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Mixologist of the Month - Matt Otley

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Author: TheDrinkShop
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Matt's Bio

  • Date of Birth: 15th May
  • Birth place: London
  • Height: 6'2"
  • Eye colour: Blue
  • Nationality: British

"I started my career in the service industry as an apprentice chef in Le Gavroche. From there I made a decision to move out of the kitchen as I found a lot more job satisfaction interacting with customers. I was given my first bar job in a pub in Fitzrovia and from there began exploring the world of tending bar. I worked in few other pubs around central London before making the decision to move from the city to the south coast. I’ve been in Brighton for around 7 years now and have worked in varying styles of service venues from restaurants to clubs to cocktail bars."

Awards, Accolades and Trophies

Best Bartender in Brighton - 2015
Most Knowledgeable Bartender in Brighton - 2015
‘Big Name in Brighton’ - 2015
Best Back Bar in Brighton - 2016
Best Cocktail in Brighton - Negronino - 2016
Brighton’s Best Barkeep - 2017

Your claim to fame?

Being TheDrinkShop ‘Mixologist of the Month’

Q & A

What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you? It’s an integral product in bar service and as part of a guest’s experience, as well as still offering complexity and flavour with the recent growth of mainstream craft beers. Some of our local Sussex producers are making some great juice, I’m particularly fond of Lost & Found brewing out of Arundel Brewery.

If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be? Be early and be prepared to finish late. Be as accommodating as possible with guests and work colleagues. Opportunities are generally offered to team players with a can-do attitude.

Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share? I’m a firm believer that it’s the bartender that makes a bar great. You can have all the kit, ingredients and techniques, but if you don’t know how to identify what kind of experience your guests want, it’s all meaningless. Service, service, service!

As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process. Establishing a brief and client expectations is important to make sure any ideas are going in the right direction. Communication is key.

How did you get started? My passion has done a lot of the work for me. I was always offering up ideas and trying to think outside the box.

How were you trained in bartending? I’d say I’m pretty much self-taught, as well as working with some great bartenders that lead by example as far as product and cocktail knowledge and basic service standards are concerned.

Did you take any courses? WSET level 2 in wine and spirits.

What are some trends you're seeing in the market? Gins popularity doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Sustainability and up-cycling are recurring buzzwords at the moment as well.

What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place? I generally look to classics for inspiration, then surround myself with books and google. Definitely one of the funnier aspects.

What is your favourite cocktail To make? I do enjoy anything that requires a Cuban roll.

What are some of your favourite tools? Love a bit of modern kit, but ultimately a Boston shaker and a hawthorne strainer are pretty much all one needs.

What is your favourite mixology resource? Books, books, books.

What does success mean for you? A happy customer. You’re only as good as your last drink.

What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market? Zero waste and up-cycling have been a big focus this and last year and a lot of big brands are finding ways to deliver this message to the industry.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Exploring the industry further.

If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now? Well I’ve never been the shy retiring type. Something in entertainment probably.

First drink you ever tried? My Dad’s whisky.

We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid? Chartreuese has a lot to answer for...

Your hangover cure? H20 and self-pity.

£10m comes to you. What do you do next? Open a bar.

Bar or cellar at home? Both.

Favourite beer? Beavertown Neck Oil. In a can.

Wine? French Riesling, Viognier, any Italian red.

Spirit? Rye, Bourbon, pretty much anything that’s come out of a barrel.

Cocktail? Sazerac.

Fav Bar? The Gibson.

Restaurant? Anything progressive and interesting. I love Mexican and Asian food.

World location? Amsterdam.

Fav film? The Departed, Kung Fu Hustle.

Book? The Beach - Alex Garland.

Album? Aquemini - Outkast.

Singer/band? The Roots.

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