Ian Burrell - Mixologist of the Month

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Author: TheDrinkShop
Tags: Mixologist
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Ian's Bio

  • Date of Birth: 4th August 1970
  • Birth place: United Kingdom
  • Height: 6'3"
  • Eye colour: Brown
  • Nationality: British

Even before he began his career as a singer, with hits such as 'Rock da Juice' which were used in several big motion pictures, Ian was, and will always be a mixologist. He is also the founder and brains behind 'UK RumFest...The Rum Experience', Europe's first ever festival to celebrate the diversity of Rum in October last year at The Royal Horticultural Society (Lindley Hall), London.

Ian's career has taken him on an interesting and inspired journey. He first dived into the cocktail world during the boom of the early 90's while taking a year off from school. Mixing fun cocktails such as 'Long Island Ice teas', 'Sex on the Beach' and 'Freddy Fudpuckers' were the rage back then, and Ian took to the industry like a duck to water for chemistry was his major in school!

'Alcohol is the element and cocktails the compound' is one of his favourite quotes. But it was his love of tropical cuisine and creating drinks to match that brought his attention to drinks companies such as J Wray & Nephew, who made Ian one of the first Rum Brand Ambassadors in the UK.

His role was to create rum cocktails for their high profile accounts as well as telling the story of rum to an ever-growing cocktail and bar culture. Although the task of educating a new wave of bartenders and mixologists was demanding, Ian still found time to co-present two TV shows on ITV, perform on stages around the world as rapper, 'Via B' and play professional basketball in the British Basketball league.

Today is Ian Recognised as The U.K. Ambassador for Rum, travelling around the globe conducting Rum seminars, academies, tasting's and as well as judging many cocktail competitions.

Signature cocktails

Awards, Accolades and Trophies

Many Music and Basketball awards but they're not drink related!
Drinks International Bartender of the Year 2008 Gold medal winner.
Drinks International Cocktail Challenge 2008 Gold Medal winner.
One of Theme Magazine's Top 100.
Included in the Maxxium Yearbook 2007.
One of the Observer/Courvoisier Future 500.
Contributor to CLASS Magazine, Theme, Imbibe, Drinks Business and On Trade Review.

Q & A

What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
I love beer. Anyone that knows me knows that beer & grenadine is a pet tipple. (Sweet tooth) . I'm also a big fan of Innis & Gunn's Rum cask finish beer.

If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
If you're going to be... be the best. Smile & enjoy yourself, life's too short.

Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders - care to share?
When bartenders forget that we're in the service industry and the customer pays our wages.

As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
Well first of all you have to cater for the type of clientele they are trying to attract, the level of bartender they will employ to make the drinks, and the type of cuisine on the menu to compliment the cocktails that I'm going to create.

How did you get started?
After my A levels I took a year off. My best friend Raphy talked me into working in a restaurant. Lot's of fun, flexible hours, drinks and opposite sex... the requirements for an 18 year old.

How were you trained in bartending?
My first training session on the bar was from an ex TGI Friday manager. So naturally it was all about flairing and theatre, which came easy to an A level drama student. Memorising cocktail recipes was also easy as I always compared them to chemical equations - another forte.

Did you take any courses?
Only the course of life.

What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
RUM. Oh and classic cocktails. And RUM Cocktails.

What's your process for creating a new cocktail?
First of all it's all about the base spirit or brand. Why create a new cocktail for a brand when you can't taste it within the drink. So I like to create drinks with lots of flavours that create memorable sesnsations. Rum...I like to enhance the natural fruity or woody flavours. Tequila... I like soften its unique flavour notes but still staying true to the Tequila robust flavour. Whiskies... Like rums, I like to subtly enhance peaty, smoky textures. But unlike rum, not using as much sweet fruity mixers. Gin...I like to bring out the botanicals to the for front or caress the dry or sweet flavour with enhancers. Vodka... Well. Throw any thing in the Boston or tin and hope for the best. LOL

What is your favourite cocktail to drink?
Rum Old fashioned; triple measure of rum , two sugar cubes, bitters, zest of orange and a maraschino cherry garnish

To make?
If it makes you happy, I'll make it.

What are some of your favourite tools?
My quick wit, my Jamaican muddler, and my non-stick caramelising pan and blow torch.

What does success mean for you?
I haven't achieve it yet so I'm striving to find out.

What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
RUM. Oh and classic cocktails. And RUM Cocktails.

What goes into creating a cocktail?
A lot of care.

And what inspired you in the first place?
It could be any thing from a flavour to a idea picked up from outside the industry.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Five years older. Oh and flying around the third planet form the sun organising Rum Fests in every rum drinking country there is.

If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
Acting, rapping or comedy.

Your hangover cure?

Your biggest career influencer?
Don't really have one. Although I think Richard Branson is a great meta model to pattern your business aspirations on.

First drink you ever tried?
Rum, aged four weeks old, according to my mum.

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

£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Buy a cheap vodka distillery, re-brand the product. Market it. Con' the world into believing its super-premium. Then sell it for 100million to a drinks giant.

Bar or cellar at home
Depends on who I'm drinking with.

Favourite beer?
Carib and Innis & Gunn Rum Cask beer.

Siefried Dry Reisling (New Zealand) Especially with Sea bass.

LOL. The Rum Ambassador ??? Hello !!!

Daiquiri, straight up.

Fav Bar?
Castro's Gros Islet, St. Lucia. Over 100 rums on his shelf, but you can only drink 10 of them, unless he's in a good mood.

There are too many. But they must served rum as a digestive

World location?
The Caribbean. In a bar, drinking rum.

Fav film?
The Shawshank Redemption

Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl.

Back on the Block, By Quincy Jones Rock Da Juice, by ME...The Dude.

Whitney Houston before she had Bobby Brown. The Dude.


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