Rob Squire - Mixologist Of The Month
- Date of Birth: 11th September
- Height: 5'10"
- Birthplace: Leicester
- Eye colour: Blue/Grey
- Nationality: British
"I started working in a student pub whilst I was at uni. After I graduated stayed on full time for a year before moving over to a tiki bar called Hakamou in Leicester where I developed a passion for cocktails.
I then moved to Haycock & Tailbar associates, where I worked for just over 4 years creating cocktails reminiscent of the past and serving exotic steaks served on volcanic hot rocks.
I’ve now been General Manager of 45West since September 2019."
List of your awards, accolades, trophies
WSET Level 2 in spirits, member of the Soco100 club (whatever happened to that?) Won a few local competitions and placed in a few national competitions (but unfortunately yet to win one).
Your claim to fame
In my youth, I played in a semi-popular punk band, released a few records, played gigs every weekend up and down the country and supported some incredible bands from oversees.
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
I think it's fantastic and just seems to be getting more popular with new breweries opening all the time and new products being released testing out new flavours and combinations. I'm not clued up enough to have a particular favourite but I’m a huge fan of sour beers and fruit beers.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Stay humble and grounded and always be hospitable and welcoming, always look for inspiration where ever it may come, and every day is a school day (never stop learning).
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
The same pet peeves I have for everyone. Those that think they’re above you or better than you due to their place of work or where they’re from, and the ones that just constantly bitch and moan.
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
It all depends on the brief, are they looking for easily accessible drinks that will please everyone or are they going for a more classic spirit-led cocktail list? Then depending on the theme of the bar I do a break down of how many drinks they want to include, is it a Gin heavy list or are they more whiskey focused? Then it’s a case of researching flavour combinations, looking at classics for inspiration or even if there’s a new product I want to experiment with. I plan for a few weeks, jotting down ideas for drinks, how I want the menu to flow and then start putting liquids into a glass a start testing and getting feedback from colleagues and regulars at the bar to help refine them and come up with names as I’m terrible at naming drinks.
How did you get started?
Working in a student pub whilst at uni and developed a passion for cocktails, my aim was to work on a fancy cruise ship bar, (which never happened) and then got given a shot to work at a tiki bar that had not long opened and the rest is history so they say.
How were you trained in bartending?
I learned on the job, luckily I worked with some great mentors who helped develop my passion and drive. I attended every tasting session I could to learn from the brands directly as well as buying a whole stack of books on everything from classic cocktails to spirit production.
Did you take any courses?
Only the WSET Level 2 in sprits.
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
People are becoming more concerned with what they’re drinking, as well as more knowledgeable, which is great for introducing people to new spirits and flavours. With the Coronavirus lockdown, I’ve seen a whole host of kitchen bartenders appear which is great, but with that, the RTD cocktails and cocktail delivery services have also become huge which I can see becoming a regular thing along with ordering a curry on a Friday night. Across the pond, in the states, the Hard Seltzers have become huge, and I’ve started to see that trickle over to us as well. For cocktails, I can also see a resurgence in the so-called disco cocktails happening soon.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
Inspiration can come from anywhere, a meal out, a piece of candy, or the flavours of the base spirit can guide you to the finished drink. When developing a drink a lot of the time it can be as simple as “what do I want to drink right now?” and go from there.
What is your favourite cocktail To make?
Again it all depends on my mood, I enjoy old fashioned's and switching out the bitters or sugars can make such a huge difference to in essence a simple drink. That and Daiquiris, I’ll never get tired of those!
What are some of your favourite tools?
A cocktail jigger, nothing feels better behind the bar than having a sexy jigger that fits perfectly in your hand.
What is your favourite mixology resource?
For me, nothing will ever beat the feeling of a book in your hand, but in reality, the internet is a fantastic tool, anything you need is just a few clicks away.
What does success mean for you?
For me, its to be able to work in this industry for as long as possible and enjoy doing it.
What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market?
As I mentioned earlier I can see RTD cocktails become even bigger and continue to be popular.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully still working in the industry, I’d like to progress into a BDM or spirits reps role as I'm not sure how much longer my body can take working behind a bar haha.
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
I have no idea, to be honest, I did a summer working in a supermarket before bar work so I imagine I would have done that for a bit, then probably got a random job in a shop or office somewhere.
Your biggest career influencer?
My old boss and now good friend Sam Dale who owns Hakamou & Haycock & Tailbar, he taught me a lot, not just about bartending but management and being a better person in general. Also, Stef and Roop who I’ve also worked with in the past who have also helped guide me or bounced ideas off.
First drink you ever tried?
A sip of my dad's beer when I was a kid. The cocktail, I have no idea, probably something like a WooWoo or Cheeky Vimto. The first spirit was Bicardi, my nan gave me a shot of it at a family party (think it was my dads 40th).
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Sambucca, even thinking about it makes my stomach turn.
Your hangover cure?
Laying in bed trying to sleep it off, be sick a few times, hydrate, then when I feel like I can stomach food 3 double cheeseburgers and a large strawberry milkshake from McDonald's followed by a long shower.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Go on holiday. Pay off my mortgage and buy a nice car. Then I’d probably go back to work, as a bartender so my only concern is making drinks all night without all the stress of management.
Bar or cellar at home?
Tequila / Bourbon.
400 Rabbits in Notts.
His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman.
Americana – The Offspring (the one that started it all for me).
Impossible to answer.