What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
I'm a fan of Camden Wheat and Hells, they brew the stuff 5 minuets from my house and I'm insanely territorial like that.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
1) Try and be 1% better each shift, you'll be amazed how quickly you progress
2) Bring some atmosphere. The best in the bizz control the room, not just their section!
3) Don't be scared to be wrong, in fact enjoy it! My biggest successes came AFTER my biggest falls, not the other way round!
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
1) Get some banter.
2) Don't be unreasonable.
3) Try and think out side the box.
4) A great bar is a great experience, your drink is important, but probably less important than you'd like, so put as much energy in to everything else and your going places!
5) Take responsibility for your whole crew! You're as good as your weakest link, it's a cliche but its true.
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
Understand the consumer when you create the menu, then develop the drinks list pushing the ability of the bartender just a little. If it works for both, push it some more! Overkill is a nightmare for everyone, you can end up alienating both parties.
How did you get started?
I washed plates at 15 in a bar, at 16 I washed glasses in a club, at 17 pulled my first pint, at 18 a mixed my first cocktail (a grasshopper!).
How were you trained in bartending?
I'm here today because of the amazing training I've had! At times I was humiliated, beaten, stabbed, soaked, slapped, but that's how you used to train back then, I cant get away with that these days, not all of it anyway. Special thanks to Ben Mcrennor, my master Jedi at Chicago Rock. Then Darren Frost and Lee Lynch at Living Ventures. Tim Oakley at Rising Star. And last but not least, Ben Martin and Leigh Miller at B@1!
Did you take any courses?
No, I bought books and read them. We train our staff at LCC every 2 weeks, I didn't have access back then, even the internet was pretty dry, I had to go find it.
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
Pale Ale is in at the moment, as is pre-mixing, elaborate garnishes and interaction. I hope they don't go anywhere either.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail?
Find an inspiration. Nostalgic, experimental, and make it work. Anyone can balance a great drink, but if you can make a story of the ingredients then it becomes authentic. Too many drinks are hashed together with no thought or reason.
What is your favourite cocktail to drink? To make?
Drink - at the moment I'm on White Ladies
Make - Brixton Riot has been our best seller since we opened, it started with the garnish (floating Wray & Nephs flaming passion shell) the rest is history. I'm 100% confident that its the most photographed cocktail in the world! My favourite drinks to make are the ones that make people smile.
What are some of your favourite tools?
We are releasing our own kit later this year which I'm really excited about. I love my 32ox weighted boston, but for some reason I seem to constantly be discussing potato peelers...... I couldn't live with out one, go figure?!
What is your favourite mixology resource?
What does success mean for you?
A never ending struggle. It's human nature to never feel truly successful, as each time you reach your goal, you create a new one. Though I'm aware I've done well, the fear of failure keeps me driven.
What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market?
I remember the first time I met Jim Meehan who I'd heard loads about. I asked him a similar question as I don't get out much, we are hermits really. He asked me if we were successful? I modestly replied that we were rammed. To which he replied, "sometimes its best to keep your head down, or you can easily get carried away", apparently he gets his best work done that way, as do I. We think we have seen disco, but we are looking at going deeper this year. Our big focus is getting people to create drinks at home. I don't see why you cant make an example of that from behind the bar. You'll have to wait and see.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In the nut house.
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
I wanted to design bespoke furniture, and bars. I get to design bars now which is cool, but when I'm old id love a work shop!
Your hangover cure?
A glass of man the fuck up!
Your biggest career influencer?
...... Ben Mcrennor taught me to love the industry. The romance of everyone and everything in it. There are plenty of people who I would accredit for inspiring me, but only one who kick started my imagination.
First drink you ever tried?
Mixed drink...... does Hooch count?!
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
I love tequila! It just doesn't love me back! I'll win her over one day.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Buy a hotel. I've got a bit of a fascination with them at the moment. Id love to get in to them next!
Bar or cellar at home?
Bar, nothing sits in our house long enough to be rested!
Guinness, not because I drink much of it, but it's the only beer I get cravings for.
Dry German Rieslings, any of them!
I'm enjoying rekindling my love of rum! Sip, shoot or mix, its got to be the most versatile spirit in the world.
Ever!? Dry gin Martini. Its timeless.
Cant say, sorry. CGCC will always have a special place in my heart. I think the first child all ways does.
Le Manoir aux quat saisons! Im aware that kissing arse, but one of the many things RB and I agree on is a restaurant, much like a bar is much more than the food and drink. Lunch at Le Manoir in the summer (not dinner) should be on every bodies bucket list. If the food and restaurant doesn't get you, the grounds will! Summer sees them in full bloom, and that worth the trip alone!
I've fallen in love with Central Park, NYC. I took my mom in November and still cant stop thinking about it
The Matrix, its epic! Star wars in close second (all of them).
I don't read much as I'm all ways in a recipe book or attempting a new hobby (my guitar skills need more work), but I'm currently attempting to read "Philosophy for beginners", and its fascinating and a lot less wanky than I thought.
Fugees - The Score! Brap!
John Hiatt, he's an old country singer from the US, but every song puts me in a happy place. Even if some times the tracks are a little suicidal. Try and youtube "have a little faith". You'll be converted!