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Mixologist of the Month - John Jenkins

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John's Bio

  • Date of Birth: 28th July
  • Birth place: Redhill, Surrey
  • Height: 5'10"
  • Eye colour: Brown
  • Nationality: British

"I started back of house, learning to be a chef didn’t do it for me, I had a love for flavours but a hatred for cooking (for people). So I moved front of house at a local hotel in their C&B department, looking after business conferences during the week was boring but working weddings and parties at the weekends was awesome, that’s when I first got behind the bar.

Shortly after that I got a job at my favourite pub, they were offering a live in position and I figured I was there most of the time anyway.

I took over as GM there and rocked that for about 5 years, that’s when I started really getting interested in booze and cocktails. I left there to work in the only cocktail bar in my home town, (it was pretty crappy). From there I moved to London and worked in a couple of awesome places before doing the grownup thing and having a baby which inspired a move down to Kent."

Awards, Accolades and Trophies

My mother said I was special!

Your claim to fame?

I’m related to Admiral Sir John Balchin who captained the first HMS Victory.

Q & A

What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you? I love beer, I just can’t drink much of it, we’re at the best point we’ve been for years here in Britain for locally brewed beers and there are so many great breweries doing amazing things right now, without picking a favourite some of the breweries I really like right now (in no particular order) Cloudwater, Verdant, BBno, Beavertown, Tiny Rebel, Brewdog (hate them or love them), anyone who can produce me a good IPA or DIPA is good with me.

If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be? Smile, take time to enjoy your job, we work in a wonderful trade where we get to meet some wonderful people and remember that your colleagues are your family, treat everyone with love and respect and the world will keep turning. And don’t sweat the small stuff.

Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share? I hate arrogance in a bartender, knowing you’re good is one thing but running a constant press campaign to inform your colleagues/guests is too much.

As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process. For me I often come at menu development from different angles, but I always like to have a theme (of some form, or at least a structure), from then I like to have rough ideas of spirit bases to cover all areas and then we start with the fun. Sometimes I just have an end goal for a drink and it’s a case of working backwards until everything fits.

How did you get started? Bad luck & misfortune, but seriously I started in a hotel, working Conference & banqueting, silver service wedding stuff and the bar that went with it, from there to pubs, to bars and to infinity.

How were you trained in bartending? Self trained, for better or worse.

Did you take any courses? I took a week long course with Shaker barschools many years back really just to make sure that I was teaching myself in the right ways.

What are some trends you're seeing in the market? For me the most interesting thing I’m seeing at the moment is bars being more concerned with their carbon footprint/sustainability, the idea of the closed loop cocktail to some degree, we as an industry need to stop being so careless and extravagant with what we do and consider the effect we have on our planet.

What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place? Sometimes I think bartenders just stumble across ideas, maybe you play with that idea until it works for a few months on and off, or sometimes you know you have a certain style/flavour bracket that needs to be filled so you reverse engineer your way to the end product.

What is your favourite cocktail To make? I do love the 7 minute Old fashioned when at home, also love making a bloody mary, I find a well shaken Daiquiri relatively seductive. Anything that makes someone happy, apart from Woo Woos...

What are some of your favourite tools? I have an amazing bar knife from Cocktail Kingdom, makes slicing citrus far too much fun, and super long bar spoons (because size matters).

What is your favourite mixology resource? In a rush Diffords Guide, for fun the London Bartenders association group on facebook.

What does success mean for you? Paying the bills? I feel I’ve been successful overall as long as all the guests leave feeling good then I think we’ve done well.

What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market? Premium spirits still making a rise, people being more aware of their health following through to a greater appreciation of quality ingredients. From our side of the bar people being more concerned with brands and their production methods/authenticity.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Behind a bar somewhere.

If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now? Probably some form of office job.

Your biggest career influencer? Tequila.

First drink you ever tried? Wow, probably Hooch, back in the day when it first came out.

We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid? Sambuca, even the smell turns my stomach.

Your hangover cure? Don’t drink... Or lots of sleep and lots of water, I used to be able to drink Orange juice till I felt better, it doesn’t work anymore.

£10m comes to you. What do you do next? Take a long holiday, somewhere hot.

Bar or cellar at home? Bar all day.

Favourite beer? At the moment probably Dead Pony club, good flavour and sensible ABV

Wine? I’m a slut for a New Zealand Sauvignon.

Spirit? Tequila.

Cocktail? Probably a Last Word.

Fav Bar? Too many to list, but anywhere that serves good drinks.

Restaurant? Totally depends on the mood/company.

World location? Probably corny, but I’d pick the Surrey Hills where I grew up.

Fav film? Blood In, Blood Out, amazing gritty early 90’s gangsta flick.

Book? Work related, Liquid intelligence by Dave Arnold (the guy is a freaking genius, mad scientist kind of guy) non-trade related probably Steven King’s Insomnia.

Album? Jay-Z, Reasonable Doubt.

Singer/band? Tricky question, I love nearly all musical styles. If I had to say what I’ve been listening to the most recently it would probably be Souls Of Mischief, some proper old school hip hop.

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