Mixologist Of The Month - Jamie McDonald

Jamie's Bio.

Birthday: Sometime after the big ice freeze!

Birth place: Aberdeen.

Height: 5'11"

Eye colour: Green/grey.

Nationality: Scottish.

His own introduction to bar-tending started at The Horseshoe Bar in Glasgow, where he learned the trade from 1996-99. However, his educations took a twist when he moved to the cocktail lounge at Glasgow's Gaucho Grill where he was taught classically and developed a finely tuned appreciation of well-made cocktails using only the freshest ingredients.

Bitten by the travel bug, Jamie made his way from East to West across the USA gathering a wealth of drinks sector knowledge and a diversity of culture. He then travelled to Australia working in the prestigious Italian and East Villages in Sydney and further developing his cocktail-making skills, soaking up an eclectic mix of influences.

After returning to Edinburgh in 2001, he was snapped up by Montpelier's Edinburgh Ltd who recognised his talent and skills. After two years as head-bartender at Rick's Jamie then took a break for a year, working freelance as a bar and events trainer. Within that time Jamie developed the menu and service for Booly Mardi's Glasgow and the highly prestigious Oloroso Edinburgh. He re-joined in 2004 as Rick's Bar Manager then moved on to design and develop not only the beverage program but the technical aspects at Tigerlily and Lulu working within the operational and development team. In late 2006 Jamie set out as an independent and sole trader and has since worked with prestigious clients the likes of Fior Brands Grand Marnier, Morrison Bowmore Distillers, TWA Creative Japan, WC Reserve UK / North America / Japan & Appleton's Estate respectively while continuing to work with Montpelier's Ltd as their Bar/Brand Development Consultant. Jamie is still presently the UK Rum Ambassador for Appleton Estate Rums Ltd.

Jamie's approach to drinks would be that of a classic & minimalist nature bringing together subtle twists. Jamie works with culinary aspects, textured products and modern technique when profiling flavour. His passion goes further than that of cocktails pursuing further his education of whiskies, r(h)um and as an avid collector of fine and rare Bourbon but Jamie's real passion lies in the art of hosting the guest and the craft of hospitality.
Awards, accolades, trophies.

The awards and accolades are ridiculously long and I've competed nationally and globally for many years now. I came third in the world with World Class Global and back in early 2000's we achieved with Ricks - Award for standard of service in UK - we won against the likes of Hakkasan. That was a great moment.

What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
Love good crafted beer and I'll admit I had a bud recently in NOLA and it was delicious in that heat. Look out for Williams Bros brewing and you can't go wrong with a Coopers.

If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Don't be average be awesome. Never take short cuts.

Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
Bartenders who think drinks matter more than the guest. Bartenders who think their drinks are awesome but actually have no balance. We have a saying in Glasgow - "You can't polish a turd but you can roll it in glitter"

As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
It's about understanding the clients needs and not your own desires. It's always satisfying when you complete and see the results in action.

How did you get started?
I started work in 1996 in the famous and yet infamous Horseshoe Bar in Glasgow as cellar boy/ bartender.

How were you trained in bartending?
With the management at the Horseshoe I was given great grounding. It was always about the customer service and the cleanliness of the products. Dick Bradsell was my inspiration followed by an extensive program by Phil Crozier (trained by Dick). There have been many influencers in my career but I have been mostly self taught.

Did you take any courses?
Not in bar tending but there have been many courses on this journey. There will be many more. You can never stop learning.

What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
Craft products, artisanal cocktails, esoteric ingredients, technical and laboratory equipment. All are becoming common place and its an amazing and fantastic time in hospitality right now. I look fondly at my early years and chuckle when I think where we are as an industry now.

What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
My feelings are that there should be a catalyst for creating something new. I draw inspiration from many things, art & design, nature, colours or even something more random. Food and flavour combinations help me along the way.

What is your favourite cocktail To make?

What are some of your favourite tools?
Ice picks, water bath & vacuum, dehydrator, slushy machine.

What is your favourite mixology resource?
Charles H Baker Jr.

What does success mean for you?
Happiness and to wake with a smile.

What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market?
Trends that aren't properly thought out endangering the consumer. Plain stupid.

On a better note I believe many are trying to improve their offerings, that's a trend. A lot more obscure and esoteric ingredients at use and some insanely good concepts arriving and crossing shores.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Somewhere sunny or perhaps stateside.

If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
Robbing banks, haha...
No seriously I played professional football when I was younger and I have a fascination with wildlife (not the Glasgow wildlife).

Your biggest career influencer?
My mum and dad. Then it would be a great friend and loyal colleague David Johnston of Montpeliers Ltd and Papermill.

First drink you ever tried?
Haha, probably ouzo or something like Bols Genever stolen from my parents drink cabinet.

We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Anything highly sugared and a fair few spirits. Can't say which.

Your hangover cure?
Before sleep if I don't pass out; 2 x paracetamol 1 x diarolyte 1 x berrocca 1 x pint water then repeat once awake. Failing that just make yourself sick.

£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Pay any extended family debts. Start a charity then take myself off the grid.

Bar or cellar at home?
Cellar - escapism.

Favourite beer?
Deuchars IPA.

Any great Malbecs.

Rum of course and I would be lying if I don't enjoy a frequent Appleton 12. Then there's the occasional whisky.

Daiquiri or rum and a beer though I am partial to a pina colada.

Fav Bar?
There are two many and for so many great reasons but Happiness Forgets, Artesian and perhaps most of all Dead Rabbit.

Bia Bistro in Edinburgh.

World location?
New York or the Caribbean.

Fav film?
Anything by Marvel or DC. There's too many.

Anything by Edward Rutherford.

Jz Black Album.

Emelie Sande.

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