Andy Pearson - Mixologist of the Month
- Date of Birth: 22 April 1976
- Birth place: Beverley, near Hull!
- Height: Not very big
- Eye colour: Blue
- Nationality: Yorkshireman (and fiercely proud of it).
After spending thirteen years behind the bar, ten of which spent managing a variety of London's finest drinking establishments, Andy is now the Director of Intoxicology, a company dedicated to turning that experience into valuable advice for a variety of people from Bar & Restaurant Owners to Brand Managers, and of course Bartenders themselves.
Andy is currently involved in projects with a number of the World's leading drinks companies including Diageo/Reserve, Bacardi / Brown-Forman, Pernod-Ricard and Beam Global Brands, as well as number of the countries finest Chefs.
Andy also creates drinks for, and presents a drinks segment on the BBC's top rated Sunday morning show 'Something for the Weekend', working alongside the irrefutable skills of Chef Simon Rimmer and uber-presenter Tim Lovejoy; this is a show that pulls in nearly a million live viewers each week.
Andy is the veteran of numerous cocktail competitions at national and international level; and is now a well respected judge. He also holds the distinction of being the current UK Bartenders Guild Nation Champion, and finish fifth in the World Championships in Taiwan when representing the UK in November.
Also this year Andy helped select the UK team to go to New Zealand for the Cocktail World Cup; when he also had the honour of being invited to be one of the judges for the competition final in Queenstown.
The Observer recently profiled Andy as one of the top ten in his category in their Future 500 program, which was set up to identify 'the brightest and best rising stars across ten fields in the UK'.
Andy also holds the Wine & Spirit Education Trust's Advanced wine certificate, as well as a distinction in the Professional level spirits course. A grade which allows him to teach this qualification and he is currently undergoing the WSET's trainer program to allow him to do just that.
Andy is currently hard at work on his first book, as well as devising entertaining new ways to bring spirits and mixed drinks into people's lives.
Awards, Accolades and Trophies
November 2007 - Profiled in The Observer Future 500 supplement (Top Ten in category), the scheme aimed to highlight 'the brightest and best rising stars in ten fields'.
November 2007 - 5th Place International Bartenders Association World Championships, Taiwan (Represented the UK against the other 51 member countries).
September 2007 - Winner UK Bartenders Guild National Championships.
October 2006 - Present: Presenter of cocktail and spirit segment for 'Something for the Weekend' on BBC 2.
October 2004 - Present: Experiential Product Development Consultant Bacardi-Martini Global Division.
July 2006: Finalist UKBG Bartender of the Year & winner of the technical award.
June 2006: Finalist Cape North Cocktail Competition (Stockholm).
June 2006: Presenter for the World Wide Cocktail Club on the main stage at BAR 06.
November 2005: Presented bartender special edition of 'Ready, Steady, Cook!'
September 2005: Wine and Spirit Education Trust Level 2 Professional Certificate in Spirits (Pass with distinction).
August 2005: Winner of the Courvoisier Cognac Up-selling Challenge.
August 2005: 2ND Place in the Tanqueray No.10 'Miami Cocktail Competition'.
Summer 2005: Presenter for ITV's 'This Morning' cocktails and spirits segments.
July 2005: Winner of the Johnnie Walker Gold Label Cocktail Challenge.
June 2005: Awarded 2nd place in the £10,000 Smirnoff Penka Diamond Martini Challenge.
August 2002: Wine and Spirit Education Trust Advanced Wine Certification Course, Grade B.
Claim To Fame
I'm the most famous bartender ever to come out of the George & Dragon Inn, Aldbrough, East Yorkshire (population 2000), as far as I know.
Q & A
How did you get started?
It was my Dad's idea, he said 'you spend so much time in the pub you should get paid for being there!', I figured he was onto something.
How were you trained in bartending?
My inspiration in my first 'cocktail bartending' job was the Head Bartender at Henry J. Bean's on King's Road, London. Kendall Cordes, his passion for the subject and his exacting standards are things that have always stuck with me. He trained me in the basics and after that it was up to me to do the research.
Did you take any courses?
Not in the practical aspects but definitely in the product knowledge category. The Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) have excellent courses of which I have taken several.
Your biggest career influencer?
Dale Degroff (His passion for the subject matter and in the particular the customer).
What are some of your favourite tools?
There are so many well crafted spirits out there now that I don't think bartenders have ever had it so lucky. I'm a huge fan of Tanqueray Ten and Bacardi 8YO.
First drink you ever tried?
Coming from Hull cocktails were few and far between so I would have thought something suitably 'Disco' such as a Pina Colada would have been my first foray into mixed drinks.
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
It's a notoriously difficult ingredient to use as a base, but I certainly don't mind the taste trials. I'm actually a big fan of Innis & Gunn 30 day oak aged, Tim Taylor's Landlord is a good drop too. I also think that there's a time and a place for snakebite!
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Start at the beginning, like any trade learn about your tools. Knowing your product knowledge is key, you should have at least three things to tell your customers about every bottle on the back bar.
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders. Care to share?
How about remembering what they're there for, it's called the service industry for a reason, not the 'chat to your mate and send a text message' industry.
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus. Describe the parts of this process.
It's all about empathy, there's no point in putting my favourite drinks on a list, I try to put myself in the place of the people who will be frequenting that venue, what are there needs? Once I'm clear who my target is I will build a list of drinks that is deliverable based on the bar layout and other variables such as what the venue capacity is etc.
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
There has been a renewed interest in classic cocktails, which is great as they're classics for a reason! I also think consumers are becoming more curious which leads to brand awareness.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail?
The key is balance, it must pitch itself perfectly at the palate. The rest is down to experience, knowing what flavours work together, that's why sometimes we're referred to as Bar Chef's, then it's a case of trial and error until the recipe is perfected.
What is your favorite cocktail to drink? To make?
I love classics so I'd say a Tanqueray Ten Martini with a pink grapefruit twist, or a Ketel One Martini with an olive. I don't think I could pick one I like to make, for me the drinks I love making are the ones I recommend to people who aren't sure what they want but end up loving what I've made for them.
What is your favorite mixology resource?
The two books I pick most often would be 'The Craft of the Cocktail' by my good friend Dale DeGroff, and 'The Joy of Mixology' by the always entertaining Gary Regan.
What does success mean for you?
Being able to pay my bills by doing something I'd happily do for free.
What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market?
A renewed interest in the origin and authenticity of drinks.
What goes into creating a cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
Usually it happens one of two ways. Either I try a new product and think it would work really well like this or with that. Or it will be sparked by necessity, a cocktail competition, or a new menu.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Where I am now only maybe with a bigger office!
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
Well Daniel Craig currently has the other job I would like having a crack at so I think I'd plump for travel writing.
Your hangover cure?
There is only one that I swear by, a Red Eye (Half lager, half Bloody Mary and a whole raw egg).
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid? Southern Comfort, and needless to say not a drop of it has passed my lips in over a decade.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
I'd set up a kids education scholarship scheme in my late mother's name and then I'd set about completing my greatest ambition, to visit every country in the world.
Bar or cellar at home?
I have a bar that my father built for me, I'd love to have a cellar but living in a third floor flat doesn't help.
I don't really have one, I drink a variety of beers.
As a category I really enjoy Rioja and Australian Shiraz, as well as new world sauvignon blanc, viognier and albarino.
Tanqueray Ten or Bacardi 8 YO.
A Tanqueray Ten Martini with a pink grapefruit twist, or a Ketel One Martini with an olive.
Harry's New York Bar, Paris it's a piece of living drinks history, I'm also very fond of the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz, Paris.
Brindisa, my local tapas bar in Borough Market.
Favourite World location?
Rio de Janeiro.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
The Blade Runner Soundtrack by Vangelis.