Mixologist of the Month - Esther Medina
- Date of Birth: 2nd December 1976
- Birth place: Cadiz, Spain
- Height: 1m 60cm
- Eye colour: Brown
- Nationality: Spanish
Esther Medina Cuesta is one of the most influential people in the drinks business. Her varied approach to making classically based drinks using a huge range of ingredients has been widely noted as not just experimental, but also as ground breaking by many in the drinks industry. As a life-long teacher (a skill she has discovered you never lose!), she found herself working at Bar Madrid when she moved to London.
Realising the potential for career bartending as a serious profession, she started studying both the arts and sciences of the bar by earning positions at some of London's most revered establishments.
Her career has taken her, through LAB in Soho, to manage the impressive Albannach whisky bar right on Trafalgar Square and then to ones of the worlds' most influential bars, The Player and Milk & Honey.
In 2007 she moved a couple of streets down to manage one of the worlds' most famous bars at the jazz club Ronnie Scott's.
Later in 2008, Esther took the helm of the drinks at Roast in Borough Market. She turned it into an enchanting and seasonal drinker's paradise (with food to accompany) and picked up nominations for Class Bartender of the Year and Class Bar Manager of the year and was one of four of the most influential women in the food industry by the UK's Channel 4.
Before opening the exciting new Cocktail and Dim Sum Parlour project from Eric Yu and Dre Masso, Esther was a key member of the opening bar team at Novikov in London's Mayfair. She continues her work as an expert translator, teacher and guest bartender for many different spirit houses at international level.
Esther's different approach to drinks making and service makes her one of the most respected and appreciated personalities in the trade.
"I believe in Professor Jerry Thomas' first aim for an efficient bartender: 'please the guest'; and I always keep in mind what Patrick Duffy said 'The proportions are a matter of personal taste, depending on the strength and sweetness desired'. The origins of alcohol take us to its medicinal and social roots. That's the path I choose when mixing drinks: the pleasure of discerning drinking."
Esther's Signature Cocktails
Claim to Fame
Giving vegetables the respect and love that they deserve.
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer?
I drink it and enjoy it!!!
Different types depending on the environment; I mix it sometimes too.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
The guest should be the focus of your craft' or 'never forget that a good bartender must be a good host' or 'Be knowledgeable but humble' or 'clean as you go'.
Just one thing? Be professional.
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
Those who think that they are better than the person they are tending.
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
You must fulfil the needs of the establishment and what the guests like.
Sometimes, I start with the ingredient, sometimes the other way around; guest focus always, they are the ones who will drink your concoctions.
How did you get started?
I'm a teacher back home but I couldn't speak English when I arrived. When I saw the selection of spirits here, I felt as if I had a liquid kitchen in front of me. I fell in love.
How were you trained in bartending?
In the bars I worked - my colleagues and guests.
Did you take any courses?
WSET and NVQ managment
What's your process for creating a new cocktail?
I can't think of a process as such, flavours and ideas say hello and then I mix them..
What is your favourite cocktail to drink? To make?
To mix: Anything that my guests will enjoy.
To drink: Martinez, Gin est Belle, French 75, T.L.L., Old Fashioneds, Mexican Boiler Makers...
What is your favourite mixology resource?
What does success mean for you?
What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market?
No quite sure about that, things are shaking again. Authentic and fresh I would say.
What goes into creating a cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
Finding the balance and pleasing the person that is going to imbibe it.
Inspiration comes from many different places, books, music, smell, taste and, of course, people.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Keep on educating.
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
Teaching languages probably.
Your hangover cure?
Ribena, digestive biscuits and cheese.
Your biggest career influencer?
Angelika Anagnostou, Peter Dorelli, Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown, Gary Regan, David Wondrich.
First drink you ever tried?
That I can remember of, a Spanish lager.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
I will put it in my wallet.
Bar or cellar at home?
Depending on the weather.
As above; but since the economy back home started going down I tried just to drink Spanish.
I can't choose!!!!!
I couldn't choose between a slightly wet Martini or a Manhattan with Rye and Italian style vermouth dashes of Maraschino and Angostura. But, if I don't mention a Sazerac or a nice sharp Side Car, a gorgueaus French 75 or a fresh Margarita they will probably get jealous and never allow me to enjoy their beauty again. This said, though, I do love any good spirit stirred with ice with something sweet and bitter. I don't believe in drink monogamy sorry.
Cafe Pacifico and The Connaught if central, Cottons if I'm North, Calloh Callay and Happiness.
Forgets down East, Trailer Happiness if West.
Cotton's, Chaam, Santa Maria del Sur, Hawskmoor, J-Skeekey.
Blade Runner, Lord of the Rings, The 7th Seal.
The Princess Bride, The Hobbit, Les Particules elementaires.
I really can't choose one right now; I will think about it though..