Hi Tom, we are so pleased that you agreed to be interviewed for The Drinks Trust newsletter. Could you please tell us a bit about yourself, your background and why you’d joined the drinks industry?
I started out as a bar back and server’s assistant as we called it back then. I slowly moved to bartending, working at the likes of Bennigan’s, Jeffersons, TGI Fridays and then Cherry Jam in central London. I then helped open their sister club Neighbourhood. I moved around a bit and started working on private events and competing in flair bartending competitions and doing some guest shifts and trainings in some summer locations or friends bars.
My career quickly turned to flair bartending when I started traveling the world and focusing on the competition circuit. I won the UK championship several times as well as the world championships. Competitions were my main focus for almost 15 years. This brought me many opportunities, one of which was European Bartender School. Of which we just launched our 6th school in Bucharest Romania.
I was studying to be a computer scientist, but I quit university to follow my dreams of a “flair bartender” after watching the Roadhouse World Finals competition in November 2000. As I started to train and got better, the promise I gave to my parents of going back to finish my degree slowly faded away and here we are today. I couldn’t get enough of bartending and flair, it was a whole new world and I loved it.
You are on the Board of Education of EBS. What does your role involve and how did you become a member of the board?
I take care of the flair aspects of European Bartender School. I help put together the flair part of the 4 week international bartender course and write the details/courses for the other flair bartending courses EBS offers. I am the go to “flair guy” in the company that ensures we are current.
I think my long standing career as a flair bartender helped me get this position. I am a huge ambassador for flair bartending and always will be. It has brought me so much and I believe it can help many more out there. I think EBS see that passion and understand that’s what they need on the board of education.
Can you tell us a bit more about your current role as UK ambassador for Mozers?
The Mozers UK team approached me last summer and we quickly understood that we were a perfect fit for each other. I have since been promoting MOZERS to the UK market, coming up with a range of tasty cocktails for the UK public and featuring in the videos making them.
We made a big impression at IMBIBE 2021 and plan to come back to showcase our award winning products, namely the Hazelnut Cream Liqueur, which is to die for!!!
You have also opened an online shop to sell bartending equipment, why?
The reason is quite strange. I wanted to sell equipment, as my YouTube channels were growing and viewers were asking where to buy tools, but didn’t have the time to take care of it, so I teamed up with my mum, recently retired and looking for a new challenge. So we took it on together.
It’s been great working with my mum. We talk a lot more, share this little “hobby” in common and it’s brought us closer together.
No doubt you are very active online, you even have a YouTube channel! What are your videos about?
I run tow YouTube channels. One is focused on flair bartending techniques, tips tricks and tutorials. This channel is linked with the second channel which is all about making cocktails. Currently I am running a series of videos called Cocktails and Mocktails, where I show how to make a cocktail and then teach how to make the same cocktail without alcohol. I perform certain tricks whilst making the cocktails and then teach how to perform those tricks on the flair bartending channel.
I try to make my videos entertaining and educational at the same time. I have a lot of fun making them and hope my viewers enjoy watching.
This year, The Drinks Trust presented the first educational hardship programme of the drinks hospitality industry, Develop. EBS is part of the programme as one of the official educational providers. Can you tell us more about how EBS got involved with Develop?
I received this lovely email from Nicola explaining more about the Drinks Trust. A charity we had heard about before and had actually thought about approaching in the future, so it came at perfect timing, especially as we’re going through a time in the UK where hospitality staff are very hard to come by, so it seemed to be a perfect match for EBS and the Develop program to get to partner up and start getting new people into the drinks industry and sharing our passion. A few emails and video calls later, we came to terms and we are accepting candidates into our school as we speak…type….read.
Develop aims to train 750 beneficiaries in the first year of operation. What would you tell people who are considering joining the industry?
GO FOR IT!! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Bartending and the bartending world changed my life. It may not be the first career choice, it certainly wasn’t for me, but I do not regret one second. I always know that whatever happens in my life, if I need a job, I can get one in a bar, pub restaurant etc. We have had students take the course for fun and leave their day job to become a Bartender. Others have gone on to open cocktail bars in the Caribbean and plenty still live and work in London as Bartenders, Managers and some even opening their own cocktail bars last I heard.
Putting the career aspect to one side, taking the course with us is an experience you will not forget. You will learn so much, meet amazing people and make friends for life.
I can go on and on about why this is the best choice you will make this year, but I will just finish with, give it a shot (pun intended) you never know where it might take you.
What other projects are you working on currently?
I always crowd my plate and at the moment I am working on an online international cocktail competition, called Battle of the Bottle. It’s open to anyone, everyone can win a prize, compete from wherever they live and the best part, it is free to enter. Enter at www.theavenue.live
I am also putting together the 10th Edition of Flair Camp with the likes of Tomek Malek and Marek Posluszny (also world champion flair bartenders) and Pedro Garcia, Spanish Champion. Flair Camp is a week-long bartender training holiday in Marbella. There is more info at www.flaircamp.com and soon dates and bookings will be open.
We couldn’t end this Q&A without asking, what is your favourite cocktail?
Hahahaha, Such a tough question. I could give a cheesy quote like “the one in my hand” or “the next one on the menu” but all said and done, I don’t really have a favourite, although I order a Daiquiri very often and I have been an unofficial ambassador for the Pina Colada for many years, although now I am pushing the June Bug. Not for any particular reason, other than for fun and to showcase the sweet disco cocktails of my era in an era of some cocktails that are inaccessible to some people around the world.