Mixologist of the Month - Alex Turner

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Author: TheDrinkShop
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Alex's Bio

  • Date of Birth: 27th February 1968
  • Birth place: United Kingdom
  • Height: 5'8"
  • Eye colour: Blue
  • Nationality: British

Having started in the industry at the age of 18 in the North-West of England in the days of Taboo and Mirage, Richard moved into photography having completed his degree in Egyptian archeology.

Richard then travelled at length throughout the Caribbean before taking to the West End as a cocktail bartender and quickly moved to the then young Hush Bar operation in swanky Mayfair, learning the finer art of the bar business in refined surroundings.

Eight years on and Richard found himself travelling Europe as a consultant mixologist running every kind of operation in the industry from boutique hotels in the Cotswolds to the opening of London Club's Casino in Leicester Square last May, a multi-site nightclub and a Champagne bar in Gibraltar.

His latest venture is to co-open Birmingham's premier nightclub in June this year called 'Chocolate' which he will establish and run as general manager.

Alex's signature cocktails

Awards, Accolades and Trophies

Drinks International Bartender of the Year 2002.
Winner Whiskey Magazine Cocktail Competition 2003, 2004 .
Winner Worshipful Company of Distiller Award 2005.
One of Theme Magazine's Top 100 .
Included in the Maxxium Yearbook 2007.
Observer/Courvoisier Future 500.
WSET Level 2 Professional Spirits .
WSET Level 2 Professional Wine.
WSET Level 3 Advanced Wine.
Lecturer for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust .
Contributor to CLASS, Theme, Drinks Business and On Trade Review.

Claim To Fame

Bartended with Bruce Willis.

Q & A

What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
I think most mixologists like beer, mainly because we are bartenders first and mixologists second. Until about six months ago I only drank lager but recently I have moved on to ales and so far I have certainly enjoyed Meantime Breweries IPA and Timothy Taylor Landlord.

If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Treat people the way you would like to be treated. Look after your knees. Be on time. Have a plan or a private income.

Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
Bartenders that forget that we are in the service industry and seem to focus too much on the drink and not who you're making it for.

As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus - describe the parts of this process.
Bacardi Brown Forman have recently launched an initiative to help bars and restaurants create drinks lists and cocktails that will encourage more customers to drink cocktails. As cocktails are becoming more important to so much of the UK 'on-trade', we are trying to help our customers gain maximum benefit. The iniative is called "Mix Matters" and will be covered in CLASS magazine.

How did you get started?
I worked behind bars when I was at college and then began working in Oxford (a veritable breeding ground for bartenders) part time in a mates bar this blossomed into a full time career.

How were you trained in bartending?
My first job was in an hotel bartending at weddings, the training was 'there's the till, here come 500 thirsty wedding guests; good luck!'. My first cocktail bar had much better training but also a 150 drink list to learn in a week.

Did you take any courses?
I took first aid and fire courses, bartender training didn't really happen

What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
The whole industry is getting heavily into cocktails; we do a lot of work with the high street bars and they all want to make cocktails. In the cocktail bars themselves everyone is either going backwards in time re-creating long forgotten drinks or powering into the future with the molecular thing. Cool.

What's your process for creating a new cocktail?
This a very difficult question to answer. If I am making a drink for a specific brand, I will think about whether it will be a long drink or a short drink, what occasion it is for (winter, summer, pre-dinner etc), and obviously what flavours compliment the brand I am using. If I am making a drink completely from scratch I would probably pick up tequila or rum at the moment to start experimenting with, examine the flavours and what style of drink would work best with the spirit and then, using small amounts, start to experiment with different flavours, temperatures and textures. My wife and I like to eat out a lot and are both fascinated by the different styles of cooking around at the moment, and if I am served something interesting in a restaurant, I very often think about how I could use that technique for a drink. I like the whole texture, temperature, taste and aroma aspect of drink making. I think, like food, a drink should appeal to as many senses as possible.

What is your favorite cocktail to drink?
I drink a lot of champagne cocktails at the moment but it could change tomorrow.

To make?
Any drink that makes someone happy.

What are some of your favourite tools?
Mexican Elbow; the coolest piece of bar kit ever created, in the old days my cigarette lighter, one of the best tip makers in the business.

What is your favourite mixology resource?
The internet.

What does success mean for you?
Being able to do the things I want to do.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Head of Global Training for Bacardi Brown Forman or very high up in the organization or a bar.

If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
Probably still in publishing but now as wealthy as Robert Maxwell (was).

Your hangover cure?
There is no cure for the type of hangovers I get unless you count dying.

Your biggest career influencer?
Don't really have one. However I have a lot of admiration for Oliver Peyton, Robert Earl, Sir Terrance Conran.

First drink you ever tried?
The dregs of every glass at a wedding; aged four.

We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
The last one.

£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Go on holiday and think about it.

Bar or cellar at home?

Favourite beer?
Don't know yet!!!

One from the Cote de Nuit.

Probably rum but maybe cognac.

I am very partial to a mint julep.

Fave Bar?
I like lots of bars, but my all time favourite will always be this bar I went to when I was in Jamaica with a well known brand of rum, drinking banana daiquiri's whilst people threw them selves off cliffs into the sea. Good times.

Le Bistro, Antigua.

Fav film?
Star Wars trilogy.

Margrave of the marshes by John Peel. Very sad.

Hatful of Hollow by The Smiths or Heart of Saturday Night by Tom Waits.

Radioheador Tom Waits or Prince.

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