Jay Rivera - Mixologist Of The Month
- Date of Birth: September 1985
- Height: 5'10"
- Birthplace: West London
- Eye colour: Brown
- Nationality: British
Tanduay Rum UK Brand Ambassador, Jay Rivera is a highly skilled and respected drinks professional in the UK bar scene. Born and raised in the UK but with a deep connection to the Philippines through his family, Jay grey up enjoying the Filipino culture which developed to a greater understanding of local flavours and ingredients. His innovative range of cocktails takes the drinker on a journey of tropical and authentic tastes from the Philippines.
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer?
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Don't start something and not finish it. If you start it, finish it. If you're going to do it, do it to try and be the best. Not to be better than other people. Be the best for you. Stay level headed, treat everyone with respect and don't be a dick.
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
Bartenders with egos.
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
There's a lot of things you have to consider. Theme, feel, location, the guest, the feel of the place, how experienced the staff are, the offering and a balanced menu of course.
How did you get started?
After college I wanted to take a break and go travelling before studying architecture in university. My first job was at a weatherspoons and bar backing at Trader Vics then Gaucho. Went travelling for a couple of years and worked in Sydney. Came back to London and got straight back into bartending. Never went to uni and the rest is history.
How were you trained in bartending?
Dawid Steenkamp. My bar manager in Barbecoa, who is an absolute G. Managed a beautiful beast of a bar which specialised in over 200 whiskies including a premium and rare collection. He always made time to teach us about standards, steps of service, history of drinks, spirits, stock, GP's etc. Standards I carry with me till this day. Not forgetting the incredible team he built who are still very good friends with and also live with. Dawid laid the foundation for me and many others who taught me there was more to bartending than just delicious drinks.
Did you take any courses?
No but I'm constantly learning from others.
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
Hard Seltzers and cocktails in cans.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
Normally it's something that inspires me, whether that be a picture, a memory, a dish, an ingredient and how it makes me feel and trying to replicate that on a blank canvas. A lot of trial and error but usually work around the spirit first or even blending other spirits together which is a good start.
What is your favourite cocktail to make?
My favourite drink to make is usually when someone tells me what they like, how they feel and wants me to make them something off menu which puts me on the spot. Pretty rewarding when you get it right.
What are some of your favourite tools?
Jigger & bar spoon.
What is your favourite mixology resource?
Punch by David Wondrich.
What does success mean for you?
I'll let you know when I get there but I'm currently enjoying the journey.
What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market?
A lot of clean high ball serves and ferments. Great when they are done right.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully still loving what I do and having my own bar.
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
A chef, I love cooking and playing with different ingredients.
First drink you ever tried?
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Sambuca and Wray & Nephew.
Your hangover cure?
Big bowl of Pho.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Take my friends and family on a big holiday and buy a house.
Bar or cellar at home?
Bordeaux (right bank) or Tuscan wines.
Depends on the mood. Everything; from whisky, rum, gin, mezcal, aquavit etc.
Tanduay Silver Daiquiri.
Too many to mention but you can normally catch me at Found or Home bar.
Nothing beats mum's Filipino cooking.
White Men can't jump.
I normally read bar books. One I like going back to is Imbibe by Dawid Wondrich.
Illmatic - Nas.