Mixologist Of The Month - Isaac Jones
- Date of Birth: 6th September
- Height: 6' on a good day
- Birthplace: Chester
- Eye colour: Green
- Nationality: British
"When I was about nineteen my mum told me to get a job in a bar because she thought I’d enjoy it, and I did! I got a job in a pretty rough pub and quickly decided the I wanted to learn more about drinks, so I moved to Manchester and did an EBS course.
After the course I started work at TGI’s in the city centre. Working there taught me so much about efficiency and work ethic but mainly about how to keep your cool when you’re absolutely slammed.
Two years and thousands of bubble-gum daiquiris later I decided to make the move to Tariff & Dale and learn more about classic cocktails. Here I started to use more sophisticated techniques and began entering competitions. I was lucky enough to get promoted to bar manager and stayed for a further two years.
As my passion for bartending continued to grow, I once again decided to make a move in order to learn. This time I found myself in a brand-new team opening a venue called Project Halcyon. This however was short-lived as the first covid wave was on its way.
Shortly after July fourth when everything reopened again, I was approached by a friend who offered me a position helping him to open a new bar called Mecanica where I still work to this day."
Your claim to fame?
I think the closest I’ve ever come to a claim to fame experience is when I served the UK Grime artist Bugzy Malone. Apart from that I was on Naked attraction for a split second, haha I don’t suppose that counts.
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
I’m a simple man, Guinness in the winter, Schofferhofer in the summer, lager all the time.
I’m really not a fan of all these ‘artisan’ craft beers we’re seeing at the moment, to be honest the more abbreviations the more likely I am to stay away from it.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Do the research, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, and focus on your own goals! Creating drinks and being hospitable should be fun!
Clean as you go, make sure everything has a place, prepare, and think about what drinks you are making before you start making them. Cleanliness and working order are a key trait of a good bartender.
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
When they use the most obscure ingredients possible thinking it’ll make the best drink in the world. That triple-distilled, Himalayan-spiced martini isn’t going to be any good if it’s not balanced.
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
I like to approach a menu from a marketing standpoint:
Who is the target audience?
What do people in the area like to drink?
What is the USP of the menu/venue?
Is it on brand?
Should the menu be gimmicky or clean cut?
How does it look and feel?
Only when I have researched and planned with my team will I start looking at the content.
How did you get started?
I was pulling pints in a rough pub back home, I decided to move to Manchester to learn more and that’s when my passion for making drinks really started.
How were you trained in bartending?
I am really lucky to have had some great bartenders train me throughout my career. Each one taught me something new and different which has helped me perfect my skills.
Did you take any courses?
EBS Manchester when I first moved to the city.
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
Drinks are getting lighter, simpler, and lower in abv, they are becoming more about what flavour you can obtain by using an ingredient to its full potential.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
I’m a firm believer that you can gather inspiration from anywhere, be it a dish at a restaurant that makes you think about presentation or flavour combinations, to the sights and smells of a memorable moment that your want to recreate in a glass.
I would always try to start with this inspiration or flavour goal and go from there.
What is your favourite cocktail to make?
It has to be Espresso Martinis. I made so many during my time at Tariff & Dale that I came to love the process and want to perfect the cocktail to the tiniest detail like keeping the strainer low and the hawthorn high to aerate the drink and create a nice silky-smooth head.
What are some of your favourite tools?
Vacuum packer, circulating water bath, Victorinox bar knife.
What is your favourite mixology resource?
The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit.
This book has helped me so much over the years, you can jump into any random page and find inspiration in minutes! It’s also great for helping to perfect flavour and create balanced, well-rounded drinks. I would definitely recommend getting yourself a copy.
What does success mean for you?
To be able earn a living doing the thing that you love.
What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market?
RTDs, bottled cocktails, takeaway cocktails. With bars and restaurants being open one day and closed the next everything has been made easier and adapted for consumption within your own home.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully still working with my current employer to open cool new venues across the country.
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
I probably would’ve reverted back to my College qualification in fashion retail and would be working for some fashion e-commerce brand.
Your biggest career influencer?
My partner has accomplished so much in her career! It makes me proud, drives me to do more, and be better.
First drink you ever tried?
When I was a kid, my dad used to take me to the pub to watch the footy and he always used to let me have the top of his beer.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Unpopular opinion: Fernet Branca. I just don’t get it, Jager is much better.
Your hangover cure?
First of all, a good lie-in followed by all the beige food and a chocolate milkshake. I wouldn’t call it a cure though, more of a coping mechanism.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Massive online shopping spree for booze, clothes, tech, furniture, a new house…. Anything I’ve ever wanted I would buy and sit at the door waiting for the post to arrive.
Bar or cellar at home?
Either works for me, that sounds like a decision for my girlfriend.
El Infernillo Pinot Noir.
Boulevardier or Espresso Martini. Depends on the mood.
El Caballo Loco in Valencia. Unassuming, inviting, really good classics, and the staff were hilarious.
Hispi in West Didsbury.
Chester, there’s no place like home.
The original LOTR trilogy. That counts as one, right?
The Curious Bartender Vol. 1 by Tristan Stevenson.
Big Talk Vol. 1 by Ocean Wisdom.
Bring Me the Horizon. I’m an emo kid at heart.