Kyle Atkinson - Mixologist Of The Month
- Date of Birth: 16th May
- Height: 5'8"
- Birthplace: South Shields
- Eye colour: Brown
- Nationality: British
"I started working in the Fourth in Pink Lane and was thrown in at the deep end one incredibly busy October night, I’ve never looked back since. I Lived in London for a few years, and in one London city bar, I learned how not to treat customers. I moved to the Old White Lion in East Finchley where I began to appreciate craft beer and I had a great time working for them.
After moving back to Newcastle, and after drinking in venues like Alvinos and Tokyo, I began to find an interest in cocktails. I got a job working at the Waterline, which offered me more freedom to play around and experiment with cocktails and make my own drinks.
While working at Fitzgeralds on Grey Street Newcastle, I honed my cocktail skills, though ultimately decided to take a step towards a more beer-focused venue, and moved to my current bar, the Brinkburn St. Brewery Tap Bar and Kitchen which I love."
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
I love beer. Using beer in cocktails has been a revelation. I'm currently working for Brinkburn Street Brewery so I love experimenting with their beers, especially the House of the Rising Sun chocolate and raspberry porter.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Make sure you enjoy your work, if you're not having fun your customers won't either. Always pay attention to your customers and never assume you know better.
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
Leading on from the point above, snobby bartenders who will openly criticise a drink or an order. Or criticise a drinking culture,
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
At my current venue, I incorporate beer into as many drinks as possible. If there's a food-led element to the venue I collaborate with the kitchen and tie drinks into their menu. I’ll also work with them making syrups and purees for the menu.
How did you get started?
I started working as a DJ but I fell ill for a short while and lost a few jobs. I was offered a job behind one of the bars I had worked at and soon developed an appreciation for beers and cocktails
How were you trained in bartending?
I learned self-taught on the job, but mostly, if I noticed a particularly good bartender somewhere I'd be watching what they did and try to emulate how they were working.
Did you take any courses?
I’ve not taken any specific courses, but I’ve attended wine tasting and training sessions, as well as cocktail and spirits training from Emporia Brands.
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
We're still seeing some growth in the Craft Beer market, especially with Sour beers. I’ve noticed a lot of cider drinkers switching over to Sour beer.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
I like to take new ingredients and play around with them. Whether its a new spirit or beer, or if I'm making a new puree to experiment with. I like new and interesting flavours which can lead to a cocktail developing from there.
What is your favourite cocktail To make?
My favourite drink to make is ‘Mangos into a Bar’ It was the first drink I put on the menu at Brnkburt St. and its a great seller, customers love drinking it, and I love that they do.
What are some of your favourite tools?
Currently, my own crushed ice machine that I've used in many venues. Without crushed ice, it really limits the drinks you can make.
What is your favourite mixology resource?
Mr Bostons Guide to Bartending. It's filled with cocktails and tips on methods and it's pocket-sized so I can take it with me.
What does success mean for you?
Enjoying what you are doing and being happy. I’m not bothered about making millions or being famous, as long as you enjoy your life and what you do you’re successful.
What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market?
Obviously espresso martinis are a must on any menu at the moment, but I’m seeing more of a swing towards classic cocktails.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I just like to take each day as it comes, as long as you’re enjoying work I’ll take what comes.
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
I used to be interested in Film and TV production but lost interest after college. I would have loved to be an actor.
Your biggest career influencer?
When i worked at the Old White Lion our bar manager was great. She was firm and people respected her, without having to be aggressive or get angry with staff. I thought that was a great management style.
First drink you ever tried?
When I was about 8 my dad gave me a sip of John Smiths, and I thought it was absolutely disgusting. I suppose when I was about 15 we’d drink Larger and Newcastle Brown Ale.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Until recently I didn’t like tequila, probably from drinking too much mixto in my younger days. Recently I’ve tried a wider range, including Batanga, and I’ve developed a new appreciation for the spirit. I think nothings worth ignoring completely as there's so much variation.
Your hangover cure?
Irn Bru, burgers, bacon sandwiches, sausage sandwiches. I like meat and grease.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
I’d either open my own venue or invest in a family-run venue.
Bar or cellar at home?
I have a bar on a drinks trolley, all my spirits and equipment ready to go.
Currently House of the Rising Sun by Brinkburn St. Brewery, I think it's one of the best dark beers coming out of the North East.
I'm not a big wine drinker but the Flagstone Pinotage is great.
Bourbon, specifically Wild Turkey 101.
I love a white Russian or a Plantation Pineapple Old Fashioned.
The best place I've worked in is Brinkburn St. Bar and Kitchen. For a party bar, I love Zerox in Newcastle. For cocktails, Rayz Backroom Bar.
River Beat in Gateshead.
The best place I’ve visited is Barcelona, but I'd love to go to Japan. I love the art and the culture but I’ve never had the chance to visit.
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World by Haruki Murakami.
Trans Europe Express by Craftwork.