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Mixologist of the Month - William Campbell-Rowntree

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Author: TheDrinkShop
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Cocktails, Mixologist

William's Bio

  • Date of Birth: 1st June
  • Birth place: North Shields, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  • Height: 6'2"
  • Eye colour: Blue/Green
  • Nationality: British

"I consider my career in hospitality relatively short, only a year or so long, mainly because it has only been that long I have taken it seriously and really put the work and effort needed to push it in the right direction. I have worked off and on in bar's, pubs and restaurants since I was eighteen as well as outdoor activity instructors and all sorts. I studied Music at university in Liverpool where my love for not only music but art, especially graffiti and other street art and branding. Returning to Newcastle and not really knowing what career to pursue I went back into bar work, which inevitably allowed me to start my career in a way which can include and produce all of my passions in a way that suits me and a lifestyle that creates amazing memories and environments."

Awards, Accolades and Trophies

Part of the winning Chairman's Reserve Mai-Tai competition Don Papa final in London Local Disaronno Competition

Your claim to fame?

Being part of the winning Chairman's Reserve Mai Tai Team!

Q & A

What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you? I love beer. Here in Newcastle, and generally the north-east, there is a huge beer trend with lots of quirky pubs and local brewers. When I drink beer I tend to go for just a good lager or IPA I don't don't go too adventurous. Forest Road Brewery, Two Roads and beaver town all have really solid tasty ales!

If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be? Never think this is "just a job". Bartending, managing, learning about anything you sell is an asset. Although it may not be a career to some, some of the skills and attitudes you can learn from working hard and doing as much as you can is the most transferable skill and can put you in good stead of any career path it may lead or bring up for someone to take. There are so many different elements included into running cocktail bars you can learn and do so many things in relation, never think it is just one dimensional!

Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share? Never think this is "just a job". Bartending, managing, learning about anything you sell is an asset. Although it may not be a career to some, some of the skills and attitudes you can learn from working hard and doing as much as you can is the most transferable skill and can put you in good stead of any career path it may lead or bring up for someone to take. There are so many different elements included into running cocktail bars you can learn and do so many things in relation, never think it is just one dimensional!

As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process. Being honest, this is an area I am really wanting to do more work in. I have been lucky enough to be part of a few bar opening's (most notably crazy pedro's, Manchester) which is more about developing your own methods and processes in running the venue and food service. Helping on new and seasonal menus in my current bar is the closest I have got. Being able to train or help develop a cocktail menu for another venue from the ground up, or improve another bar from an external perspective is something I feel I could do very successfully.

How did you get started? I started in small, local bars and restaurants. In my last year of university I got a job in Liverpool working as a bartender and production supervisor, this lead to another high paced bar, then to more and more cocktail bars which only increased my experience and love for the industry. I have been lucky enough to work and open some amazing bars with some amazing people all of which has just added to my knowledge and experience.

How were you trained in bartending? I think of this is two ways. I have been trained on how to bartend and trained in making drinks and hosting. Stemming from bars that are not cocktail heavy but there are 30 people in front of you for 6 hours, and bars and people have made me really think about why and how it am making drinks. Two different attitudes that together are hopefully making me into a much better bartender.

Did you take any courses? No. Courses in bartending are not very popular in the UK. It's a bit like an apprenticeship, you learn ion the job and as you get better you learn more and more.

What are some trends you're seeing in the market? A big trend that is not only being seen in bars, but by a lot of other companies and people, is that of sustainability. I am strongly behind this idea and think it should be something every company should be aware of. More people and places should be thinking about the bigger picture, being aware and not only worrying about the profit going into their pockets. The moral representation of your company is something that should be seen more of.

What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place? For me it's all about the story or finding a cool and unique bit of information that I can use to trigger and start my inspiration and get the creative juices flowing. Sometimes I may have one or two specific flavours or ingredients in mind but try not to get to focused on it and rather let the idea find the flavour. Sounds unusual but I studied music for so many years, and that's where I learnt this process.

What is your favourite cocktail To make? My favourite cocktail to make is a weird one…maybe? I don't know. It's like Miami vice! It's a ball ache to make and takes a bit of time but when you get it looking perfect and the right alcohol to sweetness level it makes everyone happy! I recently made one for my mates birthday even though we don't normally have a blender on the bar… it made his night!

What are some of your favourite tools? I really want to find a vintage huge old-fashioned Hawthorne, I love those old school hawthorns and am always looking for them at the local markets and boot sales. My pride and joy at the minute are my swizzle sticks I got from St. Lucia. One is about a foot tall. The bigger one is like 3 and a half feet… it's proper punch making swizzle!

What is your favourite mixology resource? One thing I struggle with is reading. I do a lot of it and always are aiming to read and learn more. However, I have always learnt better and quicker by a combination of reading and doing. For me, my best resource is a combination of three things; other bartenders and people in the industry I know, reading and learning as much as possible and visiting other city's countries and the bars they offer. This business is all about culture and excitement and burying your head in books is only one side to the dice!

What does success mean for you? Creating things that people enjoy, want to visit and come back to. Whether it's making an environment within a bar or a new cocktail menu people love. I would definitely love to do some pop-ups and start experimenting with the design and interior etc. I enjoy art and music and all things creative. If I can manage to do all these and make it super cool and people respect me and my work, then I am being successful.

What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market? This is hard for me to say, Newcastle is an amazing city but has it's own unique style of drinking and partying. However, within good bars and generally sustainability is a really popular and important aspect at the minute. This is something I am massively behind, even small amounts within each bar makes a massive difference. Maybe also trying to show consumers to drink well and not always a lot.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully doing the same thing I am now, maybe in my own bar but definitely something creative and where good drinks are at the forefront. Now ‘where', as in city or country… we shall see!

If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now? Definitely trying to do something creative. Finishing my master's? Music production, art and event management. Something along those lines.

Your biggest career influencer? To date would be Tim Ward. He not only helped me get my current position in Alvinos but also really started to make me learn and start to take my career in the right direction and combining my other interests and passions.

First drink you ever tried? Would have been some cheap lager in one of the local pubs. The first distinct cocktail I remember trying that made me try stuff I had never had before was a Corpse Reviver no.2.

We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid? This used to be tequila, the really bad one quid shots type horrible mixo stuff. I used to be instantly sick of it, I still am of bad stuff. If it's good... I can drink the bottle.

Your hangover cure? Wake up, try and get some fruit and fizzy sugary drink. Then when I eventually can stomach food properly just any type of comfort food… with a beer (that's essential).

£10m comes to you. What do you do next? Firstly make sure my family are secure and buy my family a house, my parents are super supportive and I owe them a lot so I would take them on holiday or something! Otherwise I would want to maybe get my own bar setup, give some to local charities and even start my own investment into sustainability and recycling things trying to help the planet.

Bar or cellar at home? Cellar - I love sitting at bars drinking cocktails and being in that atmosphere and only really make basic cocktails at home. I would much rather have a cellar with a lot of good wine (and a few spirits) to enjoy.

Favourite beer? Two Road's honey spot road IPA.

Wine? Malbec, any Malbec.

Spirit? Chairman's Reserve 1931 - 4th edition.

Cocktail? Sidecar.

Fav Bar? Mojo for a party, Beaufort Bar for relaxing and enjoyment!

Restaurant? Sambuca's, 3 courses for 4.95 at lunch time. The best cheap and cheerful Italian ever!

World location? Lake Como, Italy.

Fav film? The Usual Suspect's.

Book? More of a play but "Hamlet" by Shakespeare.

Album? Incubus - Make Yourself. Or Queens Of The Stone Age - Song's For The Deaf.

Singer/band? Benji Purslow/ Some Villains.

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