Newsletter Steven Ferry

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, March 2018, Message from the Chairman

Steven Ferry

Message from the Chairman

by Steven Ferry

Another substantial newsletter, so I’ll keep this message short again. As the humor offered in the last message proved popular, here is another to offset all the serious stuff in this month’s MBJ:

Looking for the collective noun for various professions, finds:

  • A Brace of Orthopedists
  • A Joint of Osteopaths
  • A Rash of Dermatologists
  • A Flutter of Cardiologists
  • A Guess of Diagnosticians
  • A Cell of Biologists
  • A Slug of Gardeners
  • A Groan of Punsters
  • An Order of Waiters
  • A Litter of Trashmen… er… Sanitary Engineers
  • A Stack of Librarians
  • A Pen of Writers
  • A Pride of Egotists
  • A Lot of Realtors
  • A Dose of Pharmacists
  • A Fib of Fishermen
  • A Flush of Plumbers
  • A Snap of Photographers

and unhappily,

  • A Sneer of Butlers

If you have any others to offer, we’d love to share them.


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.»

Butler books Butler history Mixology Newsletter Steven Ferry The Butlers Speak

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, February 2018, Message from the Chairman

Message from the Chairman

by Steven Ferry

IIMB Chairman Steven Ferry

A long newsletter this month, as usual. I hope you enjoy it, find one or more departments to be of use and/or interest, and like the new format. If you are in the mood for some levity/humour, then you might enjoy the fruits of the modern education system, as evidenced in these signs, perhaps posted by someone in a rush:


In a London department store: BARGAIN BASEMENT UPSTAIRS.




Notice in health food shop window: CLOSED DUE TO ILLNESS.

Spotted in a safari park: ELEPHANTS PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR.




Spotted in a toilet of a London office: TOILET OUT OF ORDER. PLEASE USE FLOOR BELOW


Best wishes for the month ahead.

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.»

Butler books Butler history Butler Jobs Mixology Newsletter

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal

December 2017

In its 13th year of continuous publication

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

Message from the Chairman

IIMB Chairman Steven Ferry

The Professional Standards of Performance for butlers and household managers have been published as a detailed addition to A Professional Butler’s Code of Ethics: Copies of these standards have been sent to our members, and are also available on the Institute’s web site. They are discussed at length in the book Serving the Wealthy: The Modern Butler’s and Household/Estate Manager’s Companion, as well as in the continuing series below by Professor Ratliff. We do look forward to input from you on any tricky situations you have run into during your career, to open the discussion on how the Professional Standards of Performance could be applied for a happy outcome. Together, we can pool and collate our skills and experience into useful pointers for those who follow in our footsteps.

Happy Holidays from all of us at the Institute and the Modern Butler’s Journal!

Butlers in the Media

One can now purchase a «Charles the Butler 6-Piece Towel Set»; a Fajita Butler (to help restaurant goers make their own fajitas); and a «Menu Board butler» (not clear what this is, but it seems to be a dozen place cards).

Unfortunately, a butler in Northern England had a gambling habit and thought it best to deal with the inevitable debts by hawking the elderly principals’ valuables, and trying to pull the wool over their eyes when they wondered where their Picasso’s and Fabergé’s were disappearing to. Reprehensible. The individual who hired the butler obviously did not check his background well enough, because the warning signs were there. Although the butler was given free accommodation, his pay was pitiful, so this idea amongst some employers that it is fine to pay the help a pittance is probably a mistake they’ll never recognize (despite the expression «Pay peanuts, get monkeys»)—a mistake that cost them two million GBP in heirlooms, versus, say 60,000 GBP if they had simply doubled his salary over the years the butler worked for them. As for the butler—no formal training, just a military background—an old route into the butling profession based on points of discipline and acquiescence more than any other, more relevant skills.

All of this was avoidable with a modicum of intelligent management.

Letters to the Editor

«What a wonderful idea, asking the Butler community for its input on issues that we know we have all experienced at one time or another. I, for one, no longer feel alone in my thoughts and feelings, so thanks for your insight. I look forward to starting a new month with your wonderful news letter, please keep up the good work, Sir.» PW

Professional Standards of Performance: Applications #2

By Professor Richard Ratliff

An Awkward Dinner Guest

(A Real Life) Scenario: A couple invited to a small dinner party asked permission to bring a visiting friend. Arriving, this friend loudly interrupted and usurped the conversations; he instructed the hostess on how to prepare a “proper” Italian minestrone soup (the first course of the meal); wore a casual shirt and cardigan whereas the dress code was tie and jacket (explaining that people where he was from knew how to hold a “relaxed and enjoyable dinner party”); noted the mental and social inferiors he had met at a Rotary luncheon earlier that day in town with his host; and committed other gross faux pas. The insensitive, ill-mannered guest was ruining the evening for everyone. The couple who had brought him was obviously distressed at his behavior. So the dinner host summoned the butler quietly: “Please do something!”

Standards: Professional Standards of Performance state the following: “A butler must be able to resolve and manage awkward circumstances with poise while preserving the dignity of others and the occasion. The butler…should employ…a relationship-based…philosophy. Any guest is a very important person (VIP) and should be treated as such. [H]ousehold staff should cater to guests’ tastes, preferences, and comfort, consistent with house rules and standards, according to the employer’s wishes.”

A Butler’s Professional Code of Ethics requires the following: “Serve members of the household and guests as they choose to be served…” Work toward achieving a strong foundation of mutual respect in your relationships with…guests….Behave respectfully toward all persons….”

Possible Solution: The butler might quietly inform the offending guest that the chef wanted to make sure he understood the guest’s suggestions for the soup—would the guest please see the chef now in the family dining room? Arranged by the butler, the chef would be waiting in the family dining room, discuss the suggestion, “thank” the guest, and then exit to continue his evening duties. Meanwhile, the butler might request the guest’s further assistance and enjoin another staff member to discuss with the guest—taking profuse notes—an “upcoming event”, including possible themes and details for the affair. The staff member would serve the guest in the family dining room while they talked. Meanwhile, the butler would continue dinner service for the main party, making apologies for the now-absent guest. The empty place and chair would be cleared from the main table. The butler would check on the guest from time to time as to his comfort and how the planning was going. The consultation might well last the entire dinner, ending in time for the guest to join his host before returning home. If he had to miss dessert, then a dessert tray could be prepared in thanks for him to take, and a follow-up thank-you note sent by the butler for his kind assistance.

For a more direct approach, especially if the dinner party would last longer than the guest could be kept separated, the butler might simply tell the guest, once the chef had left the room, that the host felt the evening might proceed more smoothly for all concerned if the guest made a point of listening, rather than talking, for the balance of the evening. The butler might need to handle guest upset or objections, and if not resolving, suggest that it might be better if the guest enjoy the balance of the meal with a good movie.

I encourage readers to email us with suggestions and questions raised in dealing with difficult situations you may have encountered in the course of your duties—so we can discuss them further.

Professor Ratliff is a retired butler who co-authored Volume 1 of Serving the Wealthy and has published three other books and over thirty articles.

The Wisdom of Butlers Past, Part 7

In the final section of the introduction, the author states that he is about to retire as a butler and wants to pass on his knowledge, which he has found to be workable and to result in a lifetime of service that has been pleasing to his employers. He exhorts those coming into the profession to avoid various “sins” (drunkenness, womanizing—he might have added drugs to the list, had they been an issue two centuries ago), and to “improve yourselves by every means within your power.” All of this is pretty obvious to any professional, but if we look at the state of the society in which we operate, and from which we have to hire staff, we might wonder at the collective insanity that is enforced by law or peer pressure as «normal» these days.

Take-away from his introduction? Society has changed and standards have shifted in the last two centuries and so, while the challenges we face in establishing and managing a household are fundamentally the same, they are different on the surface. The tools we have are different, too. Back then, we had the Church and moral standards and peer pressure to keep things strictly in line. Today, we have knowledge and technology to assist us in providing what can ultimately be a happier and more pleasing estate for employers and staff alike.

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 ( and telling him you read about the offer in the Modern Butlers’ Journal.

The Butlers Speak

Finding & Managing Staff, Part 3 of 3

How do you manage the staff once they are on board? 

«When staff are first hired, I meet them one-on-one every week to go over any issues or concerns. We also talk every day  about their schedules and how things are going that day. Any serious issues are taken care of immediately. I encourage the staff to work out any personal issues they have with their co-workers. I am always open to suggestions on how to do things better, in a more timely fashion, and I do value their opinions. I never share personal information about an employee with another.  My principal defers any household decisions to me. If an employee asks him/her about something, they are referred back to me. In my opinion, this is the best possible way to keep everyone informed and up to date on issues. It prevents the ‘he said, she said’ problem, too.» NS

«I find giving new hires as much information about the position and what is required is very important, as well as telling them any and all house rules. I make a point of encouraging them to ask as many questions as they want, the only silly question being the one not asked. I find it takes a good month for the new hires to start to feel comfortable, I make it a point to check in with them during the day, to check on their work, and I find that giving praise is equally as important as pointing out things that may be wrong and how to improve them—it’s all in the delivery, really.» PBW

«Once trained, their task is to apply all their best skills and traits, while looking to expand their awareness of the workplace and principals. I have never had to ‘manage’ or even ‘supervise’ employees, because all have been a cohesive team with the highest regard for each other and the daily goals. I’m there to organize, make decisions, interface with principals, and be their primary source of daily information. I’m also there to offer a shoulder to cry upon, if needed.» SA

«I try to relay relevant information to the staff as it is given to me. Nothing kills morale faster than a staff who feels left out. They cannot successfully perform their duties if they do not have important information. And I relay this information in person, whenever possible, conveying my expectations as it relates to them. For example, I may inform the chauffeur of a change in the evening’s activities whilst adding ‘This isn’t quite what Mr. wanted, so be sure to keep a cheery disposition, lest we add to his grief.  Perhaps you could suggest a game he might be interested in watching, since the traffic will slow his journey?'» CH

How do you keep them motivated? 

«I make it a point to celebrate all birthdays together. We have lunch every day together, so I bring in treats or a surprise for them. I make a point of thanking each staff member throughout the day if, after making a special request, I notice they are doing a great job, or they have a good idea to share, etc.  Again, I value their input and I want them to succeed and know they are appreciated.  Whenever I have a chance to give them a special task, I do.  Whether it’s preparing for an upcoming event at the residence, preparing guest rooms for overnight guests, assisting with a lunch meeting, etc. They always jump at the chance to do something a little different. They really enjoy the break from their normal schedule.» NS

«I try to make everyone who works with me feel a part of the team, for without the team we, the house, are nothing. The same person signs my check as signs theirs. Motivating one’s team comes from the top; if the top is willing to unblock a toilet when everyone else is doing something else, it shows the rest that ‘Yes, he can ask me to unblock it, but he never gives me a job he wouldn’t or couldn’t do himself.'» PBW

«I create a feeling of family and belonging. Celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and even weddings when invited. Annual performance bonuses, generous compensation, and laughter.» SA

«As the household budget allows, I periodically offer to refresh their supplies or tools or uniforms. I also invite them to tell me what they might need to be successful. I visit their supply cabinets regularly and pay attention to the condition of their break room and uniforms. Early in my career, I found a house staff having to eat their lunch in a windowless garage: Before I left that employer, the staff were eating their lunch in a climate-controlled, cheerful break room with a big window. I request that my employer pay for every staff member to be CPR/First Aid trained, scheduled on-site, so everyone is certified or re-certified at the same time. Finally, I maintain the tradition of allowing staff members to request the dessert of their choice on their birthday. They are welcome to share it with other staff or to take it home to share with their family or friends.»  CH

How successful are f) and g) in terms of performance and longevity? 

«Very successful!!!  We have two employees who have been with us for eleven years and another for nine years. I’ve been in my position for fourteen years. I give a lot of the credit to our principals and their willingness to let go, to let their employees work for them. In the beginning that was a little bit of a challenge.» NS

«For me, support, clear direction, fairness, compromise are all key, a delicate balance that on some days is off for a moment…it’s called life. We are at work a good many hours, I want to make it as enjoyable as possible for both sides: that’s called give and take. The family comes first of course, but without my staff and a good team effort, I am nothing, I can’t do it alone. Making everyone happy is hard, but as long as I try, I feel I’m doing my job.» PBW

«The most recent hire celebrated her tenth anniversary with the family in July.  The oldest employee pre-dates me by 18-years. Each day, we know our goals and know the principals so well that we can easily manage the inevitable daily variations and unexpected curves. I would say we are slightly spare on staff, but that leanness appeals to the gentleman. We have call-in help for special projects or events, and that’s essential when working lean. I keep them ‘in the fold’ by calling them in for deep cleaning, which takes place incrementally all year long whenever the family is traveling.» SA

«If, and only if, the employer endorses the management and motivation practices I have outlined above, is there any success in reaching and maintaining performance excellence and longevity.» CH

Temporary Butler Sought in Carmel-by-the-Sea for May 2018

Temporary butler wanted to assist with a 4-day family vacation in a rented home in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, during May 18-21, 2018. The family consists of 15 people and will be having one formal dinner during their time at the estate. They are looking for someone who can set up meals with already-prepared food, clean up after meals, keep the kitchen clean during their 4-day stay, mix drinks, make coffee/hot chocolate/snacks when requested, and set up/prepare some light decorations for the dinner (centerpieces, dessert table). The ideal candidate should be comfortable handling the above requirements and dealing with family gatherings and could be male or female; preferably you live fairly local (SFO/Bay area), although the family is willing to cover travel costs if needed for the right candidate.

If you’re interested in this assignment for May of 2018, please contact the Institute at enquiries @ with your current résumé and photo, for more details.

Book Review of Serving the Wealthy, Sections on the Role of the Butler and the Principal’s Wines

by Gretchen dePillis

Biodynamics and sulfites in wines

The owner of a biodynamic vineyard I visited recently outside Lucca in Italy, told me that a one-liter bottle of commercial wine may contain up to 200 milligrams of sulfites, because sulfites are added to non-organic wines.

Compare this to organic and biodynamic (which is actually an even higher standard) wines, which have naturally forming sulfites (sulfur dioxide) of 10 milligrams per liter.

This distinction is important because those with allergic reactions to sulfites may experience decreased lung functionality after consuming or inhaling sulfites, and/or headaches, asthma, and skin irritation.

The United States requires a statement “contains sulfites” on wine labels whenever the sulfites exceed 10 parts per million (ppm), although it is not necessary to state how many. Some connoisseurs can smell sulfites as low as 50 ppm — a “cooked egg” smell (from hydrogen sulfide or dimethyl sulfide) when first opening a bottle, although the smell dissipates after the wine has been allowed to breathe a while.

As the National Organic Standard Board in the US voted down a petition to add sulfites to organic wines, one may want to stock the cellar with organic wines for sulfite sensitive principals or guests.

However, as with so many other food and drink labels, one has to pay attention to how unpopular information is disguised in the effort to sell. Made With Organic Grapes does not mean the wine is organic, nor that sulfites have not been added. The label has to specify that the wine is organic or Biodynamic to know that no extra sulfites have been added.

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 @

Creative Corner

KobiGutmanChristmas Tree Napkin Fold

by Kobi Gutman

Following the rose napkin fold in the September issue, here is one that’s perfect for the holiday season!



  1. Start with a square napkin and fold it half way
    vertically, and then half way horizontally.




2. All the corners of the unfolded napkin will end up at the same corner in four layers. Pull the first layer up towards the top corner.





3. Do the same with the rest of the layers. Each layer should be slightly underneath the previous one.




4. Flip the napkin and fold one side, as shown in the picture




5. Fold the other side the same way. 

6. Flip the napkin again.





7. Fold the top layer upward.


8. Fold the next layer the same way and tuck it under the top layer.




9. Do the same with the last two layers.




10. Tuck the remaining part fully under the last layer.




  1. There you have it, the Christmas tree napkin.



Happy Holidays!!


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

Let’s Talk about Mixology, Part 27

Strawberry Daiquiri Cocktail and Mocktail

by Amer Vargas

As Christmas Season approaches, our souls feel more inclined to spend time with family and friends, to warm up in the closeness of a relaxing fire and in the company of our dearest ones. The magic of the last days of the year surround us and happiness fills the lives of children (and adults alike) with the arrival of Santa Claus.

This month’s cocktail (and mocktail) pays homage to the gentle big fat man from the North Pole who delivers happiness and fun not only to the little ones of the family, but also to the not-so-little ones who prepare for Santa’s arrival armed with loads of enthusiasm and passion.

As it couldn’t be otherwise, a vivid red color predominates in this delicious strawberry cocktail, and we are adding a thick sugar brim to match Santa’s typical outfit.

These are the ingredients needed for a serving of Strawberry Daiquiri: 2 oz of rum of your choice, the juice of half a lime, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 6 frozen strawberries and 4-6 oz of a lemon- or lime-flavored carbonated drink. To prepare the cocktail, put all the ingredients, except for the carbonated drink, in a blender and blend until smooth. Then add the carbonated lemon or lime drink and blend to ensure the mix is homogeneous.

We generally present daiquiris in a hurricane glass. Before serving you can make a thick, sugar frost around the brim and after serving, finish by decorating with a slice of lemon or lime.

If you want a daiquiri for all ages, just skip the rum. Everyone will love it!

Merry Christmas and Ho Ho Ho!

Mr. Vargas is the Institute’s President—feel free to contact him via email, AmerVargas @

Consulting the Silver Expert

Cleaning and Polishing Silver, Part 7

Jeff Hermanby Jeffrey Herman


It’s that simple. There are four major reasons for keeping your prized sterling and silverplate out of the ‘chamber of doom.’

(1) Any factory-applied patina (the blackening in recessed areas) will be removed eventually;

(2) The harsh detergent, combined with the washer’s high cleaning temperature, are much too abrasive for silver—they will eventually turn the silver grey or white, with a dull, non-reflective surface;

(3) Most older, and some repaired hollow-handled knives, are filled with pitch. This low-melting cement will expand with heat, possibly forcing open a thin solder seam, or exploding the knife blade out of the handle;

(4) Silver that touches stainless in the dishwasher can create a chemical reaction, producing black spots or pitting on the stainless and possibly requiring the silver to be professionally refinished.

Sterling, like a fine automobile, must be handled with tender, loving care. Would anyone drive a Rolls Royce through a car wash?

Mr. Herman continues to offer his services to our readers for any questions you may have about the care of silver. Either contact him at (800) 339-0417 (USA) or via 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 for Service Professionals Worldwide, December 2013

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 9, issue 12

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

2013 has been rather busy in the private sector, but we were still able to fit in some assignments at a few resorts, two of which are noted in this issue. We are often asked what it is like to train in such places–so in response, we offer this short video.

This issue marks a rather special occasion for the Institute: the conclusion of the first decade of publication of the Modern Butlers’ Journal.

So much has come and gone for those in our profession during those ten years—alliances made and ended, jobs found and lost and found again, programs or initiatives started, waylaid, and completed. In the bigger picture, we have borne witness to a rebounding demand around the world for the profession, as the newly wealthy search for a proper vehicle to manage their properties and staffs.

Wherever we will all be at the close of 2023, the real question will be, “Did we enjoy, and are we proud of what we accomplished in, the journey?”

We hope your journey is as scintillating as it is productive.

On an administrative note, the emailed alert that the monthly MBJ has been posted will no longer be sent out as a courtesy by the Institute after this December issue—so if you wish to keep receiving it and have not already done so, please subscribe at the top right.

Butlers in the Media

«If a machine takes your job, become a butler,» is the title of an intriguing article in Bloomberg News that points out that butlers are faring rather well servicing those who are benefitting from a world economy that is not being too kind to the majority.

Perceptions of the Butler (Part 2 of 5)

by GJ dePillis

The interviews of potential employers were conducted conversationally, so the interviewee felt comfortable about being honest with their reply.  The first set of inquiries focused on the ideal butler applicant.

AGEWhat should be the ideal age of an applicant for the position of butler?

51% of those interviewed felt the ideal age for their butler was between 30 and 40. 33% said their butler should be over 40 years old.  16% said they would only consider a candidate who was over 50.

SCHOOLING:  Should the candidate have completed formal butler training, or should the candidate have received training in an established household, having started at an entry level position and worked his way up?
50% preferred candidates who had received formal butler training. When asked why, the general response was that they didn’t want to entertain a candidate who had learned bad habits in another household and therefore, they wanted optimal formal training.  33% said they preferred somebody who had risen to the position of butler in an established household, because there is no replacement for work experience. 17% stated they would consider candidates with both sorts of training.

Is it important for your candidate to have a four-year college degree?
80% stated that a college degree was not a factor in their hiring decision for a butler.  20% stated they did prefer a college degree, but the subject area did not matter.  However, a personal assistant was expected to have at least a two-year college degree, since a personal assistant is expected to have computer knowledge and other corporate skills.

PERSONAL BELIEFS: Do the personal religious practices or political beliefs of a candidate influence the hiring decision of an employer?
84% said yes.  They want to make sure their beliefs line up with whomever they employ. They felt that religious and political beliefs would make a strong impact in the management of the household. 16% stated they would judge their candidate on other issues. Religion and politics didn’t matter to them.

CHARACTER TRAITS:  After engaging a butler, the following words (listed in the order of frequency) describe the disposition and character an employer expects from their butler:
Happy, honest, responsible, punctual, competent, dependable, discrete, and has a clean, crisp, formal appearance.  In particular, several employers interviewed commented that they expect their butlers to wear a clean, white-collared shirt and dark blazer for every day and formal dress, as appropriate for the occasion.   Only in warm weather conditions would a short-sleeved collared shirt and khaki pants be considered acceptable. In brief, employers are expecting a competent, cheerful, employee who does the job responsibly.

One interviewee was very particular in specifying that they expect their butler to be attentive without hovering. This individual valued a butler who was a good listener, yet possessed the maturity to know when to stop asking questions. In short, their butler is expected to engage in “conversation on demand”.  The butler is not to pry nor ask personal details, but instead wait for the employer to offer such information. The employer stated they would be offended if the butler overstepped conversational boundaries and the butler is never to ask too many questions.

CANDIDATE SEARCHWhere would potential employers go to find qualified butler candidates?
54% said they would ask their friends.  28% said they would go to an established agency or hire a targeted headhunter. 18% stated they would do an internet search by using professional networking sites, such as LinkedIN, or place an ad themselves. The predominant method of finding a potential butler candidate appeared to vary with the lifestyle of the employer: Those who had made their fortunes in technology opted for the online professional networking options, such as LinkedIN.  Those who entertained more, felt their personal networks were the most reliable.  Those whose families employed staff for more than one generation, trusted an agency.  Those who had built their staff team using a specific agency, said they would urge others to use their favorite agency.

FRIENDLY ADVICEAt what point would you recommend to a friend that they employ a butler? Almost all of the respondents stated that triggers for suggesting that friends should hire a butler were noticing a lack of time, being too busy, having too many demands to the point that they could not fulfill their obligations, being a bad organizer, or entertaining a lot at home.

Part 3 of our series will address further perceptions.

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

NB: The caricature image of the butler used in this article is © 2013 by John dePillis

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

Let’s Talk about Wine, Part XXI

by Amer Vargas

Fortified wines                 

Fortified wines result from adding a distilled beverage (also called a «spirit») to wine during its production, in a process called “fortification.” Most commonly, the spirit used comes from grapes, although it can also come from grain, sugar beets, or sugarcane.

Fortification was originally thought of as a preservation method so wine would last longer, thus allowing it to be transported over distances, or to be stored for longer periods than normal for wine.

The spirit is added before the fermentation process or before the end of it, the spirit killing many of the yeasts and causing many sugars to go unfermented. Thus it results in more robust, stronger texture, and sweeter wines.

The addition of the spirit increases the level of alcohol in the wine: whilst regular wines do not generally surpass the 14.5% alcohol level (after which point the yeast is killed), fortified wines show an alcohol range of 15% to 25%. If a sweet fortified wine is desired, fortification takes place within the first day-day and half of the fermentation process; this stops the sugar consumption of yeasts and leaves more residual sugars in the wine, hence a sweeter taste. For drier versions, fermentation may be stopped towards fermentation’s end (sometimes right after its end) to ensure less sugars are left in the drink.

If aging is desired, it is done in wooden casks and may last from a few months to several years. Indeed, the longer the aging, the more complex the fortified wine will be and the more it will benefit from decanting and aeration.

Vintage Port, photo by e_calamar
Traditional Venanciador serving a Manzanilla Sherry, photo by El Pantera

The most famous fortified wines around the world are Sherry, Port, Madeira, Vin doux (naturels), Marsala, and Vermouth.

Sherry comes from the so-called “Sherry Triangle” in southwest Spain, where it is produced mainly with Palomino and Pedro Ximénez grapes. Depending on when the fortification is induced, sherries vary from Fino (driest), Manzanilla, Manzanilla Pasada, Amontillado, Oloroso, Dry, Pale Cream, Medium, Cream, Moscatel, Sweet and Pedro Ximenez (sweetest).

Port, originally coming from the Portuguese city of Porto in the Douro Valley, is a fortified wine that is typically red and sweet, although semi-dry and dry white varieties also exist. Port can be aged in wooden casks or in the bottle and can be divided into regular ports (Ruby and Tawny) and high quality ports (Late Bottled Vintage, Vintage, Single Quinta Vintage), or with the age identified when aged in wooden barrels for more than 10 years.

In the next article, we will talk more about fortified wines; in the meantime, enjoy the holiday season with an Amontillado wine to open your appetite, and a fine Port wine with cheese…great delicacies!

Glass of Port, photo by Jon Sullivan

Cheers for a brilliant 2014!




Mr. Vargas can be contacted via AmerVargas at




Hospitality Training

The Butlers at Secrets the Vine in Cancun attended a short course in butler basics. Here they are shown with Mrs. Ferry during their Graduation Ceremony. Congratulations to all!


Early days of training for some of the Majordomes (butlers) at Maison Cheval Blanc Randheli in the Maldives, operated by Louis Vuitton Möet Hennessy Hotel Management. Here seen in their pre-opening uniforms in front of the outside dining room of a villa. Three therapists from the first-of-its-kind Spa by Guerlain, were also trained as Spa Butlers.


Consulting the Silver Expert

by Jeffrey Herman

Q: Can scratches on silverplate be removed?

A: Unfortunately, scratches cannot be removed on silverplated objects – here’s why: Good quality silver is plated with 40 microns (.0015″) of fine silver. After plating, the object is given a final polish, which removes some of this silver. The piece will then be left with no more silver than the thickness of a plastic grocery bag. A scratch is generally deeper than the thickness of the silverplating, so only a quick polishing with a very fine polishing compound is possible in order to brighten the piece. Attempting to remove scratches will only cut through the plate and expose the base metal.

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, July 2013

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 9, 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 

Reviewing the prospects for our profession, they seem rather bright in an economy that does not otherwise offer much encouragement: the number of billionaires is set to double in the next seven years, and the number of HNW (High Net Worth) individuals (assets of $30 million and up, which has for many years been my own estimate of the wherewithal required for employers to take on butlers) will likewise increase 50%. While much of this growth is anticipated to take place in Asia and the Middle East, rather than the traditional European and United States markets, the increased demand for butlers and other household staff is still being seen in these countries, resulting in less time being spent looking for positions by those who have viable resumes. As disconcerting and uncertain as being between jobs may seem, rest assured that employers are actually desperate for reliable and competent staff, so my advice is to pass by those with high-turnovers and do not give in to those seeking, irrationally, to penny pinch on the remuneration package.

Please enjoy this newsletter—I learned something from the Canadian wines article; you may, too.

Letters to the Editor

“Good newsletter, thank you. Talking about employer ethics reminds me of John Gielgud’s line as the butler in Murder on the Orient-Express (1975), when he says something along the lines of ‘We should ask for the employers’ references rather than being asked for our own.’ Unfortunately, today, we have replaced privilege of birth with privilege of money, and the results are pretty horrible.” GL

«I have read your many articles and they have been of a great help to me. I would like to ask a few questions: In a five-star resort, would you set up one butler appointed to one room or for several rooms? What would be the difference between concierge service and butler service? What would be a medium-range salary for a butler in a resort?» AL

Editor: How many rooms a butler has to service depends on the quality of the butler offering to which the hotel or resort wants to aspire. Obviously, one butler per room/suite/villa would be expensive to maintain but would provide a level of service comparable to private service. In practice, either small boutique hotels/villas offer one butler per room/villa, or the top suites of hotels and resorts offer a butler dedicated to that suite, while guests in the other (or some of the other) suites share their butler.

Concierge Service is front of the house, offering assistance generally with guest requirements external to the hotel. The butler is in the suite, servicing the guests. This can include providing concierge service, especially when there is no concierge, or where the concierge handles the greater hotel, while the butlers service just some of the hotel guests. Generally, where there is a good concierge department, it is better for the butler to work with and through the concierge(s) for external requirements of guests.

Butler salaries in resorts really depend on the location of the resort. Butlers would typically make 15-40K (USD) in salaries, but tips are generally considered to double the take-home. Butler Managers make 25-50K, and if they are part of the tip sharing, then add to that figure according to the percentage of the tips that are apportioned to the Head Butler.  I suggest the top end of the salary ranges would apply to the West, the lower-end to “developing countries.” 

“Your answers have been a great help in this project.” AL

Butlers in the Media

The star-studded movie, The Butler, will be released on August 16 and is well worth viewing as our profession takes the lead role. It may not be the typical butler role, as White House Butlers have a narrowly focused job description compared with the Butler Administrator/Household or Estate Manager, and the focus is on the racial and political elements one would expect of household staff who are mostly African Americans serving nothing but a revolving series of political leaders. But the basic elements of butling and service are in place and well portrayed by Forest Whittaker, an actor who throws himself into the role based on extensive research to understand the mindset and behavior patterns of his roles. The movie is a serious look at a butler at work, modeled on real life rather than fiction—with the butler as the central character, the movie promises to add to the stature of our profession.

An interesting take from the New York Times on the future of the luxury hotel market.

The Institute’s Chairman was featured in a local upscale magazine recently (go to pages 52 onwards).

Consulting the Silver Expert

Mr. Jeffrey Herman has offered his services to our readers, for any questions you may have about the care of silver. Either call him at (800) 339 0417 or email jeff at

Here is the first enquiry, answered with great speed:


Q: How can I remove the build-up of old paste on brass door handles? Also, we have water glasses that are clouded, but I cannot remove the fog with simple acidic bases, such as white vinegar with hot water. Any suggests?

JH: «For the brass, I would use this method. If you’re afraid of splashing water on the woodwork, spread some Purell on the area and let it soften the polish, then tap the polish with the brush bristles, which will lift the polish. Use a cotton towel or cotton ball to remove the residue. Just remember to use some form of liquid to soften the polish FIRST, and lift it out with a natural bristle brush to avoid scratching.

«For cloudy glass, I highly recommend Cindy who has done some fantastic work for me. Take a look at her before-and-after images. Her pricing is also very reasonable! Glass sickness is something to be left to a professional.»

frankmitchell  Cigars, Part XVI

by Frank Mitchell 

Serving a Cigar, Part 1 of 2

Whether serving a cigar in private service or in a hotel or resort, the rules are very much the same. The only real difference being that in a hotel, the guest usually orders the cigar off a menu, while in private service you may be expected to know what cigar(s) your principal smokes. It stands to reason that if you are in the hotel trade, you must be highly familiar with the cigars on your menu and know them well enough to make suggestions for beginners and perhaps make recommendations for matching certain cigars with certain liqueurs or cognacs.

In a hotel environment, your guest may want to inspect the cigar, but be careful to avoid their handling them in a way that may damage the cigar or which could be considered unhygienic by other guests. Never assume that you should go ahead with cutting and lighting the cigar. Cigar smokers are usually quite particular about how their cigar is cut and they have to know you and trust you before they will let you do it. Do not take offense if the smoker prefers to do the cutting and lighting himself. Many aficionados regard this prelude as one of the highlights of the experience or will want it done ‘just so’.

In this case, bring the cigar to the guest on a silver salver. I prefer to place it on a bright, clean, white napkin folded in a simple square, which is placed on the salver. For the short distance from the humidor to the guest, it may not be necessary to cover the cigar. However, if you were taking the cigar for service in a room or suite, you should cover it with a fold of the napkin. Follow the rules for handling a cigar as mentioned in the earlier chapter on care and storage. Remember that if you are serving the cigar away from the hotel’s cigar lounge, you may need to bring a cigar ashtray—make sure that it is perfectly clean and presentable.

Unless you know the smoker’s preferred method of cutting, you should also provide a selection of cutters and a good lighter. (A good lighter is fully charged and operational—it can be relied on not to go out halfway through the lighting process.) Present the cigar to the guest for inspection and let the smoker cut and light. He may let the cap fall onto the salver when he returns the cutter. If he does, you can flip the napkin when walking back to your service station, so that it is not visible to other guests. Back at your station, discard the cap and remember to change the napkin often.

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

by Amer Vargas

This month we visit the land with a red Maple leaf in its flag: Canada. The country is unjustly not too well-known for its wines, as wine consumers are misdirected by the cold temperatures and harsh winter weather, with springs that can bring freeze-and-melt cycles and summers that are very humid. In spite of all this, Canadian vintners have learned and developed techniques to overcome their challenges.

Over two centuries ago, early settlers failed to cultivate vitis vinifera (European wine grapes) plants, so they turned to continental labrusca and riparia grapes instead. These withstood all Canadian weather conditions, but made such low-quality wine that it had to be fortified in order to make it drinkable and sellable. The last four decades, however, have seen major changes and improvements that have put Canada firmly onto the wine-world map: better trellising systems and control of vineyards have allowed European grapes to be cultivated and some vintners have even managed to cross continental and European vines—varietals like Vidal, Seyval Blanc and Baco Noir—for a hybrid sporting the best of each: better taste and the ability to withstand rough climates. These varietals represent a very small percentage of the current Canadian wine production, with most wine still being made from only European varietals.

Icewine from Okanagan Valley, photo by Yorkville

In Canada, wine regions are mostly concentrated in the southern ends of Ontario and British Columbia. The vast majority of wineries and vineyards in British Columbia are located in the desert-like area of the Okanagan Valley, where Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are used for whites, whilst Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are used to create quality red wines.

In Ontario, more than 2/3rds of vineyards are concentrated in the Niagara Peninsula, which accounts for more than 80% of the country’s wine production. In terms of production, Vidal, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc have a special presence when talking about white wines from this region; the red counterparts grown here are Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Baco Noir.

Frozen grapes, photo by Dominic Rivard

A unique feature about both British Columbia and Ontario is their ability to produce ice wine consistently each year. Ice wine is a dessert wine made from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. The water in the grape freezes, but the sugars and other solids do not, creating a concentrated grape must. This wine’s journey starts with a quick harvest on a very cold morning (to ensure the grape does not thaw when harvested) and an equally quick pressing. The rest of the process remains the same as with other wines. The result is a characteristic, refreshing sweetness balanced by high acidity.


Photo by Chensiyuan

And for those who enjoy that sweetness and high acidity, the end of the 20th century saw the birth of its sparkling version, discovered by chance by Canadian wine writer Konrad Ejbich in his home cellar, and first produced for commercial sale by Inniskillin Wines.  Since 1998, they use the Charmat method, involving a double fermentation in bulk tanks—the result is just too delicious!

To good fortune, I raise my bubbly ice wine!



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, 2013

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 9, 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 

With the very welcome increased interest of late in butlers by the media and amongst the newly wealthy in various countries, my wish is that those who help deliver on the promise in the year ahead, focus on communicating the standards inherent in our profession, and avoid the ever-present effort to deliver abbreviated versions in response to clients applying their usual modus operandi of «getting a good deal» simply because they do not yet understand the true nature of butling and so end up «buying themselves short.» Maintaining our standards, if I might state the obvious, is a win-win for everyone, and I’d like to see everyone winning as we move into a new year full of hope.

Butlers in the Media

Aljazeera carries an article on how graduates fresh out of butler school are being used to train prospective butlers in China, where private service butlers can expect to make 20K a year for very long hours. European butlers are in demand as status symbols but do not stay long because of the working conditions and cultural differences, and a lack of ability to do their jobs properly in the absence of the Chinese language skills necessary to manage the rest of the staff.

The BBC, on the other hand, reported that China and Russia are both experiencing a demand by their wealthy for British butlers commanding $150,000 and up. The demand in China is being met in part by six new training schools, which have been opened in China by a British recruitment agency.

CNN reports on the publication of a survey of over 2,000 domestic workers in the US—mostly immigrants and holding lower positions—who work long hours for less than minimum wage, etc.  Apparently, “The Fair Labor Standards Act, which guarantees minimum wage, overtime and sick- and vacation pay, does not apply to domestic workers.” Butlers and household managers are rarely treated in this way, but one would hope that in the households they supervise, the staff are not so treated. For more information, see National Domestic Workers Alliance []

As reported in multiple media, the Pope pardoned his ex-butler after he mis-used his position of trust to steal documents and leak privileged information. He was banished from the Vatican, but is receiving assistance to find a new position and house, and to start his life anew. “This is a paternal gesture toward someone with whom the Pope for many years shared his daily life,” according to the Vatican Secretariat of State.

According to the book Plutocrats: The Rise of the Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, the top 10% of American households in terms of household income makes $150,000 and up—butlers themselves in many cases qualify for this category.

750,000 Americans are in the top 1%, having a household income of just under half a million dollars: such households cannot generally afford to employ a butler or household manager—but can afford housemen and other household staff. 70% of these families made their money in the past decade, almost half of them being entrepreneurs—meaning that the background of seven-in-ten rich households is not one of wealth and luxury, and therefore their exposure to butlers–and the lifestyle they make possible–has been mainly through the media and word of mouth. So this is not an optimal market for our profession.

Around 150,000 Americans have a household income of $4 million and over, and so are more likely to be able to afford to hire a butler.


Congratulations to General Manager, Mr. Iain McCormack, and the staff of Gili Lankanfushi in the Maldives, who were just declared the winner at the World’s Leading Luxury Resort and World’s Leading Villa Resort & Spa at the World Travel Awards Grand Final 2012. Their Mr. Fridays (butlers) were trained extensively by the Institute during October 2011.

A Creative Idea for Turndown 

Whether in a private estate or luxury resort, turndown amenities are a small way the butler can add to the guest (and employer) experience. Hats off to Mr. Kobi Gutman for a new twist that is bringing about many happy guests at the private Fort Harrison hotel in Florida, where he services the top suites. He actually carves these himself, not based on any earlier training or skills, but learning as he goes. Most simply utilize a red apple, and are tailor made either to the calendar (such as Halloween or July 4) or more often, to the individual receiving the amenity (like a Ferrari enthusiast). A smattering of his «works» are provided below—including one Mona Lisa, perhaps for an art aficionado?
































A Useful Resource

Congratulations to Ms. Fiona Cameron-Williams for her release of her Gentleman’s Gentleman application for the iPhone/iPad. We have not tested it yet, and look forward to some feedback from anyone who has or will.

Cigars, Part XI

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

Maintaining a Humidor

When talking about maintaining a humidor, the two most important things to discuss are temperature and humidity. One sees the term Relative Humidity (RH) used quite commonly, though many people do not understand what the term means.

‘Relative’ and the fact that RH is expressed as a percentage, indicates a ratio. In simple terms, it is the amount of water vapour in a volume of air expressed as a percentage of the maximum amount of water vapour that volume of air could hold at that temperature. How much this maximum is depends on the temperature; so RH is a function of both moisture content and temperature. By itself, RH does not indicate the actual moisture content in the air, since saturation point occurs at different temperatures.

Some cigar enthusiasts scoff at the need to concern themselves with the temperature. Unless you store your cigars in a temperature-controlled environment or live in a very mild climate, I believe the temperature must be taken into account. This is because a given amount of water vapour, in a given volume of air, will have a differing RH% depending on the temperature.

The ideal environment in which to store cigars is a relative humidity of 70% at 70◦F (21.1◦C). 

The below table will show that as the temperature rises, the humidity must fall. Conversely, as the temperature drops, the humidity must rise. Care must be taken not to deviate too far from the ideal, otherwise you will end up with soggy cigars or cigars which will which have lost their aromatic oils.

Reviving Dry Cigars

Don’t! It is that simple. When a cigar loses moisture, it is losing aromatic oils into a dry humidor. When the humidor is opened, these oils are lost into the atmosphere. This should not happen in a well-maintained humidor that is checked daily. Dry cigars will have lost flavour and are harsh to smoke. Re-humidifying cigars means replacing the lost aromatic oils with water. The result is always a loss of flavour and aroma.

You may research how to re-humidify cigars if you are ever given any and want to rescue them for your own consumption, but hotels that sell re-humidified cigars to guests are ripping them off. Nor should a butler serving in a private estate offer such cigars to the principal’s guests—experienced smokers will know that what you have given them is sub-standard.

Recent Graduates

Mr. Raoul Gonzales trains butlers on the Norwegian Cruise Line Vessel Dawn. He is one of the Norwegian Cruise Line’s butlers who was trained last year by the Institute to then train his fellow butlers on the hard skills of butling on a cruise ship. Here Mr. Gonzales is shown taking them through their paces on synchronized service.

Once NCL has completed the training evolution, they will offer more services throughout their fleet for their high-end guests, than any other cruise line.

 The PA’s Corner

By Bonnie Low-Kramen

How I Learned to Speak Up

When is the tall one going to talk?” This is what actress Olympia Dukakis used to ask other staff members at the Whole Theatre where I was the Public Relations Director before I became her Personal Assistant. I was 29 years old, it was 1986, and Olympia was my employer and mentor. We then went on to work together for 25 years.

In private service, we know that communication issues can make or break us—to learn to confront people and situations positively is a skill that builds leaders in our profession. Employers also have a fear of speaking up and there are ways that we can help them—silence is not (always) the answer.

I had so many reasons for not speaking my mind. I think these are the same reasons why many private service professionals don’t say what they know should be said and there is much suffering in silence. It’s the fear factor. The fear factor cannot be underestimated when it comes to the problem of staffers speaking up to anyone, but especially to colleagues and employers. I understand what it feels like to be mute in the face of a situation that needs to be confronted.

The fear was about appearing stupid, ill-informed, or unprepared, even though I was none of those things. There was fear of being wrong, making a mistake, and losing my job. The fear had to do with the possible reactions of fellow staffers such as: “What are you trying to pull? Are you trying to make me look bad? Are you angling for my job? Do you think you’re smarter than me? Do you think you’re better than me?”

My lack of confidence was known to me and now, Olympia, my employer, saw it in high-def and I didn’t like it. I threw myself into my job and worked hard to do it well. I took the risk to give her my opinions, and she valued what I had to say. I began finding my voice. What helped the most though was having Olympia Dukakis as a role model.

Here’s an example of what I mean. The theater director and I had already been coordinating press interviews for several weeks, all of which had progressed without any problems. Then, in front of the entire staff, he called me a “liar” and the room instantly became quiet. I was horrified at the injustice and the public humiliation. Olympia said to the director, “You must be mistaken. I know that would never happen with Bonnie. Let’s talk about this later.” And we did deal with it later. The director was a serial bully who enjoyed the power trip. The thing about bullies is that they are threatening and powerful until directly confronted. Then they shrink away and unfortunately, choose someone else to bully. Try it. Look a person straight in the eye and firmly say, “I won’t be spoken to that way” and mean it. Watch what happens.

Olympia stood up for me. She spoke up and plainly stated what needed to be said. Another time I recounted a contentious conversation I had on her behalf, and Olympia’s outraged reaction was, “You will not be spoken to like that. Don’t take it from her.” And I didn’t.

Finding my voice had everything to do with witnessing role models use theirs. Finding the words that work for you in challenging situations will work magic for your career.

I learned from Olympia that it is important to speak up and say the hard things in a way that people can hear. Time and again I witnessed the relief in the room when Olympia said the thing that everyone was thinking but no one wanted to say. In most cases, I witnessed how speaking up makes things better and the elephant in the room disappears.

Now I say the hard things, too. The trick is to not wait until little problems escalate into a big one. I would be lying if I said I am now totally comfortable speaking up, but I do it and I have become much better at it. I encourage my students to do it, too, and they excitedly tell me of the positive results. Practice definitely makes it easier.

For instance, when the producer became emotional and verbally abusive to me on the phone and I tried to speak, he cut me off.  After several attempts, I calmly and firmly said, “If you will let me speak without interrupting me, I can help solve this problem. If not, I’m hanging up.” He stopped talking and we did our work.

Speaking up builds self-confidence, self-esteem, self-respect, and respect from others.

It feels like a risk. Do it anyway. I have found my voice. I learned the hard way that suffering in silence makes things worse, not better and only prolongs the inevitable in both work and in life. Life is too short.

Resources to Find Your Magic Words

Speaking Your Mind in 101 Difficult Situations by Don Gabor

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson

Editor Note: Ms. Low-Kramen also provides workshops on this topic, the next one being Jan 19-20 in California.


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

by Amer Vargas 

New Zealand Wines

Today we fly to New Zealand in the Southern Pacific Ocean to appreciate some of the world’s newest and finest wines. New Zealand is one of the few southern hemisphere countries to produce fine wines. Compared to its northern counterparts, New Zealand shares the same latitude degrees as France and Spain, which may give an idea of the sort of favorable climate for their vineyards. Many varietals (mostly imported) benefit from the maritime climate, with long sunshine hours and sea-breeze-cooled nights.

Wine history in New Zealand began after a fashion two centuries ago when British residents devoted some time to developing drinks much consumed in their home country—their favoring of beer and other spirits, however, delayed the real blossoming of wine making until the late 1960s, when a series of historic changes ultimately led to the planting of vines in lands that had been qualified previously as marginal pasture.

New Zealand produces unique white wines, 50% being Sauvignon Blancs, as well as Chardonnays and Rieslings. These wines are notable for their purity, vibrancy and intensity: The fruit undergoing a long ripening as a result of cool temperatures, which allows flavors to develop while retaining a fresh acidity. There are 10 major wine growing regions, the most important being Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay.

Cabernet-Merlot from Hawke’s Bay, photo by Salman Javed

New Zealand’s most grown red varietal is Pinot Noir, with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon also being important. Lately, Shiraz/Syrah is also being grown on previously cultivated land.

The country’s Sauvignon Blanc is widely recognized for its pungent and intense taste and its crisp acidity, which makes it easy to match with raw vegetables and salads. The Chardonnays offer a concentrated citrus and tropical fruit flavor combined with some refined minerals—and since they can yield all sort of body, they can be paired with a wide range of food, from fish and other seafood dishes such as shellfish, to poultry and citrus or vinaigrette dressed salads.

As for the reds, they are mostly full-bodied, which helps enhance medium-to-strong flavored cheeses, game and red meats.

Last, but not least, there is an excellent production of high-quality sparkling wines, following the Méthode Traditionelle (traditional method used to make Champagne).

I raise my sparkling Pelorus to this wonderful New Year that promises to be as excellent as my drink!

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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, November, 2012

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 8, issue 11

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

In our profession, discretion is an admired quality that is also a trademark. Quite rightly so, if we are to ever be allowed into another’s estate to serve them. The downside, which has yet to be identified as such, is that one can fall into smiling at another while thinking daggers—an emotion that is easy to see and unpleasant to be confronted with—and following a hidden agenda. When it becomes a habit, a person will be all smiles and handshakes while being busy undermining the person they pretend to befriend. It is my hope that this element of our profession can be reduced, as it serves neither perpetrator nor victim well. It results in broken promises to communicate or otherwise to do something, and a general culture of distrust and faux relationships. It is possible to maintain one’s integrity, to keep one’s own counsel, and to help others, without falling into pretense. I am sure you will agree with me, if you have ever felt a twinge of betrayal as a result of another’s actions.

On a different and sad note, Ms. Letitia Baldrige just passed away. The NYT provides a suitable eulogy for this bulwark of manners—her view being that manners are not a set of restrictive rules to be followed, but genuine consideration for others.

Letters to the Editor

«This sounds a bit left field, but to explain: Airlines are charging so much for a second bag nowadays, it works out cheaper to take a second passenger and carry one bag each. We thought it would be quite fun to do a story saying ‘If you want to cut the cost of air travel, have a butler travel with you.’ Any thoughts?» DM, National Newspaper Editor, London

Ed: It would be a clever vehicle for having a dig at the airline excesses, which I am sure will continue until passengers say «No more!» If you are wondering what the baggage-fee equivalent may be for renting a butler for the day, however, you are looking at $500 US minimum, so I don’t think it will work in the mathematics department when added to the butler’s fare, even if he is booked in steerage. But please, do what you can to make it fly in the world of emotions—you have our support.

Butlers in the Media

The Economist  and Bloomberg cover the increasing demand for butlers, particularly in emerging markets.

An interesting article on the more lavish hotel suites available for one’s employer when traveling.

A curious article, also about hotel suites and amenities, and claiming to cover the Top Ten Things Luxury Guests Want, talks of Fragrance Butlers, Surf Butlers, Tanning Butlers, and Tartan Butlers, but makes no mention of actual butlers.

Yet another hotel-related article, this time from CNN while it implies for some reason that there is something wrong with «on-call butlers,» draws attention to what it calls faux butlers—the emergence of «e-butlers who help the hapless get online; BBQ butlers who grill your dinner; boot butlers to refresh your ski boots after a day on the slopes; and a sunglasses butler to clean and repair your eye wear. What’s next? Our guess is an SPF butler to apply sunscreen to your nose.» We couldn’t agree more, and that is why we created the Hotel Butler Rating System in 2007, so as to differentiate between hotels working hard to provide real butler service, and those that just use the word «butler» as a marketing gimmick to identify in the guest’s mind the idea of «superior service» with whatever non-butler service they happen to want to market and sell.

Along the same line, here is another worldly item that has been graced with the moniker «butler» for instant positioning with superior service.

The Art of Being a Personal Assistant

 by Lisa Krohn

An Interview Gone Wrong

I am sharing this story about an interview I had for a domestic position because the cultural complexities and the intellectual and protocol dynamics might be of interest to others, as I assess what went wrong and why, and offer ways to resolve these issues in the short and long term.

I was invited to a major hedge fund to interview for a residential, domestic project. That was all I knew. The contact was a man who presented himself as the principal, and his family name suggested to me that he came from a developing country. When I arrived at the office, the receptionist laughed when I told her whom I was meeting. I apologized for the mispronunciation and she clarified that she was laughing because the name was an alias. The man I eventually met was from a different developing nation than the one I had guessed, but despite the alias, was nonetheless a partner and major player in the firm.  He told me that he wanted to hire me for two reasons:

1. To teach his chauffeur how to be punctual when meeting him and, equally as important, to bring him to his destination on time or even a bit early—he confided that he had been yelling at the chauffeur daily for years, but he just would not change.

2. To teach his housekeeper how to be more efficient and have a better disposition.

I asked him why he had kept her and the gentleman said that his wife liked her and she did not steal the jewelry.

He then asked me to tell him how I was going to accomplish these requests.

Here is what I said and how it unfolded. I began with the idea that he obviously wanted to invest in them by hiring me, so that said a great deal about what he thought of them already. I asked how long the housekeeper and chauffer had been with him and whether they were related.

«Two-to-three years, not related,» was the reply.

I asked what nationalities they were and the gentleman became incensed, saying that was none of my business and had nothing to do with the problems.

I said «Sir, with all due respect, I recently studied a contemporary culture that lives on boats and which has no concept of what day or time it is.  Perhaps your chauffeur does not understand the integrity that is evoked by being on time in our Western culture. In that case, I could teach him pragmatically why it is crucial for you to be on time and why it builds self esteem for him.»

The gentleman replied, «Wrong answer!»

I was utterly shocked. Not embarrassed so much as intellectually at a loss as to what the answer should be.  I asked if he wanted to have a discussion about the question, but he indicated he was ready for me to leave. I then said I was confident that I could empower the housekeeper to be more efficient and have more joy in her work. I explained my lifetime of esoteric knowledge and how it was directly applicable to her in a pragmatic and tangible way. But he merely repeated that the meeting was over and walked me to the door.

Needless to say, I was not offered the project. This is the one and only time I have ever had this type of conversation and experience. I welcome your insights into what the answer to his question should have been, and what went wrong in our rapport. Do you think it was personal and he did not like me, the messenger? Perhaps I was right and he wanted my advice for free? Maybe he was so accustomed to yelling, being angry, and belittling others that this was the only way he knew to interact? Please advise if you feel so inclined. I welcome your thoughts.


The location used for the shooting of the popular TV Series DOWNTON ABBEY is Highclere Castle in England, and the real-world occupants (Earl and Countess Carnarvorn) are advertizing for an underbutler. What is of interest is the  preferred prior experience: «Experience in the hotel or fine dining industry is important, as is an outgoing personality keen to engage and provide a top-class service to a wide range of people. A knowledge of wine and fine food is useful.»

Cigars, Part IX

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

Part 1 of 3: Setting up the Humidor

Now that you have selected the right humidor, you will have to set it up. A humidor is not just a pretty box; it essentially tries to mimic the tropical environment in which the cigars originated. A dry cigar is harsh to smoke and has lost aromatic oils. A damp cigar will become mouldy quickly in warm weather and will be hard to light in cold weather. Make sure to position your humidor away from direct sunlight, drafts, fireplaces, and central heating or air-conditioning outlets.

Before you can stock cigars in your humidor, you will need to season it. This takes time and patience. If you are tempted to rush the process you may end up with a situation that takes even longer to remedy. If there is one thing I have learned about regulating humidors, it is that gradual, gentle changes are easier to control than wild swings resulting from rash attempts to change conditions quickly inside a humidor.

Calibrating your Hygrometer

One may assume that the cedar lining of a new humidor will be dry. If you stock a new humidor as is, the dry wood will draw all the moisture from the cigars. In order to know whether you are hitting the target or not, you will need an accurate hygrometer. Most digital hygrometers come already calibrated. Analogue ones must be calibrated before use. Here are some links that show a number of different ways to do this. The most well-know is probably the famous salt test.

While this method is quite accurate, do not use it to test a digital hygrometer as the corrosive atmosphere is not good for electronics (despite the text of one article saying that it is suitable for both types). I don’t imagine a corrosive environment is good for either type. However, if one only does it once, it would probably be alright for an analogue hygrometer.

An alternative is to wrap the hygrometer in a damp cloth for several hours, unwrap it and quickly take a reading. It should read around 95%. Take a note of how far off it is and then allow it to return to an ambient reading before adjusting it.

A better choice (and a very inexpensive one) is the Bóveda One Step Calibration pack. Said to be used by many museums, including the National Gallery, it seems to be well worth the $5 asking price and it is available online.

Follow the instructions in the owner’s manual for making the adjustments to your hygrometer. This can be a rather delicate operation. Should you be wary of tackling this, remember that some people just make a note of the variance and take it into account, never actually adjusting their hygrometers.

Let’s Talk about Wine, Part XI

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

There are different types of Port made from different grapes and grapes from different vintages (harvesting years). There is also a difference in  the amount of time the brew is stored , either in bottles or barrels—where the Port acquire hints of wood and/or benefits from the changes that only time can provide. According to the Instituto do Vinho do Porto (Port Wine Institute), there are the nine official Port classifications:

-White: dry and sweet versions  generally taken as an aperitif, with the dry versions aged up to ten years.

-Ruby: basic Port that acquires its name from the color of the brew. It’s aged for up to three years in a barrel, then bottled ready for consumption, and has a characteristic sweet and slightly spicy taste. The superior quality Rubies are called Premium Ruby.

-Tawny: also derives its name from the color of the drink. Real Tawny Port is made from grapes of different harvests and then aged from three to forty years (generally, just a percentage of the drink, not necessarily all of it). During that period, it acquires its brown-red color. Some “sharp” Port-makers make Tawnies by adding White Port to Red Port, but the results are a far cry from the dry and nutty flavours with raisin overtones that are found in the original.

-Crusted: of very limited production, this type of Port is named after the “crust” of sediment that forms in the bottle. It involves a blend of several harvests, bottled without being filtered and then allowed to mature, producing a rich and full-bodied Port wine.

-Vintage Character: (do not confuse with Vintage Port, see below) is a mix of Ruby ports that have undergone a total of four or five years of aging to create a better-than-Ruby Port.

-LBV or Late Bottled Vintage Port: wine from a single harvest, the year stated on the label, which has been aged in a barrel from four to six years. If it’s filtered, it doesn’t need decanting. The unfiltered counterpart is richer, rounder, and offers more complex flavors.

-Single Quinta: The same as an LBV, but coming from one specific vineyard or Quinta.

-Colheita’s: The same as a Tawny, but made out of a single harvest, the year of which is stated on the label, along with the year of bottling and a statement that the drink has aged several years in wooden barrels.

-Vintage: The highest quality Port is made out of a single harvest and aged two-to-three years in a wooden barrel, then bottled unfiltered to age for a considerable number of years. This process develops into the best of the Ports, exhibiting a wide range of flavors like plums, liquorice, pepper, blackcurrants, spices…depending on the maker and the harvest. Vintage Port is made only when the harvest is exceptional, which happens roughly three times each decade.

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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, 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, September, 2012

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 8, 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

Just finishing training in Taipei, where service is the watchword and real caring is second nature—very encouraging and heartwarming to behold in a world that wobbles on despite all. I hope to see you, perhaps, at DEMA’s convention in Los Angeles later this month, and wish you continued success meanwhile.

Photo: Janos Feher


Letters to the Editor

«You have text on your web site that mentions:  A Richey report gave a certain resort’s butlers a 3% rating (we’d prefer not to name them for this reason!). The Richey report that followed the Institute’s subsequent training showed an improvement of 89%. Not ideal, but closer to it. This means the new rating is 5.67%. What I hoped you meant was, training resulted in improving the rating to 89%. The difference being the incorrect use of the word ‘of’ instead of ‘to.’ RJ.

Ed: Quite right, thanks for spotting that—the power of a small word!

Butlers in the Media

It’s been a pretty busy month for the media on the subject of butling, from the nefarious (the erstwhile and unqualified Bass butler is handed a stiff sentence after being found guilty of extortion at injection point; while in Italy, the Pope butler saga staggers on with a mea culpa from the vigilante butler, who «saw himself as an infiltrator acting on behalf of the Holy Spirit); to the fanciful (the re-release of Disney’s cartoon,  Aristocats, in which the butler, dressed in tails and suitably daunting, tries to dispose of some cats so he can inherit the employer’s fortune instead of them); to the ridiculous (from the New York Times of all sources, about the butler who wears flip flops); to the frankly negative from those who find their glasses half empty (a list of peeves that includes bath butler service made to seem ridiculous; however, it escapes the author that creatively conceived and multi-dimensional bath experiences can be tremendously enjoyable); to positive news, such as the ongoing shooting for «The Butler» movie in New Orleans, promising to show butlers in a proper light.

Of greatest interest, however, were the several articles showing serious discussions and portrayals of the profession:

An obituary for an old-school butler who enjoyed a successful and long career—farewell Colin MacPherson.

The Downsizing of the American Butler accurately notes that the employment situation for butlers favors the employer, with more applicants than job openings, butlers taking a 5-20% pay cut over the last five years, all while being expected to wear a variety of hats. This is thought to be a recent trend based on newly wealthy employers not understanding the role of the butler, but we have been writing about this for the last two decades: the modern butler is a jack of all trades, according to what services the employer needs him or her to perform. Obviously, if the employer wants his butler to do the work of three people, then the quality of service suffers; but where the work load is reasonable, then butlers are not ivory-tower personages: they should know how to roll up their sleeves and cook and drive, and, and, and – quite in addition to their traditional role.

«Butlers, much in demand, are thin on the ground» claims an otherwise interesting article in the Financial Times on the subject of the 63,000 citizens of earth with assets of 100 million or more, who find good staff hard to find, apparently.

You decide whether we are thin or thick on the ground.

Most interesting to the editor, however, was a review of  Kazuo Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day, a very well-written piece about one of the best films ever made.

The Art of Being a Personal Assistant

 by Lisa Krohn

Qualities that make a Personal Assistant:

We all have a working knowledge of what a PA’s basic pragmatic responsibilities are. However, in my experience a stellar PA is someone who has an organic understanding and rhythm with the principal that is distinctly different from any other employee relationships.

Above all, being discreet and altruistic.

Never any slight nuance of something you do shall await a ‘thank you’ or the notion that it will be ‘on my list of why I deserve a bonus.’

You are an intimate confidant, that is, quiet but strong in persona. Your presence, regardless of your physical size, takes up very little air and space when in the room with the principal.

You never need to express your opinion unless asked.

You never have to be right.

Being vigilant and acutely aware of everything that is going on.

You are always on both the offensive and defensive to resolve all before anything untoward happens.

You are proactive and decisive, knowing what they want prior to them asking or even thinking about it.

Executing quietly as though it was already done or in place.

Accountable for one’s mistakes.

You may be the only person speaking directly to the principals. Your leadership skills and ability to know how to do every person’s job in the residence is important. You might have to fill in and or assist in some way in addition to your duties.

Spending time with your colleagues, learning who they are on a personal level, is crucial to your success. This is not about being best friends or even sharing on a daily basis, but creating a rapport, respect, and empathy for who they are in order to be able to delegate, teach, oversee and be constructively critical when critiquing their work.

They also must feel comfortable and respected when coming to you if they are confused, failed, or did something wrong.


Of interest, the Queen of England is looking for an under butler, based at St James’s Palace, who can remain “calm under pressure” and be able to “maintain confidentiality and exercise tact at all times.” 40-hour weeks and salary up to the individual to name—a departure from normal, in which Palace butlers are generally offered low wages.  “General duties include welcoming guests, laying up and waiting tables at dinners and events, cleaning and tidying all areas required and assisting with the cleaning and maintenance programme in the house and offices… The role requires aspects of manual handling including lifting and carrying of objects, climbing ladders and working at heights…. The successful applicant must have relevant experience of working within a private house, hospitality or catering environment.”

Recent Graduates

Some of the recent butler graduates at Taipei, Taiwan's premier hotel, The Regent

Cigars, Part VII

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

Cigar Shapes

The next subject we need to look at is the various cigar shapes and sizes. This is an important aspect of cigar making and knowing what you are looking at is a fundamental requirement of making an informed purchase. If you are working in an establishment that sells cigars, it is imperative that you have a sound understanding of the various shape names.

A cigar, being a cylinder, is measured in two dimensions: its length and its girth (or diameter.) The length will always be given in inches, while the girth is measured in ring gauge. Strictly speaking, ring gauge is also a measurement based on the inch, but as no cigar is ever an inch thick, it is invariably expressed as a fraction of an inch. That fraction is always /64. So a cigar with a ring gauge of 32/64 is ½ an inch in diameter. Since the denominator is always 64, we no longer write it down and simply express the girth as 32”.  Therefore, a cigar size given on the cigar menu as 7”x32” is not 32 inches long and 7 inches wide! That would be impossible to smoke. Such a cigar is actually 7 inches long and ½ an inch wide. Novices may find this method of notation frustrating and confusing—your job as a butler is to guide your guest with aplomb, taking care not to dent their ego in the process. Ring gauges commonly range between 28” and 54”.

The various sizes and shapes all have their own names. This means that when referring to a cigar by name, you are essentially talking about its shape and its size. It is certainly convenient, but can be a little intimidating at first. My approach has been to familiarize myself with one shape at a time. If one goes about this with a fair degree of diligence, you will soon have an understanding of the various shapes and be able to speak with some confidence on the subject.

An important point to understand is that while there is an established consensus on what each shape looks like, there is some latitude allowed on the exact dimensions. For this reason, cigar handbooks usually give a narrow range of dimensions when referring to a cigar name to allow for differences in interpretation. Within each brand however, great care is taken to achieve consistency of shape and size. In practice, the differences between brands are so small that they are often practically insignificant.

For a wonderfully detailed list of the various cigar names and their sizes, please visit the Cigar Aficionado site:


Most cigars are straight-sided and are known as Parejos. They are open at the head (the end you light) and are sealed with a cap at the foot. We will cover cutting and lighting in a later article.

Well known Parejos include the Churchill, Corona, Lonsdale, Panatela and Robusto. The names are often accompanied by an adjective that indicates a reduction or increase in size. Petit, Slim, Finos, or Demi will indicate a reduction in size, while Gorda, Gran, Grande, Larga, Extra or Double would indicate an increase.


While Parejos may be handmade or machine-made, the shaped cigars known as Figurados are always handmade. If making a cigar by hand is a skill, then making a Figurado is an art. If one bears in mind that batches of Figurados have to be absolutely consistent, then one can appreciate how hard it is to get it right. Only the most experienced torcedors roll Figurados and they take longer to make. Both of these factors are to be taken into account when considering the cost of purchasing such a cigar. Well-known Figurados are the Belicoso, Diadema, Perfecto, Pyramid and Torpedo. Some sources list Culebra, but this shape remains unusual. Davidoff re-introduced the fascinating but obsolete Culebra to the market after Zino Davidoff saw one in a cigar museum. Partagas has also introduced a Culebra and articles on the shape have created a demand that makes the shape hard to come by. It will be interesting to see how long this unusual shape remains in vogue.

Novelty cigars come in all sorts of shapes mimicking everyday articles such as baseball bats or footballs. These shapes are impractical and remain more of interest to collectors than to cigar aficionados.

Next month we will look at the safe transport and proper storage of cigars.

DEMA Convention

The 2012 DEMA Convention will  be held in Los Angeles from September 28-30. In addition to the speakers and topics listed in the last MBJ, the Chairman of the Institute will be in attendance, speaking on Sunday morning on the subject of aplomb—not a fruit, but an essential butler trait that is the doorway, a rite of passage, from the uncertainties of the tyro to the relaxed competence of the pro. These simple tools will put you on the fast track to aplombing with a rapier-like grace that would impress even Jeeves, with everyone from the boss, the guests, staff, vendors, officials, your significant other and mother-in-law all seeing and doing it your way. Yes, you are The Butler/Majordome/Majordomo/Household/Estate Manager—the one who knows all and without whom the estate would fall apart.»

Register at


Let’s Talk about Wine, Part IX

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

Today we move into Italy to discover a bit about its wonderful libations.

Chianti Cellar (roblisameehan)

Wine has been made in Italy since at least the 11th century BC, when the Enotrians (a Greek tribe, meaning people from the land of wines) inhabited the south of the peninsula. The growth of the Roman Empire lead to very important changes in wine production in two sectors: large-scale production and significant improvements in storage methods, ranging from the appearance and improvement of wood barrels to the creation of the first bottles that kept the wine in better conditions than the old amphorae (jars).

 The Roman domination of Europe spread knowledge of wine to the conquered regions, thus improving the already existing wine production in Gaul (France) and Hispania (Spain). Wine was so important for the Romans that they even had a deity for it within their polytheist religion: Bacchus, the god of wine, was given honors once a year in the famous Bacchanals, a party held to the sake of the god and as a tribute to the pleasures of life, at which much wine was drunk.
Chianti bottle from Tuscany (Giulio Nepi)

Italian wines have achieved excellence thanks to several important factors: vine-growing conditions are extremely favorable thanks to the abundance of Mediterranean sunshine, mild temperatures and cool, mountain air currents and sea breezes; the quality of the soils, and rainfall that is present in autumn, winter and spring, while summers are dry.

It is not easy to define the general characteristics of Italian wines, as they are produced all over the country. Italy’s twenty wine regions match the twenty administrative regions and, depending on the quality of the wine and the importance of the wine area, the brew is categorized under one of the four following denominations, as stated in the label of the bottle:

Barolo bottle (al10trader)

Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita or DOCG, meaning Controlled and Guaranteed Place Name, brings together the small group that is considered the best of the best wines. There are only 36 DOCGs, mostly concentrated in the Piedmont and Tuscany regions. Within the most important DOCGs, we find the world famous Barolo, Barbaresco, and Brunello di Montalcino.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata or DOC, meaning Controlled Place Name, categorizes wines whose name, origin, grape varieties, production, and storage methods are regulated by law. There are currently more than 300 DOCs; to name just a few, we find Montelpuciano d’Abruzzo, Copertino, Etna and Bardolino.

Indicazione Geografica Tipica or IGT, meaning Typical Geographic Indication, indicates that the wine has been produced in a particular wine area. The name of an IGT cannot be the same as a DOCG or a DOC, to avoid misunderstandings. Here we find Palizzi, Falanghina and Lambrusco.

Vini da Tavola, sometimes expressed on the label as “Italy,” refers to all other wines that do not fall under the previous categories.

There are more than 2,000 native grape varietals, the most important  red vines being Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Montelpuciano, Dolcetto or Malvasia Nera; the most important white grapes being Catarrato, Trebbiano, Moscato, Pinot Grigio, and Malvasia Bianca.

Altogether, Italy produces many fine wines. Raise your glass of refreshing Bianco (white wine) before we fly to Portugal in the next issue of our next Modern Butlers’ Journal!

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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.