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

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 11, 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

One might well wonder whither the world economy is going, with its decrepit basket of fiat currencies, faith in most of which has been lost following wanton abuse by the issuers and guardians of those currencies. Not to mention the state of environmental and political affairs around the world.

Were matters any better for our predecessors? Not really (except in the matter of an environment that was not so abused in the past)—since time immemorial, there have been wars and bubbles, conflicts, injustice and unfair advantage taken for the exclusive benefit of narrow interests.

I recently saw an interesting video interview on the subject of slavery—a reality that lurks in the beginnings of our service profession—that dispelled stereotypes such as “Slavery was perpetrated  by white Americans on blacks.” The truth is that far more slaves were white, indentured servants; and in some cases, freed black men owned white slaves. Slavery has existed for millennia, a tired solution that has never worked as an economic/social system—no more than serfdom worked when butlers first came to be 1,100 years ago.

There is no substitute, in the drive for personal happiness and success, for respecting one’s fellow human beings—they all have a story to tell and something to offer.

Talking of which, an extended trip to the Maldives is serving to reinvigorate the concept of the goodness of mankind: the people here are open and genuinely friendly—not struggling under the onslaught of the constant bad news beamed into our lives 24-hours a day with a great sucking sound from all four corners of this globe; nor the debilitating effects of street and psychiatric drugs, and vanished moral codes. Maldivians working in the dozen or more five-star resorts at which we have trained, are a veritable breath of fresh air that can be recommended when one needs to recharge batteries and come back to battery on the subject of life: as something to be enjoyed, not endured nor struggled through.

Butlers in the Media

It seems the number of enterprises drawing upon our profession’s reputation for being of service is taking a lead from the US National debt—being driven by an irrational exuberance, to quote the ex-Federal Chairman who generally talked in riddles to disguise the lack of substance and logic in his much-anticipated pronunciamentos! In this month alone, we have seen the emergence of the Bath butler in a US hotel offering budget baths; a cargo lift, the name of which is registered for some perplexing reason as a “Beach Butler” when it seems to have no relationship to either word; and equally perplexing, a “beach cottage butler sink” in Australia.

Personal technology is not far behind, with “The Butler” being a phone accessory that holds a smart phone; and a “Laptop Butler” being an accessory for the laptop that holds the required caffeinated beverage to the laptop so the user can type and sip with the greatest of convenience. Then there is “The Online Butler,” conceived to be the software that manages smart homes through the Internet. If this one catches on, it will possibly be the definition of the future butler, with “human butlers,” being relegated to an “archaic” or even “obsolete” term—for the Online Butler will no doubt take over the management of the really smart home, working through legions of robot butlers.

Several more hotels (and restaurants) are offering “robot butlers” for various functions, including delivering room service.

Then there are the hospitality offerings: a Picnic Butler in a London hotel who offers economically priced picnics in a London park (incorrectly claiming to be the first to do so); then there are the two “Water Butlers” in Ireland who no-doubt twirl their mustache and speak with great authority on the differing waters on the Water List (the waters do sound exotic, to be sure); not to be outdone is another Irish hotel offering the services of a “Style Butler” to help ladies choose clothing—this same hotel offers three other butlers: a Floral Butler, a Genealogy Butler, and goodness me, a “General Butler,” which we take to mean an actual (hotel) butler.

Calling things that are of service, in whatever capacity, a “___ Butler,” is not a new phenomenon: Has anyone heard of a “Silent Butler,” otherwise known as an “Ash Butler”? It is a small container, often of base metal, sometimes silver or silver-plated, with a handle and hinged cover, used for collecting ashes or crumbs. We know of Dumb Valets and Dumb Waiters, has there ever been a “Dumb Butler?” (Don’t answer that question, please!). Actually, taking the plunge and googling the phrase comes up with enough examples of people miscalling “Dumb Valets” as “Dumb Butlers” to guarantee, (for better or worse, the way languages develop) that we can now expect a “Dumb Butler” entry as one of the uses of “Butler” in the eventual World Dictionary of the Dumbed/Watered-Down English Language.

Of Interest

Take a moment to read this historic letter from one world leader to another:


The old adage, “Never try to reason with an angry man,” is a piece of hard-won truth, even if it offers no solutions. The English essayist, Sydney Smith, advances an additional angle to the basic truth (“Never try to reason the prejudice out of a man. It was not reasoned into him, and cannot be reasoned out.”), but still came no closer to a solution: “What does one do with an angry man (or woman), whether employer, family member, guest, colleague, vendor, government official or complete stranger?”

The answer is easy and not difficult to apply, as anyone who has trained with the Institute on it’s breakthrough emotional skills training, knows. The answer lies not in lobbing different realities and prejudices back and forth over the divide, nor in propitiating out of fear, but in the calm managing of the other person’s emotions. And in this, Mr. Gandhi had not the first idea and so failed.

The man who eased the British colonizers out of his country with great skill and a surfeit of good intentions, did not realize that no amount of good intentions would work with Herr Hitler until he had been raised out of his chronic anger and hatred. At least Mr. Gandhi tried to avert a disaster at the eleventh hour, using the best understanding he had of human nature—and at a time when others did nothing. Had he known a bit more about human nature and taken action earlier, he might have succeeded…and what a different world we would be living in!

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

Let’s Talk about Mixology, Part 4

by Amer Vargas 

The Cosmopolitan

Today, we are going to enjoy the enthusiasm for, and popularity of, another one of the most famous cocktails a bartender can mix for the enjoyment of his customers.

Cosmopolitan, photo by Thomas Hawk
The Cosmopolitan, photo (c) by Thomas Hawk

The Cosmopolitan is a very simple concoction with disputed origins. There is a written record of this mix dating back to the 1930’s, although it used gin instead of vodka and raspberry juice instead of cranberries. Other sources credit the drink to the gay community in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where it is thought to have originated during the 1970’s. And at some point during the same decade, a gentleman named Neal Murray claims to have invented the mix while playing around with the Kamikaze cocktail recipe: the first person who tried it, reportedly declared “How cosmopolitan.”  Yet others believe there to be a link between the cocktail and Ms. Cheryl Cook, who, in the mid-1980’s, was searching for a visually appealing drink that everyone could enjoy.

Whatever it’s origin, the Cosmopolitan had its heyday during the 1990’s and most especially at the turn of millenium, thanks to the American TV series Sex and the City, in which Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, Carry Bradshaw, commonly ordered the drink when stepping out with her friends. Later, in the film adaptation produced in 2008, a friend of Carrie, Miranda, famously asks her why she stopped drinking Cosmopolitans, to which Carrie replies, “Because everyone else is drinking them.” The truth seems to be, though, that whiskey brewers had recognized the TV series as a trend creator and sponsored the producers of the show to have Carrie’s friends start drinking Manhattans, a whiskey-based cocktail we covered in an earlier issue.

Anyway, this is how easy the Cosmopolitan is to make: you’ll need 4 cl (1.4 oz) of Vodka (preferably Vodka Citron, which is lemon flavored), 1.5 cl (0.5 oz) of Triple Sec, 1.5 cl (0.5 oz) of fresh lime juice, and 3 cl (1 oz) of cranberry juice. Add all the ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and shake well. Double strain into a classic Martini glass. The cocktail looks pink and frothy and you can increase the citrus flavor by burning the microscopic oil drops that come out of a squeezed orange peel on top of the drink.

Ready? Steady? Mix? Enjoy!

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

Recent Training and Graduates

The Institute’s trainers were busy again during the month of August, and a number of students graduated successfully from the Hospitality Butler courses delivered on-site by the Institute.

Some of the graduates at Anantara Kihava Villas in the Maldives

Of Butlers and Roses, Part 17 of 25

by GJ dePillis

Caring for Pruning Tools

Last month, we reviewed the tools needed by an avid rose (or any other) bush pruner. It might be useful, therefore, to review how best to maintain these tools. Regular cleaning and sharpening are the ticket.

Rubbing alcohol (not Clorox bleach) and size 0000 steel wool (not a Brillo pad), E-Z Lab diamond (or some other) metal file, and 3-in-1 or sewing machine oil are the simple tools and materials required.

When the blades become dull (this point has been reached when one clips a stem and the blades take off some of the “bark” of the stem), it is time to take action.

Soak a small piece of the steel wool in the alcohol and then wipe the blade in one direction, toward the sharp part. This prevents cross-contamination, in case one happens to prune a sick plant.

To sharpen the blades, use the diamond file in one direction.

Then use 3-in-1 or sewing machine oil to lubricate the joints and the blades to seal them from oxidation.

Annually, take the clippers apart and deep clean them.

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

Jeff Herman

 Consulting the Silver Expert

 by Jeffrey Herman

Q: Does silver have health benefits?

A: Yes. If you’re a silver lover, here’s something else you’ll appreciate about this lustrous metal: it can kill or suppress the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria, mold, and fungus. Silver ions have a toxic effect on these organisms while not being harmful to humans. The germicidal properties have been well documented through its use in wound dressings to stop infection and promote healing. These properties also exist in silver objects. Stainless steel doesn’t offer these benefits nor does it retain its commercial value. Why not buy something that has been staving off illnesses naturally for centuries? Consider drinking from a silver goblet or eating from flatware—an elegant way to stay healthier. And when it’s time to pass down your silver to the next generation, you can extol silver’s health benefits as well.

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.