Mixologist Of The Month - Elliot Shenton
- Date of Birth: 1992
- Height: 5'9"
- Birth place: Bridgend, Wales
- Eye colour: Brown
- Nationality: British
"I accidentally stumbled into bar work when I realised the streets of London weren’t actually paved with gold. However, I was immediately hooked – the passion for flavour and service I found in other bartenders was very relatable. 6 months later I found myself Head Bartender of the House of Wolf in Islington. Ready for a new challenge, I moved to La Bodega Negra in Soho – a formative experience where I learnt high volume bartending and honed my chat to be worthy of one of the most vibrant bars in Central London. Next came my passion project –Knowhere Special, Kentish Town. Under the tutelage of one of my Bar Heroes, Ash Clarke, I learnt experimental mixology and perfected my bespoke cocktail improvisation skills.
Never one to sit still too long, I moved up to Edinburgh and Treacle Bar & Kitchen. The shift into a management role came with a new set of challenges and provided a great platform to enter the wonderful, close-knit community that is the Edinburgh bar scene."
List of your awards, accolades, trophies
I appeared as an extra in a Bollywood movie whilst backpacking in India... just don’t ask me what the film was called.
Your claim to fame
I am distantly related to Stan Laurel.
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you? I’m pleased to see how many bartenders are incorporating beer into their cocktails now – I'm always up for a bit of extra hoppiness in my Margaritas! Big fan of Tiny Rebel Brewing Co.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be? Never do something just because “it’s the way we’ve always done it”. The application of critical thinking to your own processes is the key to innovation.
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share? Over-opinionated, judgemental bartenders. I agree a Long Island Iced Tea is a sad experience to make. But if that’s what the customer wants, that’s what the customer gets!
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process. I like to base menus around solid concepts – a particular culture or era, or preferably a particular feeling you’re trying to evoke. Nostalgia is my favourite.
How did you get started? I utterly failed as a junior salesman. Bartending suits me much better.
How were you trained in bartending? I’ve collected mentors over the course of my career. Taking different attitudes and methodology from some very experienced bartenders, then synthesising that into my own style to pass on to the next generation.
Did you take any courses? Nope. Best way to learn anything is trial-by-fire in my opinion.
What are some trends you're seeing in the market? Ignoring the raspberry-flavoured elephant in the room (I’m looking at you, pink gin!), I’m very happy to see the industry working hard on sustainability. Dropping single-use plastics, upcycling perishable waste and intelligent preservation methods such as dehydration and shrubs are a big yes for me.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place? One of my favourite things to do is find old, obscure bar books in second-hand book shops and attempt to adapt those recipes to a modern palette. It’s also not completely unheard of for me to come up with a fantastic name for a cocktail and reverse engineer a drink around it!
What is your favourite cocktail To make? No-ice Sazerac. Or a Nuclear Daiquiri, if I’m not feeling like a pretentious wanker.
What are some of your favourite tools? GIANT TWEEZERS.
What is your favourite mixology resource? I regularly visit Imbibe.com. Anything by Gary Regan or Dale DeGroff is irresistible.
What does success mean for you? Happiness.
What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market?
Thankfully, the aforementioned raspberry elephant doesn’t really show up here. I love pop- culture-themed menus. More fun, less faffing about with obscure ingredients, please!
Where do you see yourself in five years? Sipping champagne on my luxury yacht. A man can dream, right?
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now? Probably teaching – one of the best parts of my job is sharing knowledge with staff and customers alike.
Your biggest career influencer? My older brother, who was kind enough to offer me the simple barback position that would change my life, and for introducing me to the London scene.
First drink you ever tried? Frosty Jack’s white cider, 2003. Don’t tell my mum.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid? Liqueurs of any kind. Screw you, Sambuca.
Your hangover cure? Lucozade Sport and/or more alcohol.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next? Remember that yacht I mentioned?
Bar or cellar at home? In this economy? I wish!
Favourite beer? Clwb Tropicana, Tiny Rebel Brewing Co.
Wine? Viogniers, Reislings and Chenins.
Cocktail? Vieux Carre.
Fav Bar? I’m a sucker for a local pub. You can take the boy out of Wales...
Restaurant? Sushi. Or mezze.
World location? Dharamshala, India.
Fav film? Anything by Charlie Kauffman.
Book? Brave New World, Aldous Huxley.
Album? Just one?!
Singer/band? Me, in the shower.
P.S. Shout out to the wonderful ernesta_nor photography for my cocktail pics!