Alexander Taylor - Mixologist of the Month
- Date of Birth: 12th August
- Birth place: Surrey
- Height: 5'11"
- Eye colour: Hazel
- Nationality: British
"I fell into cocktail bartending whilst travelling after having been in every other front of house position. My training was in a wonderful outdoor fine dining restaurant in the tropics, and so was lucky enough to count Martini's and Manhattan's among the first cocktails I learned to make.
I then came back to the UK and owe most of my development to my colleagues and bosses at Lab22 and 10 Feet Tall, and the great, tight-knit family the Cardiff industry has become. This has led recently to being able to guest bartend at the wonderful Worship Street Whistling Shop."
Awards, Accolades and Trophies
In bartending, I've been lucky enough to win the National Casco Viejo cocktail competition this year with my Don Agustin's Daisy, and I have also reached the finals for Nikka Whisky, Ting and Happiness Unforgettables - getting to compete among some fantastic bartenders along the way.
Claim to Fame
I have very little to call upon for this one - besides a few appearances on local cable TV promoting Cardiff's bartending league!
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
Beer is usually a knock off drink for me. On days off I generally stick to the distilled stuff. That being said, nothing better than a freezing cold Aussie pale ale on a hot day. Cooper's Green or Little Creatures the way to go! Beer also makes a fantastically versatile cocktail ingredient. Whether be straight from the tap or bottle, or as a base for home made cordials and syrups.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
It all depends on your own ambition - but personally I think changing scenery every year or so is healthy. Working within a fresh group of skilled bartenders will allow you to share pooled knowledge. Also, don't be lazy. There are always training sessions going on for you to attend and you have to commit a good chunk of your personal time to your own development.
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
Inter-city rivalries seem a bit petty. If you work in a City that has a slightly more developed scene than elsewhere - well you're lucky! At the end of the day we're all trying to make the best possible drinks and provide the best possible experience. We're all bartenders, no matter where we work.
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
It all depends on every individual venue. Working from food menus is one of my favourite ways to create. Pairing is a more difficult skill than it seems, but it leads to wonderfully varied drink creation, and it is far easier for staff to sell more complex drinks if there is a set dish that it pairs with.
How did you get started?
My first hospitality job was Costa Coffee at 17. Since then I've been making milkshakes, barbacking dirty underground basement clubs, working in golf clubs... I've been KP, Host, Waiter, Pub Bartender, Fine dining cocktail bartender, high volume cocktail bartender...
How were you trained in bartending?
I learned my classics on the job at a fine dining restaurant in Australia but my biggest steps up the ladder were during my stint at Browns Bar and Brasserie. This was my introduction to both competition bartending through my supervisor at the time - which is a huge learning curve when it comes to drinks presentation and construction, and also my best mate- who bartends with a wonderfully reckless freedom and comes up with flavour combinations I could never imagine.
Did you take any courses?
I've learned everything I know hands on, behind the stick, or at home, behind a book.
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
Among bartenders - Vermouth. Not only great in twists far and wide among bartenders' favourite “down and brown” drinks, but fantastically useful in making more interesting vodka based drinks for our greener cocktail drinking clientele. Long and fruity doesn't have to be shallow on the palate. Among guests - gin just will not stop and now tonic is going crazy too.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
It's always different - which is why I love the job. That being said, food is a constant inspiration.
What is your favourite cocktail To make?
Sours. Every bartender is a show off, even if they try and hide it. Not only are they aesthetically beautiful, they are great for interesting garnishes and guests love a wet shake - throw - dry shake!
What are some of your favourite tools?
I cannot face working without tin on tin boston shakers. Take your three-piece and throw it in the bin please!
What is your favourite mixology resource?
One I always go back to is Jeff Berry's Grog Log and Intoxica! Not sure there are better balanced drinks than well made tiki classics.
What does success mean for you?
Helping a guest drink out of their comfort zone. Whether that be by helping them pick a cocktail, or by helping them discover a new spirit as an alternative to their pub-favourite.
What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market?
Puns. If you don't have a strong pun game you might have to start hiring a writer for your menus!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Owning my own bar would be great. Sunnier climes greater still!
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
Wandering the planet wondering what the hell to do!
Your biggest career influencer?
I came into bartending a lot later than others. So for me, time! I'm always playing catch up with where I'd like to be.
First drink you ever tried?
Gin and tonic at a family party when I was a toddler. It looked like lemonade. It definitely wasn't!
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
I'm so sorry to say it but white wine... Boxed wine in Australia leaves one hell of a scar! Goon is not my pal.
Your hangover cure?
Paloma! Tequila is the best hangover cure and no-one will ever believe you when you suggest it.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Give me a distillery on a sunny island.
Bar or cellar at home?
My home bar is getting out of hand. I buy things and then remember I don't really drink at home!
Lager wise Sapporo if I can get it, Kirin Ichiban if I can't. Craft wise - Brewdog's 5AM Saint or Little Creatures Pale Ale from Perth.
Mai Tai. But, a picky, well-crafted one. With aged Agricole, aged Jamaican, real Curacao, and just a spoon of home made orgeat. Put half a shot of “flavoured” syrup in my Mai Tai and it's not my Mai Tai!
Worship Street Whistling Shop.
Cafe Pacifico. Mexican food and Agave. Yes!
Far North Queensland.
Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy.
Nirvana's MTV Unplugged album.