Mike Aikman - Mixologist of the Month
- Date of Birth: 22nd August 1978
- Birth place: Dunfermline, Fife (That's in Scotland!)
- Height: 6'2"
- Eye colour: Brown
- Nationality: Scottish
"Originally a Software Engineer to trade, I started working in bars whilst travelling in Australia in 2001.
I fell in love with the industry & came back to Edinburgh where I worked in various bars in town before opening Bramble with Jason Scott in 2006.
We opened our new bar, The Last Word in May this year."
Awards, Accolades and Trophies
None personally but Bramble has won quite a few awards over the years.
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
As a bartender I love beer. Show me a bartender who doesn't !! I like super-hoppy stuff especially. The guys at Kernel are doing great things (shame its so hard to get !!!). Up here, Knops Beers & Williams Brothers are pushing boundaries & making some really interesting products.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Service is key, not your cheese-infused gomme or your Japanese hard-shake.
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
See above. The average punter doesn't care about the finer details of their drink, as long as : a) they were served with a smile b) it tastes good
How did you get started?
My best mate, Stuart McCluskey (who now owns the Bon Vivant in Edinburgh) gave me a job collecting glasses in a shitty Irish bar in Sydney. It all started from there...
How were you trained in bartending?
RSA Certificate in Sydney, a lot of on the job training, reading books, the internet & going to as many tastings & training sessions as possible.
Did you take any courses?
See above, some food hygiene courses & of course my licensee certificate. What are some trends you're seeing in the market? It seems to change on a weekly basis at the moment!
What's your process for creating a new cocktail?
Nose & taste the base spirit, try to find something that you can work with within it, a smell, a flavor. Experiment with different ways of bringing out that aspect of the spirit, whether it is to match a flavor or contrast it.
What is your favourite cocktail to drink? To make?
If pushed, my favourite classic cocktail would be a Manhattan
What are some of your favorite tools?
A basic shaker, strainer & a measure & I am good.
What is your favourite mixology resource?
David Embury - Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. The best book on 'mixology' in my eyes.
What does success mean for you?
Being happy in your work
What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market?
Bottled cocktails & carbonated cocktails.
What goes into creating a cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
Inspiration comes from everywhere. At the moment I am enjoying my herb garden so getting inspiration from there.
What is your favourite drink to make?
Ramos Gin Fizz. Multiples of them in fact.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully we will have opened another couple of bars, my son will be 6 by then. No, I can't think that far ahead, sorry!
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
Honestly, I dread to think.
Your hangover cure?
Plenty of sleep & water prevents the worst hangovers. Failing that, a bacon roll & a can of Irn Bru. If even that doesn't work an espresso & a small beer.
Your biggest career influencer?
Alex Turner made a big impression on me when I first started out bartending.
First drink you ever tried?
My dad's homebrew. He made wine & beer. The wine was TERRIBLE !!!
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
Cariel Vanilla Vodka. Made me very ill years ago.
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Move somewhere hot.
Bar or cellar at home?
A hoppy American IPA (like Goose Island for example)
Wine? Add some wormwood, some other herbs & spices & I think we are onto something here !!!
Spirit? Scotch Whisky or gin.
Whichever bar in New York that Micky McIlroy is working at!
The 3 best meals of my life are (in no particular order) are : Castle Terrace in Edinburgh, The Fat Duck, Tailor (in NYC).
Fav film? Definitely something funny, preferably childish. I watched 21 Jumpstreet last night, that fits the bill pretty well.
Too many to choose from but I mostly prefer crime fiction (e.g. Rebus) & autobiographies (recent favourite was John McEnroe - 'Serious').
What ? Ever ? That's like trying to pick a favourite child surely !?!? At the moment, it is Oddisee - People Hear What They See.
As above but my favourite at the moment is a Brooklyn band called Friends. I saw them at a music festival recently & (lead singer) Samantha Urbani is rather captivating, to say the least.