Mixologist of the Month - Ali Reynolds
- Date of Birth: 2nd December
- Birth place: Nottingham, England
- Height: 6'1"
- Eye colour: Green
- Nationality: English
His bar-tending started at Bar Eleven and Brass Monkey in Nottingham, in 2002. With moves back and fourth between Bristol in Nottingham Ali eventually settled in Bristol and found his home at Haus Bar. He says he learnt a lot in the time he was there. Most notably being his customer service, attention to detail and classic cocktails.
With the ever competitive edge from sport at school and university Ali found himself competiting in many a competition. Winning many regional competitions and being a finalist in many national and global finals hosted all around the world.
Bristol to Ali has always been a second home and he is the first to recognise the amazing talent that grew up in the city. However, his love of change and a new beginnings found him in London opening Pollen Street Social for Jason Atherton. Joined later by Gareth Evans a friend and previous colleague from Nottingham, Ali, Gareth and Josh Reynolds, (Ali's brother), set about making their name in London. After a year working under Jason Atherton as a bar manager Ali left Pollen Street and joined Hawksmoor in 2011. Starting as a bartender at The Guildhall site Ali now runs the bars at the original Spitalfields site. With a steak restaurant upstairs and a beautiful basement cocktail bar Ali had found his home. This year he was an integral part of designing the new menu for Foxlow in Clerkenwell. This is Hawksmoor's new venture already receiving rave reviews. Off the back of a previous competition and his work in London, J Wray and Nephew approached Ali last year and he is currently the Appleton Estate Rum Brand Ambassador for London and the South as well as helping manage Hawksmoor Spitalfields.
Ali's approach to drinks is usually classic bringing subtle twists on flavours or a tongue in cheek gag where he can. Recently he has been put in charge of drinks research and development for Hawksmoor and says he is now "extremely content in keeping the menu fresh, exploring new spirits, meeting new bartenders and tasting new ideas from around the group, but, mainly the tasting!
Ali's Signature Cocktails
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
Love it! There's nothing better than a cold beer and a measure of whiskey after a shift. I.m loving the Kernel beers from Bermondsey at the moment and a notable one has to be the Gamma Ray from Beavertown Brewery.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Concentrate on your guests and never bullshit anyone.
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
Not really, perhaps inconsistency. Bad service is just bad service no matter who is delivering it.
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
I think you have to understand your area, your clientele and the direction the venue wants to head.
How did you get started?
Cocktail wise I guess it would have to be Brass Monkey in Nottingham. Otherwise working to fund university in bars around the city.
How were you trained in bartending?
I think I learnt the most at Haus Bar in Bristol the rest just followed. Moving to London is just a never ending journey of trying to be better than the day before.
Did you take any courses?
Not in bartending but there have been many courses on this journey I.m sure there will be many more and all I can say is that no one ever stops learning.
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
New products every week from all categories, bartenders pushing the limits of serves in their bars, to some of the simplest of ideas with the small twist and those being some of the tastiest drinks I have ever tried. I love some concepts and can.t understand others but this is why this industry has something for everyone.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
I love to start with a name for a drink, then a story for it and end up with a final product that the consumer will enjoy. My inspirations come from all over but mainly my travels. I was very lucky and be forever grateful to my parents for the amount of travelling I got to do as a child. I think all of that has stuck with me to now. Plus my mum is a fantastic cook and made us eat all sorts growing up so I think my palate has a taste for everything now.
What is your favourite cocktail To make?
Hard to say, I enjoy making any drink to please whoever is sat in front of me. However, it would be a fight between an El Diablo and a Sazerac as those were the first two drinks I ever made for Auri, (owner of Haus Bar).
What are some of your favourite tools?
A shaker, (tin on tin), a strainer, a glass and maybe a good knife, but what more do you really need?
What is your favourite mixology resource?
My brother, my good friends Gareth Evans and Adam McGurk and a copy of Charles H Baker Jr. Jigger, Beaker and Glass
What does success mean for you?
Being better than I was the day before. Or waking happy and understanding not everything was perfect the day before but you can have another shot at it.
What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market?
Fantastic names for drinks and twists on words that draw people in. Amazing serves that make people view a concept around a drink. But, mainly the fact that everywhere I look standards are getting higher and higher. It isn.t a concept but it is drawing the best out of everyone and creating new concepts.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In my own bar surrounded by my dearest friends or doing what I am now and hopefully just as happy.
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
Easy, porn star, Ha! In the armed forces I guess. That was the dream when I was young. My dad is in the Army now and I would have loved to have that in common with him today. However, the inspiration he gives me now is just as great.
Your biggest career influencer?
My brother. I respect his opinion more than anyone.s. To name more Rich Crossan for great advice when we worked together at Hawksmoor. Adam McGurk has always been a pleasure to run my ideas by and get HONEST feedback. Gareth Evans has also been an inspiration from our time at Pollen Street Social to being ever the good friend. Also the nature of no job is too big from Phil Duffy who I have literally only been working with for 1 month now.
First drink you ever tried?
When I was 4 I crawled around my Dad.s rugby club taking sips of any beer I could get my hand on. Also asking people for tiny sips. Very sick afterwards!!! Apparently.
**We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid? Strongbow Cider! Ask the 14 year old me. . .
Your hangover cure?
Drink as much cold water from the bathroom tap as soon as you wake, 1 Lucozade Sport, then 10 pull-ups, 20kg bicep curl should press,(10reps each arm) then a brisk walk to the nearest Campari and tonic. Trust me when I say exercise is the only key in all that.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Buy a flat in NYC and London. Then open a couple of bars. Or. . . . Nevermind.
Bar or cellar at home?
What? Favourite beer? Get a grip. Worst question ever. If I could only drink one spirit for the rest of my life that would be a better question and just as ridiculous. N/A for Not Answering.
Great, see above.
I now see how you have filled the bottom of this page. Ummm Boiler maker with different spirits and beer everytime!!!!
Artisian is beautiful and the service is second to none. Buck and Breck, Green Door and Becketts Kopf in Berlin. Pelican bar in Jamaica and Death and Co in NYC was fantastic.
Ledbury Notting Hill is to date the best meal I have ever eaten.
New York or the Caribbean.
Hmmm, Fight Club, North by Northwest, Lucky Number Slevin and Dark Knight. Too many to choose from though.
How to Kill Your Friends by John Niven
BOOM! By The Sonics