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Mixologist Of The Month - Tom Ryan

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Tom's Bio

  • Name: Tom Ryan
  • Date of Birth: 18th April
  • Birth place: Milton Keynes
  • Eye colour: Blue
  • Nationality: British.

List of your awards, accolades, trophies.

Diageo World Class GB - Top 50
Opihr Intrepid Explorer - Third Place in UK Finals
Peller Ice Wine Imbibe Live Competition - Finalist
Gabriel Boudier Wizards 2017 - London Heat, Semi-finalist
Johnnie Walker X Blade Runner 2049 Cocktail Competition - One of 11 Winners
Glassology by Libbey 2018 - Semi-Finalist (On-Going)

Claim to fame

A cocktail from our previous menu got a shout-out in a podcast, and corresponding book, that I have followed for years called “No Such Thing As A Fish”, that was a nice Christmas surprise.

Q & A

What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you? Although I appreciate its place in the history of drinks and consider it a valuable asset as an ingredient and as part of a complete drinking experience, I generally don’t drink beer; I guess I never went through the whole “learn to like it” thing everyone talks about. That said I’m fond of using beers as a mixer/top in cocktails and have found the Magic Rock brews to be a go-to at home.

If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be? Stay humble and know that 99% of the time our success is dictated by how we work as a team/business rather than as an individual.

Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share? I sometimes fear we can be a bit cliquey when new people enter the scene, particularly when they don’t have links to our current social circles and this could lead to people feeling alienated and so not achieving their potential.

As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process. It’s important to consider the bar as a whole upfront, cocktails are about a whole experience not just the liquid, there should be cohesion between the space and the drinks. I think it is also important to consider the crowd you want to attract and how they drink, with the same space in two different cities I might make an entirely different drinks list as local tastes and expectations might differ.

How did you get started? I started in 2013 as a barback in a high-volume cocktail bar. It was a really good crash-course on the industry as I went in really knowing nothing, but didn’t have time to not know something so I had to learn it.

How were you trained in bartending? A friend I was living with whilst barbacking had a small Video-Game themed place in Soho so I moved there and worked under him for 3 years, picking up the basics, whilst trawling every book on bartending and cocktails I could find.

Did you take any courses? No, all on-the-job experience.

What are some trends you're seeing in the market? Sustainability is for-sure a big buzz-word at the moment; whether that’s looking at what ingredients we use and their impact on environment and economy, or looking at how we use ingredients and making sure we limit our waste. I think more locally to the UK we’re seeing a push for lower-ABV cocktails, more in-line with what we associate traditional European-style drinking to be.

What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place? At Doctor Ink’s Patrick (Fogarty, the owner) wanted us to use a different style of thinking up new drinks. We start with the story behind the drink, rooting it in Victoriana and History, and then we try to work from there into a few different options for flavours that work for that story, whilst keeping in mind pre-prohibition style drinks, and almost reverse-engineer the drink from the story.

What is your favourite cocktail to make? This changes day-to-day (probably actually hour-to-hour) but do love a thrown cocktail, probably something heavy on some kind of fortified wine.

What are some of your favourite tools? A well-designed mixing glass is a beautiful thing. Stirring is such a simple thing, but with the right poise, and a stylish glass, it’s enough to wow patrons.

What is your favourite mixology resource? EUVS Vintage Cocktail Book Archive, there’s some gold to be mined in there that I haven’t got round to yet.

What does success mean for you? A patron trying something they weren’t sure they’d like, i.e. a new spirit, and smiling after the first sip.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully managing a bar, in a dream-world possibly owning one, either way almost definitely still tending bar.

If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now? I’ve done quite a few different jobs over the years, I would like to think I’d be using my degree in 2D Animation or at least working in an artistic/creative field.

Your biggest career influencer? Honestly one of the managers at Barrio, where I started bar-backing, not only did she teach me how to make an Old Fashioned, but also the value of hard-work and putting time into something you enjoy.

First drink you ever tried? Above-mentioned Old-Fashioned on my birthday after my first shift, because I foolishly told the bartender “I don’t like Whiskey” and very quickly learned I was wrong.

We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid? I’ve gone through periods of avoiding a few different spirits, due to bad-encounters or over-imbibing, but for the most part I’m willing to be proved wrong about not liking something. Although I enjoy them in moderation, too much of a peaty-whisky will send me on a bad path for the night.

Your hangover cure? As much water as I can stomach when I get in and a healthy dose of praying that the morning will be merciful.

£10m comes to you. What do you do next? Secure myself on the property ladder first and fore-most. Then probably let it sit for a bit while I put in some serious research into my dream bar.

Bar or cellar at home? A miss-mash of various bottles accumulated over a year of competitions, some 50 odd miniatures, and a very basic tool set-up.

Favourite beer? Magic Rock High Wire Grapefruit (as part of a Negroni Spagliato riff).

Wine? A nice berry-forward Red, like a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Spirit? For its sheer versatility, Beefeater Gin.

Cocktail? Clover Club.

Fav Bar? Dandelyan, London.

Restaurant? Polpo.

World location? Chicago, Illinois.

Fav film? Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Book? Cocktail Book – Death & Co. Non-Cocktail Book – The Hobbit.

Album? Idiot Pilot – Strange We Should Meet Here.

Singer/band? Phantogram.

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