27 July 2011

Alex Turner Interview

Alex has been working in the industry for over a decade, during which he has travelled the world and is currently head of training at BBFB.

1. What is the first cocktail you ever made?

- The one that I considered my first ever cocktail was a Kahlua Kiss (equal parts Kahlua and amaretto with double cream floated on top). I was working at a cocktail bar in Oxford called Baedeker's back in 1989(!!!!) and this was one of the most popular drinks (it was the 80's after all). I had been working in bars before then but this was the first 'proper' cocktail bar. I had made lots of mixed drinks before then but they were usually concocted from my parents drinks cabinet and didn't really have names (or ice, or recipes, or any mixers)

2. What are your 3 favorite drinks plus recipes; old, new and your own?

Old - It does depend on where I am and who I'm with but you can't go wrong with whiskey sour (on the rocks) or a Grey goose 'tini (very dry, on the rocks with three olives)

New - probably a Paloma (Cazadores reposado, dash lime juice, topped with grapefruit soda) or Tommy's marg (I'm a bit partial to a strawberry marg as well depending on the weather)

My own - Blue grass sour (Woodford reserve, apricot brandy, lemon juice, orange wedge, caster sugar and egg white) - I created this for Whisky magazine competition a few years ago, lovely looking and tasting drink

3.Tell us about a new flavor you have discovered recently?

- I have been reading a great book called the Flavour Thesaurus that has some great ideas on flavour pairing, have not finished it yet and am hoping to discover the next big flavour in drinks!!!

4. If you could pass just one thing, on to an apprentice bartender what would it be?

- The customer is king!!!!!!!!!!

5. What does the future hold for yourself and what do you see happening in the future in the industry?

- I will hopefully be with Bacardi Brown Forman for a very long time to come, I have without doubt one of the best jobs an ex-bartender could ever have and I intend to keep developing my team and having a huge influence on the industry.

6. What has been your biggest satisfaction from working behind the bar?

- Building up a crowd of regulars and them building friendships through the meeting in the bar and then everyone hanging out when the bar was closed. One of the nicest compliments I ever received was working behind the bar at Legends (long gone now) on Old Burlington st and looking up to see a couple of regular guests from a previous bar I had worked and them saying that they had been asking all over town where I was working and then how happy their were to have found me!!!

7. If you were to have a conversation with a cocktail, (and presuming it could talk back to you and tell you its past). Which cocktail would it be and why?

- It would have to be the daiquiri; firstly to discuss its birth in Cuba at the turn of the 20th Century and to hear all the stories of the cantineros and of course to hear what it thinks of blenders, tinned fruits, hurricane glasses and parasols. One of the things I love about the daiquiri is how it can be all things to all drinkers; a simple, crisp and zingy pick me upper sipped at a bar in London to a disco drink with all manner of fruits, liqueurs and sometimes not even rum supped on a sun bed in the Canary islands!!!

8. What influences your drinks from outside the industry (i.e. art, fashion)?

- As some of the drinks I create are for large managed chains most of the names are influenced by popular culture as an example we have just developed a range of drinks for the Royal wedding with drinks like the Kiss me Kate and Sapphire engagement. Killer names are very important as they are in many cases what first attracts the guest to the drink.

9. If you where to break a bartending golden rule what would it be?

-If you can remind me of the rules, I will quite happily break a few

10. Outside of flavor and the craft of the cocktail what in your opinion effects the appreciation of cocktails the most?

- To me its all about the experience. Cocktails, like food served in a restaurant, are as much about the experience of drinking them as they are about the taste. A a bad experience can make a great drink taste bad and a great experience can make an ok drink taste amazing (as long as you are not some cocktail uber geek).

11. If you where to champion a cocktail which would it be?

- The Pina colada is the future!!!!!

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