Jake was the winner of The Chivas Masters, Manchester heat. He can be found doing his thing at 81LTD, is a bit of history buff and recommends the medicinal properties of a little Chivas and honey…
How did you become a bartender?
I fell in love with 81LTD as a guest in the bar; I’d never really experienced the elaborate techniques and different flavours of cocktails before the bar opened in 2012. I was 18 at the time and a student and I can wager that most of my minimal living allowance was spent drinking in 81, making friends with the bartenders and picking their collective brains.
After a while, I became such a regular I decided to jump in and ask for a job. I was hired as a bar back and that’s where the backbreaking work started. In hindsight I think great bartenders have to be even better bar backs to understand the intricacies of the bar. I worked with fevered ambition for about seven months and decided that I was where I wanted to be; I postponed my degree and requested that I be trained as the newest member of staff. That was ten or so months ago, I’m still a toddler compared to the team around me but I’ve loved every second of it.
What is your definition of a classic cocktail?
The classics for me have some degree of elasticity, the classics as we know them are classics for a reason, they sell and people buy them night upon night. The ability to tailor a drink to a specific guest at your bar is a skill you have to learn early and the classics allow you to inter-operate them with your own relative conceptualisation of flavour and balance – they’re the backbone of any good bartender’s skill set.
What is your classic cocktail of choice?
A Sweet Manhattan with a cocktail cherry and a zest; it’s the definition of decadence, it’s got enough body to allow for an interesting and thought-provoking drink and it tastes fantastic.
What appealed to you about The Chivas
I’m a cocktail nerd and a history buff to boot, I love to dissect things and learn everything there is to know about them; the Chivas Masters allows you to do that, not only to concentrate on a specific brand and where it wants to be in relation to modernity but to actually step back and understand the nuances of Chivas as a company, where it was in relation to popular culture and how it is so deeply ingrained in the public consciousness. It also allowed me to understand the narrative of cocktail history, where and why things happened and I really loved that.
Which of the four periods (The Classic Age, The Post-War Boom, The Disco Years and The Age of Revivalism) did you enjoy most?
For me it was hard, I can’t help myself though – it was The Classic Age; playing around with the ideas and concepts that came around at the genesis of the profession was enlightening.
Which of your four cocktails are you proudest of?
That’s a difficult question, you put so much time into these drinks that they become an extension of your bartending, I’ve rolled them out in the bar for guests to gather feedback and I’ve drunk them myself. I’m proud of them all in equal amounts.
Which famous person, living or dead, real or
fictional, from the four periods would you like to make one of your four cocktails for?
I’d sit down with Jules from Pulp Fiction and I’d make him my Disco cocktail ‘A Dance With the Moonlit Knight’. He’s the driving force behind the film and he’s the guy with the moralistic world view. What could be better than enjoying a dessert-style cocktail and talking for hours about foot massages and Big Kahuna burgers?
What’s your favourite way to enjoy Chivas?
I like to save myself a double for right after my shift. While we all clean the bar I take a cold beer and a double Chivas and I allow myself five minutes to collect myself in ready for the gruelling task of cleaning and restocking.
What’s your recipe for a simple Chivas cocktail for people to make at home?
This one is really simple and I like to drink it when I’m feeling a little under the weather. Take 50ml Chivas and 25ml honey, then lightly muddle an orange and lemon rind into the liquid and serve neat.
What are you most looking forward to about the final?
I’ve prepared and prepared and I feel like I know Chivas inside out, like I’ve stood next to Colin Scott and witnessed the magic happen. So I’m really excited about what the other guys are going to bring, the calibre has been so high it’s a little daunting for a newbie like me but we live and learn.
The Chivas Masters is…
How cocktail competitions should be, it’s about a celebration of a fine spirit with 200 years of sterling history. It’s a humbling experience really.
The People’s Choice
Who would you like to see win The Chivas Masters UK Final 2014? Click the Facebook ‘Like’ button below to cast your vote for Jake. To see all the finalists click here.
Jake joins the other seven finalists in the The Chivas Masters UK Final in London on 3rd June.