Sean Ware

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It’s been hard to miss the buzz over the last few days about Pusser’s Rum deciding to take PKNY (formerly Painkiller bar) to court to protect their trademark of the name Painkiller. It has been an eye-opening experience to watch the industry debate both sides of the argument, but mostly it has served to highlight what happens when brands don’t work with bars to achieve mutually beneficial results. Fortunately, today I get to write about a brand that is supporting bars and helping bartenders to share their knowledge and passion internationally.


You see St Germain Elderflower Liqueur have just started an international bartender exchange programme, designed to get bartenders sharing ideas and experiencing different cultures. This sort of activity is a shining example of how easily brands can promote the work of drinks industry professionals, create good feelings within the trade and achieve results that benefit everyone taking part.


For your eyes only

I was looking back through some drink recipes the other day and I noticed a pattern. It seems like over the years I have tended to use the same ingredients repeatedly. I noticed that I went through a phase of using Jager in cocktails, after that I was using noilly amber a lot, then I moved on to Lillet Blanc and recently it has been merlet’s crème de poire. I seem to get caught up on what a certain ingredient bring to a drink and find myself adding it to all sorts of creations almost without realising it.
I guess it makes sense really. I wander into a bar and the bartender says ‘have you tried the new such-and-such from so-and-so?’ I have a taste and think ‘wow that would really work in a ….’. Next thing you know I have bought a bottle and it is worked into my drinks repertoire until the next new thing comes along.
When I thought about it a bit more I realised that I even associate certain ingredients with certain bartenders. Some are obvious connections. Jager will always make me think of Gregor and I can’t see Galliano in a drink without thinking of Ago from The Connaught bar. Some are less obvious though, Noilly Ambre for example makes me think of Pete Jeary who first introduced me to it and still swears by it as his secret weapon when making cocktails.
A quick phone around to a few bartender friends confirmed my suspicions; we all have our secret go to ingredients. It confirmed another thing too… some bartenders will put the damnedest things together in the name of using their secret ingredients, but somehow they usually pull it off!
This phenomenon certainly deserved further investigation (any excuse for a night out!) so I called in on Victor from LAB and he listed a few things that he is using a lot at the moment including Wray and Nephew and pimento dram. When he told me that he had a great drink up his sleeves using yellow chartreuse and cardamom bitters I decided to dodge the overproof rum bullet and try that instead.

blue blazers, batidas and bartenders of the year?

It turns out that creating a huge database of drinks recipes and spirits is thirsty work, so we decided to reward ourselves for our recent efforts by wandering around East London and having a few drinks with friends.