Miguel Arbe - Mixologist of the Month
- Date of Birth: 4th April 1977
- Birth place: A Coruña
- Height: 1m 87cm
- Eye colour: Hazel
- Nationality: Spanish
"I started as a web designer but soon changed the computers for the coffee machine working in a local coffee shop in Spain.
My thirst for adventure brought me to London and from a waiter/bartender position in a Covent Garden bar I climbed my way up to an AGM position in a Soho NightClub. I then got offered the opportunity to open a new cocktail bar in Dubai and there I went, great experience to learn about mixology, training staff and high class service.
After a year there and having won the best new Dubai bar award, I needed an inspirational trip, so I found myself in Japan, were I fell in love with the culture.
Spain called again for a new opening. A new concept bar were food, cocktails and beer were hand by hand, good people and good ideas brought loads of attention to the place.
Back in London I worked as bar manager in a Shoreditch Boutique Cocktail bar and now I am the bar manager at Ceviche, a Peruvian restaurant in the heart of Soho surrounded all day by pisco."
Awards, Accolades and Trophies
Runner up in "A Coruna 1st Cocktail Competition" Classics Category and a few diplomas for my good drawing at school but I don't think you are interested in those.
Claim to Fame
A food channel in Spain did a special program about the job we were doing about pairing cocktails and food in our venue. But if it's about viewers it has to be the time I had to teach a tv presenter how to make a Pisco Sour for the People's TV in China... that must be billions of viewers!
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
I LOVE BEER!! Nothing better than one after a crazy shift. I never say no to a good pint of Guinness but some IPA will make me jump for it too. I really like Titan IPA from a microbrewery in the US. I am a fan of real ales and Japanese lagers too. I am a beer man indeed.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
I always say that a good bartender needs to have a really good eye for details, from noticing customer needs to the presentation of the drinks. Cleanness of your station is paramount, but the most important thing is knowledge, so don't be afraid of learning all you can about your products and drinks.
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
I don't like the bartender that boast about knowing everything, I think in this profession we are always learning and we should share the information with each other to improve it. Apart form that, I guess the usual suspects (not being acknowledged at a bar, no smiles, etc)
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
When I design a menu I try to find a cocktail list that will suit almost everyone, I mean, any customer should find at least 1 or 2 appealing cocktails. Then I will start thinking on flavours to match the food, what spirits will I use, what do I want to express. In the end the menu should be a round thing that fits both the venue and the customers.
How did you get started?
I started helping a friend in my student years, and I had a good time doing so. So when I got back into the industry it just got better and better, first learning all about coffees, then cocktails and this is a ball that it's still rolling.
How were you trained in bartending?
I learned mainly by working, working and working. My colleagues helped me throughout my career by teaching me methods, techniques, secrets, etc. Then visiting other bars with good bartenders and reading a lot of books is what keeps me interested in learning.
Did you take any courses?
I went to a couple of courses on wines, beers and spirits. I got some good drops of wisdom from them.
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
Gin is still there. But bitters and american spirits like tequila, mezcal and specially pisco are coming in a storm.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail?
First I think about what do I want to represent and what will be the final taste. For that I start with smells and flavours separately and then start mixing. I think the key is to try as many products and ingredients as possible to create a "brain" database. The final touch is the presentation, sometimes the hardest part.
What is your favourite cocktail to drink? To make?
I love to drink a good White Lady but don't really know why I love to make Negronis, I think it's a beautiful drink on the eye.
What are some of your favorite tools?
Behind the bar would be a cocktail spoon. Outside the bar I rely on books.
What is your favourite mixology resource?
Nowadays is so easy to find information on the internet that I use it a lot, but I still keep a good collection of books about mixology around my room.
What does success mean for you?
Nothing makes me happier than a customer that really enjoys one of my drinks. Also I'm proud to say that I enjoy my work (not many people can say that)
What are some current trends you've seen in the cocktail market?
The classic cocktails and their variations are all over the place and then we have the "I wanna go crazy" style where one can try any combination imaginable, with amazing presentations, textures and concoctions fit for an alchemist. Lots of fun out there.
What goes into creating a cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
By creating a cocktail I try to make something that will give people a nice surprise when they are trying to relax and forget about any stress that might be haunting them. Seeing someone saying that to me was what got me inspired in the first place.
What is your favourite drink to make?
Cocktail: Negroni. But I have to say I enjoy pouring a pint of Guinness too.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Behind a bar, my own bar. Hopefully surrounded by good customers that I could call friends.
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
I guess I would be a graphic designer as it is still a hobby for me.
Your hangover cure?
A good bowl of miso soup or a glass of "tiger's milk", a peruvian marinade made with lime juice, chilies and salt amongst other ingredients.
Your biggest career influencer?
Many people had an impact in my career but I was most impressed by Hidetsugu Ueno when I met him at his bar in Tokyo, he is my bartender model in many ways.
First drink you ever tried?
I was still a little kid when some relatives gave me a big bowl of homemade wine to help me get a massive ham sandwich down my throat. My first cocktail was a San Francisco.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
I try to keep Jagermeister away from me but that deer keeps on finding me at the end of many nights out. Damn you!!
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
First take some holidays visiting all the places around the world I wish to see. Then get my own bar started, a place where art, food and drink go together.
Bar or cellar at home?
I should say a bar but both would please me even more.
A good Rias Baixas Albarino.
Bar High Five in Ginza.
A local place in Spain where they only serve octopus, chorizo or empanada.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
The 13½ lives of Captain Bluebear.
Discovery (Daft Punk).