Matt Fairhurst has worked as a bartender for ten years and can currently be found managing The Milk Thistle in Bristol. He goes through to the World Class UK Finals with his recipe for a Gentlemen’s Drink, the Silk Scarf.
What does the World Class competition mean to you?
I have got to the heats before the Final three times, several of my friends, colleagues and people I respect have reached the Final. Reaching the Final has been a massive goal for me and I feel I have achieved it at exactly the right time, years before I could not have won it, this year I feel I can. Getting to the Western Europe Final would be an achievement that would stay with me forever. Winning World Class would be achieving a dream. To be part of a cocktail competition that spans the globe involving thousands of bartenders fills me with pride.
What is your earliest cocktail memory?
Being told to shake a vodka and coke and getting very wet and sticky.
Did you choose the profession or did it choose you?
I had just finished a graphic design degree, I had never worked in a bar and needed some extra money. I got a part-time bar job, fell in love with it and never looked back.
How do you think bartending is regarded as a career?
As it always has been, we are there to make people happy and look after them; different people have different perceptions of the job and different attitudes to it, our job is to adapt to this. People are becoming more educated towards drinks but the job has been the same for ever.
If drink hadn’t entered the equation, what would you like to think you’d be doing now?
I have no idea but I know I would not have had anywhere near as much fun.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Seeing Milk Thistle grow and change.
And the hardest?
Keeping up with the growth and change.
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?
The heats for World Class in Mojo Leeds around 3 years ago, Barrie Wilson [involved in creating the World Class platform and now Global Trade Ambassador for Tanqueray] was judging and I went to pieces, I was under prepared but had a good drink and didn’t do myself justice. I will never forget how much I felt I had let myself down.
Who’s your favourite cocktail drinker and why? (living, dead or fictional)
Hemmingway or Sinatra because they did it their way
What’s your favourite cocktail:
a) to mix?
b) to drink?
c) on your menu?
My World Class entry, The Silk Scarf
List three ingredients you’d put in a cocktail to sum up the facets of your personality.
1. Gin- English, complex and simple at the same time
2. Simple syrup – sticky
3. Aperol – Makes any situation delicious
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?
You can’t go wrong with a Sour, it’s simple and delicious
50ml base spirit
20ml sugar (12ml for people who like drier drinks)
Shake over lots of ice and serve straight up or over ice.
The drink that got him through:
50ml Ketel One vodka
15ml pineapple syrup (sugar syrup with pineapple left in for 3 days)
20ml Cockburn’s white port
10ml line aquavit
2 dashes Bob’s Cardamom Bitters
Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass. Strain into a coupette, garnish with orange zest sprayed over drink then discard.