Joe Lynn - Mixologist Of The Month
- Date of Birth: 25th July
- Height: 6'1" (in heels)
- Birthplace: Poole, Dorset
- Eye colour: Blue/Green sometimes grey? You tell me.
- Nationality: English with a strong tinge of Irish – mainly in the beard
"I first started working in hospitality exactly 4 years ago, as a waiter in a really cool cafe/bar/restaurant called Framptons in Ringwood, Hampshire. We supplied a little bit of everything to everyone; early morning coffee, meals all day, and late-night cocktails. I always wanted to be one of the cool kids working on the bar but unfortunately for me, I was just too damn good at keeping customers happy in the restaurant for my own good. After nearly 18 months here I was invited to move to Tunbridge Wells, where we were opening a new site – the move also came with a promotion to a supervisor role, but alas I was still mainly in the restaurant! After moving to Tunbridge Wells, I managed to sneak on the bar as often as I could and started picking up the bare essentials of mixology. I eventually left Framptons to manage a gin bar down the road where I fell in love with creating cocktails that no one would have tried before and nowhere else would be serving.
I’ve since left for a family-owned Seafood Restaurant called Sankey’s but unfortunately, we don’t really serve cocktails so I’ve created myself a website where I can keep busy on my downtime and upload my recipes – joemakesdrinks.com (took me a lot longer than I’ll admit to coming up with the name!!)."
Your claim to fame
Nope, I got nothing yet – apart from this, I guess?
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
Beer can absolutely be a component for some awesome and interesting concoctions – totally not an ad for Mayfield Sussex Hop Gin or anything, but you can definitely create a shandy of sorts (it’s gonna be a LOT stronger than a shandy, obviously) by mixing with lemon juice, sugar and your beer of choice – works with anything! Tiny Rebel has some really cool beers, their Peaches and Cream IPA is awesome.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Try something new, test your imagination and creativity. Explore different flavours and combinations, techniques and serving styles. Go nuts! Also, try your drinks! I’m not just talking about cocktails either, if you get a new whisky/gin/beer/wine in stock, try it. You may not enjoy it, but that doesn’t mean you won't pick up on the flavours and be able to recommend to customers in the future. And with any luck, you’ll find you start enjoying more than you thought you would!
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
“I can’t do cocktails” - not with that attitude! Read the cheat sheet if you have to, it might seem daunting to begin with but no one starts off knowing it all! Also, pull up your trousers, you’re working!
How did you get started?
When I didn’t get the grades for university, hospitality was kinda the only option left for me – looks like it’s worked out for the best!
How were you trained in bartending?
I primarily taught myself while working behind the bar, picking up tips here and there from other staff members - sometimes customers too
Did you take any courses?
Nope – although my wine knowledge is requiring some serious improvement so I will be signing up to a WSET course in the near future.
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
Gin is still more popular than ever, although it doesn’t seem to be growing as rapidly as before, and it looks like there is much more focus on low/no alcoholic “spirits”. I’m also keeping an eye on aged spirits such as tequila/mezcal and Rum, some new and exciting products coming out!
What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
I started creating cocktails when I was managing a gin bar and wanted to shake up the menu to keep things fresh and exciting. The menu had a focus on local distilleries and celebrating the key characteristics of each gin. When creating cocktails I will either start with the base spirit and add complementary flavours, or I imagine a drink based around a particular theme, flavour or style before getting the bottles out. I also like to create miniature “prototypes” using about ¼ of the final measurements to play with.
What is your favourite cocktail to make?
Anything I can build in the glass and chat with the customer in the meantime – Old Fashioneds are great, especially as a lot of customers like theirs done a particular way, so we can talk it through for me to give them their own “perfect serve” – but better
What are some of your favourite tools?
Blowtorch all the way!
What is your favourite mixology resource?
Difford’s Guide, Death and Co. and Imbibe are all great, but I also like to follow other mixologists on social media to keep up to date with what’s new and exciting
What does success mean for you?
I consider myself being successful when I am happy and fulfilled in what I do every day. There are also the little successes, sending out cocktails that will put a smile on a customer’s face, creating a new cocktail that has a perfect balance first try, and making through a heavy night out with no hint of a hangover! I take all the wins, big or small.
What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market?
No, and Low ABV cocktails are more popular than ever, as well as sustainability and environmental awareness when it comes to single-use plastics such as straws – I can’t actually remember the last time I used a non-biodegradable straw, which is amazing!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I don’t even know what I’m having for dinner!
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
I did a brief stint of IT helpdesk support before starting in hospitality, so most likely that.
Your biggest career influencer?
There are a couple; I worked with a barman called Max who now works at The Beacon, who worked the bar at Framptons and helped me out when I first started learning the ins and outs of bar work. He’s just released a new cocktail menu based on The Beacon’s grounds – I’ve yet to sample the goods! Jesse who works at Framptons, who I’ve worked with both at Framptons and at the gin bar, she’s always coming out with new and interesting cocktails and ideas that are really really hard not to steal. Finally, Jim at Verdigris, Tonbridge. Jim is the reason I started creating cocktails in the first place, he taught me the basics of flavour profiles and how to substitute similar ingredients to create a different result. Started telling me all about these “shrubs” and “tinctures” and “atomisers” that I’d never even heard of before, and don’t get me started on his Bloody Mary – literal hours of prep... Seriously though, Jim, thanks for being so passionate about what you do and sharing it with others - and I’m gonna stop there before I get too emotional.
First drink you ever tried?
Magners pear cider – it was all the rage when I was 15 years old, now just too sickly for me.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Cheap, supermarket’s own vodka, straight from the bottle. Never again. Nope. Never.
Your hangover cure?
Couple of paracetamol (check your allergies first people!) and a pint of water before bed, a pint of water next to the bed and a bottle of water in the fridge for the morning. If all else fails, grab a Lucozade Sport and/or make yourself a Bloody Mary.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Spend it on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I’ll waste.
Bar or cellar at home?
I currently have a modest home bar but now I want a cellar too!
Brewdog Elvis Juice.
When dining out I always go with what’s recommended – best one yet was Langmeil Live Wire Riesling; slightly sweet with a subtle spritz.
Gin! A nice peaty Single Malt Scotch never goes amiss after dinner either!
The Gin Bar, Holborn Dining Room.
Anywhere with a quality cocktail menu and knowledgeable yet relaxed and personable staff.
Bed, after a long day.
I can't say Cocktail? Or anything from the MCU(Marvel>DC)? Gonna have to say Blues Brothers in that case.
Mortal Engines, Philip Reeve.
Rumours, Fleetwood Mac.