“I’m not serious about who I am, but I’m serious about what I do”
My philosophy when tending the bar and creating cocktails is based on the principle of narrowing things down and cutting away all excess. I limit myself, almost to the extreme, until something completely new and unique arises - a fragment of how it was during the pioneering days of bartending.
‘Craft’ and ‘passion’ are two words often used to describe what I, and those like me, are doing behind the stick. These two words may be accurate, but just as often are nothing more than buzzwords. Like saying I love you.
The main question for me would be “where is the craft and the passion?” In following a recipe and creating a balanced cocktail? In engineering a new flavour through the combination of spirit, water, sugar, and bitters?
To me, ‘craft’ means repeating a practice you already know inside out, again and again. And the ‘passion’ is simply finding joy and pride in doing so. It’s through this that inspiration and pure creativity flow. The fulfilment felt during these repeated labours of love is what separates self-proclaimed craftsmen from truly authentic bartenders. The magic has never been in the shaker, the bar spoon, or flashy flair moves. It’s in muscle memory and taking pleasure in performing old habits!
Break with tradition
When you purposely establish certain limits, you are forced to think in different ways; this can lead to the discovery of a new method of doing things that would otherwise never have occurred to you. A restaurateur and early mentor once told me: “It’s always easier to add than to subtract.” So dare to break with what you know and try to find the gaps in between, where you can enrich and create something greater.
In the end, it’s really about having fun and making sure all the customers spending their hard-earned cash have even more fun! To put it bluntly: we are offering the simplest form of entertainment.
Personally, I love playing around with the classics; the cocktail families and formats and just looking at them from every angle then breaking them down. For example, replacing sugar for other sweeteners, or one fortified wine for another, or even for a remote relative. Simply put, by replacing orange juice with an orange cordial or orange bitters, something new can happen - but you really haven’t changed the recipe.
The limitations of working with ‘standard’ techniques, bottles and products make the creative process harder in the beginning, but persevere, and true creativity and inspiration are finally released. Pass me a bag of sugar, a couple of limes and a bottle of vodka and I’ll create ten all-new signature cocktails!
This isn’t the only way, just mine…