John Ennis - Mixologist of the Month
- Date of Birth: 21st November 1981
- Birth place: Liverpool
- Height: 5'11"
- Eye colour: Brown
- Nationality: British
"My career started out in an Edwards 12 years ago and my first drink was a pint of Grolsch. This lasted about 5 months until I was lured away to work at revolution vodka bar which was across the way. Soon I was taught the wonders of the Sea Breeze and the white Russian. I suppose that was the real start because from then I couldn't learn enough about drink and cocktails. Later that year, Living Ventures opened up shop with the Living Room Liverpool and it was there I was taught the value of service. I also got some good base skills from some very well seasoned bartenders that included Lee Lynch, Ben Darracot, Neil Lowery and Dave White.
My bartending career took a dip for awhile after the Living Room as Liverpool lacked cocktail culture and therefore most bars were still centering their efforts on price and not quality. When I went to university in Leeds years later, I took a job at TGI Fridays and became a trainer. It was probably here, with having no mentor, I learnt the importance of carrying on training on my own. So after reading 'The Joy of Mixology', I felt inspired to learn more and I guess that was the major turning point.
2 years Later, I had a rum collection of around 200 bottles and had just bagged my first consultancy job - The Gallery Restaurant. Two years after that I opened Santa Chupitos with my business partner Matthew Farrell and I guess that brings us right up to date. Apart from that, I am currently involved with 3 new projects set to open in the next 2 months and I have acquired another partner, Nick Thomas."
Claim To Fame
'Its a Reetmatch' champion... On my winning I believe my time of 2 minutes 35 was the fastest in the world at the time. Since then I got it down to 2:15.
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
I enjoy a nice pacifico now and then but I am a spirits man first and foremost.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Have a sense of urgency and every shit day at work is one less of your dues... Also enter as many comps as poss, they are good forums for learning and sharing ideas..
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders - care to share?
People who don't put things back where they belong. Everything should have a home behind the bar. Bartenders who think you are an arsehole for ordering an Old Fashioned or any other drink they cant be bothered making. "You work behind a bar, deal with it!"
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
Its all about sticking to the concept. If the concept is weak then it will fail however if good, although it may take time, it will be worth it.
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
Mezcal... What happens in NYC doesn't always stay in NYC and Mezcal is on most back bars over and certainly drank by most bartenders..
What's your process for creating a new cocktail?
Concept, concept and some more concept. I rarely create drinks these days that aren't apart of a bigger picture. The concept for Santa Chupitos is entry level rum and tequila. This means switching drinkers over to these categories by slowly easing them in. Eventually you'll have them drinking neat back bar delights but it may take a year or 2.
What is your favourite cocktail to drink? To make?
I enjoy a Tequila Old Fashioned, an El Diablo, Dark and Stormy, El Presidente, Aperol Spritz and a Negroni. I enjoy making any drink without Vodka in it... hahahahahah!
What are some of your favourite tools?
Using old coke cans to make block ice and I love a good bar spoon....
What is your favourite mixology resource?
Cocktail DB or the Cocktail Chronicles... London (mainly Tony C)
What does success mean for you?
Success to me is about being happy with what you are doing. I currently enjoy my life and wouldn't swap it for anything. I have a great bar team and fantastic partners. However I am always striving for more, so success has no limits. The day it does will be the day you fail...
What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market?
Mezcal, Tequila, Bacardi Superior (Carta Blanca) and Chairmans Reserve.... Not making Cosmos, French Martinis or Mojitos.
What goes into creating a cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
First you yourself must enjoy the drink you are making. If there is no passion it will show. So passion is what inspired me in the first place.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
London, Paris and NYC.
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
My degree was in fine art. I have always been a creative person in one way or another. However I did want to be a barrister when I was 15.
Your hangover cure?
If you can stomach it, a shot of tequila or just drink as much water as you can throughout the night. Prevention is better than cure.
Your biggest career influencer?
Stopped using the word customer and replaced it with guest... The first time I tasted Mount Gaye when I was 18...
First drink you ever tried?
Bacardi Carta Blanca..... Not even messing.....
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Vodka, vodka and vodka... Someone made me a five spice old fashioned once. Awful! I try to avoid molecular done for mass, it doesn't work so don't bother...
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Buy or build a small hotel by the sea somewhere warm, doing fishing trips and having Negringos with dinner... Also would need to be not too far from the golf course.....
Bar or cellar at home?
Not the one me, Morgan and Alex had in Dijon last week. No wonder the French invented Picon Beer.
With Dinner maybe, I am more of an aperitif man then water with my meal. Finished of with a nice reposado if I've eaten too much at dinner.
There is a fine line between rum and tequila for me... it's tough to say.