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Will Ford - Mixologist Of The Month

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Author: Andy
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Bio

"I started bartending when I was travelling, I spent a lot of time doing ski seasons and fell into bartending work as the hours worked and I enjoyed it. I ended working in bars and restaurants as I travelled around and started taking it more seriously and have been lucky enough to work in some amazing venues. Last year I went into partnership with my friend Cam and we opened a cocktail bar in Edinburgh called The Wildcat. I feel like anyone who has ever worked in the industry has thought about opening their own venue at some point, so to realise that goal and for it to be successful is pretty cool."

Signature Cocktails

Q & A

What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
It’s probably the most important beverage in the world... It's been amazing to see how it has changed in the last 10 years. I love that you can drink local beer almost anywhere you travel these days, that’s how it should be. I hope craft beer continues to grow and show up in more venues.

If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Less is more, taste your drinks, go bartend in another bar, city, country, everyone does it differently and there is no right way.

Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
I’m not going to bag anyone out, I have respect for a lot of styles of bartending as long as people are getting the classics dialled before they start messing around with all the overcomplicated stuff.

As a mixologist, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
For me it's just finding drinks that work for a venue. Looking at products that you are excited about and trying to showcase them with flavours that fit the menu, venue, season etc. If you can tie drinks in with a food menu that’s always really fun, passing ingredients back and forth between a kitchen and a bar is a great way to bring a restaurant’s menus together.

How did you get started?
Like most, I fell into it. I covered a shift for a flatmate in New Zealand, it was an ice bar and I had the most fun I had ever had at work. I found my way to a real cocktail bar and loved it. That was 11 years ago and I still have fun at work.

How were you trained in bartending?
Watched and learnt. Moving bars and countries helped me massively, I have worked with some amazing people, I feel like you take something from everyone you work with, not just bartenders but everyone involved in hospitality.

Did you take any courses?
WSET

What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
I think the cocktail knowledge of the average guests is improving greatly, people are interested, and looking for quality drinks. I think the lockdown stoked an appreciation for drinks people can't make at home.

What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
For me it's normally about showcasing a spirit or product I really like, if I can add something to it or mix it with other products that makes them taste better than they do individually that’s the ideal. Keeping it simple is then the goal, if an ingredient or garnish doesn’t add to the drink then it shouldn't be in/on there.

What is your favourite cocktail to make?
Changes all the time, anything in a Nick and Nora with a twist, I like the aesthetics.

What are some of your favourite tools?
Bommy Knocker.

What is your favourite mixology resource?
Other Bartenders, chefs always have great tips for flavours and getting the most out of ingredients. It never hurts to read a book.

What does success mean for you?
Being excited to go into work every day and being proud of the product we offer. Obviously as a bar owner there are targets and things that need to be happening, but that feels less important than the guest experience and the overall quality of the bar.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
We have ambitions as a business, we want to grow and hopefully open another venue.

If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
Who knows, something to do with snow sports I imagine.

Your biggest career influencer?
Shane McConkey.

First drink you ever tried?
Cocktail? Not sure probably something sugary and gross way back when, but I got bang into negronis when I started, still am.

We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Vodka is a waste of time for me.

Your hangover cure?
Lots of coffee, take the dog for a walk.

£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
I need a new bike.

Bar or cellar at home?
I have some whisky and a few bottles of wine but that’s about it.

Favourite beer?
Cold, local one. Anything from Brassneck in Vancouver.

Wine?
Small producers, minimal intervention, unusual regions, anything I haven't had before.

Spirit?
Mezcal right now.

Cocktail?
Beer and a Whisky.

Fav Bar?
I loved Little Red Door.

Restaurant?
LeftField.

World location?
British Columbia.

Fav film?
I watched JoJo Rabbit last night, excellent.

Book?
Damned - Chuck Palahniuk.

Album?
Our Days Mind the Tyme by the Dolly Rocker Movement right now.

Singer/band?
PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS.

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