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Charlotte Wood - Mixologist of the Month

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Author: TheDrinkShop
Tags: Mixologist
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Charlotte's Bio

  • Date of Birth: 4th August
  • Birth place: Leicester
  • Height: 5' 5"
  • Eye Colour: Blue
  • Nationality: British

"I became a bartender 2 days after my 18 th birthday, had to wait a week after my interview to start as I was only 17 at the time, I got the job out of pure cheek as I’d been drinking in the pub for two years! From there I have moved around, gaining as much experience and knowledge and gaining a name for myself as a cocktail mixologist and historian. I am now the general manager and mixologist at Manhattan 34, Leicester."

Awards, Accolades and Trophies

Represented Leicester at the final of Shakes and the city at Imbibe 2016
Won and placed at various cocktail competitions inc Portobello road, Tia Maria, Herradura.

Signature Cocktails

Q & A

What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
I haven’t given it much attention over the last few years, focusing more on spirits. However, craft beers are becoming increasingly popular these days so I like to keep my toe in the water with whats going on. We have recently entered a new partnership with Brew Dog and am loving their Dead Pony Club. I’ve got a friend who runs a restaurant and nano-brewery called the Hungry Bear, his Vanilla Porter is incredible!

What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
I used to work in a Belgian Beer Bar and once you’ve tried a few different Belgian beers there is no turning back! The recent boom in craft beers over the last few years has been great, with awesome and unusual beers now more readily available. Don’t knock beer as a cocktail ingredient as well! Using a Belgian lambic is a great way to get a fruity carbonation into drinks and stouts and porters can have a beautiful maltiness which goes great in an adult milkshake.

If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Don’t ignore your feet! I see so many bartenders practise pouring and muscle memory and are constantly working on their hand speed but then I see them take five steps when they could take two. Bartenders who can barely walk at the end of a shift due to their feet hurting is a too common sight. Practise your footwork folks, wear decent shoes. Your feet will thank you and it will make you a faster bartender so win win.

Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
It’s not a pet peeve as such but something I find quite sad which is bartenders with an holier than thou attitude. It just means to me they are unwilling to learn because they don’t think they need to. And once you stop learning you stop developing. I’ve seen some mighty fine bartenders get left behind as the drinks scene has changed as they refused to keep up as they thought they were already at the top of the game.

As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
It all depends on who I am working for so I suppose the first step is figuring that out, what does this client/bar want? Every client/bar is different so every process is different!

How did you get started?
My dad is a chef and I got brought up around that environment, it was only natural I think for me to end up where I am, the kitchen side never really appealed to me though, but I was drawn to the social side of bartending! My dad is still one of my greatest influences, we always call about some new exciting ingredient we have found or winging photos of our creations to each other. He recently introduced me to douglas fir which I made a bitters our of, absolutely amazing and made everything taste like Christmas!

How were you trained in bartending?
On the job, from my peers, experimentation and a labour of love! I’ve worked in bartending since I was 18, have done the rounds at many different styles of venue, from a dive music venue to a fine dining restaurant….every job gave me a different aspect of training. But I suppose with my desire for knowledge means I’m always learning something new.

Did you take any courses? Standards really, cellar management, health and safety etc. I’d like to do more, a couple to do with bartending, a couple not, but I struggle with time as it is!

What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
2017 is going to be big with low abv drinks, I’m starting to see apperitivo style drinks coming more into fashion with drinks like The Americano being ordered more. It’s also nice to see foraging coming more into fashion, both in the bar and the kitchen. I go foraging when I can and love making home made ingredients so it’s nice seeing that being more appreciated.

What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
It all depends where my inspiration comes from, every ingredient could need to be treated in a different way so I start at what it is that made me want to make the cocktails. An exotic fruit I find could need to be in a syrup form to work and natural flavours can be over powered so I would move from there in that instance, developing it with what would really show it off. Other times I can work backwards, finding an epic piece of glassware and thinking of what would best suit it. My friend Sam has a pair of awesome stone goblets, I’m dying to get my hands on them to do some real gothic drink, maybe with wine and fig...

What is your favourite cocktail To make?
Southside! It’s like how Fernet is the bartenders handshake, Southside is the customers handshake, it’s just a little hello, I know what I’m doing.

What are some of your favourite tools?
My Japanese jigger and tear drop bar spoon from cocktail kingdom .

What is your favourite mixology resource?
The taste thesaurus by Niki Segnet.

What does success mean for you?
Being happy.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I have a master plan but that would be telling.

If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
Anything to do with dinosaurs, I really like dinosaurs, any job, I wouldn’t care.

First drink you ever tried?
Not sure what it was but it was a beer when I was a toddler! My dad put his tin down by the side of the sofa and when he went to pick it up felt my head instead of my beer, looked down to see my gluggling it!

We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
JD and I’m not going to elaborate on that one.

Your hangover cure?
Bar of snickers and a lucazade original.

£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
I have no idea but I’ll decide over a drink at Bar Benfiddich in Tokyo.

Bar or cellar at home?
Bar, but one day I will have both.

Favourite beer?
Titanic Plum Porter.

Wine?
St Emilion.

Spirit?
Changes all the time, at the moment its Suze.

Cocktail?
Negroni, currently has to be white though.

Fav Bar?
The American Bar at the Savoy.

Restaurant?
Istanbul, Leicester.

World location?
Bordeaux.

Fav film?
They Live.

Book?
Well, books... The Charlie Parker series by John Connolly, the only man to have given me nightmares.

Album?
Forever changes by Love.

Singer/band?
That’s way too hard to choose, currently digging Jurassic Shark and The Dolly Rocker Movement.

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