My name is James Drummond and I’m 26. I’ve been bartending for seven years now and I currently work at Rick’s in Edinburgh.
James goes through to the World Class UK 2012 Finals with his recipe for a Penecillina, a drink inspired by ladies…
What does the World Class competition mean to you?
World Class is the biggest and most challenging cocktail competition around. I feel lucky to be involved. It is a great honour for me.
What is your earliest cocktail memory?
When I started bartending at the Jam House about seven years ago, a guest came up to the bar and ordered seven vodka Martinis, “shaken, not stirred”. I was the only person on the bar and I had no idea what I was making. I then started using my spec sheet to make them all – in one shaker! It was a disaster, I ended up covered in vodka and took a very long time to get the drinks out to the guest. Fortunately he was happy to wait.
Did you choose the profession or did it choose you?
A bit of both I’d say. Whilst at the Jam House, we had training with Sam Jeveons (who used to work at Match Bar back in the day). He gave us basic cocktail training and I was hooked instantly! I loved his passion and knowledge about drinks and I haven’t looked back since.
How do you think bartending is regarded as a career?
I think we’re getting there. There are so many fantastic people working in this industry who are pushing professionalism and good service. We have more youngsters coming through and the media are starting to take note of it. I personally believe we’ve never been in better shape.
If drink hadn’t entered the equation, what would you like to think you’d be doing now?
Probably sitting in an office, bored and wishing I was a bartender!
What’s the best thing about your job?
The many people I’ve had the honour of serving, meeting and working with and the great life this job has given me.
And the hardest?
Probably the unsociable hours. Hopefully I won’t be working them for the rest of my life!
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?
We had a guest in recently who saw that a colleague of mine was reading The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, it turned out he had read it. I made him and his wife a drink before dinner which they loved. When he came to the bar after dinner he basically gave me free reign to mix whatever I wanted. I made him a drink with Ketel One vodka, Gewürztraminer, lemon juice, vanilla syrup, sea salt and egg white. He loved it! He and his wife stood out for me because they were keen to know what I was doing, they knew a good drink and they were really friendly.
Who’s your favourite cocktail drinker and why?
I’d say my brothers, Robert and Ryan. Whenever they drink with me, they drink cocktails. They know what they like but they aren’t afraid to try new things.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you picked up at the World Class Forum?
Stanislav Vadrna on Ichico Ichie. Hearing him talking about how every encounter we have with guests is unique and we always need to approach them with the correct attitude. Hearing that from him has made me a better bartender. Peter Dorrelli and Jim Meehan were also inspiring.
What’s your favourite cocktail:
a) to mix?
At the minute it’s probably an Old-Fashioned. There’s theatre in the preparation, they’re versatile and really tasty, what else do you need?
b) to drink?
I love a good Daiquiri
c) on your menu?
The Delicious Sour. It’s a fun, approachable, classic drink made with interesting ingredients.
List three ingredients you’d put in a cocktail to sum up the facets of your personality.
1. Egg white. Anyone that knows me will know that I love putting egg white in drinks. I think it is still a challenge for many of the consumers out there. It shows off the side of me that likes to take risks.
2. Bitters. I would put them in my morning OJ if I could.
You’ve created a World Class cocktail to secure your place in the finals, can you give us a simple failsafe recipe for cocktail lovers to create at home?
Get a mixing glass and a stemmed glass which can fit a nice block of ice in it. Stir 5 parts of Ron Zacapa 23 with 5 parts apple juice, 2 parts maple syrup and a couple of dashes of bitters. Strain and enjoy.
The Drink that got him through:
40ml Don Julio Anejo
15ml DOM Benedictine
10ml avocado honey
10ml pink grapefruit juice
10ml lemon juice
15ml egg white
8 cardamom pods
Crush cardamom pods in base of shaker, add all ingredients. Dry shake then shake over ice. Serve straight up. Garnish with three drops of orange blossom water.