Mixologist Of The Month - Cosmin Tigroso
- Name: Cosmin Tigroso
- Bar: Nine Lives, London
- Date of Birth: 16th December
- Height: 5'11"
- Birth place: Botosani, Romania
- Eye colour: Green
- Nationality: Romania
I was born in Romania in a little town on the same day the Romanian revolution started. I moved to Italy when I was 15 and went to a hospitality school, we spent most of our time playing cards! I moved to London in 2012 and started working in different bars, clubs and restaurants trying to gain as much experience as I could. I am now the head bartender at Nine Lives, a hidden neighbourhood bar in London Bridge down Holyrood Street, that has become my home. We take our music as seriously as we take our drinks, it has a repurposed sound system, DJs such as The Hotel Lobby and Earthboogie come and play at the weekends; it has a great vibe. Nine Lives is also about sustainability, we try to waste as little as possible and work with the community as much as we can.
List of your awards, accolades, trophies.
One the 5 UK mixing stars for Disaronno mixing star 2016
UK World Class semi-finalist 2017, 2018
Claim to fame
I once made Jamie Dornan (Christian Grey) a mojito and he enjoyed it but he did not use that anecdote in 50 Shades of Grey.
Q & A
How did you get started in bartending? I had to! I was sent to work at 16, and then I ended up falling in love with it.
How were you trained in bartending?
Well, I started in this bar back in Italy (Bar Viola, Bari), but the real game changer was the London bar scene, working in some great bars with a lot of different bartenders. I have learned a lot from other people in the industry.
Which bars have you worked in?
One Canada Square, The Folly, Berners Tavern at the London Edition, Hixter, Scotch Malt Whisky Society and now Nine Lives.
What top tip would you share with other bartenders in mid-career?
I think being afraid of being able to create a good drink can destroy your creativity, so trying to let this go. So many good bartenders don’t put their drinks out there because of what other bartenders might think, but who cares really? if you experiment a little, you might create a drink that someone loves and has never tried before.
What’s your main inspiration when it comes to creating new cocktails?
It can be from anywhere; most of the time it will be something to do with nature for me. I then start experimenting and turning the idea into a drink, until I am happy with it.
What are your favourite in-trends in cocktail lists right now?
I use a lot of vegetables in my cocktails, and I think this is starting to become a bit of a trend amongst bartenders. They can taste completely different depending on if they are raw or cooked, and the flavours can be really interesting to play with. If you balance the drink right, you can create something which has a complex but subtle savoury flavour profile.
What style of cocktails do you really enjoy creating?
I really care about saying something with my drinks, I want them to be the right balance between interesting and simply enjoyable. Most of all, I like creating drinks that people want to drink.
What are some of your favourite tools?
A good old pan is still my favourite tool. There is a lot of super high tech bar tools that have come out over the years, which is obviously fun to play with. For me though, if you can achieve great results with a simple tool, I would rather use that then a rotovap.
What is your favourite mixology resource?
I like looking around all the independent greengrocers, their produce tends to be the best quality and you can find really interesting ingredients there.
What does success mean for you?
Happy guests, happy team and a good time.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Five years is a long time to plan ahead for me! right now I want to make Nine Lives the best it can possibly be.
If you weren't in the drinks business, what do you think you would be doing now?
Probably in finance or something like that, I was very good at numbers when I was a kid.
Your biggest career influencer?
That’s tricky as I don’t want to leave people out, but I would say Joey Medrigton for the way he is with people, he can get our customers chatting for ages! In terms of creativity with drinks, Tom Soden, who is one of the co-founders of Nine Lives, has taught me a lot on working with ingredients and creating flavours. All of them very unique characters I would have been a completely different person if I hadn’t met them.
First drink you ever tried?
Americano and I remember thinking it was terrible, but I was only 16 at the time. Which kind of drinks have been your one-offs – that you wouldn’t try drinking or making again?
Which kind of drinks have been your one-offs – that you wouldn’t try drinking or making again? And why?!
I always get told I can make a really good martini; I am not really sure why though, as I actually don’t really like them myself.
Your hangover cure?
A good run followed by a half pint.
Style of wine?
White wine all day, a dry Riesling.
I discovered sour beer, which is an amazing invention.
Nine lives obviously but I have to admit the Sun Tavern in Bethnal Green is pretty good too.
Tom Simmons, Tower Bridge.
City in the world?
The Alchemist was pretty intense.
Kanye West… he called his child North West, it’s so bad you have to admire it.
£10 million comes to you. What do you do next?
I would give some to people who need it, I had been poor my whole life so if I could change that for other people I would. The rest, I would probably open some bars or go and just live in a beautiful house by a beach.