Cocktails have been around for as long as alcohol. There would have been some smarty mixing the contents of their pantry into their olde beer. As tastes and styles change through the years, so do cocktails. But one thing you can count on is people experimenting and creating to find the ultimate flavour. That is one of the reasons I was so taken with bartending, the scope to create and invent.
My very first bartending job was in a bowling alley. The manager put me there in a bid to stop me wasting time with the other employees; blue roll rugby comes to mind.
I worked the day shift, the whole building was pretty dead, the bar in particular. But on the rare occasion I got to serve a drink I loved it. So when I headed back to Uni that September I set out looking for another job in a bar. I got a job bar-backing in a cocktail bar but it wasn’t long before I progressed to the bar and from there a career was born. I finished my degree (just), knowing fashion knitwear was not the path for me (unsurprisingly) and decided to pursue my calling from behind the bar.
I set my sights on Bristol. I knew a bit about the city from my various trips there,
mainly to see some band play. Bristol had a good reputation for cool independents, I thought it sounded like a great place to get my cocktail wings, so I set off, with a stack of CVs in hand. I managed to land myself a job at Hermanos café and bar, which turned out to be the haunt of most of the Bristol bartenders, so whilst I was learning how to make old fashioneds properly I was also serving pre-shift espressos and martinis to all the heavy hitters in the Bristol bar scene.
From Manos I worked in a handful of Bristol’s top cocktail bars moving up the ranks from bartender to manager. Whilst at Hyde&Co I entered Diageo’s Show Your Spirit competition, which gave bartenders the opportunity to create their own alcohol brand. From the online submissions 5 ideas were chosen for development. After a week creating the liquid and designing the bottle, the finalists pitched their idea to a panel. The judges selected my brand Jinzu, a British gin inspired by Japan, which launched in November 2014.
Meanwhile, back in Bristol, I was managing Red Light, a late-night cocktail bar. A company looking to make cocktail syrups approached me. With their syrup-making know-how and my cocktail background we worked together to create Bristol Syrup Co. The syrups are perfect for cocktails, authentic to the flavours on the bottles.
During lockdown we started working on Bristol Cocktails, a range of bottled cocktails bringing classic cocktails into people's homes, without the price and hassle of making them themselves. The emphasis is in making cocktails tasting like the ones you would get in your favourite bar, simply by pouring them out of the bottle. Which of course means lots of samples for me to try before we get to the final recipe. It’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it hahaha.
Anyway enough about me, let's get a drink.
Cheers! Dee x