What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
Beer is a good old mate of mine. St. Ella and I are very fond of each other.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
No matter how busy you are, never panic behind the bar. Take a deep breath and concentrate on being smooth. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Look after your hands,without them you are in the weeds, clean them, dry them, moisturise them. Other wise they end up looking like a 90 year old builder that has been bathing in a mixture of formaldehyde and lemon juice.
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders - Care to share?
The thing that pisses me off the most is bartenders that carelessly criticize and throw together the popular cocktails. Things like mojitos and Pina Coladas. There is a bad habit within the bar trade that if it hasn't been dug out the back of badly edited, half burnt cocktail book that was salvage off the wreck of the titanic; its not a good drink. If 70% of your cocktail turn over is coming from mojitos, they had better be the best dam mojitos ever. "Ohh" and messy bartenders, that shit pisses me off. "wooooooosa".
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus - describe the parts of this process.
When I write cocktail menus I like to split the menu in to sections. There is a infinite amount of ways you can divide the sections; happy hour, classics, practicality, strange, nostalgic etc. etc.
The way, which in you lay out cocktails within the menu, is massively important. There are lots of little tricks you can do. Naming cocktails after familiar thing like films and celebrities. This creates a feel of familiarity and comfort for the customer. Putting your high GP, and quick drinks at the top of the page helps free up some space for more complex drink later on in the menu.
How did you get started?
I dropped out of art college in 2008 to follow my other passion cooking. As an 18 year old with no qualifications it proved pretty tricky to get a job, even as a KP. I decided to scrap the chef thing and become a bartender. I spent all my time and money in bars, so it seemed like a natural progression. Luckily for me the GM at Lots Road Pub and Dinning just off Kings Road took pity on me and gave me a job as a waiter. There my bar manager was Alistair Burges and had just got back from working at the Pegu club in New York. He gave me a lot of inspiration. Almost four years later here I am.
How were you trained in bartending?
Mostly self taught, lots of reading and geeking out on bar books. I would go sit at bars on my day off and just drink, read and watch the bartenders. With that I took little bits of style I liked and mixed them all together. Then one day I got behind a real bar and was given a few pointers, the rest is progression.
Did you take any courses?
I did a shakers bar course while I was working as a waiter. It was great. I met some really good people and since then loads of brand training and tastings.
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
Like with fashion, popular cocktail goes around in circles. 80's disco drinks are making a good come back. As well as cheesy blue drinks, which I love. The whole molecular mixology thing has seemed to have taken a slight back seat for many bartenders and just good old simply drinking is joining us again.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail?
I always start with what I want the drink to taste like. And then work backwards to make it work. I love making what we call concept drinks, maybe not the most practical but great for events.
What is your favourite cocktail to drink? To make?
I would like to say some thing like a Manhattan or a Old Fashioned but it has to be a nice Mojito. It's quick, it's simple and tastes like a cold minty jug of goodness.
What are some of your favourite tools?
Hammer drills, they're great. Tin and tin shakers, they're light, fast and they never break. I have had the same set since I started bartending.
What is your favourite mixology resource?
Google, bartenders are some of the best googlers around. They are great at pulling up strange and wonderful facts for menus, comps and events.
What does success mean for you?
Making sure my wife has enough high heels. I would like to have a group of bars, hotels, and clubs.
What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market?
Rituals and theatre within drinks are very popular at the moment. As cocktail drinking reaches a wider audience simple tasty well-made drinks will be at the forefront.
What goes into creating a cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
Wow, it really depends on what am creating the drink for, usually stories are the biggest inspiration for me.
What is your favourite drink to make?
Anything garnished with an umbrella.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Rich with liver damage but if for some reason that doesn't happen I would be happy with a couple bars.
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
I would probably be a builder.
Your hangover cure?
Iron brew and lager shandy. Works every time.
Your biggest career influencer?
Ali Burgess of Happiness Forgets and my boss JJ Goodman of the London Cocktail Club.
First drink you ever tried?
Harvey Wallbanger. I use to make them for my old man when I was a kid and have been in love with the old Galliano ever since. I have a little stash at home for when am feeling nostalgic.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
It's all about trial and error but a Brooklyn always get me.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Buy out all the Evolution Vodka Bars and turn them in to AA meeting rooms. With the change I would open a hotel on a beach and spend the rest of my days with my beautiful wife blending the crap out of Pina Coladas.
Bar or cellar at home?
Definitely a bar but a proper one, speed rail. Ice wells the works.
The Covent Garden Cocktail Club.
The Big Easy on Kings Road.
Dr Dre 2000 Chronic.
Sonny Boy Williamson.