Mixologist of the Month - Thomas Gedney-Higham
- Date of Birth: 8th September
- Birth place: Huddersfield
- Height: 5'10"
- Eye colour: Blue / Green
- Nationality: British
"I started off pulling pints, and it's something I still enjoy. But as I've matured and hopped between a few bars in different cities I've added a little something to my portfolio everywhere I've went. The more people I meet, the more bartender's I've worked with, the more fun I've had and the more opportunities have arose from it!
Attending classes and reading have kept me up to date, and I think this has been vitally important! If you fall behind you get left behind, it's all about something new these days. Something modern and unique is what most customers want, but there is definitely room for the classics! I would say I measure my success on my own personal enjoyment and as long I keep focusing on this my career will keep being a success!"
Tom's Signature Cocktails
Awards, Accolades and Trophies
Gabriel Boudier Cocktail Competition 2015 Finalist.
Gabriel Boudier Wizard Competition Northern Heat Runner Up.
Brand Ambassador Distilleries Et Domaines De Provences of Emporia Brands (2015).
Business Development Manager Snow Queen Vodka of Drinks Enthusiasts (2015).
Claim to Fame
None - don't want to be famous.
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
I'm very specific about beers, will only really sit back and relax with something I'm a big fan of but there's so many different variations these days there's something perfect for any occasion. Hands down favourite has to be Zombie Bust, by 3 Floyds Brewing Co. or on draught I love Timothy Taylor's landlord golden best, but that's been near impossible to find on draught for years!
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Learn to enjoy every part of your job. The long nights, the wet feet, the angry customers, The drunk customers, the unhappy bosses! IF you can take all this with a smile on your face and focus on being a good bartender and making quality drinks whether it be the most complicated cocktail you've ever made, or your first vodka & lemonade... Make sure you do it well and enjoy it!
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
Bartenders who get annoyed about making complicated cocktails, If you don't want to do them don't work in a bar that serves them! It's the best part of the shift when you get the opportunity to throw everything together and really express yourself in the form of a drink!
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
For me this can be more of a social aspect. Yes you're working towards an outcome but by building a strong friendship and relating to their bar/brand you can come to some weird and wonderful conclusions and some creative drinks!
How did you get started?
I originally started in a small pub just on the outskirts of my old town. It was just ales and beers really nothing to complex. This is where I learnt most about my standard of service and how to wear a smile (Even when I didn't want to). Then after about 2 years I moved over to Leeds and have been working my way around there bars ever since. Picking up a few tricks of the trade at every place that I've worked!
How were you trained in bartending?
Mostly self taught/on the job! In my infancy of bartending I did a lot, A LOT of research, bought a few books, researched online. Watched a few flair tutorials on YouTube to get myself started in that respect as well. I have had the pleasure of attending classes with industry leading professionals as well, which always provide great insight!
Did you take any courses?
I've attended a lot of training sessions with spirits companies, such as: Gabriel Boudier Chairman's Reserve Langley's No.8 Gin Snow Queen Vodka Stolichnaya Vodka Chase Vodka Ginstitute at the Portobello Star Bacardi And many more
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
The last few years have all been about the Beer Boom, microbrews and new ales absolutely everywhere. I know of a few people trying to create new spirit categories at the moment which I'm hoping will bring increased diversity to the industry!
What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
Usually my inspiration comes from trying a spirit, wine, beer etc. for the first time. As soon as I start to understand the complexities in the flavour I start thinking about what that will balance with. I am a big fan of pairing food with drink especially if it means including alcohol in cooking, and after having some meat variation cocktails vice versa as well!
What is your favourite cocktail to make?
I must admit I love complicated drinks, putting everything together and presenting is the best part of the job! My favourite to make must be my own take on a zombie, the drink is delectable and the garnish outrageous and its always fun when you serve something a flame!
What are some of your favourite tools?
My 2 piece shaker by Koriko, never failed me yet and travelled about with me for 3 years hitting different bars and my Spray canister, big believer in burning alcohol over a drink for effect!
What is your favourite mixology resource?
Simon Difford's - Difford's Guide. Online and the 11th edition encyclopedia sat on my desk. I can sit for hour's flicking through finding inspirations.
What does success mean for you?
Personal enjoyment. Naturally I'm actually a morning person. So staying up late at night and getting up after midday is quite strange for me (even though I've been doing it for almost a decade). So it's a bit of a struggle. But I do love what I do and as long as I'm still enjoying it I'm successful in my eyes!
What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market?
Home-made ingredients, liqueurs, bitters, jams, compote's the list goes on, but I love it! It really shows that bartenders don't need the massive brands to decide exactly what they are going to put together, you can make your own variations right down to the final ingredient!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully still involved with bars. But I've started my hand at making my own bitters and liqueurs way back. So hopefully I'll get spirit's nailed on within the next few years and hopefully start producing my own!
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
Growing up it was all about sports for me, so I'd probably still be going with that!
Your biggest career influencer?
Probably my first boss in this industry a guy called Paul. He was a tough guy very rough around the edges but he said one thing to me when I very first started that has stuck with me to this day "You're going to spend the vast majority of your life doing your job, so make sure it's something you enjoy whole heartedly".
First drink you ever tried? A warm pint of Sagres in Portugal I think! It was my dads when we were on holiday when I was a kid. Hated it at the time but now I love grabbing a cold bottle from the fridge at the end of a shift.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Carlsberg. My friends always put together a birthday pan consisting of some horrendous ingredients. The one I was made for my 22nd consisted of more horrible things than I would care to imagine, plus a lot of warm Carlsberg.... Never again!
Your hangover cure?
I'm more prevention - 2 Pints of water before bed! But if that doesn't work - Nothing settles the stomach like a big greasy full English followed by a cup of tea and a cigarette!
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Move to the Caribbean, open a distillery and open a tiki bar, Invest in some more bars and get my chain going!
Bar or cellar at home?
Bar - I've already got a pretty strong spirit collection! When I've got the space the cellar will be first priority!
Southern hemisphere Red Wine - I do Love a Malbec!
Rum - Agricole, Trois Riviere by Martinique is a favourite, but I'm a sucker for the Chairman's range. I'm a rum lover! If not Blue Bottle Gin from Guernsey is fantastic!
Zombie or Mai Tai.
Maya Beach Club, Koh Tao Island, Thailand. Right on the beach, great food and great drinks. The beach faces west so you get big beautiful sunsets every night. I could spend every night here!
Konoba Bodulo - amazing food. Great restaurant tucked away in the city of Novalja on the island of Pag, Croatia.
Sairee Beach, Koh Tao, Thailand.
Old school - Comedy gold!
Charles Bronson's Biography.
Editors - An end has a start.
Editors - Had a massive blink 182 phase as a kid!