ola amigos!”

After visiting Mexico a few months ago to enquire about Tequila, today we are back to know a little more about one of the most famous coffee liqueurs: Kahlúa.

First produced in 1936, it was named “Kahlúa,” meaning, “House of the Acolhua people” in the Veracruz Nahuatl language spoken before the Spanish Conquest.

Coffee cherries, photo by FCRebelo
Coffee cherries, photo by FCRebelo

It all starts in the Veracruz state (officially the Free and Sovereign State of Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave), where an excellent Arabica coffee is grown. To produce Kahlúa, only really ripe coffee cherries are used. Thus, coffee beans are hand-picked and chosen out of their original red husks to ensure full ripeness.

Then, a process of three rinses removes all undesirable debris from the unroasted coffee beans and then they are air-dried in the sun for about 70 hours. Once dry, a husking machine separates the papery white skin left on the coffee bean and sorts the beans by size, before letting them age for at least six months and then roasting the beans.

Unroasted, lightly roasted and roasted Coffee beans, photo by Falco
Unroasted, lightly roasted and roasted Coffee beans, photo by Falco

The roasting process takes between eight and fifteen minutes. Then, the roasted coffee is cooled in a spinning machine that aerates the beans to speed the cooling process. After quality control of the roasted coffee beans, they are taken into big holding tanks to await grinding. Once the right grind is achieved, the coffee is brewed for about an hour and passed through a large filter to ensure no impurities remain. The coffee is then mixed with a sugarcane spirit mix (96.2% alcohol that is diluted with mineral water and caramel and vanilla added). to give the liqueur its strength (20% alcohol) and final aromas.

Kahlua Bottles, photo by BrianAdler
Kahlua Bottles, photo by BrianAdler

Eight weeks of sitting allow micro-impurities to fall to the bottom of the liqueur, which are then filtered out and the Kahlúa bottled.

The final product has a deep brown color and offers bittersweet coffee beans and roasted chestnut aromas, together with black coffee and sweet butter flavors.




Espresso Martini, photo by Srinivasprapbhu933
Espresso Martini, photo by Srinivasprapbhu933

Kahlúa is one of the main ingredients in many famous cocktails like the Mudslide and the Frozen Mudslide, the B52, the Mind Eraser, and a personal favorite, the White Russian.

Make your choice and… Cheers!


Mr. Vargas is the Institute’s Vice President for Europe and can be contacted via AmerVargas at



Of Butlers and Roses, Part 12 of 20

by GJ dePillis

Thorned Roses as Beautiful Security Guards

Rose Prickles, photo by JJ Harrison
Rose Prickles, photo by JJ Harrison


Roses with thorns are a beautiful way to strengthen perimeters: Curious hikers, amped-up thieves, and cheeky paparazzi will avoid crawling over a fence that also has thorny roses to supplement it, or even a bed of thorny roses without a fence.

In the case of estates with an electric fence, it is recommended that all rose bushes be kept sufficiently clear to avoid a nasty surprise for any gardener taking his metal pruning shears to the fence; he may either electrocute himself; or if the fence be off, damage the fence.

For these reasons, it is advised that you create a rambling rose hedge either just in front or just behind the electric barrier, but always keeping the barrier free from debris and leaving enough room to access both the fence and the rose beds.

Ms. dePillis is a freelance contributor to the Journal who is based on the West Coast of the United States. She can be reached via depillis at

Jeff Herman

 Consulting the Silver Expert

 by Jeffrey Herman


 Lacquers & Renaissance Wax ©

Lacquering silver and silverplate is generally not recommended for a number of reasons:

The result of lacquering
The result of lacquering silver


1. The individual may not properly prepare the object’s surface to accept the lacquer.

2. It’s very difficult to obtain a uniform coating, even when applied by a professional.

3. If the coating is not applied well, it may have streaks and small holes, allowing tarnish to form.

4. Lacquer will eventually yellow and crack, allowing tarnish to form within the fissures and eventually under the protective coating.


Strong solvents must then be used to remove the lacquer and the piece refinished.

renBecause of the above issues, Renaissance wax—an archival micro-crystalline product—is recommended. Renaissance will not yellow or crack and will last for years if handled properly. Renaissance wax is not as durable as lacquer, so the object should be handled with heavyweight, natural cotton jersey inspection gloves, as acid from fingers may eventually remove it.

Since dust can be acidic and eventually wear through the wax, placing your silver in a closed display will help insure that particulate will not fall on the object’s surface. Whether inside or outside a display case, gently wipe the object with a Selvyt cloth or soft cotton cloth every few months. This will keep the wax or silver polish with tarnish protectant from breaking down prematurely.

This piece was polished to remove all tarnish and any micro-etching that resulted from the tarnish.
This piece was polished to remove all tarnish and any micro-etching that resulted from the tarnish.


Renaissance wax should not be used on flatware or other objects that will be used to eat from. When applying Renaissance, do so in small areas at a time (no larger than a 3” square). Buff with a soft cotton cloth, cotton ball, or makeup pad immediately. Overlap each area to insure the entire surface is coated. For more information and photographs, click here.

Jeffrey Herman, ASAS, FIPG

Mr. Herman continues to offer his services to our readers for any questions you may have about the care of silver. Either call him at (800) 339-0417 (USA) or email jeff at


The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and skills of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resort,  spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts, & cruise ships around the world.


The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, October, 2011

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 7, issue 9

 International Institute of Modern Butlers

Message from the Chairman

 Sorry, we keep trying to keep these newsletters short, but there is too much to talk about. Hope you enjoy this  issue.
I read in the news of something untoward happening as a result of Hurricane Irene, to a Mr. Butler from  Tuxedo in New York. What stories names tell! We do not have to go out on a limb to divine how Mr. Butler’s  family acquired its name. There are only ninety names more popular in the United States than “Butler,” making  it a rather common name despite the relatively few butlers that have existed through the ages. “Smith” is the #1  name in the U.S. in terms of frequency, perhaps because there was a smith on every corner in times gone by—  compared with a garage/gas station and pharmacy today. Maybe in a few hundred years, the “Drug” or “Gas”  families will be the #1 names!


But actually, what caught my interest more was how the town of Tuxedo earned its name. Not Tuxedo Junction, but Tuxedo, a place that a hundred years ago was one of the popular summer getaways for New York society. It also housed and still houses a chimpanzee center, one of which is reported to have presented itself at City Hall wearing a tuxedo and swinging a bamboo cane. Dog shows, horse shows, balls, the place has quite a history, none of which I am making up.

In the case of the Tuxedo, the town was not named after the garment, but the garment after the town! In 1860, the British started to wear less formal evening wear when at less formal occasions in the country, preferring a smoking jacket made of materials similar to the formal tails. The Prince of Wales invited New York millionaire, James Potter, to his Norfolk hunting estate and recommended his Saville Row tailor. Mr. Potter went to London to be fitted and brought the dinner suit back home to Tuxedo Park Club, a newly established residential country club for New York’s elite, where the jacket soon proved popular and was exported more broadly to New York society when members would dine in the City and onlookers began to associate the jacket with the club’s name.

None of which tells us where the word “Tuxedo” comes from; only that it was borrowed to describe the garment no doubt every butler has in his closet.

For that, we have to reach into the Native American language, where, possibly because the Algonquian language was not preserved in writing, we find three possible derivations: The Wolf tribe living in that area of New York was called “tuksitby its foes, meaning “round foot” because they tended to fall to the ground in surrender rather too easily. The second, more charitable version, “p’tuksit, refers to the Algonquian word for “wolf” (an animal with round feet). And the third more prosaic possibility relates to the geography of the area, “p’tuck-sepo” referring to a “bend in a river.” The Tuxedo fell victim by 1922 to the tendency to shorten in the interests of speed, giving us the “Tux.”


We have just concluded the first part of the first phase of training for a cruise line in the Bahamas and Bermuda: never knew 6,000 sq. ft. “cabins” were available. Frank is taking a break (from his superior service training of economically disadvantaged youth in South Africa) to conduct a lengthier assignment in the Seychelles; Amer is concluding training of butlers in Morocco; and Steven is in the Maldives again, working on an exciting project in a luxury chain in the Maldives.  

Interesting Links & Media Coverage

News of the gyrations of the World Bank and other bankers as they try to prevent the implosion of the European and American economies and the economic system they have created rather extravagently based on fluff instead of real production, has been flanked by a few pieces in other media about the impact of the current economic policies on the poor and rich alike.

In Mass Marketing Goes Platinum, iconclast Jim Hightower wrote an article that confirms what Elite Traveler  has been crowing over somewhat gleefully  for at least three years without break: the mass affluent as a group of employers and spenders is no more. Advertising Age, the marketing industry’s top publication, says the richest 10% of households accounts for nearly half of all consumer spending today, and the very wealthiest of these should be targetted by advertizers: the rest—any household making less than $200,000 a year—are too poor to bother with.

To this, we can add an article entitled Economist’s Advice for the Unemployed: Become a Butler”   “According to The Economist  the planet’s wealthiest have tons of money but little time to enjoy themselves. That means a job that can’t be outsourced could trickle down to you.” Quoting Clive McGonigal’s Butler Bureau web site, the article says high salaries are waiting anyone who graduates from a butler school and “Once you have completed your training and perfected your faux British accent, a domestic staffing agency can help you find a home, since the global elite don’t bother with Craigslist…. Will we all end up working as servants on a rich person’s plantation?”

It makes interesting reading, but it is sadly lacking in research.

Of course, positions are still offered to those qualified, such as The Queen of England’s search for a trainee butler—pay not of the amounts touted in the above article, but £15,000 a year, plus free accommodation. The Queen requires someone who is “friendly, polite and of approachable disposition with the ability to be discreet and maintain confidentiality…an enthusiastic and dedicated individual, currently working within the catering and hospitality sector but looking for a new challenge.”

The job description goes on to explain: “This unique and professional role provides development and career progression opportunities for those willing to work at a number of Royal residences in the UK, where you will carry out a wide range of responsibilities from messenger and valeting duties to food and beverage service.” Duties include “the collection and delivery of tea/coffee trays, breakfast trays, and newspapers for Royal and Household purposes in an efficient and discreet manner…valeting of guests and members of the Royal Household invited to stay with the Royal Family, ensuring that clothes and uniforms are cared for to the highest standards…messenger duties when on duty at Privy Purse Door ensuring that all post, pouches, dispatch boxes and messages are delivered to Members of the Royal Family and employees in a timely manner.” September 19 was the deadline for that position.

Christopher Ely, a former Royal footman, is quoted in The Telegraph commenting on his life in service.

Lastly, a travel writer on highlighted seven luxury resorts where celebrities can go without threat of attack by paparrazzi. No argument with the resorts selected, but there are hundreds of others offering the same level of service and privacy.

Letters to the Editor

“Here’s a new breed of butler I had not heard of before: an emailed advertizement for the Aer Lingus Ancestry Package states: ‘Trace your roots with the help of a Genealogy Butler.’ Best regards,” Werner Leutert

“Firstly I have to congratulate and thank you for the updated and new version of the newsletter and website. Secondly, I have to apologise as I am feeling rather guilty not having done so before, but I took the time to review every link on you website properly and find it amazingly useful, knowledgeable and—well, I have been reading for almost two hours now. It is so comforting to be part of such a successful institute: makes me re-think my role in the industry and somehow I feel I need to become more involved—something inside me is kind of excited and wanting to move forward instead of moving on. Best Regards,” AJS 

The Butler’s Guide to Tea 

 by Frank Mitchell



High and Afternoon Teas

Now that we have our tea equipage sorted out and know how to  prepare a good pot, we need to plan our afternoon tea. On many assignments I have come across hotels serving  an afternoon tea, but promoting it as a high tea. Quite a few chefs that I have worked with in the past have liked  this term so much that I have been unable to dissuade them from using it to refer to an afternoon tea. On more than one occasion this has resulted in a guest complaint, so it is best to get it right.

High Tea is served at a dining table, literally the high table it is named for. Also called a ‘meat tea’, it is an early supper traditionally had by the working classes and should include hearty meat dishes served at a table set with a knife and fork. Clearly canapés do not ‘meat’ this requirement!

Low tea is the tea ‘invented’ by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford to alleviate the sinking feeling she experienced in the afternoon mid-way between lunch and a fashionably late dinner. Originally served in her boudoir, it is what we now know as afternoon tea and is called a low tea because it is usually served at a coffee table – a low table. Clearly it would not be comfortable to eat any meal from low table requiring the use of a knife and fork. For this reason the fare served at low tea is either finger-food, or is consumed with a cake fork. There are three forms, all named for the foods accompanying the tea.

Cream Tea is the most basic tea and is served with scones, jam and cream – traditionally whipped Devonshire cream.

Light Tea adds pastries to the fare of the cream tea with its scones, jam and cream.

Full Tea includes all the ingredients of the light tea, but adds savouries to the menu.

Just as dinner is served in courses, so tea may be served in courses and, as with dinner, the courses run from savoury to sweet.

All teas are appropriate for an afternoon tea, and as such there are no rules, but do bear in mind that not everyone appreciates the astringency of green tea. Of course one may offer one’s guest a choice and there is no reason you should serve the same tea with each course. In fact, it is far better to match the tea served with each course to the food in that course. A light afternoon tea such as Darjeeling is quite splendid with cucumber sandwiches, but might be overwhelmed by the fully flavoured meat dishes of a high tea. For these dishes one should rather consider Earl Grey, Lapsang Souchong or Kenya tea.

Jane Pettigrew publishes a very useful tea and food pairing list in page 71 of her book “The Connoisseur’s Guide to Tea’. I cannot recommend this book more highly and would urge any butler to add it to their library.

 A few pointers and tips

Plan ahead and start your preparations well in advance. Tea should be a relaxed affair and should guests notice that you are rushed, it will almost certainly spoil the experience for them. Make sure there are no last-minute crises in the kitchen!

Probably because afternoon tea is attributed to the Duchess of Bedford, one is inclined to consider it a social event primarily for the ladies. This means that while the tea or coffee service used after dinner is quite formal, the appropriate tea service for the afternoon is usually decorated with flowers or soft pastel colours. Dainty embroidered napkins are called for and no tea table would be complete without a beautifully arranged bowl of flowers.

Whether male or female, the butler should always seek the permission of the lady of the house before pouring the tea. Bear in mind that it is actually her duty and that you may not take it upon yourself to serve without her permission. Lastly, serving at a low table can be a challenge – take care not to bump into anyone and always bend at the knee lest you unwittingly present your posterior to a guest.

Assist by passing out cups and plates, helping guests reach items and making sure that everyone has a fork and napkin. Then retire to the kitchen with both teapots to prepare for the next course.

Champagne—An English Product

By Wayne Fitzharris, International Guild of Butlers and Household Managers

As much as the French may be surprised to know, particularly the purveyors of the myth that Dom Perignon was the sole creator of champagne—the man who created the bubbles  in the bottle—thirty years before the French made their first sparkling wine and seventy years before  the first Champagne House was established in Champagne—the English were producing sparkling wines.

How come?

The British invented the toughened glass that allows the  secondary fermentation process to take place without the bottle exploding. A Christopher Merritt wrote a paper for the Royal Society entitled The Ordering of Wines which refers to the making of sparkling wines by English wine coopers as an  established practice. While they were doing so, according to written records, Dom Perignon was busy trying to  stop the wine fermenting in the bottle. That the French perfected the process for making champagne is still true and appreciated, but without the Brits, famous for their tea, not their wines (even though they have been growing them off and on since Roman times), the whole concept of sparkling wines would not have been possible.


 Hangers & hangers

  Part 2 of 3, by Amer Vargas

The standard hanger measures 16-18 inches in width. Its height can vary from 11 to 7 inches, measured from the top of  the hook to its “feet.” Plastic and wooden hangers can be flat or contoured so as to copy the shoulder-nape-opposite shoulder line of the body. Contoured hangers are very often padded, which means that the ends are wider so as to allow better support of the coat or jacket or other garment being stored on it.

Some examples of the most common hangers

The simple hanger is used to accommodate anything that is worn on the upper part of the body, such as shirts, blouses, waistcoats, coats, jackets, bathrobes and gowns. Sometimes they are provided with a notch designed to fit shoulder straps. Satin padded versions are generally reserved for ladies’ more delicate and intimate wear, such as light gowns, baby-doll pajamas and some articles of lingerie.

Horizontal-rod hangers are intended exclusively for trousers and some accessories (like ties), whilst clip hangers usually allow for the clips to slide sideways so as to better fit the hems of trousers or the waistband of skirts.

There are two types of clamp hangers: one is equipped with long clamping bars, whilst the other is equipped with short ones; the first is intended for skirts, whilst the second type is for trousers. These different clamp hangers are very commonly provided with non-slip grips made out of rubber, velvet, foam or plastic, to prevent clothing from slipping out of the clamp and falling.

Suit hangers are one of the best choices for all kind of wardrobes, as the possibility of hanging a top and a bottom on one hanger means you’re making the best use of wardrobe space. Besides, it is handier and tidier to have a suit (jacket and trousers) together on a single hanger than to keep it on separate hangers.

Other sorts of hangers are intended to hang several trousers at once, or several ties (or other similar accessories) or even shoes, although this last option might not be the best way of storing shoes, so take care when selecting such specialized hangers.



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The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and skills of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resort,  spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts, & cruise ships

Butler training

The Floating Condos of the Carib

Spent two weeks cruising around the Bahamas and Bermuda in floating condominiums, training very eager butlers.
Even managed a sail around Bermuda in a Cat

Colorful government-assisted housing graces one shoreline. Each condominium costs about $250,000, while we can’t even give away comparable housing in the US for 1/10th of that price: a curious example of supply and demand, made all-the-more curious by the huge demand for housing among America’s millions of homeless.

A more upscale neighborhood in Bermuda

Bermuda is hit by hurricanes, but their building codes require reinforced concrete that can withstand Category Four storms; and they do not have any storm surge, as they do not have a continental shelf—so the water passes right by them.

Petrol is $9 a gallon, over twice the US price, but then on an island something like one mile wide by twenty miles long, they don’t use much petrol—even in their speedboats!


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Just skirted Hurricane Irene in the Bahamas, doing a mystery passenger visit to check out the butler service on a cruise ship.

First time I have been on a non-private cruise.

The fact that it was packed to the gunnels shows the client has a successful formula.

 A curious view from my balcony—propellerheads.

Can someone come up with a caption?

Butler training Training

Butlers in the Bahamas

Disappointment over delays without adequate cause and lost baggage evaporated as the hotel’s  airport greeter  ushered us to the limo outside Nassau’s airport and promised to have our lost bag to us by the end of the day.

Butlers and butler-level service are a welcome pick-me-up or antidote to the increasingly poor service one experiences in other service industries, and only serve to illustrate the truth of’s proclamation that “Brand Butler” is the most important trend in the corporate world for 2010.

For the majority of us (myself included) who cannot afford butler service, there is a solution: start applying butler mindset and standards to all service industries. As the US manufacturing industry is now something like 9% of GDP, the rest must be service industries. So unless we all want to drown in mutual frustration, it may be time to bring service standards out of the basement.

So I turned in all my old medium format equipment, and older digital stills and video cameras, and was given 5 cents on the dollar,

all of which went toward the purchase of my new Canon 5D Mark II and 28-300 mm lens.

Let the fun begin!

Views from our hotel room.


Storm clouds over Paradise Island, Nassau

If a wo/man is as alive as he can communicate, then these butlers are most certainly alive

Some butlers on Paradise Island


The engaging and inevitable Bahamian smile—a trainee during a break