Amit Sood - Mixologist of the Month
- Date of Birth: 15th May 1980
- Birth place: London
- Height: 5'11"
- Eye colour: Brown
- Nationality: British
"It started with an idea that I wanted to be a chef. So after my GCSE's I took the plunge at went to what is now Westminster Kingsway College in Victoria. It was a brave choice at a young age and I don't regret it. I have used my culinary background every day in my life as a bartender.
To coincide with my Diploma at college. In September 1996 started worked as a busser at T.G.I Fridays in Mill Hill(LONDON) I went to also be a food runner, door host, prep chef, waiter and after 8 months of persistence become a barback and bartender at TGI Friday's. It was a great front of House schooling whilst I was young and impressionable.
I left in 1999 and travelled for 16 months taking all my new skills with me. Upon my return to London I became a bartender at Navajo Joe in Covent Garden and eventually Bar Manager. I went on to work at Maxwells, SO.UK, Living Room(briefly) The Sanderson Hotel and XO.
Amongst all this there was lots of freelancing for many of the top Mobile Bar service companies and quite a few other bars! until I gave it all up to pursue a career in Education. I worked with The Training School for a couple of years before landing a role with Shaker Barschools in 2009. I am now the Head of Training and look after many area of our Business with a focus on Training and Consultancy."
Awards, Accolades and Trophies
1999 - TGI Fridays Bartender Challenge 6th place London Flair Heats
2001-2002 - Took part in several of the Road House flair competitions
2006 - Theme Magazine Bartender of the Year - London heats 5th place
Training hundreds of consumers and young bartenders at Shaker bar schools
Helping to open award winning Bar The Night Jar with Shaker UK
Claim to Fame
Working at the 2004 Jubilee Dinner for Her Majesty The Queen at the Ritz Hotel on a special cocktail bar organized by Lady Elizabeth Anson (her Cousin).
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
I love beer. I always have. I am a real sucker for some of the Aussie beers I used to drink from when lived there. Cooper, James Boags and Cascade would be some of favourites. I also love Tusker malt (a cheeky Kenyan tipple) I do however really enjoy good ales and stout too. Different brews for different moods!
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Get a good schooling. Come to Shaker and see me!(sorry shameless plug) no actually on a serious note. It's all about the customer(not just the drink) drinks are important but great service is where it is at. You need to learn the basics and master them. Speed and efficiency rank high on my list of priorities and learning about how to balance drinks and work with flavour. I think the best bartenders are always barbacks first and also have worked in a range of bars with different styles. Diversity breeds strength
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
Those who think they are beyond training! I am a Trainer and still crave to learn new things every day. Those who think it's all about the drink and not service. And final those who work with one hand.(YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE).
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
Understand their business and their customers. Seek inspiration from the Head Chef. Try to work on conceptual stuff as well as flavour to deliver an experience. I try to also lean back on to all my culinary background for help and guidance.
How did you get started?
Through sheer persistence, I loved the bar at TGI's. I used to finish my shift as a busser and then go up to the bar and ask lots of questions. I then would get paid extra to help them break down! I took a menu home and started to learn all the drinks by reciting the menu! (sad but true)
How were you trained in bartending?
Through working at TGI Fridays and being taught by some very talented guys who I am still friends with to this day. The training was second to none back then. I can't knock it one bit. Its dated now and in today's eyes but in 1996-1998 it ruled. I developed lots at Navajo Joe and also at the Sanderson. I have learnt loads at Shaker too.
Did you take any courses?
WSET level 2 in spirits in 2004.
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
There are so many it never ceases to amaze me. Personally I want to see a trend for great service and great tipping!
What's your process for creating a new cocktail?
I do most of my creative work in my head. I always have. I love food and flavour and just pair things by thinking about flavour components and thinking about harmonies. Its very different to what I teach though. I am lucky I guess. It come naturally to me.
What is your favourite cocktail To make?
At the moment I love drinking Daiquiri's and Negronis.
What are some of your favourite tools?
Any free ones. I love 18oz metal boston tins and mini angled oxo measures.
What is your favourite mixology resource?
Probably my good friend, ex Shaker trainer and now Bols Brand Ambassador, John Clay.
What does success mean for you?
Seeing all my students flourish as bartenders.
What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market?
I have seen the disco era in force and seen it go all out bonkers with the ageing of cocktails. My favourite one at the moment and one I use is flash infusing spirits using Nitrous Gas. Its easy and affects flavour really well.
What goes into creating a cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
You need to know and respect your ingredients. Understand balance - Sweet vs sour and strong vs weak think about bitterness and dryness, Aroma is key to give the drink an extra boost. Be thoughtful with garnishes.
What is your favourite drink to make?
Blended pina coladas, I really miss making them the old Fridays way.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully at the global helm of training at Shaker. I have found what I like in this business and it is all about education for me.
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
Your hangover cure?
Tea + water + fry up + more sleep = no more hangover.
Your biggest career influencer?
There are many but here 2 - Chris Spencer(ex bar development manager at Navajo Joe and Ivan Whitley ex GM at Navajo Joe.
First drink you ever tried?
Uncle Vanya - Vodka, creme de mure and sweet and sour. A TGI bartender classic.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Bad Mixto tequila and B52's.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
That's a tough one, go to Australia with my wife to see my mates and have a few of my favourite beers
Bar or cellar at home?
Don't have one as such. I drink them all a lot! I drink Scotch at home a lot. I like some thing complex with lots of layers of flavour.
Daiquiri or Negroni.
Free ones normally. I have many but tend to try to stay away from them these days.
I tend to try new ones all the time. Its more fun that way.
Transfomers 1 ,2 or 3.
Oasis - Masterplan.
Placebo or Oasis.