Mixologist of the Month - Rob Wood
- Date of Birth: 15th January 1983
- Birth place: Manchester, UK
- Height: 5'11"
- Eye colour: Blue
- Nationality: English
"My first bartending job was in the Canary Islands; I went on holiday after leaving the military and stayed for 4 months. I learnt my basics there with a guy called Dave Chapman who had worked through the 80's cocktail boom in UK. After the season ended, he got me a job in Manchester at Bar38, which was the place to be seen. I started there and found my penchant for absorbing information and never stopped. I stayed in Manchester for the bulk of my early career working in several bars and working with some great bartenders including Jamie Stephenson at Obsidian, Beau Myers, Ian Morgan & Dave Hobbs at Socio Rehab, Richie Powell at M20 and many, many more...
After almost a year of travelling, I returned to the UK, looking for a new project to sink my teeth into; The Kenilworth took me on and made me a better bartender than I ever was before. I have learnt so much about the hospitality trade here, I am constantly learning! Next stop: The Edgbaston (our new venue in Birmingham)."
Claim to Fame
Almost winning lots of competitions...
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
I, like most people adore beer, but in the same way as I like to drink certain spirits/brands. I only like to drink certain beers. I am drinking St. Mungo from WEST at the moment... I actually really enjoy Kriek Lambic beers... I have tried around 10 different brands and I have enjoyed almost all of them.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
God blessed you with two hands; so use them. Efficiency is the cornerstone to a great bartender. As too is happiness, I see so many bartenders who don't seem to enjoy their jobs. This is the best career in the world, if you don't think so, don't do it.
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
Running before walking. Bartenders learn how to use Cryovac machines and nitrogen cavitation before understanding the basics of mixology and classic cocktails. That, and the misunderstanding of tropical drinks! Just because a drink has rum and pineapple juice does not make it 'Tiki'?
How did you get started?
I started making Woo Woo's and Sex on the Beaches in the Canary Islands; but the basics bestowed upon me by Dave Chapman all those years ago still ring true today.
How were you trained in bartending?
My training came from various sources. As I mentioned above; the basics were given to me by Dave Chapman but once back in UK, I found one of the biggest tools was observation of other bartenders, and of course, the internet. A massive shout out to Jamie Stephenson who pulled me into the world of 'career bartending' and introduced me to competition bartending.
Did you take any courses?
No. I have done my WSET Level 2 but no bartender training; I personally believe in skills passed from bartender to bartender through experience is the best way to train in our field.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
I get inspiration from everywhere; walking around the supermarket, cinema.
What is your favourite cocktail To make?
Dry Martini. 3 ingredients; such possibilities...
What are some of your favourite tools?
I have a penchant for bar kit. I have probably spent close to a thousand pounds on kit from all over the world. My favourite at the moment is a Mr Slim jigger but I have an original Bonzer Hawthorne strainer that I love too.
What is your favourite mixology resource?
The internet is a fabulous thing.
What does success mean for you?
I think it was Bill Gates who said Success seduces smart people into thinking they cannot lose.
What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market?
I do not get this whole blue drink craze? but the garnish is making a big comeback right now!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Overseeing our hotels/bars in Kenilworth, Edgbaston and (hopefully) New Orleans?
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
Your biggest career influencer?
Jamie Stephenson taught me more about bartending than anyone and Darren Insall has taught me more about business than I knew there was.
First drink you ever tried?
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
I have never been a huge fan of Absinthe. I love using it and am fascinated by the history of the spirit but never really been able to appreciate it like I wish I could.
Your hangover cure?
Ribena, Nurofen and lots and lots of Toast!!!
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Book a cabin on the Queen Victoria and plan how to spend/invest whilst sailing around the world.
Bar or cellar at home?
I have over 200 spirits (and growing) at home already so I guess I would like a well-stocked cellar.
Alhambra 1925 Reserva and Dorothy Goodbody's Christmas Ale.
Emrich-Schonleber 2011 Riesling Kabinett.
Cask of Yamazaki 1990 Sherry Butt was one of the best things I ever tasted but everyday drinking, probably Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva.
Wet Tanqueray 10 Dirty Gibson.
Artesian Bar at The Langham is probably my favourite bar but most recently had a great experience at Blind Pig at Social Eating House.
The Fat Duck, Bray.
Las Vegas, New York, Barcelona, London??? So many to choose from!
I am a real film nerd so this is impossible for me...
Non Fiction: Sippin' Safari by Jeff Berry, Heston Blumenthal at Home & Charles H. Baker's Around the World with Jigger, Beaker and Flask.
Fiction: From Russia with Love & The Man with the Golden Gun; both by Ian Fleming.
Veni Vidi Vicious by The Hives.
Adele (her voice makes me proud to be British. She is amazing!).