Mixologist of the Month - Greg Akoka
- Date of Birth: 2nd November 1977
- Birth place: Angers, France
- Height: 1m 72cm
- Eye colour: Brown
- Nationality: French
Often regarded as one of the finest bartenders around, Greg has been working on the London scene for the past ten years. Learning his trade in pubs and small north London cocktail bars, before moving on to some of the best cocktail bars such as Detroit, 6th Degree and Hakkassan.
He also opened the award winning gastros such as The Ebury and The Farm and managed clubs such as The Saint and Pop.
After the opening of The Rouge Club in 2003, he launched 'Wonder Bars Consultancy' working with big brands such as Glenfiddich Whiskies, Reyka Vodka, Monkey Shoulder, Whitley Neill Gin, Tokiwa shoshu togther with an 'A' list of bars including Crazy Bear, Le Coq d'Argent, Bank, The Avenue, Sumosan, Shish, La Duree at Harrod's and many more.
In 2005, Greg took the esteemed role of export Manager and Cocktail Consultant for Funkin Purees, the 100% natural fruit purees, and continues to work on cocktail development for the spirits brands of importer Malcom Cowen.
Greg's signature cocktails
Awards, Accolades and Trophies
Winner of the first Hendrick's Gin Croquet competition ;-)
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
I love beer!! It is simple and easy, light and refreshing and just plain nice!! I tend to prefer the light American brew (Coors Light / Michelob for example) but a nice strong continental lager is always welcome.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Learn your classics! Classics are the basis to most cocktails and once you can make classics properly you can make anything!
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
Too many forget that bartending is not only about making drinks!! Product knowledge and service is also part of the job!
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
I like to discuss the likes and dislikes and the vision for the list with whomever employs me. Most people opening bars are very passionate so I think it is important that they are very pleased with the end results... after all, it's their list! I also pay particular attention to the theme and concept of the place, the clientele, the area, the surrounding competition. I believe all these details are what make a great list as well as the actual cocktails of course.
How did you get started?
I starting by bartending in a Pub for a big group, I didn't learn much about drinks there, but learned lots about running a business. From there I moved to a live music venue where we were serving simple cocktails like Sex on the Beach, Long Island Iced Tea and Margaritas, and I got hooked!! Music, cocktails, girls and way too much fun was too hard to resist!
How were you trained in bartending?
I learned the basics at WKD in Camden but I really started doing proper drinks when I worked at 6th Degrees and Detroit.
Did you take any courses
Nope but I did learn a lot from books and a lot of practicing at home!
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
A worrying one is that the younger generation isn't quite as knowledgeable as I think we were 10 years ago and try to run before they can walk. On the good points, gin is at last making a comeback on the cocktail list!!
What's your process for creating a new cocktail?
I work it in my head first and then try it behind the bar to make sure I have a great balance between all the ingredients. I also try a few different variation to make sure I have the best possible recipe.
What is your favorite cocktail to drink? To make?
There are so many!! I absolutely love Daiquiris, Old fashioned, Gin Martini, it all depends on my mood at the time of ordering..:)
What are some of your favourite tools?
The shaker of course!!! The next best thing after the printing press.
What is your favorite mixology resource?
The Savoy Cocktail book for old and classic recipes and the Diffords guide for a more contemporary overview. The web is also getting better. Picking the brains of my bartenders friends is also very useful!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Sippin' a great drink with good company.
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
Archeology dig somewhere!
Your hangover cure?
Water, water, water and more water and then a good fry up!
Your biggest career influencer?
No one in particular and everyone in the industry in general! I have learned so much from just looking at other people work!
First drink you ever tried?
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Wray & Nephew - The name alone make me want to cry!
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Smile... a lot!
Bar or cellar at home?
Gin, Whisky, Rum - depends on the occasion.
Daiquiri, gin Martini, Old Fashioned
Kingly Club, Milk & Honey, The Lab
Galvin's Bistro de Lux
London / Paris / Hong Kong
The Three Musketeers
Use your Illusions - Guns 'n' Roses
Muse at the moment