Mixologist Of The Month - Samantha Cox
- Date of Birth: 14th September
- Height: I’m a pretty tall human - I can reach the top shelf
- Birthplace: Worcester (like the sauce)
- Eye colour: Blue blue blue
- Nationality: British
"Hey hey! I’m Sammie and I’ve been a bartender now for a year and a half, still new to the game but love it! I stepped onto the bar not even knowing what a jigger was and now I’m head bartender at Arcane in Manchester. Bartending is something I stepped into thinking it was going to be temporary, but I fell in love with it and now I am building a career in it. "
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
Absolutely love the stuff. Sometimes it’s just what you need. I’m not someone that usually explores new beers, if it’s there then for sure I will give it a go, but I usually stick to stuff I know.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Always ask questions and try to learn a bit more. Every person you meet in the industry has something to offer. Ultimately, have fun with it, if you have any ideas or things you want to try, do the research and give it a go! There are always things to play around with flavour wise or even techniques - Always something new to learn. Oh, and say yes to every opportunity!!
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
When you aren’t as clued-up or don’t know something, the worst thing another bartender can do is laugh or put you down for not knowing. I think it’s great for others to share advise or tips because that way you learn. Everyone has to start somewhere!
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
I haven’t worked directly with a restaurant to create a drinks menu but even when I create drinks I always look into flavour pairings, seeing what works well together.
How were you trained in bartending?
I have always worked on independent bars, so I have learnt through the people I have worked with. I learnt a lot from working at Arcane, I have been lucky to work with some amazing people who I can freely share ideas with and learn from. Other than that, anything I want to know, I take it upon myself to learn about.
Did you take any courses?
I’ve taken my WSET level 1 in spirits and I am currently doing my Level 2 in Wine and in Spirits.
What are some trends you’re seeing in the market?
Rum is becoming increasingly popular. Seeing more brands pop up and some new flavours. At the moment there are a lot of places doing take away cocktails/ bottled cocktails which is great to see how bars are overcoming the challenging year we’ve all had. I think more people are wanting to make cocktails at home so delivery cocktail kits too.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
With any new drink I always try to grasp the idea of what the end goal is first, what I am trying to achieve, whether that be to make something that suits seasonal needs or a specific event etc, but I like to have a strong idea before I start creating. I start by researching the brands I might be using or certain flavours that come to mind, looking at flavour pairings and what might work. Once I have a strong idea of what I am going to do, I go and trial it out and make adjustments.
What is your favourite cocktail To make?
I love making a Negroni but I think that’s because it’s one of my favourite cocktails. Always love to make a Daiquiri – quick and delicious! Actually was the first cocktail I ever made. Weirdly I enjoy making a Bloody Mary too, I like trying to make it look a bit extra and making it spicier the better.
What are some of your favourite tools?
Bar spoon?! Trying to learn how to stir two at a time – almost got it down smoothly but not quite there yet.
What is your favourite mixology resource?
Books and people... for research and opinions.
What does success mean for you?
Being happy! I’ve never been really driven by money (although does help) but honestly doing something I love in a place that makes me happy is the goal. As long as I can live comfortably to get by and have fun doing so, what more could you want.
What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market?
A lot of venues are doing all vegan cocktail menu’s, starting to adopt the idea of being more sustainable and meeting new trends. Also, no garnishes or at least making them edible to eliminate unnecessary waste.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I have a little plan in my head of things I would like to have achieved in the next five years, but I honestly am not sure about where I will be or what I will be doing just yet. Still in the bar industry but who knows what’s around that corner!
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
Somewhere on a beach… drink in hand causing chaos somewhere I’d imagine.
Your biggest career influencer?
I have met some fabulousss ladies of the industry that I know have worked their way up from bartender to management or taken their career further through working for brands. Before I met these people, I didn’t know there was much of a career in the industry but it’s made me strive to build something for myself and work my way up.
First drink you ever tried?
Oooo probably a blue WKD back in the days where house parties were a thing and you’d have 4 WKD’s and be trollied.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
I always thought Vodka was the issue but looking back I’m pretty sure I’m the issue. My problem is mixing… it’ll start off ‘going for one’ and before you know it I’ve had 4 pints, a bottle of wine and countless shots of brown… I say this like it doesn’t happen often. Older and non the wiser.
Your hangover cure?
A day in bed with a take-away. Or if I have to be up and about, another pint.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Get on a plane to Australia and travel my way back to the UK – try my best to see everywhere!
Bar or cellar at home?
Bar – If I could customise a kitchen to include a bar and space for all the equipment that would be the dream! A big ol Kitchen with a big ol Bar in it. I’ve always liked the idea of using bar spoons for actual spoons. I sometimes do if I can’t find one to make a brew.
Stella, San Miguel, Budweiser, Moretti… not too fussy!
Yes. Love it. All of them. Really into drinking red at the moment, but generally if it’s cheap, fruity and fairly sweet it’s a winner for me!
Rum, Tequila, Bourbon. They are my go-to’s but will drink anything.
Negroni and Pina colada.
Oh that’s a hard one… Probably Crazy Pedros as I’m there way too often but I have a few favourite places.
I’m a bit of a foodie so could go on for a while but if I had to choose I’d say CBRB – best ramen ever! I tried Hawksmoor for the first time last year and it was incredible, would definitely like to go again. One of my favourites I’ve ever been to was one in Nottingham where I went to uni, It’s called George’s Great British Kitchen and its amazing! There is one in Liverpool which is new news to me, so I will have to give that a go.
Bali – I was there for 3 weeks and it was the happiest time of my life. Everyone was super friendly and its like no cares in the world. Plus its beautiful and has turtles.
Most recent thing I’ve read is Lily Allen’s autobiography which was great, she’s a queen.
Ben Howard – Every Kingdom. It’s such a beautiful album, used to listen to it a lot.
Foals. Tom Grennan – also love his whole album.