Carlos Londono - Mixologist of the Month
- Date of Birth: 17th February 1974
- Birth place: Medellin, Colombia
- Height: 1m 78cm
- Eye colour: Green
- Nationality: British/Colombian
"I started as a waiter at Cafe Pacifico, I then became head waiter, then Manager and then Assistant GM as well as bar manager. I love what I do and I do it with pleasure. I can make someone's day or night with a smile, great service and a kick ass drink. I have been with the company for 15 years and now part of the furniture and of the association Ocho Tequila and La Perla Cafe Pacifico."
Awards, Accolades and Trophies
I am sorry, I don't enter competitions, I judge them. OK, maybe I have entered 2 in my 15 years in the industry and I came second in one of them (2005 Guylian praline cream liqueur competition). But it really is not my thing as I get too nervous. I take my hat off to those that can do it. I would probably get too drunk before my turn comes up, in fact I did.
Claim to Fame
This is a hard one as I'm not a fan of fame. If I had to choose moments in my professional life that I would say are highlights then there would be 2 moments: One was having to do a presentation along side the most prestigious man in the tequila, Mr Miguel Cedeno, who is the master distiller of Herradura tequila for many years and is now the master distiller of the CRT Regulatory Tequila Council in Mexico. He is a true gentleman! He shares all his knowledge without holding back and above all he is a pleasure to work with. The other moment would have to be when we introduced Muestra Numero Ocho tequila to Europe about 7 years ago. All the heavy weights of the the tequila world gathered in the south of France. This was tough but resulted in great success and satisfaction.
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer?
I don't drink a lot of it but I think it is great to accompany some spirits such as mezcal and tequila. You can also use in mixology beer, tequila, agave nectar and lime all work well.
Any brews of note for you?
Club Colombia, Bohemia.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Don't forget the basics. We seem to concentrate too much on mixology and forget the basics such as service. Exceed customers expectations and don't forget our customers pay our wages, be as flexible as possible we have to deal with all types of customers.
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
Taking 10 minutes to get a nice cocktail, that is too long. Dirty nails and not smiling.
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
This is a very enjoyable process. You have to open your mind and palate. It is very importantly to consider your clientele and to bear in mind what they want. Listen to your customers. Do not sacrifice quality. Make sure that you get different point of views and as many ideas as possible so get members of your team involved as well. To create, make sure you select your main ingredient and find its profile. Experiment and find the right balance. If you want to challenge yourself, take a predominant ingredient and find a spirit that may work with it. Your menus should have different price options in order to attract different clientele.
How did you get started?
15 years ago at Cafe Pacifico, Tomas Estes gave me a passion for all things Mexican. It reminded me of how great it is to be Latin and it is fantastic to have the opportunity to share it in this wonderful country England.
How were you trained in bartending?
Watching some of the Pros around London. Also listening to men like Dale DeGroff, EL Maestro Salvatore Calabrese and Peter Dorelli.
Did you take any courses?
With Dale DeGroff once and the Distintivo Tequila CRT Regulatory Tequila Council. Apart from Listening to Tomas Estes for the last 15 years and being trained by him on Tequila and Mezcal.
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
Big and elaborate garnishes. Mezcal!!!!
What is your favourite cocktail to drink? To make?
I enjoy making so many but it has to be good simple Margarita, easy to make if you pay attention to your palate and the tequila you are using, easy to get wrong if you don't watch your ingredients. I love to to drink tequila/mezcal and beer.
What are some of your favourite tools?
My hands and mouth, ah and a good pourer and shaker.
What is your favourite mixology resource?
My fellow professionals and my customers. Books and bars.
What does success mean for you?
A big thank you at the end of service, and to change the perception of people about tequila and mezcal.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Making tequila the most consumed spirit in the UK.
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
On the other side of the bar, As a customer drinking tequila and mezcal.
Your hangover cure?
A good sangrita or Oregano oil - Yes I know!!!
Your biggest career influencer?
First drink you ever tried?
Aguardiente (fire water) back in Colombia.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Sambuca, sorry, but I love the sambuca girls.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Invest in our business Ocho and La Perla Cafe Pacifico. Give lots to cancer research, they helped my mum twice and she still with us, thank you. With the change buy a little island of Cartagena Colombia and set up a nice none profit making sea food and mezcal/tequila bar with a bit of rum and cold beer.
Bar or cellar at home?
South African Pinotage 1998.
"La Esquina" - My uncles bar in Medellin Colombia.
Grumbles, Pimlico, London. French Cuisine.
Many, ones with a good message that make me cry and drink. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.
Perfume - Patrick Suskind.
Forty licks and many others by the Rolling Stones.
David Bowie/Rolling Stones.