Mixologist of the Month - Jamie McDonald

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Author: TheDrinkShop
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Jamie's Bio

  • Date of Birth: Sometime after the big ice freeze!
  • Birth place: Aberdeen
  • Height: 6'11"
  • Eye colour: Green/grey
  • Nationality: Scottish

"I started out in the industry as a barback in a cocktail bar in Austin Texas. It was here I learned how to bartend. A few years later I moved to New Orleans and bartended there for 4 years before moving back to London where I was the Bar Manager of the famous/infamous AKA bar for seven years before becoming a Brand Ambassador for Pernod Ricard in Jan 2007. I first worked on the Stoli vodka brand before transferring over to Scotch Whisky a year later."

Jamie's Signature Cocktails

Awards, Accolades and 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.

Claim to Fame

Your claim to fame? It would have to be the full two page fashion spread in GQ last year. It's not every day we get to do these things. Amazing fun.

Q & A

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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