Matthew Dakers - Mixologist of the Month
- Date of Birth: 5th September 1982
- Birth place: Norwich, UK
- Height: 5'6"
- Eye colour: Blue
- Nationality: British
Matthew started, like so many before, as a part-time Barback - much better than the paper round!
He was still at school and the excitement of working in the industry was overwhelming. Matthew easily moved onto the bar at 18, whilst at University and never looked back. His first bar job was with Henry J Beans. They taught him flaring, discipline, speed and efficiency, whilst still being able to have fun. Matthew then moved onto privately owned bars in Aberdeen that focused more on etiquette and mixology.
Four years on, University over, Matthew took a couple of years out in Ibiza to get some sun whilst still doing what he loved. He worked in the famous Cafe Mambos and served cocktails while watching the sun set every day. It was there he decided to make Bartending his future. He wanted to be the best bartender in the world! To do so he knew had to put himself up against the best and learn from the best. Instead of going back to the frozen North at the end of the Ibiza season, Matthew moved onto Barcelona. He was lucky enough to get to work at The Dry Martini where he learnt how to adapt myself to a completely different culture and style.
Working with some of the industry greats, Matthew then moved on again to London. "London is definitely one of the Capitals for Cocktails". He started at The Hoxton Pony, winner of Theme best new bar 2009, working for Andy Pearson and Gerry Calabrese.
After only a year, Matthew is Head Bartender and nominated Class Best Bartender of 2009. He is currently working with Chartreuse as a part-time Brand Ambassador and developing his own website - www.oldskoolmixing.com. Next Steps would include making cocktails in other Capitals, around the world - New York maybe! A few opportunities have risen but you'll have to watch this space.
Awards, Accolades and Trophies
Training by Barnomadics, IP Bartenders and Andy Pearson.
Completion of ESP course for Diageo.
Successful launch of his own website www.oldskoolmixing.com.
Nominated by Class magazine for UK Bartender of the Year 2009.
Head Bartender Hoxton Pony, winners of Theme magazine Best Bar 2009.
Winner of Bacardi Legacy competition 2010.
A winner of Drambuie National competition 2010.
Winner of Cutty Sark National Final 2009.
Runner up for Chambord, Jack Daniels, Brockmans, Havana Club and Chairman Competitions.
Working for Bacardi Brown and Forman as a freelance trainer.
Claim To Fame
"I once served Tess Daily in Ibiza and she thought I was the best bartender she'd ever met. We spoke for ages while Vernon did the Radio 1 show. I reckon I was in there - maybe I should text her!!!"
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer?
I love beer. There is a different beer for every type of weather and mood. It's simple and refreshing.
Any brews of note for you?
Innus and Gun is a favourite of mine right now, different styles and very smooth.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Every minute you are working is like being on a stage. Be it serving a beer, gin and tonic or a cocktail, even a glass of water. Each serve is a production - make it one!
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
Nothing really peeves me off that much. Maybe being ignored at a bar. It is so important to recognize your customer and acknowledge them with a hello or a head nod.
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
First I get to know my client. What they want, what type of venue they are and how their staff work. Then I begin to think of a theme or angle for the menu i.e. Classic, Modern, English, Asian, Vodka etc. After that, I begin on the different sections, making sure there is something for everyone. All palates and tastes should be catered for. Once the menu begins to take shape, you can try them on your client and get feedback. The first attempt will never be the final one. There is always room for improvement. Once the menu is finalized it is important to be there for the launch night to make sure everything runs smoothly and the bartenders feel comfortable.
How did you get started?
I started as a Barback for an American-themed cocktail bar. I loved the energy and atmosphere. I have worked in cocktails ever since.
How were you trained in bartending?
A few people are responsible for my training and of course my inspiration. Raymond Forsyth was the first Bar-manager that really introduced me to mixology. Barnomadics from Edinburgh and Alex Turner from IP bartenders have had considerable input to my knowledge and technique.
Did you take any courses?
Working in Independent bars meant I was sent on a lot of master classes and training sessions. I was always the most enthusiastic and was always first to be sent.
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
Premium is now something people expect. People are name calling a lot more on products. They might not even know why they are asking for it but it's definitely the trend.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail?
First I get my head into the theme. Then I understand the main spirit I am going to use. I try to find any connections with the theme. Connections are important. Creating a cocktail is an ongoing process. The drink changes as your thoughts and ideas come together. I always make sure every ingredient I use has a reason for being in my drink. A good drink is not always difficult to make, it's making a good drink that makes sense which is the challenge.
What is your favourite cocktail to drink? To make?
To drink = Mai Tai. I love rum and I love fruit. This drink is strong, powerful and full of flavours. To make = Manhattan. When I competed in the Jack Daniels competition final I really researched the Manhattan. I discovered that the drink is very personal and can be made different every time depending on your attitude and mood. I love making this drink as my personality really takes over and I feel like the drink I make. A cliche, I know!!!!
What are some of your favourite tools?
Bottle opener, I can't open a bottle with a wall or my teeth so this tool is crucial. I love drinking beers with my friends outdoors in the summer - even more reason to always have one handy!
What is your favourite mixology resource?
Other bartenders. Working in London has meant I have access to some of the best creative minds in the industry. Andy Pearson, Mikael Perron and many others - too many to mention! Everyone has different ideas and advice.
What does success mean for you?
Working in a job I love. Being a bartender isn't always the most rewarding job. That's my success - to make it rewarding.
What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market?
When I first started American-style drinks were very popular. Bahama Mama, Pina Colada and Sex on the Beach etc. Cocktails then became more sophisticated and advanced. This brought the Mojito, White Russian and Moscow Mule etc. Now bartenders are pushing boundaries even more by attempting to re-create recipes and ingredients from the prohibition age. Martinez, Old Fashioned and Daiquiri etc. This thirst to re-create some of our - lost drinks - is driven by the bartenders and appreciated by the customers.
What goes into creating a cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
Time, patience and passion. A drink should be made carefully; you must have good reasons for using all your ingredients. Passion will give you the ability to convince others how great your drink is. I love to create something that people enjoy drinking and others enjoy making. Watching someone else make your drink is so very satisfying.
What is your favourite drink to make?
Manhattan - see previous question.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Being a Brand Ambassador and passing on everything I have learned to others. If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now? No idea!!! I can't imagine doing anything else!
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
Being a Brand Ambassador and passing on everything I have learned to others.
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
No idea!!! I can't imagine doing anything else!
Your hangover cure?
Your biggest career influencer?
Andy Pearson, Salvatore Calabrese and his wife. Peter Dorelli and his wife telling me how proud they were of me after winning the Bacardi Legacy.
First drink you ever tried?
Beer. My dad used to let me drink it when my mum wasn't watching.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Jager-bombs. I don't like to drink them, and I don't like to make them. A shot is a shot. Tequila please!
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Go on holiday with my friends and family. South America. Then decide what to do with the rest of it while I am sipping Mojitos on the beach.
Bar or cellar at home?
Bar. I always have parties back at mine so it would fit right in.
Riscal, Tempranillo (Spain).
Bar Mutis, Barcelona.
Good old fashioned Fish and Chip shop.
Any Given Sunday.
Jamiroquai - High Times - The Singles 1992 - 2006.
Frank Sinatra and any of the Rat Pack.