Mixologist of the Month - Tim Laferla
- Date of Birth: 22nd July
- Birth place: Perth, Western Australia
- Height: 5'6"
- Eye colour: Green / Blue
- Nationality: Australian
"I started off pulling pints in a pub that is now closed back home in Perth, Western Australia. After a few years of that I ended up working in a big nightclub, which at the time the owner was looking at getting into the cocktail/whisky bar game. I went to work for him there and ultimately became head bartender/manager. After finishing university I decided to stay in Hospitality full time and went onto a new project with a group of friends, a bar called Mechanics Institute, which was and still is today really successful.
Then I caught the travel bug and ended up in Manchester opening a restaurant/hotel bar for 2 Michelin starred chef Simon Rogan called Mr Cooper's House & Garden. A career move brought me to London working for Caprice Holdings running both of the bars at Bam-Bou, where I am still at now."
Tim's Signature Cocktails
Awards, Accolades and Trophies
Nobody likes a big-head.
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
Beer was my first foray into the alcohol world (although given it was fairly generic Australian lager) but it sort of set the tone for the start of my liquor career. My first Job was in a pub pulling mainly pints. The rise of the craft beer industry has coincided with the rise of the craft cocktail industry too, in a way they have kind of played off each other. I do really miss the craft Australian beer scene which is quite unique compared to what is coming out of America and the UK at the moment. Feral Brewery back home in Western Australia was the first "craft" beers that got me hooked.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Always aim to be the best at everything, but remember there is always someone who is better than you at something. Nobody likes arrogance.
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
Bartenders who only focus on making drinks. There is so much more to hospitality, drinks only make up a small role of the bartender. At the end of the day, most people can drink the same (or similar) drinks at home for much cheaper. What are you doing to add value to your venue?
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
The first part of menu writing is understanding your current (or target) market. At the end of the day it's a business and if your menu doesn't match, you could quickly find yourself in some hot water. The second part is ensuring you have a balanced offering so it caters to most tastes. Always make sure you have a Unique Selling Point to your menu, what differentiates you from any other bar in London?
How did you get started?
The pub I was first working at when I turned 18 had a small but dedicated team of people interested in cocktails which sparked my own. After working in a nightclub during my university years the same owner decided to open a malt whisky and cocktail bar which I ultimately ended up managing... The rest is history!
How were you trained in bartending?
Time and dedication, I had very little formal training as such. I went to every brand training and tasting I could possibly get my hands on, watched competitions and listened carefully to peers.
Did you take any courses?
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
Same answer as below, question is almost identical.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
It depends on the purpose of the cocktail - are we talking for a brand, for a competition or for a bar? The approach is slightly different, for a brand or a competition it's important to tie it to said brand. For a bar, make sure it fits the theme (if there is one) and your target market. If it's for your bar it needs to be approachable, fun and tasty - after all only a small percentage of your guests will be other bartenders, and they aren't your bread and butter.
What is your favourite cocktail to make?
A Manhattan or a Boulevardier, mainly because I like to drink them too.
What are some of your favourite tools?
There is nothing sexier than a good quality bar spoon. I think I might have a problem.
What is your favourite mixology resource?
I don't feel that there is any one resource, I think the most exciting part of becoming a bartender is taking in everything you possibly can and critically analysing whether it is a good or bad trait and adopting it into your own style and personality. After all, we aren't robots!
What does success mean for you?
Bartending is ultimately a business, so if I have a happy team, happy guests and a bar that is making money, it's a success.
What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market?
Batched and bottled cocktails seem to becoming increasingly common, with a focus shifting to the hospitality side of bartending, which is something I'm all for. Plus they're popping up more and more in the off-trade too.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Working for myself if all goes to plan!
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
I'm a qualified physiotherapist, and have half an engineering degree, so I could be doing anything really! However I'm really interested in running businesses and entrepreneurship at the moment, so probably something along those lines.
Your biggest career influencer?
I wouldn't say there is a single influence in my career, but a group of people from the Australian bartending scene that I always aspired to be like when I was younger. Some of the people who gave me the most advice and shaped the bartender I am are Chris Hysted, Tim Phillips, Sean Baxter & Jay Lambert.
First drink you ever tried?
Beer, some generic Australian lager. Probably Tooheys Extra Dry or Carlton Draught.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Stroh Overproof Rum. The only thing to instantaneously make me projectile vomit. Austrians shouldn't be allowed to make rum.
Your hangover cure?
A pre-emptive strike! Loads of water and paracetamol before you go to sleep.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Pay off all debts, buy a house/flat, go on holiday, give some to friends and family then invest the remainder into my own business and other investments.
Bar or cellar at home?
Little Creatures Pale Ale - but only in Fremantle back home over the water.
Bourbon or Rye.
Manhattan or Boulevardier.
Shady Pines, Sydney.
Mexican! La Cholita back home in Perth for Tacos after work was always a good shout!
Setting the Table by Danny Meyer.
Imago by The Butterfly Effect.
Karnivool... Perth represent!