Mixologist of the Month - Sam Carter
- Date of Birth: 28th June 1978
- Birth place: Peterborough - Don't hold it against me!
- Height: 5'10"
- Eye colour: Hazelnut Brown
- Nationality: British and proud of it!
Sam started as a bar tender whilst working for Tim Hart (father of Sam & Eddie of Quo Vadis fame) at Hambleton Hall in Rutland. This is where his love of classic cocktails comes from.
Sam transferred to city life at Tim Harts Restaurant in Nottingham and quickly progressed to Bar Manager - here he started to allow his creative juices to pump!
Sam spent a couple of years travelling the world and seeing what the bar scene was like in other countries.
In May 2003, Sam returned to London as Bar Manager at the first venture of Sam & Eddie (Fino Restaurant, 33 Charlotte Street). It was here that he discovered El Bulli and Ferran Adria and began his foray into the extensive world of Molecular Mixology.
After 3 years here, Sam returned to Nottingham where he became the Bar Manager of World Service Restaurant where he built on all of his previous experience.
At the Bacardi Legacy cocktail competition last year, Alex Turner invited Sam to apply for the role of UK Brand Ambassador for Bombay Sapphire and the rest, as they say, is history...
Sam's Signature Cocktails
Awards, Accolades and Trophies
Diageo World Class - Gin category regional winner (had to step down due to a conflict of interest with his current role - hence there were only 15 and not 16 contestants at last year's final!!)
Winner of Nottingham Restaurant Awards best cocktail list 3 years in a row.
Winner of Nottingham Restaurant Awards best wine list 3 years in a row.
Finlandia Vodka Cup winner.
Theme best bar of the year for World Service Restaurant.
"I've won other cocktail competitions but I don't want to list them all as this article will get too long!!"
Claim To Fame
"I know you shouldn't mix drinking and driving but I'm a finalist in the current 'So You Want To Be An F1 Driver' competition"
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
A nice cold Estrella Damm is great at the end of an 18 hour bar shift. There's certainly a place for beer in cocktails; try a splash of Hoegaarden or Leffe on top of a Bacardi Daiquiri - sublime! Negro Modelo - on its own or as a Michelada (highball glass with ice, salted rim and juice of a whole lime - a shot of tequila is optional but should be Cazadores if added!). St Peters Golden Ale is always a winner for a more grown up affair.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Clean as you go - my motto - if you've got time to lean you've got time to clean. Consistency, consistency... and err - consistency. The guest is always right - even if you prefer a drink made differently if a guest rejects your suggestion make what they asked for. Remember a perfect martini is in the eye of the imbiber!
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
Arrogance - not being willing to make a drink how a guest has requested it. Sloppiness - mis-measuring and un-kept bar . Putting a product down without any justification or respect that it is just different.
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
Look at current trends, the clientele and the ability of the bar staff (including the layout of the bar). Ensure a balance between different products and tastes. Train, test and train again!
How did you get started?
I was a waiter/sommelier at a one Michelin starred hotel and was envious of the creativity allowed by the bar staff. I asked to give it a go and my wish was granted - and I've not looked back since!
How were you trained in bartending?
Self-taught - the best way!
Did you take any courses?
Distinction in Hotel & Catering Management. Does my RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) in Australia count?
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
Deconstruction and reconstruction of classics. People are still (quite rightly) very keen on the movement of Molecular Mixology. A trend I'm trying to promote currently is "Mash ups" - the TV show Glee is a guilty pleasure for more than just me so you know what I mean! Mash the Cosmopolitan and the Negroni to make a Cosmogroni. To blend 2 cocktails successfully is harder than people would guess - it's a real challenge of the grey matter and taste buds.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail?
Experimentation and not being afraid of making mistakes - but only when I learn from them.
What is your favourite cocktail to drink? To make?
To drink: Pisco Sour - it never ceases to amaze me how such a simple cocktail can taste so great To make: Bacardi Mojito Martini with a Mango Foam - awesome...
What are some of your favourite tools?
First and foremost it has to be the ISI 1L soda siphon - those who know me know why (PS they're not just for making foams!). IKA Rotary evaporator - my newest gadget. Water bath and vac pack machine. A jam jar with a perfectly fitting lid - it's amazing what you can shake cocktails in if you have to!!
What is your favourite mixology resource?
The Ferran Adria cookbook.
What does success mean for you?
Getting home after a night out without visiting the end of the night bus line first!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Head of new product development at Bacardi Brown-Forman!
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
Your hangover cure?
Your biggest career influencer?
First drink you ever tried?
The milk provided by my mum! O, if you mean alcoholic ... the milk provided by my mum ... just joking it was a fine French Burgundy.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Sambuca - Yukkkk.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Throw one hell of a party... ...then tell the missus it was only 8.5M!
Bar or cellar at home?
Yes - both!
Anything that I can't pronounce on tap!
Hungarian Tokaji - 1 Puttonyos.
Bombay Sapphire - and not just because I'm the UK Brand Ambassador - I do truly love it, its in the blood - literally!!
Seeing what Tony's doing at 69 Colebrooke Row.
Longrain, Aria or Tetsuya's in Sydney, Australia.
Magnetic Island. It's where I was "drawn" to my wife!
The Towering Inferno or The Commitments - depends on my mood.
Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy.
Chocolate and Cigarettes by Angus and Julia Stone.