Aaron Jones is 25 and works at Salvatore at Playboy Club London. He goes through to the World Class UK 2012 Finals with his twist on a classic, Mark’s Mid-Morning Glory.
What does the World Class competition mean to you?
The World Class Cocktail Competition is a way of showcasing our knowledge and passion for the hospitality industry and cocktail culture as a whole. It is the test of a bartenders skill, showmanship, and nerves against the very best in our field.
What is your earliest cocktail memory?
My earliest memory of drinking a ‘cocktail’ would be in the form of a rum punch at a student party. Needless to say, it wasn’t too tasty. My first true introduction to cocktail culture was in the pages of The Savoy Cocktail Book. I was hunting through the cookery section in a second hand bookshop and came across an old edition. I was instantly mesmerised by the striking imagery of the character on the cover and the strange ingredients inside. I brought the book (for what I know now was a bargain price) and my journey with cocktails, customers and Corpse Revivers shortly followed.
Did you choose the profession or did it choose you?
I initially chose this profession to help me pay for materials throughout my first design degree; bartending meant I could work the evenings while studying through the day. After I graduated I decided to travel and work overseas before returning to university. This is what fuelled my passion for bartending and I soon realised that I enjoyed bartending as much as design. In time I chose to pursue this career path (although I do have plans to combine my passion for design and drinking culture in a up-and-coming project).
How do you think bartending is regarded as a career?
I regard bartending as a career, and one that I am proud to be involved in. Everyday I see the passion and dedication in my friends and colleagues that could easily outdo the keenest professional in another field. The general public may not have quite caught up yet but I believe it is only a matter of time.
If drink hadn’t entered the equation, what would you like to think you’d be doing now?
Good question, I don’t tend not to ponder over the past, only look to the future.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The enjoyment I get from seeing the smile on the face of a satisfied customer. In addition to this working alongside, and collaborating with, the talented colleagues and friends I have had the pleasure to work with.
And the hardest?
Keeping up with the many ideas of my friends and colleagues.
Who’s the most memorable person you’ve ever created a cocktail for? Who was it, what was it and why does it stand out for you?
My most memorable cocktail experience to date was during the Vintage Cocktail presentation at Salvatore at Playboy Club London. The crowd consisted of such industry professionals as Peter Dorrelli and Giuliano Morandin, Erik Lorincz, Ago Perrone, Alex Kratena and Zdenek Kastanek; people we all look to for inspiration within the industry. As well as being the compere, I had the job of showcasing our Vintage White Lady using Gordons London Dry Gin and Cointreau from the 1930s – the White Lady being a drink I both love and admire. This outstanding event was made all the more special by Peter Dorrelli who brought with him a shaker that was once owned and used by Harry Craddock. He kindly allowed for me to shake this vintage White Lady with Craddock’s shaker. This was a once in a lifetime experience and truly unforgettable.
Apart from this, making a Gibson for Dita Von Teese was also an experience worth remembering.
Who’s your favourite cocktail drinker and why? (living, dead or fictional)
Some of our regular cocktail drinkers at Salvatore at Playboy Club London; Tristan and Rebecca to name two. They grace our bar with a friendly face and are always interested in being the test pilots for our new cocktail concepts, for which, we thank them.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you picked up at the World Class Forum?
Enjoy the experience, have fun, and smile. If you are smiling so are your customers, and that is essential.
What’s your favourite cocktail:
a) to mix?
One cocktail I strangely enjoy making is the infamous Ramos Gin Fizz, I love the history, theatre, and commentary between your colleagues as you pass the cocktail shaker down the line, each bartender sharing the shaking, keeping the customer guessing where and when there cocktail will reappear.
b) to drink?
I will try anything once, an aspect of my personality that my friends know too well. I do enjoy an Aperol Spritz or if I am feeling fancy, a Wet Gibson or Corpse Reviver No.2.
c) on your menu?
Anything from our Vintage Cocktail list. The idea of mixing drinks with the original spirit from the time they were conceived borders the fine line between madness and genius. They are one of a kind, a pleasure and privilege to make, a piece of history, and to be found nowhere else.
List three ingredients you’d put in a cocktail to sum up the facets of your personality.
1. Tanqueray London Dry – styled by London but made in Scotland.
2. Orange Blossom Water – I grew up with my family in the middle of a botanical garden so, although I live in this great city, I am a wild flower child at heart.
3. Cream – I tend to go bad with exposure to a strong sun.
The recipe that got him through:
Mark’s Mid-Morning Glory
45ml Talisker 10 Year Old
20ml Spiced Golden Falernum
10ml Ginger Wine
25ml fresh lemon juice
Small dash of good quality absinthe
One egg white
Club Soda to top
Place all ingredients, apart from Club Soda, in a cocktail shaker. Whisk the egg white, and shake over ice. Strain into a fancy champagne flute, fizz, or absinthe glass. Top with soda. Garnish with clementine oils sprayed over the drink and zest curling around the inside of the glass from the base to the rim. Smile, sip or serve. Enjoy!