Robert Wood from The Kenilworth

The lowdown

I started my bartending career in the Canary Islands as a holiday job and never looked back. I began my UK working career in Manchester where I roamed from bar to bar collating knowledge, skills and experience, working with some of the finest bartenders. I have worked in hotel bars, fine dining restaurants, nightclubs, high volume cocktail bars and neighbourhood bars. I have been at The Kenilworth for almost four years and still love coming to work everyday. I feel very lucky to get paid to do a job I love doing.

What does the World Class competition mean to you?

It’s a chance to showcase my skills as a bartender – not just the creativity but all areas of the job; the true essence of bartending is versatility. No other competition tests so many aspects of a bartender’s job description.

What is your earliest cocktail memory?

My earliest cocktail memory would be a overly garnished hurricane glass containing something looking like a Piña Colada. The first cocktail I ever made was a Mudslide!

Did you choose the profession or did it choose you?

I started bartending as a holiday job in the Spanish islands. My first mentor was an English bartender who had worked through the 1980s cocktail boom; he taught me the essentials of customer service, drinks preparation (and flair).

How do you think bartending is regarded as a career?

I think bartending is the perfect career. I love my job, I travel the world, meet new people, create things; there is no other job in the world that offers the diversity of bartending. I do feel however that the industry is suffering through a lack of base training, young bartenders now start playing with liquid nitrogen and barrel-ageing before they have mastered the classics, learnt the history of this great profession and more importantly, understood the consumer.

If drink hadn’t entered the equation, what would you like to think you’d be doing now?

I would have rejoined the Royal Marines.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The environment is always changing – consumers, trends, products – everything!

And the hardest?

The hours! On average I work a 65 hour week. That doesn’t leave much time for other things.

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?

Making a Dry Martini for Javier de las Muelas [Spanish cocktail legend) at Dry Martini in Barcelona was pretty good. He liked it too… Celebrities do not interest me. I’ve made drinks for lots of them but they are just regular people to me.

Who’s your favourite cocktail drinker and why?

My favourite cocktail drinker is a gentleman named Dr. Pete Townsend. He is a regular at The Kenilworth Hotel and we always have so much fun with his drinks.

What’s the most valuable piece of advice you picked up at the World Class Forum?

Be yourself. Leave your ego at the door.

What’s your favourite cocktail:

a) to mix?

The Clover Club

b) to drink?

Dry Martini (Wet, Tanq 10, Dirty Gibson)

c) on your menu?

Crown Heights

List three ingredients you’d put in a cocktail to sum up the facets of your personality.

1. Ron Zacapa, my favourite rum: unwavering quality in understated packaging
2. BLiS Tahitian vanilla infused maple syrup, my favourite sweetener: Huge attention to detail from an artisanal producer yielding fantastic results
3. Rhubarb – my favourite fruit (tied with pineapple) Can be sweet but also can be tart. Versatile and easy going.

The recipe that got him through:

A Brief Moment of Beauty

45ml Tanqueray No. TEN
15ml Martini Rosato
20ml fresh lemon and yuzu (1:1)
15ml Monin Cherry Blossom syrup
10ml POM Wonderful
½ egg white

Method:

Dry shake ingredients, then shake over ice and strain. Served in a coupe glass and garnish with blossom and an atomisation of Tanqueray No. TEN.

 

 

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