The Modern Butlers’ Journal, July 2017, International Institute of Modern Butlers


The Modern Butlers’ Journal

July 2017

In its 13th year of publication

International Institute of Modern Butlers

Teaching Right Mindset, People Skills, & Superior-service Expertise

Message from the Chairman

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

There is nothing quite like Paris in the spring and summer, those warm days and long evenings, the magnificent buildings, the focus on fashion, the flowers, the arts, the food, the wine…. What is there not to love about Paris—and the Parisians, who are courteous at first, friendly soon enough? All I can say is that the world would be a poorer place without the French culture to give it color and reason.

We are happy to announce that the Modern Butlers’ web site has had a make-over—part of which is a new look for the Modern Butlers’ Journal.

Butlers in the Media

A pleasant article about a long-term butler in Hong Kong.

And an article entitled «Which virtual butler will command the servants in your smart home?» Really? We seem to be moving closer to the surreal prospect of The Battle for Supremacy of the SuperButlers. One caption reads: «Smart home needs a smart butler.» How about a live and intelligent butler who is trained to use computerized systems as servo mechanisms? Where does the idea come from that people are not necessary? A robot-like human who has lost any sign of life? Or a robot that has been programmed to make humans obsolete? Both options seem to lead to the same source: a human that has lost his or her humanity.

So the latest robot butler can walk up stairs, open doors, and iron wrinkles. The article does not say whether it can do any of these actions with any degree of finesse.

The Attraction of Online Courses

An independent survey was conducted recently which found that

  • People like to learn at home more than anywhere else;
  • If they have a choice between learning on computers, tablets, mobile phones or reading a printed document; they pick a computer. Mobile phones came last;
  • The preferred duration for learning is 16-30 minutes, by a huge margin;
  • Only about 50% of people feel they have the learning opportunities they need in their work;
  • Learning opportunities are critical to job satisfaction.

Furthermore, what people desire the most is self-paced learning and to put information into practice immediately. Anyone who has done any of the Institute’s online courses knows that’s exactly the way their Institute training is conducted. The courses were designed and written by the Chairman, who has worked for decades as an educator, specializing in cutting-edge education methods, as well as by Professor Ratliff, likewise an educator for decades. See what courses are available.

The Wisdom of Butlers Past, Part 2

The prospect of working in private service has not changed so much over the last two centuries. On the plus side, one enjoys proximity to the fine trappings and environments that our employers demand around them, and on the down side, have to deal with the challenges, “trials of temper” from those we serve or others who serve them, and “self-denials” as we put aside our interests for the greater good—for “neither your time nor your abilities are any longer your own, but your employers’.”

And that is why the author begins his book by discussing these realities to anyone who might be interested in joining the profession. In a way, don’t be beguiled or tempted by the pluses without also considering the minuses. Yes, you may well jet set around the world and drive the finest of cars and live and/or work in the finest of palaces, but that annoying little invisible line exists all the time, dividing you as service provider from the family and friends to whom you are providing service.

“Candidates for gentlemen’s service must consider that it is a way of life wholly different from any that they have been accustomed to, comprising comforts, privileges, and pleasures which are to be met with in but few other situations; and, on the other hand, difficulties, trials of temper, and self-denials, beyond what you might be called on to bear in some other state of life. 

“When you go into service, all the ways in which you may have been indulged at home must be given up. And you will find it equally to your comfort and profit to have none but those of your employers, as far as they may be consistent with justice and moral government. Reflect that when you once engage yourself in a situation, neither your time nor your abilities are any longer your own, but your employers’, and they have consequently a claim on them whenever they may be required.”

Extracted from the 1823 book, The Footman’s Directory and Butler’s Remembrancer, re-published in hardback by Pryor Publications.

You may obtain your discounted copy (with free s&h) by emailing the publisher: Mr. Pryor (alan AT and telling him you read about the offer in the Modern Butlers’ Journal.

Book Review of
Serving the Wealthy

Sections on The Role of the Butler
and the Principal’s Wines, Part 3 of 12

by Gretchen dePillis

A Wealth of Knowledge

The text of Serving the Wealthy provides collective expertise on the hard and soft skills required in the elegant management of private estates. Just looking idly through it, if you glance at the section titled “Clearly defined roles”, (Volume 1, page 118), you will see that one element of the butler’s job description includes ensuring “the employer and other members of the household enjoy the ultimate in personal service and comfort.” Toward this end, the first-hand accounts in the book of being a butler in a high-net-worth household today are invaluable. I would recommend reading Mr. Fink’s statement (Volume 2, page 232) that a butler is normally also trained as a valet. In more modest households, one individual could serve both functional roles, whereas in larger and traditional estates, the butler oversaw the management of the staff, including a valet, which is a separate position. See more information on valets in Volume 1, starting on page 199 and Volume 2, on page 211.

A gentleman’s valet is not to be confused by Americans with a parking valet. If you are seeking to engage a parking valet, then Volume 2, Appendix 16i on page 328 is the reference checklist you seek.

Just one page earlier, page 231, we have a first-hand account of how the International Institute of Modern Butlers is an excellent forum for experts to share the knowledge needed to maintain the subtle and intricate skills inherent in modern and refined private service.

Page 236 shows how life as a butler differed a century ago.

It is important to understand the “back story” from which this esteemed profession originated. It is also valuable to learn first-hand experiences of those in different eras and countries to understand what is unique and yet bindingly similar in the profession

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

Creative Corner

On Art and Service

by Kobi Gutman


Original Horse Statue Model
Original Horse Statue Model
You may have seen this horse as soap in an earlier publication, and this is the sculpture I made in order to create the mold for that soap. Recently, I came across this photo and although, from what is now a more advanced vantage point, I see quite a few elements that could have been done better, I have had a more interesting realization—that there is a remarkable resemblance between the making of this horse and the servicing of a guest.

Being the first sculpture I had made of this kind, I had all the reasons I needed not to make it. I didn’t have proper knowledge; I had no previous training; I didn’t have any tools; the armature (a metal framework on which a sculpture is molded) that supports it was made incorrectly, etc. Really, the only reason this horse is still standing is because I intended to do it and I went ahead and did it.

When servicing guests, we now and then encounter special needs and requests that we had not encountered before. We may have not been trained for such a situation; we might not have sufficient tools, resources, or knowledge to handle such a request. Or the person we normally use to provide that service is not there that day. Or, or, or….

There are many reasons not to do something. One key test of a service professional is if he or she makes something happen despite all the reasons it cannot be done. It might not be perfect. It might take longer than it should. But it will be done.

In the case of this horse, to access the areas of the horse for which my fingers were too big, I sliced a piece of eraser and used that as my tool. The eyes, nostrils and mouth were created using a toothpick.

When you do not allow external (or internal) reasons to stop you, and you find ways to service your guests despite whatever it may be, not only do you become more capable, but your confidence in your own ability also rises. At that point, of course, it becomes easier to manage things and events, and you could say that life becomes that much brighter for one and all.

That is what this little statue told me and I thought I’d share it before continuing with the relay of the techniques.

Mr. Gutman is the head butler at a private hotel in Florida and can be reached via the Institute.

One More Notice to Those Who Have Bought the E-book version of  
Hotel Butlers, The Great Service Differentiators

It has been brought to our attention that our publisher automatically converted the Hotel Butler book to Kindle and that some of the charts at the back were not showing properly. We have corrected this issue ourselves, and in the meantime, would like to offer anyone who bought the Kindle version, a complimentary pdf of the book. Please contact us to let us know if you are one of these people.

The Butlers Speak
The Placement Game, Part 4 of 6

General Pointers

A Beast of Job Interview by Mike Licht
A Beast of Job Interview by Mike Licht

Continuing the survey of butlers and HMs/EMs, we asked for general pointers when looking for a position.

«Find out if possible how long the last employee was there and why he or she left; and how many individuals have been in that position. If there be a high turnover, keep in mind that your position may be short term, and through no fault of your own.» DS

«Perseverance is the key; network; keep your skill set current. Then network some more.» M

Along the same lines, another butler suggests, “All channels require a relentless determination. Ultimately, you’re selling your personality first and foremost, followed by your experience. I have long averred [stated] that I can train an eager neophyte [someone new to a position], but I cannot change his/her personality. Assessing the innate presence of a service mentality is the first criteria (for me) when interviewing a new hire.

«LinkedIn is a good place to post a general, professional profile (when looking for a position) that omits employers’ names, but includes years worked and a list of applicable skills, plus a photograph. As agencies do reach out through this avenue, it is best to take down the profile if you are happily engaged.

“People interested in the field should take the opportunity to learn the trade. Though some homes do bring in an expert to work with the staff for optimum performance. Today, on-line correspondence courses, and short-term, in-person training are available. It is a fantastic way to become educated, invest in yourself, and attain some experience. I wish these programs were available thirty-five years ago, when I started my career.

“Don’t burn bridges! With my years of experience and references, I have worked for the same employer more than once: I worked for a family for ten years, and decades later, they hired me to care for their father, a professor who had Alzheimer’s disease. I did that for three years and then was hired for another position for two years because that family saw how wonderful I was with the professor.”

«If you can, network with others in similar positions. Maintain relationships with previous principals, house managers. My principal has asked me many times if I know of anyone who could fill a position for one of his friends or colleagues.” NS

“Ask as many questions as you can think of—you are interviewing them just as much as they are you. I’d recommend working a trial day to generate a feeling of how things are run. Some will be happy to pay you for that day, but I wouldn’t push that. It should suffice that they are flying you in and putting you up in a hotel.” PB

“I have several suggestions:

  • Be relentless;
  • Frequently review your resume for major omissions;
  • Ask agents representing you to review your resume for completeness;
  • Create a LinkedIn profile and put more information in than you would include in an application-specific resume;
  • Network: Start online conversations with colleagues you connect with on LinkedIn;
  • Take summer or seasonal temp jobs to build your experience;
  • Skip academies and other training organizations unless transitioning from another career. Training for an experienced applicant is not cost-effective.

«In my estimation, private service is 90% relationship and 10% skill.  You can train and learn skills.  But if you have to ‘wrap’ your innate nature around a contrary employer, it isn’t sustainable or very effective.  Placement should be all about matching personalities.  Far too much emphasis is placed upon the resume because understanding other people is not only a challenge, but sometimes not very pleasant. A «good» agent will spend enough time with the client to evaluate their nature.  A one-hour meeting doesn’t provide an adequate window in which to experience the vagaries of any human.  Part psychologist, the good agent can assemble enough perspective on the nature of the client to stand a reasonable chance of matching a candidate with a client.  But it takes maturity, experience, and knowing what to look for.  It’s match-making… not resume paring. The tendency of many candidates is to think all they have to do is provide a good resume and the agent will find them work.  This is way to simplistic!  Even a candidate that has completed a training program with accolades, does not assure a match between personalities. In days of yore, the way it worked was for the candidate to sense what was required of them to work around the employer, and then change his or her nature to fit in a subservient, deferential way.  Today in America, we tend not to see ourselves as greater or lesser than anyone else.  So this early format for private service no longer works well in the long run.  Sure, we can force a relationship, but it won’t last. SA

Part 5 The Future of the Job Market

Part 6 Effective Ways of Attracting Future Employers

Let’s Talk about Mixology, Part 23

Rimming the Glass, Part 3 of 3

by Amer Vargas

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

Following our previous steps on how to rim a cocktail glass, let’s look at the second option for the last stage of rimming—that is, coating the rim with a powdery agent.

We focused on savoury agents in last month’s MBJ, and in this issue the focus is on sweet agents, with sugar as the classic cocktail medium, although modern times allow for some creativity to make drinks look even more appealing.

Sugar works very well with sweet-tart mixes high in acidity. The most common option for these cocktails is granulated or white sugar, which provides a very sweet and clean taste. For other mixes, like those with whiskey or bourbon as main ingredient, demerara, brown, or raw sugar are better matches and provide a deeper, caramelized flavor. Ensure you break down any sugar clumps in the raw sugar formed by the presence of sticky molasses.

Sugar can also be mixed with other powdery agents, like cocoa (which can be used on its own, too) which works very well for chocolate martinis; cinnamon-sugar gives a special twist to Kahlua, Bailey’s, and orange and chocolate liqueurs.

Rimmed Vanilla Pear Cocktail by Personal Creations
Rimmed Vanilla Pear Cocktail by Personal Creation

Candies are a funny and very eye catching option when presenting sweet cocktails. There is such a wide array of options that it would be impossible to name them all, but the basic idea is that any candy that you can reduce to a powder or reduce to very small chunks in a mixer, will work. Some examples: regular licorice or black licorice work well with black vodka mixes or concoctions containing berry syrups. You can also buy edible glitter, colored sugar-flakes, or confetti, rainbow or chocolate sprinkles… any ingredient that one might use for decorating a cake could work well for rimming a cocktail glass.

A special mention goes to that kid’s favorite, Pop Rocks! Pay attention though, to Pop Rocks coming into contact with any moisture—it will start to sizzle and pop, which may make it unstick from the rim.

Mr. Vargas is the Institute’s President and can be contacted via

Consulting the Silver Expert

Cleaning and Polishing Silver, Part 2

by Jeffrey Herman

Jeff Herman

Gently wash and dry your silver immediately after use. While washing, do not allow silver to come into contact with a metal sink, as that can cause scratching. (Use a plastic dishpan or line the sink with a towel.) Use a non-lemon-scented phosphate-free detergent and, to avoid water spots, towel dry using a soft, cotton dish-towel or Selvyt cloth. Silver that is used frequently and washed in this manner will require infrequent tarnish removal.

xThe right side of this sugar bowl was cleaned with Windex Surface Multi-Surface (I now prefer Better Life Natural Glass Cleaner as it’s made from plant-derived cleaning surfactants and just as effective) to demonstrate its tarnish-removal attribute

When storing your flatware, rotate the pieces so they will wear uniformly.

Tarnish is easily removed when first noticed (usually as a yellowish tint), and will become increasingly difficult to deal with as it turns to light brown and eventually black.

Occasionally, washing an object with a non-lemon-scented phosphate-free detergent is preferred to waiting until tarnish forms and becomes so stubborn that polishes have to be employed—all polishes having some degree of abrasion.

Most of us are familiar with that light brown – and eventually black – color that forms on silver. But you can catch tarnish in its very early stages if you hold the object against a piece of white paper (glossy paper if you have it). If tarnish has started to form, you will see a very light, yellowish tint in the silver.

Try removing this light tarnish with either diluted Dawn Dishwashing Liquid (citrus-free), Windex Multi-Surface Vinegar, Method Glass & Surface, or Purell Original Formula hand sanitizer. If the hand sanaitizer leaves a residue, rinse it off with warm water or remove it with a moistened cotton towel, then dry immediately. Try this technique first, as it is the least abrasive of all silver cleaning methods.

Cleaning Silver Spoon 1

Cleaning Silver Spoon 2Cleaning Silver Spoon 3The left image of this sterling spoon handle is in its original condition, the center image of the spoon was cleaned with hand sanitizer, and the right image was polished with Earth Friendly Silver Polish.

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 @


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



The Modern Butlers’ Journal, January 2016, International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 12, issue 1

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

Message from the Chairman

Another of those relatively rare instances where butlers spar publicly with their employers through the media and legally through the courts comes to us this month from Hollywood, only this is not a movie, but real life. This one, like all the other examples, is one where the butler community loses face because of the actions of those who never should have been butlers, and only the lawyers and muck-racking tabloids win.

If an employer is not remunerating as promised or expected, then sort it out privately or find another employer. If an employer blows up at you, then that is what that stiff upper lip is all about, and the age-old standby, maintaining your dignity. Not to mention having an ounce of understanding and compassion—yes, employers are human and sometimes fly off the handle. What are you doing demonstrating human frailties, too? You are meant to be a butler: above all that.

Butling is not all about posing with blingy bosses and filing your nails every day while collecting a stratospheric salary, no matter how many articles and promotional pieces are written painting such a picture. As anyone who really is a butler knows, there are tougher moments to work through, and the reward for doing so is a stronger you and a stronger relationship with the employer.

For the butler involved, and any of the same mindset, time to grow up and join the ranks of real butlers, or quit while you are still ahead.

As for the rest of us, may 2016 be all you wish it to be!

Letters to the Editor

«I had a conversation with someone about how butlers are addressed by their surname, but without an honorific [i.e. Mr./Mrs]. Will you explain why butlers (and household servants generally) are addressed by surname without honorific?» JW

Ed: I have no certain idea, but can say that in earlier centuries in England, members of the upper or middle classes talking to the lower class, or senior officers to junior officers, always referred to them without an honorific, as a subtle way of distinguishing classes or seniority. Likewise, the juniors/lower classes always addressed the seniors in station or rank by the appropriate honorific; as well as addressing each other with honorifics as a professional mark of respect. 

I know this applies to the UK, but have no information on other countries. The same convention existed at public (private boarding) schools, where students were (at least in the 1960’s when I attended) addressed simply by their surname.

«Subtle signaling of seniority» is the short answer, but I have no reference from an authority such as Emily Post to confirm my opinion. Which brings me to another potential resource for you: The various schools of etiquette and/or protocol, who beyond teaching proper forms of address, may know the whys and wherefores. Hope this helps somewhat.

«I just finished reading your article in the International Luxury Hotel Association, Issue 3, and wanted to say thank you. It is a wonderful, much-needed reminder.» NS

Butlers in the Media

Taking our Name in Vain

Craig’s List carries an advertisement for an Airport Butler for a Concierge company offering «personalized service and extra care when arriving, departing or connecting through an airport.»

Also appearing on Craig’s List is a Shaving Butler—a mirror with small draws beneath it, that is placed on top of a chest of drawers—perhaps from the days when shaving was done using a bowl of water.

Then we have a Toilet Butler, holding extra rolls and magazines. And a Bar Butler, which is a cloth to place over brushes used for cleaning glasses in a bar.

A Bike Butler is advertised to hang up a bicycle for storage—not perhaps realizing some other imaginative soul already calls his or her bicycle stand a Bike Butler.

And from the UK, we find Wellness Butlers, also a Concierge service, being offered at some hotels.

The whole point of marketing is that one finds a way to stand out from the crowd. One would have thought, after decades of marketeers asking themselves what represents a superior service experience for their customers, with which they can identify their product or service, that they push beyond the first idea that comes into their mind and try something less trammeled and tired.

Temp Butlers

$12 an hour to be «a butler» in a banqueting company in London….

A Japanese gentleman is interviewed about a butler company he has established from nothing (no training), and apparently turned into quite a success in Japan. He is joined by quite a few others around the world riding on the coat tails of the butler profession while having no idea about butling, but has succeeded, it seems, because he is passionate about service. No doubt it helps when the clientele have Japanese anime and manga as their reference point, and it might not work with well-heeled clients who expect a level of sophistication and knowledge that may be missing in his untrained personnel; but if one is providing superior service, then passion and a basic understanding of discreet service, which this gentleman seems to have, are the best starting point. We wish him well.

And finally, a good article on butlers and technology.

The second and final installment of the Chairman’s article, Would You Like Your Service Today Live or Programmed, Madam? has been published, initially by Hotel Business Review magazine in November. The entire article can be read here.

Swarovski swan


 More of Mr. Gutman’s custom-made soap and fruit creations to add a little something to the guest experience.Reindeer

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

Let’s Talk about Mixology, Part 8

by Amer Vargas 

The Three Wise Men

Happy 2016!

Three WisemenThe arrival of the New Year doesn’t bring to an end the Christian Holiday season in some parts of the world, because celebrations continue until the traditional arrival of the Three Wise Men on January 6th, bringing gifts of  toys, games, and sweets to children who have behaved well throughout the year.

In homage to these Three Wise Men, we talk today about the cocktail bearing that name, too.

It is a very simple and straightforward concoction for whisky lovers, served in a highball or lowball glass, neat or on the rocks, according to the drinker’s taste.

Three Wisemen IngredientsThe ingredients are…three (what a surprise, right?): Johnny Walker—Red or Black Label—Scotch Whisky (yes, that is the correct spelling for European Whisky); Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey (and yes, that is the correct spelling for American Whiskey); and Jim Beam –White or Black label—Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey. They are served in equal parts.

Some interesting variations exist: the Southern Western follows the same recipe and presentation but substitutes Tequila for Scotch; for a Three Wise Men Go Hunting, add an additional part of Wild Turkey Bourbon; from the movie Three Men and a Baby comes another variant, adding one part milk; the Tropical Wise Men is done with Tennessee Whiskey, Tequila, and Dark Rum in equal parts; and lastly, if you want to enjoy a Three Wise Men and a Mexican add an additional part of Tequila to the original recipe.

Mix and enjoy, it’s easy!

Mr. Vargas is the Institute’s President and can be contacted via AmerVargas @


A Head Butler position needs to be filled in a major upscale chain hotel with a long history of employing butlers. US work-permit required, 60K pa or DOE and your salary requirement. Email us your CV/Resume if you’re interested in finding out more.

Of Butlers and Roses, Part 21 of 25

by GJ dePillis

Calendar For Rose Bush Care and Pruning

Some roses bloom once a year, and some repeat flowering a couple of times a year. For a basic rose, prune between December and February, take the petals off before it becomes too hot in the summer, and prune  lightly in September.

Prune the center dead canes (thick stems) to improve air circulation as well as allow light to penetrate into the interior of the plant. Allowing light to come in decreases the likelihood of unwanted mold or mildew growth.

Pink Mary Magdalene, photo by David Austin rosesSome rose bushes are dense and can be shaped into attractive and clean lines, providing an opportunity to be creative in shaping the rose bush.

Several sites offer rose-care calendar activities throughout the year, such as the Orange County Rose Society in California.




Prune, plant and repot roses. Do not fertilize until there is 3 inches of growth.


If  soil temperature is not at least 60-degrees Fahrenheit, continue pruning.


Assuming  3” of growth, fertilize with nitrogen for green leaves, phosphorus for healthy blooms, and potassium for strong canes. Do NOT use “indoor plant” food, as that may result in a green rose bush, but one without flowers.


The roses may give their first bloom, but pests may also appear: Keep bushes deep watered and procure a couple pounds of ladybugs to eat any aphids if needed, and, as a last resort, spray.


The warmer the weather, the more frequent watering is required:

If the weather is this hot…then water this much…

  • 70-80F: 2x per week
  • 80-90F: 4x per week
  • 90+F : Daily
  • 100+F: 2x per day

For clay soils, add compost or gypsum to allow for drainage to keep the rose roots healthy.


Watch for mildew during the foggy days. Use Fungicides to prevent mildew, rust, blackspot, downy mildew, and anthracnose. Remove parts  of the plant infected with anthracnose and disinfect the tools used before moving onto another plant. Water during the day, not at night, to avoid encouraging mildew growth.


Unless the temperature is over 85F degrees, spray as needed to manage thrips and other pests.


Prune back the top third of the bush, but keeping the leaves on.


Look for buds with holes in them and remove them (pests live inside them). Prune again if needed.


Final feedings to maximize growth for the rose shows that commonly occur at this time of year.


Water to supplement the precipitation if needed.


Roses may well be dormant—a good time to plan for which roses to buy for the following year.

Peach-colored Carding Mill Auswest, photo by David Austin RosesLastly, this website provides further insight into which roses are best to prune and when.

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

Q: What are the white spots I see on my plated piece?

A: This phenomenon usually occurs on a freshly plated piece where moisture has migrated to the surface. Even if the piece were properly dried after plating, some spots may still appear over a short period of time. This is true especially where the base metal is a lead alloy or pewter that was not nickel-plated before being plated with fine silver. The nickel would normally keep any moisture from migrating to the surface. Polishing usually makes these spots disappear, but often only on a temporary basis. To achieve a more permanent fix, after polishing, heat the piece with a hair dryer (do not do this if your piece is weighted (see the December 2015 issue for the definition of weighted sterling) until it is warm to the touch. You may have to repeat this procedure a few times until the white spots no longer re-appear.

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.

Butler training Mixology Newsletter

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

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 11, issue 7

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

In the last Journal, I touched upon the subject of robots: «If I speak untruths, then roll on the great wave of “butler robots” that science is striving so hard to create for us—a mechanistic and ordered society where mankind is an impediment to be tolerated in part. For surely, these robots will win the day: their knowledge will be as firmly fixed as the software engineers who write their code; and they, indeed, unless we change our understandings and skill levels, will be superior to those annoying, fussy, and fickle hominid butlers who used to strut their stuff until the mid-21st Century.»

That editorial was timely, in that five more articles on the same subject appeared in the last month; One predicting massive social unrest as the drive to increase efficiency and lower costs will see robots taking over «low-wage» jobs in multiple industries (presumably the next step after, and even better than, Chinese laborers); the claim is that only 10% of jobs that can be automated have been so far. An Australian study predicts 40% of jobs will be lost by humans and taken over by robots in the next 10-15 years. Robots are already taking the place of humans as waitresses and hoteliers in Asia.

Wilson, the volleyball companion for Tom Hanks in tThe Castaway
Wilson, the volleyball companion for Tom Hanks in The Castaway

Accountants and telemarketing roles are most at risk, while people who do more creative jobs are less likely to be put out of work by machines. An Oxford University study predicted  that Personal Care Aides, for instance, have a 73.6 chance of being automated. But if your position requires you to come up with clever solutions, to help others personally, and to negotiate, then there is less likelihood that your position can or will be automated. All of which aligns with earlier MBJ editorials: certain aspects of butler jobs can be done by robots, but the position of a live butler handling real people is safe in human hands for the simple reason that most humans like to communicate and deal with real people—there is only so much a robot can do to interact with feeling, intelligence, and compassion. As much as one programs emotions and feelings into a robot, the fact is that they are faked and about as satisfactory to a human as the basketball was to Tom Hanks in the movie, The Castaway.

Tesla founder, Elon Musk, and Stephen Hawking are warning about the unintended consequences stemming from the blind pursuit of AI technology by corporate and military interests. While this may pose a danger to the human race, the article entitled, Doctor, Butler & Bodyguard: UntitledMeet the Futuristic Robot that Does It All throws down the gauntlet or writes plainly on the wall in the Butler’s Pantry. ThePartner (photo on right) mimics human movements. Says the creator, «We printed ThePartner on my home 3-D printer, using open-source code. We used recycled parts, like an old curtain rod and toy tractor wheels for the ‘legs.’ Next, we started controlling the robot’s movement using microcontrollers.” In other words, if some hobbyists can do that, then imagine what Google’s and others’ billions being invested in Artificial Intelligence are going to create in the decades ahead.

All of which is to say that any butler manager who is alive and focused on service, rather than being a symbol, will have no trouble keeping his or her job.

Butlers in the Media

Bin Butler

Butlers as a concept keep being used to elevate the banal into something special, such as the Beach Butler service in California that provides a «dedicated butler to setup a beach chair, table and umbrella at a designated time and location, deliver tanning products, chilled beverages and food so that clients will never have to leave their towel. When ready to leave, we do the clean up, so you don’t have to.»

Then we have the Bike Butler—a stand for a bicycle. And let’s not forget Reiner, the Bin Butler in Berlin, pictured on the right. And if you happen to want someone to deliver groceries in Australia, then you may want to contact The Grocery Butler.

Here is one that is a bit more on target—possibly even being a butler: the Marina Butler at a Kempinski hotel in Bodrum, Turkey, who welcomes visitors sailing into the marina with a bottle of champagne on arrival, or arranges lunch, watersports, spa treatments or private catering on the yacht if they were to call ahead.

There is now an Assistant service called Alfred (as in Batman’s butler) for time-crunched Boston and New York executives who need help with groceries, laundry pick-up, etc.

And how about The Black Butler—a musical related to Japanese manga and anime sub-culture that perplexes the editor, but some Japanese seem to enjoy the self-conscious, un-butlerish posing and posturing that seems to be a trademark of the genre.

Lastly, an article about whether a Russian butler assassinated the Indian Prime Minister in 1966.

KnibLetters to the Editor

«I have been in the service industry for a little over nine years; I started as a busser with my company when I was sixteen years old and moved my way up to eventually becoming the Head Butler for the resort. When we first began the butler program back in February of 2014, Mr. Ferry came to our resort and taught me how to be a proper butler. During the course he showed me that there is a scale or gradation of emotions, which I had never seen before. I immediately became intrigued by it and saw the importance of learning and using this tool, how critical it is to the service industry, let alone the butler world.
«I began to use the scale on my family and team members. One example was a team member who clearly had a tone of anger; everyday he would come up to me to complain about something. One day, when he came up to me, I switched my tone to boredom towards his reason of complaining; he almost immediately came up the scale. Another example of using the scale was with a guest who is known to be angry and yell about any issue she encounters. During the orientation of her villa, she found an issue and went into a rage. Using the scale, I switched my tone to antagonism towards the issue, and she quickly became disinterested. The emotional scale is the one tool that I believe any member of the service industry should know and learn to use. Not a day goes by in my life that I don’t use it. It has helped me become the butler that I am.» JY.
Ed’s note: Mr. Yalda is a good example of the Modern Butler in the hotel environment: He lives his life to the full, and that means, when on the job (which is close to 24/7/365, because he loves it so) as Head Butler at Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa in Las Vegas, he focuses completely on taking ownership of his guest(s) and making their lives memorable and flow smoothly. As a result, they show their appreciation: which, when it involves comments, fuels his passion; and when it happens to involve tips, means he can afford and enjoy driving the fastest car on the road (one of his  passions). What goes around, comes around, and what Mr. Yalda puts out is a creativity and support for all those he meets, to make their lives better.


More Little Butler Touches—Soap Carvings 

From Mr. Kobi in Florida

From Mr. Kobi in Florida

Kobe soap


The exclusive Dorado Beach Ritz Carlton Reserve in Puerto Rico is looking for butlers (Embajadors). They will train anyone qualifying (must be a US-citizen or Green Card Holder), who has a minimum of one year experience as a Hotel, Cruise, or Condo Butler, or two years in the Hospitality industry (hotels/restaurants, or Cruise lines). For more information, please send request and your current CV/resume to the head butler Mr. Arora (Paawan.Arora at

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

Let’s Talk about Mixology, Part 2

by Amer Vargas 

The Manhattan

Today we will look at one of the most famous cocktails worldwide, considered by the International Bartenders Association to be a classic that all barmen (and butlers) worth their salt, should know.

The Manhattan cocktail seems to have its origins some time in the mid-nineteenth century in the New York region, where it became a very fashionable drink and the trend spread across the US to Hollywood stars, who made it even more popular in movies as the choice drink for handsome main characters.

It is also known that people from the island of Föhr, in the north-west of Germany, immigrated during the nineteenth century to New York and learned about the drink; they developed a real liking for it and took it back home—which explains why today, the mix is commonly available in most cafe’s and restaurants on the island.

Manhattan cocktail, photo by Naotake Murayama
Manhattan cocktail, photo by Naotake Murayama

The preparation of the Manhattan cocktail is really simple: it involves rye whiskey (the most common variation available in nineteenth century New York), red vermouth, bitters and maraschino cherry.

Pour the following over a lot of ice (cubes) in a shaker: 5cl/1.7oz of American rye whisky (although these days, it is common to see it prepared with Bourbon or Canadian whisky), 2cl/0.65oz of red vermouth and one or two dashes of bitters. In the old days, it was said it should only be stirred, but nowadays it is also acceptable to shake it. Strain in a chilled cocktail glass and finish with a maraschino cherry (which must be dried first, so as not to over-sweeten the mix).

As is always the case, the quality of the ingredients determine the quality of the final drink. This will not only be detectable on the palate, but may also be obvious to the eye: if you use poor quality ingredients and shake the mix, a little foam or froth will form that will spoil the look of the drink. Whether shaken or stirred, in all cases, the final Manhattan should be transparent with a caramel color.

And that is the straight Manhattan. Variations exist to please everybody: the Dry Manhattan replaces the red vermouth with a dry vermouth; the Perfect Manhattan replaces the red vermouth with equal parts of dry vermouth and red vermouth  (1cl/0,33oz of each); the Brandy Manhattan uses Brandy instead of whisky; the Cuban Manhattan is like a Perfect Manhattan—remember, with both red and dry vermouth—but uses a dark Cuban rum instead of whisky; and finally, the Tijuana Manhattan replaces the whisky with añejo (aged) Tequila.

Make your choice and sip along…Cheers!

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

Recent Training and Graduates

Nizuc graduation

Cancun in Mexico has a fairly recent addition, Nizuc Resort and Spa, which has several world-class restaurants, one of the top Spas in the world, and a butler service that is serious about expanding into the full range of services. Mr. Ferry recently trained there and is pictured here with all the graduates.

Of Butlers and Roses, Part 15 of 20

by GJ dePillis

The Right Tool for the Job

Why do gardners need good clippers for roses when it is time to prune back branches or clip roses for a vase ?  Can’t they just use anything that cuts?  No. The reason is because a clean cut is needed. Any squashing or crimping of the stem damages it and shortens the life of the rose when it is placed in a vase.

When just starting out, you may want to use the cheaper, Chinese made Fiskar clippers.  But then, again, you may not! Felco is the better quality, Swiss-made brand, costing $50-60 USD and promoted on most Rose Society pages — in part because it also acts as a wire cutter (there is a notch in the blade for this purpose).  Felco invented the more ergonomic “rotating handle”that rolls in the hand when opening and closing the clippers, thereby easing tension in the hands when doing a lot of clipping.

The Felco offers a USA-made holster to keep the shears on a belt and comes with a key to take it apart, clean it, sharpen and reassemble it.

Tool shed SeaWorld San Diego-2Tool shed SeaWorld San Diego-1Tool shed SeaWorld San Diego-3

The pictures above show typical gardening tools, as seen at Sea World, San Diego. Remember that, unless you live in a very dry climate, blades do rust if left outside and should always be kept clean and stored in a shed.

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

Q: Does silica gel serve the same purpose as 3M Anti-Tarnish strips, or should I use both?

A: The strips absorb tarnish-producing pollutants; the gel controls the humidity that contributes to the acceleration of tarnish. I always advise using both.

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, September 2014

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 10, issue 9

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

As the plethora (large amount) of articles quoted below on the introduction of a robot butler by some hotels shows (in distinction from robots that are merely called «robot butlers» but employed in limited capacities in other industries/professions), we can see that the process of automating our particular service has already begun—impacting the hospitality arena first. As we have pointed out in recent editorials and articles, however, there is something that no machine has even been able to offer, nor will ever been able to offer, Hal and R2D2 notwithstanding, and that is life. Which is one reason the Institute has changed its focus from teaching only the mechanical skills of the butler, to bringing service providers and levels to life with an increase in understanding of minor matters such as understanding the mind and motivations, life itself, and developing (appropriate) relationships that reinforce what is good about the old-style butler and do away with those elements that belong to earlier centuries.

This encroachment of robot butlers into hospitality is a limited first step, and should serve as a warning shot across the bows that formulaic service by flesh-and-blood butlers takes on the color of robotic butlers and will one day be performed by them as less expensive, easier to manage, more consistent, etc.

On a similar note, the article in the New York Times on 17 August lays bare another encroachment on related professions, whereby luxury services provided formerly by professional chauffeurs, chefs, and PA’s are available to citizens through their smart phone applications—and being provided by an army of low-paid amateurs. It’s good for Wall Street, it seems, and for those «on-demand employers» who would like, or need, to save money.  We should expect to see similar under-cutting marketplaces developing in the butler/household manager profession, such as Craig’s List. This is not a market limited to the less-well-off potential employer (for whom it is obviously a boon [something that is helpful]): We first became aware of this a couple of years ago when a wealthy client was discovered to be advertising on Craig’s List for an Estate Manager. In the time frames after these candidates would, predictably, not work out, she would ask for assistance from the Institute in finding personnel. We, of course, provided well-qualified candidates, but it seemed that the prospect of finding someone for half the price kept being too tempting.

A butler is not a poodle to be paraded across the salons of society—he is a dynamic individual filling a vital role for those who can afford his or her services to manage the minutiae and big picture that are required in supporting their lifestyle, so the principals can focus on those things they would rather be doing, or love to do. As such, the butler should be an intelligent and compassionate individual, capable of managing the spectrum of humanity as well as the complexities of today’s products and systems—he should be supported as one would support anything that was vital to one’s own success.  
Where a butler hangs onto the two-dimensional cut-out of the stiff and formal butler performing the same tricks in the same manner as he has for hundreds of years, he is in danger of being superseded by robot butlers programmed to perform his same duties with the same level of engagement. There is no benefit to be gained from trying to out-robot a robot; we are much better focused in our profession on demonstrating the one thing that no programmer can ever imbue into their creations: life itself. It is the life and understanding of live beings that people look for in relationships. Granted, there are some principals who have become so swamped in materialism that they do not seek life elsewhere, and prefer to deal with robots as the ideal servant; but as the movie The Cast Away showed, most people crave real, live people, with all their idiosyncrasies, all their demands and problems, to simply talking to matter devoid of emotions, self-determinism, life.
So how does one come alive as a butler? That’s something those who attend our training are discovering.

Letters to the Editor

Well done [on the last issue]! I am always amazed at the different skills and services that are connected to the word «Butler.» Goes to show that the Butler is widely considered as the top practitioner in his area of expertise. Still, I prefer to think of a Butler as the top private-service expert. WL

Ed: Thank you and understood. Butlers in venues other than the private estate, where properly trained, perform a valuable function in extending butler service beyond the home for those with their own butlers, and exposes those who do not have butlers, to the benefits of that service and perhaps giving them ideas to hire their own butler.  As with everything, where the venue does not engage in properly hiring and training their butlers, then the service is a parody and of no benefit to anyone in the long term.

Working with you has been a delight. You have a first-class organization that truly embodies the principles of service. MM

I want to thank you for taking the time to explain these matters so thoroughly, it has been such a pleasure and a learning experience working with you. TE

Butlers in the Media

Focusing this month on the new hotel butler robot, called «Botlr,» being employed now by Starwood’s over 100 Aloft Hotels. «A.L.O. [pronounced «el-oh.»] isn’t meant to replace the hotel’s staff and talent, instead it’s meant to help with the more menial tasks so the staff will have more time for face-to-face interaction with customers.»

Personal Assistants are also having their domain eroded by apps: «These days, most of life’s basic tasks can be solved through a single tap of an app. The only remaining compelling reason to have full-time personal assistance is as a status symbol, or for help with tasks that require more trust and security than a remote labor pool can provide.» Other apps (beyond Siri, Cortana, and Google Everywhere) add to the clamor for digital-based solutions rather than human service professionals, such as Humin, and Uber, Munchery, Jarvis, Fancy Hands, and Sprig, all of which steer work away from chauffeurs, PAs, Concierges, and even Chefs and into the hands of either digital programs or amateur service providers coordinated by new middlemen agencies.

For more articles, click here: 1, 2, 3, 4.

See this article for an interesting view of AI (artificial intelligence) and the encroachment of robots into the workforce, from which we quote:

«In the always-expanding world of technology, each generation of humans is witness to new gadgets and services that supplant earlier versions of gadgets and services, eventually leading to job losses in key industries. They point to automobile and other manufacturing, where technology and robotics have replaced millions of jobs over the past century. Robots and AI threaten to make even some kinds of skilled work obsolete (e.g., legal clerks),» said Tom Standage, digital editor of The Economist. «This will displace people into service roles, and the income gap between skilled workers whose jobs cannot be automated and everyone else will widen. This is a recipe for instability.»

While this short article highlights the fact that job losses always follow AI, it also suggests that service industries would provide work for real people. Yet it seems that even this sector is starting to see job losses and certainly a change from the idea of being skilled and stably employed to being a semi-skilled and poorly remunerated contract worker.

The remedy? Bank on pushback from humans who still know they are humans and appreciate the joy of interaction and recognition that comes with live communication and terminals. And who are wealthy enough to afford professional and anticipatory service that truly manages their lives, rather than having to do it oneself through electronic gadgetry and robots. In the same way, there will be pushback against the smartphones, tablets, laptops and whatever else we can expect in the future—Dick Tracey style watches—that have killed human interaction and communication skills.


Butler Training

This month, we have provided training in Rosewood’s Jumby Bay in the West Indies and The Langham in Boston. As always, it is a pleasure to work with professionals focused on providing the highest levels of service, whether in private service or hospitality, and even in the corporate world. A recent meeting with the President of a company showed a kindred spirit who recognized that the kind of solicitous attention given by butlers was the definitive way to build trust and relations with clients.

Baron Shortt

Executive Protection & Security

by Baron James Shortt

 Traveling in the United States

When setting up travel within the United States, I look at all of the cities and States we will be visiting and call up and speak to the different law-enforcement departments there. They have been uniformly appreciative of the outreach and offered services ranging from free increased patrols in our area, or, for a fee, either uniformed or plain clothes officers to join the team in the local area. At a minimum, they alert all of the officers on duty to our schedule, so if a call of suspicious behavior comes in, they are ready and able to check. The American populace generally has no problem calling a local police department if they see anything suspicious or out of order.

Unlike traveling to Mexico and Venezuela, where the police are part of the problem, the police in the United States have been excellent in their assistance with the «Gray Men.»

We try not to travel with any weapons. The laws are specific from state to state and location to location. As I mentioned in a previous post, a concealed-carry permit for New York State and New York City, does not allow you to carry a weapon in any of the NY Port Authority controlled areas. It’s all too confusing and opens the door for a foreigner—meaning anyone from out of state, let alone out of the country—to make a mistake.

Traveling around certain cities can be very difficult. What can take 5 minutes at 2:00 AM may take an hour during rush hour. It is often best to look at maps and congestion travel times ahead of time, work out the time demands of your charge, and then share  those travel times with your charge. Sometimes walking is the best and quickest way to travel.

Mass transit is another efficient, but decidedly less glamorous way to travel. Subways in New York, trollies in Portland, CTA in Chicago or the Washington DC Metro are all excellent systems. In these cities, all mass transit is quicker during rush hour than private cars. But it also presents a certain challenge to move a team through the various turnstiles in a coordinated fashion. Day- or week-use passes should be purchased in advance to cover the times and days of travel. Dealing with crowded travel venues is more difficult and requires a bit of pre-travel choreography so you can be prepared to, on entering stations, shove the entire team’s way onto the right railcar and then ensure everyone alights at the right stop at the right time. It is also worth the effort to scout the trains to figure out which cars are the least used, so a team of people can enter and exit with as little fuss as possible; as well as to scout stations to know which entrances and exits present the best choices.

America is a large country with significant regional differences. Language and culture differ from north to south and east to west. People love their politics and sports and home towns. The cliché that Americans do not travel belies the facts that now, over 40% of Americans have passports and the educated regularly travel overseas. The impact of Latin American and Asian immigration shows a changing face to America. Yet even after one generation, while their looks may be not European, their thinking and approach to life is decidedly American. You cannot tell by looking at anyone in the country who is an American and who is not an American. It is a fascinating place to visit and travel.

Baron Shortt is the Executive Director of the IBA


Butler/Household Manager sought for a private estate in Southern California

This is a live-out position for US citizens or Green Card holders wanting a long-term position (with off-site housing provided) that requires hands-on household management and people skills. Needs to be willing and able to fill-in on housekeeping and (basic) cooking from time to time. Some driving required, so you must have good driving skills and a valid driving license. Ideal entry position, especially for housemen wanting to move up to household manager/estate manager positions — employers are willing to provide training/ongoing training. Usual benefits; salary $40-$80K per year, DOE. If you’d like to be considered, send us your current CV/resume with photo, and we will send you a more detailed job description.

Here is an interesting perception of butlers and a first as far as we know, of butlers being sought to work in retail stores—in this case, a bespoke tailor in London looking for «the presence and diplomacy of a professional Butler» to look after their very notable customers. Kudos to management for recognizing the qualities of a butler and the value of their service style to customers (who invariably have butlers).

Amer1x1inch The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012Let’s Talk about Spirits, Part 7

by Amer Vargas 

After enjoying the passion and games of the world cup for soccer in Brazil, it might be timely  to learn a bit about what is considered that country’s national spirit: cachaça.

Cachaça Reserva 51, photo by Bruno Dulcetti
Cachaça Reserva 51, photo by Bruno Dulcetti

Cachaça (pronounced kaSHAsa), is a distilled spirit made from sugar cane. Depending on the definition we use, Cachaça is sometimes considered to be rum, although the straight description of rum defines the drink as a spirit derived from the distillation of molasses, a by-product of sugar cane. The fact that Cachaça comes straight from sugar cane juice distillation provides it with a fruitier and fresher aroma, with vegetal notes and a subtle sweet taste.

After South Korean soju and Russian vodka, Cachaça is one of the most consumed spirits in the world. Between 2005 and 2009 alone, production increased 400% and exports increased in its main markets, Germany and USA, while entering new markets by virtue of the wide spread popularity of the Caipirinha cocktail—as well as the versatility of the spirit to mix well with other drinks.

The history of Cachaça began during the first half of the 16th century, when Portuguese colonizers first switched sugar production from Madeira Island to Brazil, and then transported the pot stills that were used to make aguardente de canna,  resulting in the production of  Cachaça.

Largest wooden barrel of cachaça in the world at the Ypióca's Museum of Cachaça in Maranguape, Ceará, Brazil
Largest wooden barrel of cachaça in the world at the Ypióca’s Museum of Cachaça in Maranguape, Ceará, Brazil

As with most spirits, the production of Cachaça is both an art and a science. There are five main types of sugar cane used to produce Cachaça, chosen according to sugar content and ease of fermentation of the juice. Within 36 hours of harvesting, the canes are milled to separate the juice from the «bagasse»: solid wastes later used as fuel for the pot stills. The juice undergoes fermentation after the addition of drinking water, corn meal and rice bran. The sugar cane wine is kept in tanks for about 24 hours before being moved to the pot stills, where it is then distilled.

Distillation is followed by a light filtration to provide clarity, transparency, and brightness to the drink. Some producers bottle the drink immediately after filtration; others let the drink age for 1 – 3 years, although some Cachaças are aged for up to 15 years. As with all such aging, the process is designed to  improve the aromas and flavors. When ageing is done in oak barrels, some colour and aromas from the wood will flavor the drink, whereas other woods, such as jequitibá or peanut, do not confer color but do give Cachaça a delicious taste.

To conclude with some trivia: with Brazil being what it is–a vast country, and with Cachaça being loved as it is and produced all over the country, there are more than two thousand words in the Brazilian language to refer to the drink. The creation of so many aliases comes from a time when its consumption was banned, and so the Brazilians developed a wide range of euphemisms and code words to refer to it, such as abre-coraçao (heart opener), agua-benta (holy water), bafo de tigre (tiger breath), and limpa olhos (eye-wash).

This butler is meeting with some friends for some now-famous Caipirinha and batucada (percussive Brazilian music)!

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

Of Butlers and Roses, Part 5 of 20

Rose Types, Again

by GJ dePillis

Last time, we reviewed the different types of roses. At some point, you may need to replace old dead plants or may want to revamp the entire look of the estate. Before you have a discussion with your gardening team, it is best to fully understand each of the rose types available. This is not a comprehensive list, but simply reviews the most popular rose types currently on the market.

Pat Austin, by David Austin Roses
Pat Austin, by David Austin Roses

Earth Kind: This company prides itself on rose research. Horticultural specialists created the brand name, together with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, which is part of Texas A&M. These roses are tested for landscape performance, disease resistance, insect tolerance and growth in a variety of soil types (from acid soils to alkaline clay soils). These rarely require pesticide use. Earth Kind are trying to create a rose requiring minimal maintenance (only pruning and slow release fertilizing, so the nitrogen doesn’t burn the rose).

China:  These roses are usually smaller with dense, twiggy foliage. Most are disease resistant and can be used as hedges and border plants. These are best for warmer climates from zones 7 to 11.

Floribunda:  These roses grow in clusters and have an excellent repeat bloom. They grow well in zones 6 to 9.

Grandifloria:  These are large bushes with large flowers on long stems. Mostly there will be single roses on long stems, but you will also see multiple flowers on a single stem. These grow well in zones 5 to 9. (Carried by or 800-256 ROSE (7673).)

Gertrude Jeckle, by David Austin
Gertrude Jeckle, by David Austin

Hybrid Musk: These roses bloom in arching clusters and are good climbers for small spaces. They also tolerate more shade than most other roses and are hardy from zones 6 to 9.

Hybrid tea: These roses have strong, but not necessarily long, stems. They make very good cut flowers for vases and are usually very fragrant. Some tea roses are thornless and some have many thorns. They grow from zones 5 to 9 mostly, but some varieties can grow in warm climates, such as zone 11.

Heritage Old roses: These roses grow differently than tea roses. The wood on the rose grows very slowly, so you don’t want to prune these back as drastically as you would a tea rose.  For Heritage roses, simply prune off old blooms and only prune these AFTER they bloom.

Knock Out Roses: This brand  is known for long lasting bloom, but the blossoms do not look like traditional roses. Some flowers only have five petals. Double Knock Outs have several full petals. They are known for hardy repeat-flowering throughout the growing season.

Drift roses: These are ground cover roses. This brand focuses on disease resistant miniatures which do well in colder climates. (Carried by or 800-256 ROSE (7673).)

Miniature Roses: These are dwarf roses and generally grow no taller than two feet tall (24”). Micro-mini are used for low ground cover and generally grow from 8” to 18” tall. These are most often used in hanging baskets, container pots, or as ground cover to fill empty spots in the landscape, as borders, etc. The mini rose is growing in popularity and is hardy in zones 5 to 10, but some up to zone 11.

Thornless Rose: There is a brand of thornless roses called “smooth touch” roses. Also there are some heritage and David Austin roses which are thornless.

  • David Austin’s Zephirine Drouhin is a breed from 1868. It has about 30 petals and is a good arbor rose. David Austin has a few other near thornless roses, which we will expand upon in upcoming articles. Most of the David Austin thornless roses are reddish to light pink.
  • Smooth Touch roses have been selected from thousands of rose bushes, encouraging the growth of the naturally thornless (90% thorn free) roses . These are available at most Lowe’s Home Improvement centers, as well as  or 760-721-7079
Jude the Obscure, by David Austin Roses
Jude the Obscure, by David Austin Roses

Butlers, please ask your gardeners to mark which types of roses your grounds have, so you can tell the difference and can inspect them at the proper time.

You are now familiar with most of the common rose types available on the market and to be found in all climate zones. Later on in this series, we will interview and investigate a couple of unique breeders for some insight into their roses.

Next in our series, we will cover how to maintain roses. This will be important for you to know what tools to buy, how those tools should be maintainted, and what schedule you can expect your gardening team to maintain.

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

Q: Can one remove gilding on sterling flatware?

A: Yes. Many collectors want to remove vermeil (gilding) from sterling flatware. When I do so, I typically patinate the pieces and give them a light buffing for an entirely new look.

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, July 2014

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 10, issue 7

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

Apologies for the abbreviated Journal this month: being in the middle of the Indian Ocean on a series of idyllic islands for six weeks has much to recommend it, but does have one significant drawback: on the rare occasion when an Apple laptop may suffer a fatal, inconvenient, and premature implosion, taking the hard drive with it, there are no Apple stores on the horizon to render assistance. Having experienced this juxtaposition of events, we regret to report that the files containing Baron James Shortt’s article on security and Mr. Jeffrey Herman’s notes on silver remain safely ensconced on the desktop back in the USA, and we look forward to them both seeing the belated light of day in the next, August issue.

Butlers in the Media

A look at Jobs for the Future, which includes butlers, you’ll be glad to hear.

And right now, apparently dental assistants in Japan can also be butlers, as can luxury movie house attendants, and tent butlers.

Interesting coverage from NPR on butlers, as well as in the Mumbai Mirror («Bombay» to any colonists still amongst us).

Butler Training

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Institute’s trainers are managing to stay on top of the demand for training, consulting, and placement, and enjoying the challenge. Here Ms. Ferry, the Executive Director, stands with some of the graduating Thakurus at Per Aquum Niyama. Thakurus? Exactly our response when we first heard the word. It has been translated as «Butler» in Diveyi, the language of the Maldivian islands, but actually means «warrior hero.» We do see some parallels!

Butler/Household Manager Sought…

… for a private estate in California

This is a live-out position, with off-site housing provided. It requires hands-on household management and people skills and you’ll also need to be able to fill-in on housekeeping and cooking from time to time. Driving is required, so you must have good driving skills and a valid driving license. Non-US candidates may apply; visa/work permit will be handled by employer. Usual benefits; salary $40-$80K per year, DOE. If you’d like to be considered, send us your current CV/resume with photo, and we will send you a more detailed Job Description.

Amer1x1inch The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012 Let’s Talk about Spirits, Part 5 

by Amer Vargas 

Tequila, Part 1 of 2


Today, we enter the warm lands of Mexico, home to internationally recognized Tequila, which can be enjoyed straight or as part of a delicious cocktail.

Tequila owes its name to the place where it comes from, the city of Tequila in the state of Jalisco. Before the Spanish Conquistadores arrived in Mexico during 1521, the Aztec tribes that resided in the country produced a fermented beverage out of the agave plant. One year, the Spanish brandy failed to arrive from home and the Conquistadors decided to satiate their alcoholic needs by distilling agave plants. Later, around 1600, Don Pedro Sánchez de Tagle started the first mass-production of Tequila. The first stages of producing Tequila have remained unchanged since then, due to the hard and irregular nature of the job, so mechanization has not occurred.

Agave Tequilana, photo by Stan Shebs
Agave Tequilana.  Photo by Stan Sheb


The first step in producing Tequila is planting Agave Tequilana Cacti and allowing them to grow for 7-10 years.





Jimador working on a piña with a coa, photo by Mdd4696
Jimador working on a piña with a coa, photo by Mdd46

Then, when the «Jimador» observes the plant is ripe and ready to be harvested, he uses his coa (a curved knife at the end of a long pole) to chop off the leaves and render a clean core that looks like a large pineapple, from which it derives its name: «piña.» Piñas have an average weight of 90 kilograms.



Piñas ready to go into the oven
Piñas ready to go into the oven


Harvesting time is crucial in the production of high-quality Tequilas. If the agave plants are not sufficiently ripe, or if they are overripe, the right carbohydrate levels needed during the fermentation process will be missing.



Piñas in the oven, photo by Stan Shebs
Piñas in the oven, photo by Stan Shebs

The Piñas are next placed into an oven to bake slowly. This is done to convert the starches into sugars. As the plant cooks and softens, it undergoes a shredding or milling process and a juice, «aguamiel» (which means «honey water», called that because of its high sugar content and overly sweet taste) is released. This aguamiel is then allowed to ferment in large, stainless steel tanks for ten to twelve days, sometimes with the help of extra yeasts to accelerate and better control its progress.

Next comes double (and sometimes even triple) distillation, a process that completely stops the fermentation and increases the alcohol level to a minimum of 55%.

We shall finish the steps of Tequila production in the next issue.

Until then, enjoy some quiet time with a Margarita! Cheers!

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




Of Butlers and Roses, Part 3 of 20

Types of Roses

by GJ dePillis

Let’s review some basic terms describing roses, so you can speak the same language as your gardener.

The AARS (All American Rose Selections) lists these types of roses: Floribunda, Hybrid Tea, Grandiflora, Shrub, Climber, Miniature, and Tree.

  • Shrub: simply a rose bush.
  • A “rose tree” is a rose bush that has been trained and grafted to have extra “branches” at the top so it has a tree shape.
  • Tea rose: Has a single rose on a stem. As can be surmised, these are used for rose hips tea: Take the red berry hips, crush them up and steep in boiling water to make a high vitamin C tea.
  • Hybrid flora: Sports clusters of roses instead of single stems
  • Mini Floribunda: A bush that is quite small and low, with many tiny flowers. Some gardeners use it as ground cover.
  • Grandiflora: Has clusters of flowers
  • Climbing roses: These grow long, horizontal canes (stems) and grow “up” at the center about 18 inches. They should be near a wall or fence where the gardener may spread out the long canes and anchor them to the fence. The goal is to eventually create a blanket of blooms to cover the wall or fence.
Smooth Touch Rose
Smooth Touch Rose, photo by Judy Brower
      • ~ Care: Prune climbing roses every three years. Each cane (stem) needs up to 20 feet of horizontal space. To prune them, in the first year, cut off the first bloom. By the second year, they should grow a couple of roses on that same cane, so prune back to the second bud.
      • ~ Some climbing roses can be formed into a “weeping” shrub and grow well in zones 5 to 9.
      • ~ Noisette: These are very healthy climbing roses with small flowers that bloom in clusters, making them ideal for arches, fences, trellises, gazebos and pillars. The foliage is a glossy light green and has a tendancy to repeatedly bloom throughout the blooming season. They grow well from zones 7 to 10.


  • David Austen: These are shrub roses and are pruned like a tea rose. They bloom 6-7 weeks after pruning.
  • Dr. Griffith Buck Rose: Dr. Buck was a horticulturist at Iowa State University who developed a rose that could survive temperatures as low as -27 degrees Fahrenheit, while being disease resistant as well as repeat bloomers. The collection contains about 90 varieties.
  • Kordes Rose: One of the oldest breeders of roses, they stopped using chemical fungicides in 1990 to create generations of naturally disease-resistant roses.
  • Bourbon: Full rose blooms on a vigorous bush. The blooms are usually very fragrant and flower repeatedly, with a strong bloom in Spring. These grow mostly in zones 6 to 9.
Home, photo by David Austin
Home, photo by David Austin

Stay tuned for more rose types in next month’s issue of the MBJ.


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






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, April 2014

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 10, 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 

Bit of a long Journal this month, introducing  a new column on security issues from Baron James Shortt, and concluding the series by Ms. Gretchen dePillis on what employers look for when hiring butlers, PAs, etc.

Letters to the Editor

«What a wonderful, meaty, and fascinating email this is! I’ve been reading the articles for the last hour. Thank you for the fine work you are doing sharing information that is not readily available out in the world. Bravo!» BLK

«Wow! So good to be receiving the Journal again, thanks!» MDR.

Ed: Imagine reading  letters to the editor like these two, especially after receiving none at all for several months! With a bit of digging, we realized what had been happening: Due to an unsuspected Google software glitch, we had thought the Journal was being delivered  each month whenever the editor pressed «Send.» It turns out they were not, hence our readers received no Journal for half a year, and then suddenly six, plus an article, all at once, when the glitch was remedied! Our mortified digital apologies for this inconvenience, to those who wrote in (thank you), as well as all others who may have thought we had disappeared from the butler world. We haven’t, and we hope this issue will confirm this to be the case.



Thanks to Baron Shortt for sharing this telling cartoon: The editor’s experience validates the general sentiment of misread intentions concerning politeness these days: An older lady, to whom he had offered his seat on the bus from the plane to the terminal at an airport, apparently felt something untoward was occurring, as with a frosty glare, she walked to the other end of the bus as fast as her little old legs could carry her!

Does anyone have similar experiences to share?


«I need a wedding toast for a young couple getting married this weekend, any ideas?» MR

Ed: The below is a pretty good outline—one of the wonders of the Internet—knowledge at one’s fingertips:

1. Consider to whom you are toasting. You can toast to whomever you want, of course, but if the wedding is formal or traditional, there might be some conventions you’re not aware of. Ask around. Here are some guidelines:

  • best man toasts to the bride
  • maid/matron of honor toasts to the groom
  • father of the bride toasts to the couple
  • bride and groom toast to their parents and the guests

2. Clarify your relationship to the couple. Some guests at the wedding might not know who you are, so making this clear at the beginning will avoid any confusion.

3. Give thanks. Show gratitude to whoever is hosting the wedding, whether it’s the parents of the bride or the couple themselves. E.g. «Thank you for welcoming us to this happy occasion, and sharing your joy with us today.»

4. Share an anecdote. Stories of how various parties met are always popular, whether you talk about how the bride and groom met or your first time meeting either of them. Here are some additional ideas:

  • The first time the bride or groom told you about meeting their partner.
  • The first time you realized these people were an important part of your life.
  • A time you got through something together, whether challenging or fun.
  • The story you are looking forward to telling their kids one day.
  • The way you have seen the bride and/or groom change for the better since they met.
  • When you’re 90 and looking back, what would you say of your friendship?
  • Tell a story of some specific detail or action that exemplifies why this person is special in this world, and to you in particular.
  • If you were given three wishes for the couple, what would they be? Be careful with the use of cliché’s here. Don’t use wishes you’ve heard before.
  • Tell about the time your friend saw you through an embarrassing moment. (Careful. Consider the audience).
  • If it’s a second marriage and there are children involved, consider a toast referencing the newly created family.

5. Offer a compliment. Say something nice about the person (or couple) you are toasting to. Although your intentions might be good, don’t go on and on about how great a person is; instead, choose a few appreciate adjectives that go a long way (e.g. «he’s generous, intelligent, and kind»).

6. End the toast on a positive note. Offer a wish, a traditional toast, or a blessing. Here are some ideas:

  • «Here’s to the groom, a man who keeps his head though he loses his heart.»
  • «May she share everything with her husband, including the housework.»
  • «My greatest wish for the two of you is that through the years, your love for each other will so deepen and grow, that years from now you will look back on this day, your wedding day, as the day you loved each other the least.»
  • «May ‘for better or worse’ be far better than worse.»
  • «Here’s to the groom with bride so fair, and here’s to the bride with groom so rare!»
  • «May I see you turn grey, and combing your grandchildren’s hair.»
  • «May you live each day like your last, and live each night like your first.»
  • «May you see each other through many dark days, and make all the rest a little brighter.»
  • «To keep your marriage brimming with love in the wedding cup, whenever you’re wrong, admit it; whenever you’re right, shut up.»
  • «I would like to make a toast to lying, stealing, cheating and drinking. If you’re going to lie, lie for a friend. If you’re going to steal, steal a heart. If your going to cheat, cheat death. And if you’re going to drink, drink with me.»

7.  Indicate the ending of the toast. Finish off with a phrase that’s to be repeated by the guests. For example: «Let us now toast the happiness of Jill and Jack. To Jill and Jack!»

Sample Toast, Best Man to the Bride: «Good evening, everybody. My name is Tim, and I’ve had the pleasure of having Kevin as my closest friend for seven years. I’m honored to be his best man today, and I’d like to offer a toast to his beautiful bride, Alicia. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here to witness their union, and I’d like to thank her parents, John and Alison, for their grace in welcoming us tonight. 

«The first time Kevin told me he was seeing Alicia, he didn’t even have to tell me anything about her–I knew this girl was different. I could tell from the way his eyes lit up when his phone rang, and it was her. Till that point, I’d never seen him get that excited about anything except football! Then…Kevin started changing. All of a sudden, he had a bounce in his step, a twinkle in his eye, and grin on his face–and he always offered me the last beer instead of hoarding it up for himself! Since he started seeing Alicia, Kevin has been more considerate, thoughtful and motivated than ever.

Alicia, you have deepened Kevin’s appreciation for life in way I never could have predicted. He is steadfast, honest and downright good-looking, and you are his match in every way: dedicated, genuine, and beautiful, inside and out. Thanks to your presence in his life, Kevin is not only a better friend; he’s a better person all around.

Let’s toast to the health, happiness and future of this amazing bride. To Alicia!»

«You’re the best, thank you.» MR


«I would like to know where to purchase dinner serveware–silver platters, cloches,  dinner sets, tea serving trays, etc. of high quality.» ECP

Ed: There may be local resources that can assist you. Have you tried contacting the Old Towne Jewelers on 4th Street? They may not have all you want, but may be able to refer you to other local resources who do or perhaps purchase it on your behalf:

Absent a good local store that sells high quality silver dishes, your best bet would probably be to shop via the Internet. There are stores on-line such as the Silver Gallery ( that seem to have a decent selection of such items and represent several brands, so you have a choice of design, price and quality:

If you know which design companies you like, you may also want to try visiting their websites directly to compare prices and selection, such as the Reed & Barton site:

«Thank you so much.  Each resource you provided was exactly what I needed.» ECP

Butlers in the Media

Bloomberg TV interviews an entrepreneurial individual who became a butler (no formal training, it appears) and then created his own personnel agency. The salaries listed by his agency for butlers ($50-85,000, the same as what is listed for maids and laundresses), and having this position differentiated from Majordomos ($80,000-$130,000) and Estates and Household Managers ($100,000-$200,000) are wildly off and unfortunate, showing no real understanding of the industry.

Along the same lines, a Craigslist advertisement for a butler: is it a sign of the digital times, or of the butler going mainstream and thus downmarket, or just more American misconceptions of what is a butler? Given the starting pay listed, it seems to us that the latter be the main issue here.

Those of us fortunate enough to have tracked down a copy of Agar’s Way and unhappy about continued requests to borrow it, can breathe a sigh of relief: it has now been reprinted. There are few books covering our profession, and this little old gem is well worth adding to your library.

Somewhat unusual requests to hotel concierges that may strike a note for some of the things butlers have been asked to provide, either in private service or in hotels.

The New York Times published a very good article about the «New Domestics,» another take on «Modern Butlers.»

Media coverage on butlers in action or reminiscing in England, Ireland, England again, England again, and a London hotel. No month would be complete without another listing of the high-end services offered in some hotels capitalizing on the reputation of butlers for superior service—as well as the notion of robot butlers—they are certainly becoming increasingly sophisticated, but unfortunately, still missing that little, little ingredient…life.

Baron Shortt

Introducing Baron James Shortt, Executive Director of the IBA, who will be contributing a new column on the subject of:

Executive Protection and Security

Some Tips on Setting up Security in Private Estates

It is well-advised to be safe when traveling  or dining out, but we often let our guard down when we are at home, otherwise known as the Domestic Estate.  What do we need to be aware of when at home?

The first step is to take a good look at your property and the sum total of who or what comes in and goes out.  What workers, suppliers and delivery vehicles come in periodically and what people leave and come back on a regular basis such as domestic help, landscapers, pool maintenance companies, trainers, etc.?

Start with the family members.

They need to be taught not to talk about or disclose any family matters, especially security matters.  This is all well and good in theory, but it is hard to impress upon a 9-year old not to tell her friends her that daddy is going to Africa, or that mommy and daddy went to China and brought her back a cool toy.  It is also hard to keep chatter  and teenage bragging from not slipping out into Facebook (or the many other social networks available), emails etc…  But one must discuss the importance of these security regulations you have at home with kids and teens and even test them once in a while, if you must. Reward them for passing the test and scold them mildly for failing…  Also – create passwords for the home computer network and monitor what the kids are doing on the home network. Sure, they can make mistakes away from home – but you must work with what you can monitor.

All employees that visit the house both periodically and on a regular basis must go through a pre-hire background check and at least one background check every year. As a household professional you can probably do most of the work yourself, but if not, hire a private investigator that specializes in genuine background checks – don’t go for the on-line $75.00 «quick checks».  It can be a real red-faced moment when your driver turns out to have an undisclosed DUI or a suspended license for not paying a parking ticket…  You get the point, but you need to do the background checks to make 100% sure.

All suppliers should submit the names and information of any regular delivery person or service people that will be allowed on to the grounds BEFORE they start making those deliveries.  Grocery or flower deliveries, plumbers, electricians etc., all have great access and ability to gather information about the family and household once they pass the perimeter.  Other deliveries and package services should be accepted outside the perimeter if at all possible.

With regards to the perimeter, diehard old security guys recommend that a  security fence is essential: it allows you to see out and identify any threat. In this way, you have control over who you let into the grounds.  Before the arrival of excellent and cost-effective security cameras, this was true. But these days, one can easily build a privacy perimeter of bricks, stone, etc., and then simply install a camera through which all visitors can be viewed clearly. Think about installing  a PSIM (Professional Security Integrated Management) System as described by Jules Trocci in a recent edition of Aegis Journal. Use a PSIM  for monitoring  all alarms, cameras, gates, etc…  Also think of putting a camera up well outside the perimeter of your property, if you are able to do so.  It’s always interesting to see the view of your estate from across the street or down the road and this may help to potentially identify anyone monitoring the property or approaching. In some cases, I have seen people using the little drone helicopters for emergency surveillance; they work great – if you have a good pilot!

All personnel should be trained in:  Heimlich Maneuver, advanced first aid, CPR – (cardio pulmonary resuscitation), and a few should be trained as EMTs – Emergency Medical Technicians.  All personnel should have panic buttons on their person that can alert to the nature of an emergency through the PSIM system.  Ideally this panic button should also have an audio function when activated.

All employees should carry encrypted radios to communicate to each other while on the estate – if these radios also have panic button, you get a two-for-one bonus.  They are just a very practical tool for every-day work.  We have all seen it happen – someone on the estate calling someone else on the estate via cell phone – much like your spouse forgetting where she left you when you two went shopping – she just calls your cell – we rely on them as the wonderful tool that they are – but are they really?  The cost of an encrypted radio is so low and also much  safer – make the minor investment.

Also remember – your work needs to be as discrete as possible.  Your job is to make sure your charges are both safe and able to live as freely as possible. Follow these tips in order to enjoy the fruits of a safe home and a safe family.

Rent-a-Butler Assignment

A corporate client has 1-3 day assignments for butlers in the San Francisco, Chicago, and Atlanta areas this month (April). If you live in these areas and can break away, please contact the Institute about this brief opportunity. The client is looking for a «real butler» to make a number of media deliveries while dressed in traditional butler garb, and adding the caché of the real butler to  the PR caper.

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

Let’s Talk about Spirits, Part 2

by Amer Vargas

Cognac, Part 1

With a history of over eight centuries, brandy has always been linked to luxury and those who love and appreciate the finest and most exquisite pleasures in life.

Wooden Casks at Yerevan Brandy Company, photo by Hayk
Wooden Casks at Yerevan Brandy Company, photo by Hayk

Brandy is produced by distillation, often double distillation, of fermented fruits or cereals. Then, depending on the type of brandy, it is aged in oak barrels anywhere from two to fifty years. After bottling, the drink stops developing and can be enjoyed at room temperature, on the rocks or very chilled, usually as an after-dinner drink, or as an ingredient in a cocktail at any time.

The origin of brandy comes from the dutch brandewijn, meaning ‘burnt wine,’ a spirit produced after distilling wine. Thus, the word brandy by itself always refers to the drink produced out of grapes; other types of brandy require the name of the original ingredient or an adjective to specify what sort of spirit it is, as in the case of fruit brandies like “peach brandy.”

Brandy Pot Stills at Van Ryn Brandy, photo by Dewet
Brandy Pot Stills at Van Ryn Brandy, photo by Dewet

The production of brandy began with the appearance of the first alambiques or copper pot stills, during the 12th century and became very popular in the 14th century, when wine producers were looking for ways to pay less tax for the transportation of wine. One way of achieving this, they thought, was to concentrate the wine in the  casks by removing water, then adding water at the final destination! After a while, they realized that actually, the distilled drink improved during the time spent in transportation, compared to the way wine responded to being transported.

As with wine production, many factors go into to making just a regular or an outstanding drink: First of all, the soils where the plants grow impart their own strength and personality to the fruits or cereals. After crushing the berries, the mash (with or without skins and pips, depending on the type of brandy desired) undergoes fermentation for several days at  tightly controlled temperatures. Then water is evaporated by means of distillation or double distillation and the remaining liquid is then stored in oak casks to age. It’s during this process that the brandy will obtain its aromas, tannins and color.

To present brandy in the bottle at the required levels of alcohol, ranging from 36o-45o, the drink is  balanced out again with water. Some brewers add caramel to emphasize its color, but in amounts that do not affect the taste, or other ingredients such as raisin, almond skins, or vanilla to pamper the most discerning palates.

In the next article we shall talk about brandies from different parts of the world. Until then, light the fireplace, dim the lights, turn on some mellow music, and sniff the brandy before you sip it. Cheers!

Brandy in a Snifter, photo by Szalony Kucharz
Brandy in a Snifter, photo by Szalony Kucharz

Mr. Vargas can be contacted via AmerVargas at 

Perceptions of the Butler (Part 7 of 7)

by GJ dePillis

Q: If you were to grant time off to your butler for a skills-update conference, what would be the optimal length of time for such a conference?

1.      30% of the respondents said they would allow up to one week.

2.      70% said they would allow 3 days or less.

Most employers interviewed do expect a candidate to hone their skills annually in a butler-focused conference.  Every person stressed that they wished their current butler could attend a “one-stop shop” annually in order to learn or polish skills which would help the employer in their personal and business life.

What areas did they mention as requiring further training?

One peculiarity was an employer who wanted their butler to learn how to have a full social schedule on their own time, without involving the employer.

Another person shared a story about their pilot, who was also their chauffeur.  This  was a mistake, apparently, because the pilot knew nothing of maintaining a car and ignored a “check engine” light, eventually burning up the engine block.  It was only after the pilot-turned-driver had been dismissed, that the employer realized the mastery of one craft did not necessarily mean the mastery of the mechanics of another.  This employer  opined that he wished his butler had been trained regularly on basic mechanical duties and maintenance schedules  for all relevant transportation vehicles (boats, cars, planes, and in the case of another employer he knew, a hot air balloon), as well as the various mechanical gadgets and appliances in his homes known to break down repeatedly.

One common request was for the butler to learn skills on pre-mapping  various routes in an area they had never visited before.  Places referenced ranged from a safari in South Africa to travelling to an Old World European city.

When it was suggested to those interviewed that these skills may not be mastered in a once-a-year weekend conference, they stated that they understood that logically, but would want their butler to take action to address these various shortcomings.

Image by John dePillis
Image by John dePillis

In conclusion, the job of a butler is demanding and requires a great deal of organization and finesse, but with the proper training and regular upkeep of skills, one can exceed the employer’s  expectations and have a long and successful career.

To summarize the “ideal butler,” it is a person who is skilled, discrete, honest, and reliable.  They are always well dressed and knowledgeable about fabric and fashion care to make the entire household reflect well on the employer. Ideally, the butler also knows how to fix things on the spot, entertain their employer’s associates and friends properly, and in general, provide a seamlessly organized household to make their employer’s life easier.  Employers are willing to send their trusted staff to short annual seminars to sharpen their skills.  The position of a butler is viewed, in America, as a high-status job opportunity only to be filled by the most elite, well-trained candidates.  Feel proud that you have chosen this profession. Well done!

Thank you for joining us for the final segment of this series of articles on the perceptions of prospective employers regarding prospective and current employees.  We enjoyed finding out the unvarnished truth and hope you did, as well. Ms. dePillis is thanked for her initiative in researching these questions and points, and will be joining us for the next two years with a column on those fine points of light in our lives: roses—so stay tuned.

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

Consulting the Silver Expert

Jeff Herman

 by Jeffrey Herman

Q. Can one replace broken blades in stainless knives?

A. No. Such blades  are fitted and ground to the shape of the handle and are specific to that design: I’m afraid one has to look for a replacement knife.

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, January 2014

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 10, issue 1

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

We would like to offer a «Thank You» and «Farewell» to Ms. Pamela Spruce, who has retired from teaching butlers after many years at the helm of the Australian Butler School. We wish Ms. Spruce well in her new adventures, as well as Mr. Chris Reid, who has taken over the ABS. In Ms. Spruce’s words: «I think we can both be proud of the contribution we have made to the private service industry over the past fifteen-plus  years in the business and trust that younger minds will take what we’ve achieved and build on it with fresh ideas and approaches.»

We were very happy to have stolen a couple of hours with Ms. Spruce (far right) as our paths crossed finally at the airport in Male, Maldives a few months ago—we had been training at resorts just a few miles from each other.














Continuing on the same theme, we would like to thank those who sent in  kind comments on last month’s editorial about keeping work and life upbeat. Perhaps it is fitting that we expand on the message with some comments on the training of butlers today—for while not all trainers are of the caliber of Ms. Spruce, they nonetheless all share a passion for genuinely helping others grow…but a very small minority are not so clear in their intentions, and it is such people I feel it appropriate to discuss in the hope of empowering those they afflict with their training.

As disappointing as life can become sometimes, in truth, it is actually a game where losing or winning are not such dire elements: You lose? No big deal, was the game fun to play? The better games do not require there be losers. And the better players are as happy to win as to lose, as long as the playing was fun and there are plenty more interesting games to play thereafter.

But for some people, the game of life has become desperately serious—they feel so wretched about themselves and others that they have to come out on top, even if it means cheating or hurting others in the process. Being the only recognized player becomes more important than enjoying the game, or taking joy in the contributions of other players, the skills demonstrated by self and others, and the excitement of achieving goals in a cooperative effort.

One may well meet such people when training. A while back, I did. I had left my butler students very excited about the future while I  went to service another client. I returned a few weeks later to complete their training, only to find them all of very low morale and 25% of them having left—and too many of the staff in other departments having left, too.

What had happened?

Another trainer, while claiming repeatedly to be the best trainer in the world, had told all the staff that if they did not do as he/she told them, they would be fired. Everything that they did was, according to this trainer, not good enough and they had been poorly trained;  this opinion was frequently and very loudly made known to them and their colleagues. At the same time, the butlers had been forbidden to practice or use their standard operating procedures from the moment I had left, and instead had been told verbally to perform random, contradictory, and ever-changing procedures. They were punished and shamed in front of others for wrong answers or actions. Tests were rigged for failure.

When two of the butlers rated this trainer’s training poorly in an HR follow-up survey, they were fired. Others just quit rather than face the indignities. And despite never having worked as a butler nor actually training the ones at this location in butler skills, this trainer instructed these butlers to tell guests, when they asked, that they had been trained by him/her.

The managers were unwilling to rein in this individual (because the person apparently represented the owner of the managing company), instead supporting his/her demands and trying to persuade themselves and others that there was nothing that could be done about this individual’s training and management style. Nothing could be further from the truth, however.

Technically, such a being is stuck in the past and fighting some past unknown-to-them-and-everyone-else battle. Life has ceased to be a game, and instead, has become a desperate fight to the finish, where nothing anyone else does can ever be validated as good, and everything is criticized and made nothing of. In a nutshell, other people are completely unimportant and their actions never good enough.

When nothing and nobody are good enough, and therefore dismissed, an individual cuts themselves off from much enjoyment in life—they also happen to share the same mindset as criminals, who are not able truly to enjoy and experience their ill-gotten possessions and who have to insist upon their superiority.

In truth, the best way to control others, including those one is teaching, is with love, affection, two-way communication, trust, and confidence in them—a lesson this person could learn if only they actually cared for their students and were not so sure he/she already knew everything that needed to be known. Teaching can be frustrating, but the trick is to realize that any student who does not «get it» is simply saying, «Teach me in a way I can understand.»

In the years I have been engaged in training and consulting, I have met some strange games being played by a few colleagues (copying others verbatim and then claiming the work/ideas to be their own; training others in the profession without any personal experience in it, etc.), but these are all relatively harmless and make up the giant tapestry of how we as a group pass on skills from generation to generation. Overall, we muddle through and the profession keeps going.

But where an individual specializes in pushing others down, using fear and punishment instead of understanding the dignity, aspirations, decency, and value of each individual they have been charged with educating, then they degrade the game of learning, and the game of life, into an unhappy one. Such people only succeed, they only have power, as long as individuals fail to stand up to them. All the management and staff have to do is to say, “I am sorry, I do not agree with your comments and actions. Please leave.” If the individual won’t, they can simply take whatever (legal) measures are indicated, as such abuses generally violate the laws of the land, quite in addition to any standards of acceptable training in the 21st Century.

“Where there is a will, there is a way,” as the saying goes. But where such individuals have their way, there is no will left in their victims—the life goes out of them, as the under-butler said on his deathbed in Remains of the Day.

I have quite often written about the abuse of people in service and encouraged anyone so abused to move on: we are not yet in a feudal system of service where we work in repressive conditions for little pay and no choice about where we work because the employer owns and controls us like he owns a car or a dog. A case was all over the news this past November of three ladies being coerced into domestic slavery in London for three decades, trapped by their own fear. If they had read one of my books, they might have understood the wicked web being woven by their “employers,” and perhaps acted to free themselves many years earlier.

For if those who abuse are simply left without service, then that cannot be such a bad thing: there are many, many individuals and corporations that provide perfectly good work environments. Being in service means serving from the heart, with passion; when the recipient of such service, or someone claiming to represent them, has lost sight of the fact that life is a fun game in which the server, also, deserves to enjoy life as a fellow player, then the passion is sucked out of the service game and it turns to drudgery and worse.

In this case, I am not encouraging people to move on (it would be silly to leave because of one person in an organization that is otherwise wonderful to be a part of), but to stand together in refusing to cooperate with abusive forms of training—it is not how good butlers or service professionals are made, and not the standard in our profession.

One last point from Emily Post who says in Etiquette, A Guide to Modern Manners, 1922: “Manners are made up of trivialities of deportment which can be easily learned if one does not happen to know them; manner is personality—the outward manifestation of one’s innate character and attitude toward life.”

Good manners flow naturally from good manner, and from abusive manner flow abuses that continue only as long as the recipients feel obligated to play along.

Happy to hear any comments….

 Letters to the editor

A strange letter perhaps, but a picture speaks a thousand words, as the cliche goes, and one might be forgiven for thinking this use of «butler» is just where the idea belongs.













Butlers in the Media

Apple joins the throng of those trying to move closer to electronic butlers

book review on the life of servants in England over the last two centuries, picking up where E.S. Turner left off in his great book, What the Butler Saw.

A bit of media drama about Downton Abbey and the salaries that butlers can command, and about female butlers—all good trends in terms of recognition for the improving condition of the profession.

Forrest Whitaker, who was recently nominated by the Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor for his lead role in The Butler, talks about the training he received for that role.

Perceptions of the Butler (Part 4 of 5)

by GJ dePillis

In past segments of this article, we explored the way a potential employer thinks about a possible candidate.

In this section,  potential employers were asked how their perception of such as a butler’s accent, land of origin, culture, marital status, etc., influenced their hiring decision. Please note that the survey responses are truly held beliefs by the respondents, and are given here because they reflect a certain reality. However, the respondents’ views do not reflect the views of the author, the editor or the Institute.

© 2013 by John dePillis

A.     British: 83% Positive, 17% negative.  Some of the initial impressions of a British butler would be that they were capable, appropriate, and that there would be no language barrier, thereby fostering easier communication between employer and employee.  The negative comments included the feeling that the employee may wish to “slide by” on the notion that the perfect butler was British and use their accent as a way to shirk duties.

B.     French: 16% Positive, 84% negative. Several surveyed felt the French individual would not be dedicated to the job and would be difficult to understand, as well as possibly temperamental.

C.     Italian:  50% Positive, 50% negative (In this case, the negative was because they felt this accent is associated with a chef and not a butler)  Some positive attributes were: they felt an Italian-speaking individual would be trustworthy and stylish.

D.     Jamaican:  33% Positive, 67% negative.    Some positive attributes associated with Jamaican butlers were that they might be polite and easygoing.  However, some employers felt such a person would be not dependable but rather focused on their own pursuits instead of the interests of the employer.

E.      Asian (including butlers from India):   Positive attributes included “diligent” and “hard working.”  Those surveyed felt these employees could be counted upon to attend to detailed work.  Some negative comments included concerns about culture clashes and values.

F.      Hispanic: 35% Positive, 65% negative.   Those with negative concerns were primarily uncertain that a Hispanic individual would be able to master the skill level expected of a butler. Given a choice, they would hire such an individual for a different position at their home, but definitely not as a butler.

G.     American Southern: 70% Positive, 30% negative.   Several employers surveyed felt that this individual would be charming and the accent was received favorably.  Some of those who responded negatively expressed concern that Southern employees might use slang and improper grammar, which could reflect negatively on the employer.

H.     American Bronx:  40% Positive, 60% negative.  Some negative concerns were that this individual would seem too street-wise or tough to represent the refined gentleman’s gentleman that the employer was expecting.  Words used were: opinionated, aggressive, and  arrogant.  Employers would value a butler who possessed varied skills and could “hold their own,” yet want the butler’s façade to express elegance and discretion.  Positives simply stated they would not judge an employee on this accent and would look at their actions, instead.

I.       American Canadian: 85% Positive, 15% negative. Words associated with a Canadian butler were reliable, polite, respectful, and honest.  The few negative comments were simply associated with the desire to hire a US citizen, as opposed to a Canadian citizen.

J.       American West Coast: 90% Positive, 10% negative.  Those with negative comments expressed concern that this applicant would see the job of Butler as a temporary occupation and not take it seriously. The remainder stated such a butler’s accent was not distracting and even welcoming and familiar.

K.      Other: This section allowed the interviewee to suggest an accent and associated assumption of the character of Butler applicant.  Comments included: Russian accents implied the employee would be very strict. Several found an Irish accent pleasant, enjoyable, not stuffy, and capable.

In this next section, the employer was asked to explain if and how their perception of a candidate would vary if a butler candidate were any of the following:

  • Honorably discharged United States veteran: 100% felt very positively about this candidate.
  • Married:  35% said that a married butler would be acceptable as an applicant, but they did not expect to hire the wife in any capacity. 65% felt a married butler would prevent him from travelling with the employer, therefore viewed a married applicant negatively.
  • Single: 100% felt an applicant who was single was preferable, but with some caveats: namely that all personal social activity should occur well away from the employer’s household. There should be no scandal associated with social interactions. Romantic socializing should not include members of the staff or household. Theoretically, should the butler’s personal life be made public, his actions should not reflect negatively on the employer’s household.
  • Gay/Lesbian:  One female respondent said she would prefer a gay male so that she would not be the unintended focus of his potential romantic intentions.  The remainder of respondents stated they were neutral as long as all social interactions took place well away from the employer’s household.  Respondents also felt strongly is that the gay or lesbian butler candidate should not be romantically involved with any other member of the staff or household.  The final condition was that if the butler’s personal life ever became public, it should not reflect negatively on the employer’s household.

Finally, we challenged preconceived notions:

Would you consider a female applicant for the office of butler?  30% stated no; 70% stated yes if she were qualified and was strong enough to lift a sterling silver tea tray.

When you think of a “butler,” what race/nationality comes to mind and why? 90% stated British;  10% stated they couldn’t think of any particular group.

Would you call your butler by first name, last name, or nickname? 65%  said they would call the butler by his first name; 33% said they would ask the butler what he wished to be called; 2% said they would use his last name.

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

Hospitality Training

After assisting LVMH further with their Grand Opening at Maison Cheval Blanc Randheli, it was time to spend a few weeks at Anantara Kihava Villas, another splendid private island in the Maldives. The Villa  Hosts put together this short Anantara Graduation video to show some of the training they received. 

Consulting the Silver Expert

by Jeffrey Herman

Q: Some of the gilding has worn off my fish slice, can it be re-plated?

A: Yes, the worn area can be sponge plated and blended into the surrounding gilding.

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, August 2013

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 9, issue 8

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

A host told me recently that he had trouble trusting people—and it was evidently so, the way he vituperated (to disparage, blame another with use of strong language) against his neighbor. The same issue had come up a day earlier while consulting a client, who was having trouble with employees, vendors, even family members taking advantage of him. This question of knowing who to trust is central to all our lives, personal and on the job. «By their actions will you know them» is true enough advice, but do you really want your boss’  Italianate mansion repainted in gaudy neon pink six months behind schedule before you find out that you cannot trust the workman who came with such impeccable references and who yet seems to be both color blind and a bit too busy to see to your project?

Would it not help to know before you go?

Therein lies the trick, and I can heartily recommend you find out how to predict your fellow man before you go to much further down the road of life—at least, that is, if having a blood pressure that’s within range and things running smoothly are desirable goals.

Letters to the Editor

«For some time now, I have been very interested and have researched extensively the career of Butling. Could you kindly give me some  perspective and any other insights you might have on beginning a career as a Butler? In addition, I would be interested in your endorsement of the profession based on the prospects—both current and future. I, of course, would not hold you responsible for any decision I make as a result of your opinion and advice. As the sage saying goes: ‘In a multitude of councillors there is wisdom.'» CS

Editor: To your quote I might add: «Seek your own counsel!» You know better than anyone else what would work for you, and hopefully, any information I add may assist you in making the correct decision. The first step would be to undergo training—whether at a bricks-and-mortar butler school or through a correspondence course, if funds and time are an issue.

But before you invest time and money in such training, I would suggest you try your hand at private service (or even hospitality or any other service industry as a second, less-useful option), especially if you do not already have such experience, to see if you really love the reality of such work. Without passion, neither you nor your future employers will really shine. Any work in private service will do, wherever you can interact with employers/clients in their homes/estates.

With passion and training in place, the next thing is a CV that supports your quest to become a butler. There are people who are already experienced as butlers and who would be more attractive to many employers, but not to all. You may have some advantage (such as a language that they need you to speak) that few others have. Or an ancillary skill, such as nursing, if they are geriatric and needing a butler/caregiver, etc.

In other words, I would not be put off by the competition when it comes to finding work, as your qualities properly marketed, and with persistence, will allow you to break into the profession. Also, with the numbers of wealthy set to rise over the next several years, the demand for butlers will increase, and this may result in anyone having no experience but at least a certificate, being much-prized.


I’d like to see if I can work part time as butler/assistant/driver, etc. for one or several families in my (remote) area. Do you have any suggestions on how one can enter the industry in such a capacity?  I have had valuable experience working for two (high-standard) families in a city.

I know of one family here with a house manager.  There is plenty of money here—it’s just hidden and not shown off.   I could drop off business cards in the affluent areas.  It’s possible I could volunteer at the local lieutenant governor’s mansion.  (These are) a few different ideas I am considering. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. SE

Editor: Thanks for the update. Did you complete the butler course you had planned to do? If so, are they providing placement assistance? I believe that is meant to be part of the benefits of the course? Otherwise, have you contacted any other agencies? Your ideas are fine. You could add to them by doing the above, as well as advertizing in any upscale magazine and connecting with whatever existing Household Managers you can locate, to network.

Yes, I completed the course back in early 2011.  I was then placed by their placement agency with a family.  I have yet to contact them regarding positions in this area, as I remember them saying they have no contacts this far over. It’s a small and very underground market. SE

Editor: I suspect there are no domestic placement agencies in the area? Your plan to hand out your business card sounds like the best approach; maybe you could try and write, or be interviewed for, an article in the local paper, to put out the word and drum up interest from likely employers?

Butlers in the Media

«The Butler» movie is to be released on the 16th of this month, retitled Lee Daniel’s The Butler to avoid a conflict with an earlier short movie of the same title. Within a long article published recently in the Washington Post, is a short snippet from one  of the lead actors, Forrest Whitaker, on researching the role.

A happy travel-writer from the Huffington Post croons over the butlers in her hotel.

An unfortunate noise from down-under emanating from politicians who should know better, about whether standard secretarial service in setting up conference rooms for use, is really butler service paid for reprehensibly by public funds—just another angle on our profession. A more accurate or pertinent one concerns the rise of the profession, especially in the Middle and Far East.

Talking of which, a culture shock between the Middle East and the West: a Saudi princess finds herself in jail for allegedly treating her staff in Los Angeles—in violation of a recent change in Californian law concerning human trafficking—in the same way she does, no doubt, without repercussion in her home country. Plenty of room for improvement in perceptions and considerations about private-service staff  deserving treatment as human beings, rather than serfs.

Consulting the Silver Expert

Mr. Jeffrey 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 (in the USA) or email jeff at

Q: What are the rough spots on my sterling that I cannot remove with silver polish?

A: Those black rough spots you feel on sterling (or other solid silver alloys) which cannot be removed with silver polish are most likely corrosion. Place an ammonia-soaked cotton ball on the corrosion spot and it should dissolve within ten minutes. If not, repeat for ten minutes at a time until the corrosion has gone. You may need to use some silver polish on a Q-tip or cotton ball and «massage» the area very lightly until you bring up the shine to blend in with the surrounding area. There will probably be a shallow etched spot that remains under the corroded area.


Household Manager sought by a senior couple in a 5,000 sq. ft. residence in Houston, Texas. The job requires standard household management functions as well as some cooking, covering for the housekeeper during her off days, and some driving. Good remuneration package, with salary DOE and your expectations; can be live-in or live-out. Interested candidates should contact the Institute via enquiries at with current resume, salary requirements and a good quality current photograph, preferably a full-length shot.

frankmitchell  Cigars, Part XVII

by Frank Mitchell 

Serving a Cigar, Part 2 of 2

The guest most likely to accept your offer to cut and light is probably a novice and may be hoping to pick up some tips. Make sure they can see what you are doing and be ready with an explanation. I have taught several guests how to cut and light a cigar and they are always immensely grateful. When you are cutting and lighting, you should use whichever cutter you are most comfortable with, provided it is suitable for that shape of cigar.

Cut a hole large enough to ensure a good draw, but leave a ring of cap intact, otherwise the cigar will fall apart. A rough guide is to cut halfway up the height of the cap, but this will depend on the size and shape of the cigar. There are several videos online that help explain this, but cutting and smoking a few cigars for yourself will be the best way to understand what you need to do.

When lighting a cigar, hold the cigar at a 45° angle to the floor and rotate it longitudinally between the thumb and forefinger as you toast the foot with the heat of the lighter. Do not push the foot into the flame to rush the process. This will only char the wrapper. Move the flame about so that it heats the foot evenly. When you decide the lit end needs some air on it, do not blow on the cigar! You may move the cigar through the air, but be very careful not to stab someone with the hot end! Reapply the flame before offering the cigar to the guest. By this time, they will have figured out what you are doing and may ask for the lighter to finish the job themselves.

In my experience, guests may occasionally pocket your cutter or lighter in the absent-minded repetition of a habitual motion. If the cigar paraphernalia belongs to the hotel, your policy may simply be to add it to the bill and keep some spares on hand. The guest may decide to keep them after all, or may prefer to return them and have the item removed from the bill. If it is a really good guest who spends a great deal of money at your establishment, it may be wise to simply write it off as an expense. If the paraphernalia are your private possession, be tactful. It is helpful to remember that pocketing a lighter after using it is an action which a smoker has practiced to the point of it being a reflex. You learn to watch for it and as the hand moves towards the pocket say “Thank you, sir,” while extending the salver: Problem solved.

Next month we will look at some of the more traditional (and perhaps showy) methods of lighting a cigar.

 Amer1x1inch The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012 Let’s Talk about Wine, Part XVII

by Amer Vargas

This month we are in the beautiful country of Uruguay. The smallest in South America, it is located on the Atlantic coast of the continent and borders on Brazil to the North and Argentina to the West. With the latter, it shares a latitude that allows for wine growing (it shares that same latitude also with the great wine-growing regions of Chile, South Africa, and Australia).

Indeed, Uruguay is a privileged land when it comes to the right geography for cultivating wine producing grapes: vitis vinifera is cultivated in 16 of the 19 «departments» (similar to provinces) in the country; 90% of these are located in its more southern region.

Tannat grapes, photo by Pancrat

Uruguay is a fairly flat country and enjoys the benefits of a temperate, maritime climate, with sunny and dry summers, cold and humid autumns and winters, and average yearly temperatures of 18 0C/64.5 0F. Soils vary from dry and rocky in the north to rich in limestone and clay in the south, all of which allows for the production of a large variety of wine styles and grapes.

Wine production in Uruguay dates back more than 250 years. However, the arrival in 1870 of the Basque, Don Pascual Harriague, who brought with him the Tannat grape from southern France, provided the breakthrough the country needed to start appearing on the world map of best wines. Since then, and especially after the so-called Mercosur Agreement (an economic-commercial agreement between South American countries) in 1980, Uruguay has striven to increase the quality of its wines so as to be able to compete in the same markets as Argentina and Chile.

The Tannat grape is Uruguay’s signature grape, making up 36% of the total cultivated grapes. Other important grapes, in order of cultivated quantities, are Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Thus, most wine production in Uruguay is devoted to the creation of rich and medium-to-full-bodied red wines, although some of their white wines will please the most demanding of palates.

Don’t hesitate to pair the excellent Tannat with red meats, especially if grilled—simply a perfect pairing.




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, 2012

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 8, issue 10

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

Some articles in the media about butlers prompt a few comments below; rather a busy month of training around the world; an excellent Domestic Estate Managers Association conference in Los Angeles; and the continuing series on cigars, wines, and the world of the PA. Enjoy!

Butlers in the Media

Interesting article from the BBC,  Servants: A Life below Stairswhich is fascinating, no doubt, to Europeans and Americans, and anywhere else where Downton Abbey is proving popular; but as I discovered when in Thailand just now, the article resonates as a world apart, a piece of arcane history, really, for most others elsewhere. What led to this epiphany? The fact that a teacher at a respectable university was busy teaching hospitality students that butlers were a creation of the hotel industry, with no idea of the existence of butlers in private service for a thousand years before their recent appearance in hotels.

Just as man has long considered himself the center of the universe, anthropocentric, so Europeans have become overly fond of, or perhaps complacent in, the rectitude of our cause, forgetting that there are other players on the stage. Take, for instance, a Western colleague sending a letter to the editor as follows (in response to the use of “The Queen of England” in the last MBJ): “Interesting newsletter as always. One article refers to ‘the Queen of England’ and while we all know to whom you are referring, that is not her correct title. It is ‘Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,’ which would be verbose in the context of your article. But if you simply said ‘the Queen,’ everyone would know who you were talking about!”

The response sent back, which the reader conceded was correct in principle, was: “I was of the same opinion until, sitting in Thailand, I deliberately added ‘of England’ because, in our Anglo-centric way, we forget that many other countries have queens, including Thailand!” He did, quite rightly, however, point out “When you say ‘Queen of England,’ it upsets the rest of Great Britain, as though they were second class citizens. I doubt the Irish care.”

The point? We can say that the English butler stands as the standard for all things butlerish, but the idea that anything anyone else offers on the subject of superior service, by definition, must not be quite up to standard is just to promote a stereotype that my be quaint in its ineluctable (unable to be resisted) certainty, but which actually falls short of the ideals of any butler for whom the profession is a lifelong learning experience. I say this having experienced a level of open-hearted, solicitous, and caring service in Taiwan and Thailand which, married with the many admirable traits of a butler, would have no doubt found much support from employers of butlers in centuries passed. In other words, the essential trait of dignity can be manifested quite adequately with humility—it does not require that haughty attitude, whether spoken or unspoken, that has so embedded itself in the butler psyche, and the English in general, over the centuries. There are certainly many ways in which the butler provides superior service that are well conceived, but are employers really well served by an attitude or mindset that is fixed in its innate superiority, as opposed to enjoying the flexibility that comes from sharp observation, intelligent evaluation, and skilled implementation of new ideas?


Another interesting article with the requisite salacious title to attract readers—“What the butler saw naked in the bath”—provides another look at butlers a century ago. The butler saw his boss in the bath who expected him to brush his hair. “As far as he was concerned, [the butler] didn’t really exist. He was just an automaton, someone whose only purpose in life was to serve.” When the butler began his lifelong career in 1914, he “worked 16-hour days emptying chamber pots, shining shoes, and doing anything he was told to do. He and his fellow hall-boys had half a day off a year at Christmas, slept in either cupboards or cellars and changed their clothes—on average—once a month.” The job was grueling and demeaning resulting in resentment towards employers. Butlers and household staff are not treated that way in most countries today, but there are still some countries where they are. No system of servitude will ever work, because the resentment it generates results in the worst level of slavery and the degradation of the perpetrators as much as the victims. Thank goodness most service is based largely on mutual support and benefit.


USA Today’s article 10 amazing free hotel amenities lists the infamous Tanning Butler at Ritz Carlton Miami Beach and the Book Butler at a hotel in Minneapolis in the top ten… really?


Congratulations to Larry Mogelonsky for his recent article. It is not often one hears someone outside the butler profession stating what is obvious to us, but still new news to hospitality in general: that the butler is such a simple solution to differentiating a luxury hotel, or at least greatly increasing the avenues open to pampering and wow’ing guests. And a logical extension of butler service in a private estates to the hotels the same employers may well frequent when traveling.

And Mr. Mogelonsky was spot-on in stating that guests need to be educated in how to utilize their butlers, and the scope of their offerings. Mr. Mogelonsky provided some examples of services he had received from butlers, but there are far more ways that butlers can be utilized. The variance in perception is caused by the training they receive failing to pass on the full range of services that butlers can provide, resulting in butler service in too many hotels being too narrow in scope. The Institute’s hotel butler  rating service lists some of the services available, and the extent of the butler service that can be experienced in different hotels.

A couple of points that are not totally accurate in Mr. Mogelonsky’s otherwise excellent article, is that “the decision to initiate a butler program should be tempered by the availability of appropriate staff as properly trained butlers are both expensive and rare,” and the suggestion that the concierge staff could be made into butlers. Staff from whatever department, preferably with F&B background, who have a service orientation and a modicum of intelligence, simply need to be trained as butlers by a trainer knowledgeable in the services that can be offered, as well as the proper mindset and communication skills. This does not cost much at all when measured against the higher ADRs that Mr. Mogelonsky accurately states to result in butler service suites/villas. Anyway, kudos to Mr. Mogelonsky for his support of this rather recent arrival on the hospitality scene: the butler.

***Another article from England’s Telegraph about hotel butlers, as well as private service butlers, in England/Scotland, which is quite accurate and contains some interesting information.

The Hollywood Reporter reports the price tag to maintain (and fly) the most expensive private jets, such as the  Bombardier Global Express, is $3 million a year, with fuel costs alone in the $3,000-US-an-hour range. Sales of the largest business jets have increased 23% over the last five years with Bombardier, Gulfstream, and converted Boeing commercial jets leading the way. One broker in Los Angeles correctly asserts that owners of such planes would need to have a net worth of at least $100 million.

The Art of Being a Personal Assistant

 by Lisa Krohn

Organizing a Principal’s Life

In a first conversation with the principal, a prudent gesture on your part, if possible, would be to ask them to speak openly and freely about the negatives in their life. Encourage them tell you everything that is wrong, that they don’t like or are angry about. Doing so will create an invaluable directive for you on how to proceed and frees them up, giving them a feeling you can take everything that is wrong, bad, or simply not a preference, and turn it around to an efficient and effective system. It suggests you are a proactive problem solver. They might just say to you «That’s your job, figure it out,» in which case,  be aggressive in dissecting everything as much as possible. If something is working well and you objectively think it is for the best, then keep it the way it is, rather than making changes just so you can show change. Be subtle, don’t report or discuss the changes openly with the principal unless they asked to be informed. Keep a daily journal and write everything you do as you go along.

Listen, listen, and listen, not only with your ears and eyes, but with every part of your emotional and social intelligence. Very often what is not said by the principal, intentionally or not, is what you need to be attentive to, just as much as you attend to what they are saying.

Be flexible, spontaneous, and adaptable. Be vigilantly critical of your own work and behavior at all times. Your physical presence, regardless of height and weight, is very important. Being silent and not talking is easy. Making your body still is one thing, but to make your entire presence silent when they are talking to you, or when sitting with them while they are reading something, is a fundamental part of being a Personal Assistant.

Create a manual for your job that includes philosophy, not just practical points. It is your responsibility to the principal, as well as for your successors, to be transparent, creating systems and procedures that will allow another person to step into your shoes and know how to proceed.


Ms. Teresa Leigh and others at the DEMA conference in Los Angeles spoke about the derailing of private service staff by Single Family Offices and Multiple Family Offices: basically corporate and finance offices being tasked with the placement of the household staff while having no background or real understanding, on the whole, of household management—and how this has been leading to unrealistic expectations of duties and downward pressure on salaries of private service staff, in the mistaken idea that household salaries and culture should mirror corporate salaries and culture. In addition, the market is being diluted and pressured by employers conceiving that household staff should be willing to accept steep cuts in remuneration on the basis that many are out of work and candidates should be happy they have a job offer; and employers looking to non-professional household staff for their staffing needs.

This is more than a pendulum swing away from the high flying days of the 1990s and early 2000s when salaries were quite exuberant and the household industry flying high. A corporate culture is inserting itself into the household culture, whereas what works in an office is not what works in the home. It is up to the profession as a whole to redefine and reassert the domestic culture and how it is best run by itself, not by a corporation, if we are to provide a home for our principals.

Recent Graduates

Some of the recent butler graduates at Six Senses Kiri, Thailand

Graduates at Regent Phuket Panway Bay, Thailand (pre-opening)
Some of the recent butler graduates at Karisma Hotels in Mexico

Cigars, Part VIII

frankmitchell The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012 by Frank Mitchell 

Handling Cigars 

A few tips about handling cigars before we talk storage. Cigars are a natural product and it is necessary to take care when transporting and handling them. Take even greater care when the cigars belong to your employer or, should you be working in a hotel, be offered for sale to your customers. Cigars are damaged relatively easily and should be handled as little as possible. Oils from our fingertips can be absorbed into the tobacco leaf. Wash your hands before handling cigars and avoid strongly scented soaps or hand lotions. Try to handle cigars by their bands if they have them or use cotton gloves. Avoid washing your gloves with strongly scented detergents or rinse aids which may also taint the tobacco.

Selecting a Humidor

All cigars need to be kept in a humidor. Even bulk boxes should be transported and stored in this manner. I once knew a GM who ruined several unopened boxes of Cuban cigars by insisting that they were safer locked away in his air-conditioned office. An unopened cigar box is not airtight – it is not a humidor. If your humidor cannot accommodate large boxes, you will have to buy cigars in smaller quantities or even individually. Keep this in mind when deciding what size humidor to buy. Buying an overly large humidor is also not recommended as it becomes difficult to regulate humidors that are less than half full.

One alternative is to line a camping cooler with untreated Spanish cedar and convert it into a bulk storage or transport humidor. By all accounts they work very well, but should preferably remain out of sight.

Humidors come in many sizes, ranging from the small, single-layer desktop humidor, to the large free-standing chest of drawers type. The most expensive humidor is not necessarily the best humidor. Cigar publications often run comparative reviews and these can make interesting reading. A good humidor is practically airtight. Open and close the humidor lid gently. There should be resistance due to the change in air pressure. The humidor should protect the cigars from light and should be lined with untreated Spanish cedar wood. For this reason, attractive acrylic-display humidors seldom work as advertised.

Humidors are described in terms of the number of cigars they can hold. Your humidor should be stocked somewhere between 50% and 100% of its capacity. A safe bet is to take the number of cigars you plan to keep in your humidor and add ⅓ of this number. This will tell you what size humidor you should purchase. A good humidor will offer a number of arrangements for stocking cigars of various shapes and sizes. If you are planning to stock unusually large or small sizes, make sure that the humidor can be configured to store them sensibly and safely.

For very busy hotels, where the humidor is continually being opened and stands in an air-conditioned environment, an electronically controlled active humidor is the best option. This type of humidor draws mains power and actively humidifies its interior, quickly raising the humidity level if the door has been open too long or if it has been restocked with bulk stock.

In quieter environments and in private homes, an unpowered passive humidor is not only quite adequate, but is both the more attractive and the more traditional option. Should you go this route, the next item on your shopping list is a good humidifying element. This is a small container with a grille opening containing a wicking material designed to hold moisture and slowly release it as needed. There are high tech alternatives available these days, but the traditional versions will do the trick, unless the humidor is opened and closed too often or is kept in a challenging climate. Humidifying elements are also rated in terms of the number of cigars they can humidify. Do not be tempted into saving money by buying too few elements. People believe that they will simply dry out faster and need topping up more often. This is not true. They can release a limited amount of moisture each day and won’t cope if the moisture level outside is to dry. A number of smaller elements distributed throughout the humidor will always be better than one very large element.

Analogue Hygrometer, photo by nathansnostalgia

Lastly, do not overlook the need for a good hygrometer. Many people opt for the lovely brass analogue hygrometers and then struggle to bring their humidors on target, not realising that these hygrometers need to be calibrated first. We will look at some of the ways you can do this next month.

A less attractive, but far more accurate, version is the digital hygrometer which comes to you already calibrated. For large stocks or valuable cigars, I recommend forgoing the attractive appearance of the analogue hygrometer in favour of the reliability and accuracy of the digital one. Whatever you decide, remember that saving money on this vital piece of equipment can cause you costly headaches – purchase the best one you can afford. If you are on a budget, remember that an inexpensive digital hygrometer will always deliver superior accuracy when compared to an analogue one in the same price bracket.

Next month we will discuss the various ways one can set up a humidor and consider the relative merits of each method.

DEMA Convention

The convention in Los Angeles just now was a triumph for DEMA: professionally run for professionals who finally have a vehicle for the butler and household manager industry to come together and work together with those who work with it. There were many good speakers, many excellent vendors presenting their wares and services, much good conversation, and many links made. Next year, the convention will be in Orlando. Although DEMA is mainly servicing North America, they are working on developing internationally, as well as launching a continuing-education program for butlers and household managers.

Let’s Talk about Wine, Part X

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

 Welcome to Oporto, homeland to world famous Port wine. This beautiful city is the second biggest city in Portugal, and is located in the north bank of the Douro river, where its waters flow into the Atlantic.

Port is not just another kind of wine, but a fortified wine, meaning that a distilled spirit, commonly known as brandy (although it has nothing to do with the cognac-like beverage that one can purchase in wine stores), is added to the fermenting wine. Once the brandy comes into contact with the wine, fermentation stops, thus leaving significant amounts of natural sugars unfermented, and so giving the characteristic sweet taste of Port.

Croft Port Cellar, photo by R. Martins

Less fermentation does not mean the final drink has less alcohol than regular wines. In fact, the added brandy has a very high alcoholic content, giving Port wine 19 – 22 degrees of alcohol.

Only five grape varieties are used generally in making Port: Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cao, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa, and Touriga Nacional; for white Port (not so well known) wine makers use white grapes exclusively: Donzelinho Branco, Esgana-Cao, Folgasao, Malvasia Fina, and Viosinho.

The area where Port is made and vines grown has a microclimate that presents the ideal weather –mild temperatures all year round—and ideal soil conditions. The land is full of slopes that have been into terraces that make mechanization very difficult, which means most of the work has to be done by hand, increasing the cost of producing and price for buying port.

The vineyards can be found on both sides of the Douro, and although traditionally Port had to be made in Vila Nova de Gaia (on the south bank of the Douro), nowadays it is allowed to age in barrels in other villages of the province.

Colheita & Vintage Ports, photo by Mirari Erdoiza




The creation of wine in Portugal goes back as far as the eleventh century and has improved over the centuries.

It was not until the English fought a war with the French in the Eighteenth Century that Portuguese wines (and so Port) increased in prominence and trade. The English, eager for good wine but not being able to obtain it from France, purchased it from its Portuguese allies. Later on, the English acquired some wineries near Oporto to make wines according to their own particular tastes. This fact explains why most of language relating to Port is in English and why Englishmen still consider Port to be a British tradition.

Editor note: One could say the same for tea, coming from China yet being considered a British tradition.

Tawny Port, photo by Jlastras












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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 around the world.


The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, June, 2012

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 8, issue 6

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

I am afraid that the general message being promoted about our profession by the media right now is not the best.

Firstly, a book has just been published entitled, (groan)  The Butler Did It. I will not provide a link to it because it is basically tabloidal in nature. It may or may not be the truth, but some people have a habit of focusing on the salacious truths of life, to which rather too many others pay attention (while the majority of the profession, going about its business industriously and earnestly, receives scant attention).

The gist of the book, as I understand it, is that a member of the British Royal Family was one among several notables of the time involved in homosexual relationships with the butler, who also, it is said, happened to have murdered five people. This man was never trained as a butler, but brought into the profession it seems, as a sex toy.

There is no disputing the attraction of sexual sensations and uninhibited behaviour, but the Roman Empire went the same way and look where they are now. I make this historical analogy because, while we may well respect the wealthy, and particularly the royalty, we serve as professionals, we should neither hold them in awe nor allow our respect to be alloyed by the behaviour of some among them.  They are but human, flesh and blood, and while their positions, gained either by industry or inheritance, have their privileges, they also have their duties, the execution of which may not always be easy.

My point? If some amongst the British Royal family have misbehaved (or still may do), this neither makes less of the standards they, and those who have served them, have worked to achieve over the last millennium; and we should not allow books such as The Butler Did It  to undermine our perception of, and dedication to, those standards.

Secondly, the Pope’s butler has allegedly been busy poking through his employer’s  (organizational) papers and leaking them to the press. From the reports surfacing as the investigation continues, it seems he was spying on behalf of others in an effort to help his employer, as in the case of the French butler recently taken to court for recording his employer’s conversations.

As soon as butlers start to spy on their employers, they are not being butlers but spies. It is that simple. Butlers do not have anything about «spying on my employer» in their job description, no matter how well intended. Butlers are not vigilantes. In the final analysis, the Pope has been «particularly hurt by his butler, to whom he was close, whom he knew, loved and respected.”

The message? It’s time those already in our profession, and those coming into it, re-assert our standards in the public eye so that the vast majority of employers continue to have faith in our profession, and do not come to believe that all butlers are suspect. This was the take that Giovanni Lodigianni, our man (butler) in Italy, had on the situation, too. His words:  «I wrote to the Italian Butlers’ Association asking for some action be taken against the supposed butler if he is sentenced for theft, as this news is creating a huge damage to the profession at a time when work is completely lacking and we do not need a reputation of this kind.»

If you have any ideas how we, the vast majority of ethical butlers, can promote our standards, over and above the very welcome but fictional Downton Abbey, then please forward  your ideas so we can share them with other members of our community.

 Letters to the Editor

 Photo by Janos Feher

In answer to last month’s reader question about funeral etiquette: «There is no standard for sending a personal card or other written form of correspondence over and above the  signing of a Guest Book for a Funeral. Sending an individual communication is at the discretion of the individual and normally would come from either a close family member or personal friend.» R.B.A.


In response to Ms. Galbari’s response to a letter from an unappreciated butler: «Very interesting letter about the butler living with a very unreasonable principal.  I know how difficult this kind of situation is—I am living it.  I have looked inward to find a solution and Ms. Galbari’s response/comments while wise…well, sometimes you have to pull the plug on such ridiculousness.  I am hopeful I can stay through to experience my two-year mark, however, three people have quit in the last six months (which validates my persistence as well as perceptions).  I keep my head down and hope for the best, as I, too, am worried about my next employer’s reaction to my leaving too soon. Very good letter …it gives me hope. Thank you very much!» R.L.

Ed: In regards to that unappreciated butler, the sequel to the story is that he is just today on the market again, having left that less-than-ideal position. As a note to other butlers who find themselves on the market, the writing of a compelling resume/CV is an art that needs to be mastered. It can be difficult, when one has a varied career, to present a clear picture of why one is the right choice as someone’s butler.

The trick is to look at the resume from the perspective or through the eyes of the potential employer, to see what he would think: what questions he might have, what he might be looking for. The goal is not to write a complete life history of you as an individual, but to focus on presenting those things that the potential employer is looking for. So yes, you may have worked as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher in Bophupetswana at some stage of your life, and doing so again may seem like a comfortable change from being unappreciated as a butler, but if you are serious about finding a job as a butler, do not make the objective of your job search «To find a position as an ESL teacher in Botswana or similar.» Take away lesson? If you want a job as a butler, then make the resume butler-centric. Not to say you hide information, but in any performance there is the lead actor, and there is the chorus in the background or even off-stage. Your trick is to direct the attention of the potential client to the facts that would most compel him to ask for an interview. What is the lead actor in your career track that would enthrall the audience?


I would love to hear from your readers on any bath rituals they have observed or practiced, and which they would most recommend. What kinds of oils, soaps, candles, music,  rituals? What helpful tips? What bathroom decor ideas? TC
Ed: Good idea, thank you—please write to the editor with your ideas for publication in the next MBJ

Butlers in the Media

Another resort gets it on providing butler service to their top-end guests.

Another story about poor treatment of loyal household staff. «All I wanted was to be treated fairly, with respect and dignity. During this period of time, the majority of employees at Buckhurst Park have left,» the employee has stated.

As a profession, we really need to offer workshops for employers, just as much as their staff. In this case, the employer was educated as an architect before she came into wealth  by marriage and was expected to understand human nature and the proper management of employees so as to bring out the best on them. This is not necessarily an innate skill nor something offered on the syllabus of architecture courses. The employer is as much a victim as the employee.

One of the Institute’s members in the news, receiving an award—congratulations.

The Pope’s butler commits the cardinal sin.


A luxury resort in the Maldives is looking for an Assistant Head Butler to help manage the forty butlers. 25K per annum, etc., no taxes. For more details, ask.

Cigars, Part IV

frankmitchell The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, February, 2012 by Frank Mitchell 

Handmade Cigars

Before the matured tobacco can be rolled into cigars, the spine of the leaf must be removed with a small blade worn on the thumb, splitting the leaf in two. The leaves are suspended in bunches or  stacked in neat piles called ‘books’ and processed together using a treadle-operated guillotine. From this point on, when we talk about ‘leaves’ we are actually talking about leaf halves.

Hand rolling a cigar is a difficult art to master, especially the complicated shapes of the figurados. The cigar roller, known as a ‘torcedor,’ needs just a few tools: chief among these is a broad, flat blade called a chaveta that is similar to one used in a kitchen to chop herbs, but without the handles on either side; he also uses a platform, which serves as both a working surface and chopping board; and  vegetable glue called pectin. Finally, cigar molds that are provided by the factory.

A handmade cigar consists of three parts; the filler, the binder and the outer leaf known as the wrapper. The torcedor begins by preparing the filler. The number of leaf-halves used will depend on the size of the cigar. These leaves may be from the same source, or may be a blend of different tobaccos to give a more complex flavour.

The leaves must be rolled carefully if the cigar is to draw and burn properly. One method involves stacking the leaves before rolling. Another method, said to originate in Cuba, is called ‘entubar’. In this method, each leaf is carefully folded before the filler is bunched together. The aim in each case is a balanced construction resulting in an even burn and a light draw.

The next leaf is the binder,  coarser in appearance than the wrapper and a very important part of the cigar’s construction: not only does it hold the filler together, determining the final shape and size of the cigar, it must also provide an even surface for the wrapper, free of bumps or hollows. Once the binder is on, the unfinished cigar is placed in a cedarwood mold to rest for 30 – 45 minutes. The mold fully encloses the cigar, except for the foot (the end you light).  This may protrude slightly and is trimmed flush with the side of the mold, so that all the cigars will be exactly the same length.

While the cigars are in the mold, the torcedor clears the platform and prepares the wrappers. These are the most expensive leaves, chosen with great care. As they will determine the final appearance of the cigar, they should not have any blemishes or tears. The torcedor selects the best part of the leaf and trims it into the correct shape to wrap the cigar. Unlike the binder which is placed over the filler longitudinally, the wrapper will be wound around the cigar in a spiral. Pectin is applied to the wrapper and the cigar removed from the mold and wrapped. This is said to be the most difficult part of cigar making. In factories where rollers work in teams, the task of wrapping the cigars is entrusted to the more experienced torcedors.

The next step is adding the cap, a circular piece of leaf which finishes off the head of the cigar and secures the wrapper leaf in place. This small disc of tobacco is most often cut out with a punch, though I have heard of torcedors cutting around a coin. From here, the cigar will go for inspection and final sorting before being boxed.

If the cigar is to have a band, it is added before the cigar is boxed: the cigar is placed on a wooden form with a mark indicating where the band is to be positioned so they form a neat line in the box. The band is affixed with the same pectin used to apply the wrapper. This is why it is important not to remove the band before smoking the cigar—doing so may tear the wrapper.

Let’s Talk about Wine, Part VI

Amer1x1inch The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, February, 2012 by Amer Vargas 

Champagne, Part III

Before inserting the cork onto a champagne bottle, vintners add what is called “licquéur d’expédition,” which is a bit of base wine (the product obtained after the first fermentation) plus a certain amount of sugar. The amount of sugar will determine the level of sweetness of the final product, always mentioned on the label as ‘doux’ (sweet) and then, in increasing dryness, ‘demi-sec’ (semi-dry), ‘sec’ (dry), ‘extra sec’ (extra dry), ‘brut’ (very dry), ‘extra brut’ (a bit drier than brut), and ‘brut nature’ (no additional sugar, bone dry).

Although it may not seem so, the shape of the cork starts completely cylindrical. A machine forces the cork into the bottle, making the end that remains outside the bottle swell as it is squeezed by the pressure from within the bottle below. Right afterwards, a metal cap is placed on the cork top and a wire cage secured to hold it in place—giving us the cork that we know today with its distinctive final shape.

The bottle is ready for the final stages, which involve labeling and finally decorating the top of the bottle with a thin, colored paper that covers everything from the cork and the wire cage to the shoulders of the bottle. Dressing the whole neck of Champagne bottles dates back to the times when disgorgement of the debris in the neck was done by hand: during this operation, very often a little of the wine would be lost, so the vintners couldn’t guarantee that every bottle would have the same amount of Champagne. The dressing therefore covered up the different levels in each bottle.

Other famous sparkling wines, like the Cava from Catalonia (Northeastern Spain) follow the Traditional Method. But there are also other ways of making look-alikes to Champagne: the Método Charmatt  is a process similar to the Champenoise, but makes the second fermentation in tightly closed, stainless steel tanks or vessels, instead of in a bottle. Many Italian Espumantes (fizzies) and the Soviet Champagne from the USSR era follow this system.

The Tranfer Method is also similar to the Champenoise, the difference being that the “licqueur d’expédition” is added after pouring all the Champagne bottles into a tank after the second fermentation, and then re-bottled; this method is very rarely used nowadays.

Lastly, there’s a system that involves adding CO2 to a wine by means of a carbonator—a carbon dioxide blower that injects the gas into the wine; this  process is also quite uncommon and is certainly not used for quality sparkling wines.

To finish, hold your glasses up to this bit of trivia: an average Champagne cork flies at 13 meters/second, around 50 km/h (30 miles/h), so either hold the cork properly, or aim it carefully!

We shall next discuss other excellent wines, but without moving from France. In the meantime, sip your Champagne and enjoy!

Care of Silver

 by Jeffrey Herman

Lacquering Silver

Mr. Jeffrey Herman concludes his article on silver tarnish and patina, and dealing with the lacquering of silver that one can encounter.

The trophy pictured below was coated with lacquer in an effort to prevent tarnishing. Over time, the lacquer yellowed and degraded, allowing tarnish to form underneath. Since this is a common occurrence, I prefer the use of archival micro-crystalline Renaissance wax, which won’t yellow or crack

Lacquered trophy tarnished

To remove the lacquer, I used Dumond Smart Strip, a 100% biodegradable, water-based paint stripper with no emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This gel-type stripper adheres to the surface to which it is applied. After approximately 18 hours, the still-wet stripper and loosened lacquer were removed with cotton balls. The surface was then rinsed with water.

Trophy being cleaned


This image shows the cleaned trophy with the surface not yet polished. Two major dents were removed and the interior surfaces (which contained no lacquer) were cleaned and hand polished. The resulting surface required light machine polishing to remove all tarnish and micro-etching caused by the tarnish.

Below is the trophy with its final finish. The age of the piece is still evident with its patina of minute scratches and «dimples.» This is a better outcome than what often emerges from a mass-finishing service which may overpolish silver, removing this valuable patina and possibly damaging the crisp engraving.

 Mr. Herman is the owner of Jeffrey Herman Silver Restoration & Conservation located in West Warwick, RI. He can be contacted via email or by phone 1-800-339-0417. Or visit his website at


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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 around the world.