Mixologist of the Month - Liam Webster
- Date of Birth: 19th March 1990
- Birth place: Barking, Essex
- Height: 5'4"
- Eye colour: Blue
- Nationality: British
"My Career started off when my Nan got me a job in an Irish pub out in Essex collecting glasses. After a while I was promoted to barman and It was here were I learnt a lot about fast paced customer service and looking after your regulars.
After two years I moved to a restaurant nearby. This was when I was first introduced into the world of cocktails. At this point it was jugs of long island iced tea and blue lagoons but I was soon promoted to manager. I started introducing simple drinks like Godfathers and White Russians when one of the chefs working there showed me an article on 69 Colebrooke row and said I should apply to work at the Mandarin Oriental.
I started as bar back there at Bar Boulud where I really started learning about bartending. I was promoted to bartender and stayed for 2 years. After this, I moved the Blind Pig where I worked as bartender for a year before being promoted to assistant bar manager."
Liam's Signature Cocktails
Claim to Fame
When I was a baby I used to do adverts on TV. Hugh Laurie was directing one of these adverts and we played peak a boo when we weren't filming.
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
I think it's great to see bars caring just as much about what beer they offer as the drinks they put on the cocktail menu. We've got a new beer in ourselves called Undercurrent by siren brewery based in Berkshire. I think that's my new favourite beer now.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Work hard, don't chase the high paying jobs when you're starting out. Pick carefully where you want to work and more importantly who you want to work with. You will learn a lot from the people that you surround yourself with.
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
Bartenders that don't want to learn really annoy me. You should always be learning and developing no matter what level you're at.
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
With the drinks menu at the Blind Pig, it really is a team effort. Everyone is always throwing ideas around. Sometimes an idea will stick and we will work on it to get it on the menu.
How did you get started?
I started glass collecting in an Irish pub out in Essex when I was sixteen. It was a great place to start out. Most of our trade was the regular crowd that would be in there every day.
How were you trained in bartending?
When I worked at Bar Boulud Gavin, my bar manager at the time, introduced me to making drinks to a high standard. The restaurant was very busy so MEP was vital. When I moved over to the Blind Pig, I had to learn quick as the expectations were high. Gareth and Kyle have really helped me up my game since working there. After that most of what I learnt was through a lot of reading, experimenting and speaking to other bartenders.
Did you take any courses?
I have passed my WSET level 3. Apart from that everything I've learnt is on the job or in a book.
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
Pre-making drinks is becoming more acceptable now. People are prioritising the guests needs over how it looks making the drinks behind the bar which is good to see.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
Every drink should have a concept to get the ball rolling. Whether it's a style of drink you want to make or an idea that you have. For example we are working on a drink for the Chinese New Year with sweet and sour sauce and 5 spice. Restricting yourself to an idea can really encourage you to get creative.
What is your favourite cocktail to make?
The Slap and Pickle. Banging!
What are some of your favourite tools?
I had a wine opener shaped like a dolphin that I bought in Portugal for 4 euro. One of my bartenders lost it though. Gutted!
What is your favourite mixology resource?
Books from other great bars. At the moment I'm reading Death and Co's book. Its good to see what other bars are doing.
What does success mean for you?
Looking back to what you were doing a year ago and being satisfied with the progress you've made.
What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market?
Homemade ingredients and bartenders getting more hands on with what goes in their drinks. One thing I've learned at the Blind Pig is how easy homemade syrups are to make.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Well on my way to opening up my own bar.
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
Acting, military or fire service.
Your biggest career influencer?
All the managers, past and present, that I've worked for. They have all help me improve at one point or another.
First drink you ever tried?
Southern comfort, I was 14. It was disgusting.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Your hangover cure?
Sleep if you have time.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
I would go on a yearlong holiday around the world for research and when I got back I would open up my own place.
Bar or cellar at home?
I have about 60 bottles of booze spread around the house in different places.
Undercurrent by Siren.
Torbreck, The Steading. Amazing Australian red.
Rum at the moment but it changes every couple of months.
Franks in Chinatown.
Hong Kong, loads of fun.
Y: The Last Man.
Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stoneage.
Too many! Arctic Monkeys.