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Tom Proud - Mixologist Of The Month

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Bio

  • Date of Birth: St Georges Day a million years ago. Approx.
  • Height: 6'2"
  • Birthplace: London town innit
  • Eye colour: Bloodshot
  • Nationality: British

"Most adults in Newcastle do a double take when they see me, as there’s a spark of recognition due to the fact that I’ve probably served them somewhere over the years... I’ve worked in all manner of venues, from high-end cocktail bars to restaurants to local pubs, and everything in-between. I almost always don’t remember their names, but will remember what they drank.

During the original lockdown I posted a cocktail a day until hospitality venues were allowed to open again - 101 days in all. Now I’m on the peripherals of the industry, with my own business supplying customers with cocktails to drink at home - Proud to Drink."

Signature Cocktails

Q & A

What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
Specifically as a mixologist I think the scope of beers, flavour profiles, textures, strengths, depths of flavour etc. I remember the first time I tried anything like a beer cocktail which was a michelada in Mexico City when I was there 20 years ago (Mexican beer, lime, salted rim and hot sauce) and I was in love!

If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Don’t try to run before you can walk, yes it’s good to aspire for promotion to management, but if you’re there too early your inexperience will soon be found out. Look, listen and learn from those around you, even if you don’t get along. And always make a note of your recipes.

Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
Ignoring customers is my number 1 pet hate. Can’t stand it. Oh, and messy bartenders.

As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
Know your client and know their clientele. The drinks menu should be representative of their tastes. Even if you’re not a fan of, say, sweet cocktails, or stirred down and brown, you may need to create them to suit the demographic.

How did you get started?
Fell into it, as most people used to do.

How were you trained in bartending?
Learning on the job. The best school.

Did you take any courses?
No. Not until the past few years when I have gained some WSET qualifications.

What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
New products. I can’t believe just how many new products there are for the talented bartender to use. Also, some are seeking out more obscure products for their USP.

What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
I look at what flavour profiles I have, work on them like a chef would, think of what flavours would complement those etc.

What is your favourite cocktail To make?
Bloody Mary. I love drinking them too obvs!

What are some of your favourite tools?
Tin on Tin shaker. Can’t believe how many years I went using a classic Boston shaker, breaking numerous glass sections etc., before I discovered Tin on Tin shakers in London. Gary Regan’s ridiculous Negroni stirring finger too. Oh, and the extending bar-spoon that Monkey Shoulder came up with a few years ago, which was genius.

What is your favourite mixology resource?
Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit. It’s brilliant for ideas for chefs and bartenders alike.

What does success mean for you?
I’ll tell you when I find some.

What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market?
Obviously drink at home cocktails. The past 18 months has forced a lot of bars to diversify and realise income somehow, and one of those things has been RTD cocktails.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Don’t know where I’ll be next year, let alone in 5! Brand Owner would be good though.

If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
Possibly arts / photography, as that’s what I was studying when I started behind bars.

Your biggest career influencer?
There’s a few, but a lot of them have influenced me on how NOT to behave / work! (I’ll not name name’s so don’t even ask!) You know who you are

First drink you ever tried?
First mixed drink? I want to say something cool like a Negroni or something, but realistically it was probably something horrendous like a power shandy (Smirnoff Ice and Lager) in my student years haha. First non-mixed drink was beer. A family friend Paul gave me a taste when I was probably around 12 and it was horrible! Not sure when that changed...

We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
I did with a well known brand of coconut “rum” when i was a teen. Put me off for years!

Your hangover cure?
Top up the levels.

£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
New home. Travel with my kids. Then maybe a bar - would employ a manager so I don’t have to be there 24/7, mostly because I’m getting on a bit...

Bar or cellar at home?

Bar. Favourite beer?**
Anything by Alpha Delta.

Wine?
Old Vine Zinfandel. There was a great one by Gnarly Head we used to stock. Or a Barolo.

Spirit?
Whisk(e)y or Gin.

Cocktail?
Negroni / Boulevardier.

Fav Bar?
My house.

Restaurant?
Lately? Meat:Stack - it’s a burger joint in Newcastle, and it’s a treat... Don’t get me wrong, I like fancy stuff too... just haven’t been to them lately

World location?
London. It’s an amazing city - although I am glad I don’t live there.

Fav film?
Star Wars.

Book?
Anything by Stephen King.

Album?
The Bends by Radiohead.

Singer/band?
Singers - Otis Redding / Bob Marley / Thom Yorke. Bands - RATM / RHCP / Specials / Radiohead.

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