Sam Kershaw - Mixologist of the Month
- Date of Birth: 2nd December
- Birth place: Bristol
- Height: 6'2"
- Eye colour: Green
- Nationality: English
I fell into the club bartending scene at Opal Lounge Edinburgh in 2003 and just felt so great. I met a load of great guys and girls, the bar was packed every night, it was a great place to cut my teeth and learn the basics. I went to Tonic under Andy Gemmell the following year and started to perform in comps etc, winning Theme Scottish Bartender in 2005 and 2007. Through working here was where I met most people, as it was the industry hangout. A stint at Harvey Nichols followed before opening up Tigerlily with my good friend Jamie MacDonald and an all star team.
18 months later I left, one of the only originals left and hotfooted it to NYC where I landed gigs at East Side Co and Death and Co. I ventured back to Tonic, then NYC again working for Millers Gin. Back to Edinburgh after to Ricks with Mal Spence, tandeming as Brand Ambassador for Elements Eight Rums. Home called next to work for the Bacardi Training Team and drive Bristol forward a touch from behind the stick at Hyde & Co.
Awards, Accolades and Trophies
Theme Bartender Scotland 2005 and 2007
National Finalist, IPB Bartender of the Year 2004
Scotland Winner Hendricks Unusual Challenge 2004
National 2nd Place, Finlandia Vodka Cup 2005.
Best Drink, Martin Millers Competition, 2006.
National 2nd Place, JD No7 Cocktail Comp 2007.
Global 3rd Place, Appleton Bartender Challenge 2009.
And a few more here and there...
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
Can't beat a crisp beer anytime really, and certain brews are good as cocktail lengtheners. Of choice, Brooklyn Lager, Goose Island Honkers, also local beers and ciders (Burrow Hill from Martock are awesome).
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Work at top gear, head up, clean as you go, use both hands, smile and be humble.
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
The usual really. Messiness and laziness I cannot stand. Lack of attention to customers.
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
A balancing act between the style and consumers of the restaurant and staff skill sets. Very challenging but ultimately rewarding.
How did you get started?
I was a hotel Banqueting Manager and got hacked off where I was, and just fell into the club bartending thing.
How were you trained in bartending?
In Opal Lounge and Tonic in Edinburgh, that's where I got the bug and started self learning and reading.
Did you take any courses?
No, but every day is a learning experience in some way. If not, its been a bad day.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail?
Base spirit, style of drink, name, modifiers and bitters.
What is your favourite cocktail to drink? To make?
Same as to drink. Gin martini. Plymouth, wet with Lillet Blanc, couple dashes Regans orange, stirred, lemon zest.
What are some of your favorite tools?
Regular spoons, favourite mixing glasses and stuff. My hands are most useful really. Not big on expensive bar tools essentially do the same job.
What is your favourite mixology resource?
A load of books and my peers.
What does success mean for you?
If I had it _ Sundays off might be nice. Read the papers, watch the football, drink Guinness.
What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market?
In Bristol - customers will enjoy a special experience like at Hyde & Co. Gin is massive, tequila on the rise but more so, experimentation with unfamiliar ingredients. Oh, and Gin Face.
What goes into creating a cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
What you are trying to achieve with the drink - dry aperitif, sour, fizz etc different spirits bring different flavours and potential. And I was inspired by Glory! Cocktail comps, boozing, money and girls. Still aiming for it too!
What is your favourite drink to make?
Anything a customer requests. Though maybe not a Long Island Iced Tea.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Behind the stick maybe, a joint venture with a mate, or enjoying the trappings of this success you speak of.
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
I would like to think something creative, a chef or designer.
Your hangover cure?
Daiquiri and a cigarette.
Your biggest career influencer?
Theres lots. To be fair though. Jimmy Bradey, Jamie Mac, Andy Gemmell, Craig Harper. And anyone doing things differently.
First drink you ever tried?
Bottle of natch down the park as a teenager.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Try not to really, to keep an open mind on all things. Really a follower of bartenders. A decent keep can make a good drink wherever he or she may be.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Squander it probably. George Best style.
Bar or cellar at home?
Most things Red, though not really a connoisseur.
Gin. Vermouth. Mainly together.
Martini, Negroni, Daiquiri.
Of all time, tough to call. Death and Co, Clover Club, Hyde & Co, Hix, the Player of old, Manos. Bars for occasions really.
Martin Wishart Edinburgh takes a bit of beating.
New York or Bristol or Edinburgh really.
Thomas Crown Affair or Grosse Pointe Blank.
White Heat by Marco Pierre White, Kitchen Confidential, LA Confidential.
Whats the Story (Morning Glory).
Oasis. I'm a 90's guy.