By Rickie J, Editor.
In the first of a series, I’ve tracked down Antony, who creates the potions for the old style boozer-esque, Rose Villa Tavern in JQ.
What or who got you into cocktails?
I started in the industry as a bar back, seeing the bartenders creating these mystical concoctions and the guests enjoying them and sharing special moments over these drinks really amazed me. My managers at the time Carl Finn and Matt Burke started to give me research to do on various drinks and it was when I realised the history and processes behind the liquid/s that really sparked the passion.
Which are the easiest to make?
Antony felt this depended on where you work. ‘At the Rose Villa Tavern, we sling out porn star martinis and Bounty's like they're going out of fashion so the bartenders can make them with their eyes closed. Whereas over at the Jekyll and Hyde ‘they will do the same with their sweetie jars and so on’.
Which are the hardest?
The hardest to make are when you first start to create your own cocktails, making sure the flavours are balanced and measurements are perfect. The name is one of the hardest, I always struggle with this. The first things that come into my head are ridiculous so it has to be pulled back to something that can be put onto a menu for people to see. [I see a Brum Faves competition coming here!- Ed]
What are your predictions for the future?
Bartending has recently come out of quite a pretentious phase where everything has to be an artisan product, the oldest spirit you can find, served in a one of a kind vintage vessel.
With cocktails becoming more accessible to the people on the other side of the bar, I think it is/will become a lot more fun and it will push bartenders to use simpler ingredients to make amazing cocktails.
What’s your favourite to drink?
My favourite drink is a Blanco 100% Agave tequila, the finest spirit (in my eyes) ever made. My favourite cocktail is a Sazerac; this was one of the first cocktails that I learnt the history of and it sparked my love for the bar. Not many places will have it on their menu but any bartender that can make a good one is worth their weight in gold.
Where in the world have you had a great cocktail experience?
Boadas in Barcelona. It's a small dimly-lit room covered in pictures of the bar from the 1030's till the present and a big oak bar. Two bartenders in tuxedos are mixing drinks with no menu. What really got me was the elder lady sitting at the end of the bar without a drink in front of a picture of a Dandy looking gentleman.
We later found out that the gent in the picture had opened the bar and the lady sitting at the bar was his daughter. The entire place was draped in history and it was then that I realised how experiences shared in a bar or restaurant will last a lifetime.
If you could live in any era for its cocktails, when & where would that be?
Now, given the interest in Ant has in the history of cocktails and the story about the bar in Barcelona, I thought Antony may want to have lived in a bygone era of cocktails. But his answer surprised me!
Right now. Every bartender you talk to is excited about a new product or has just made their own infusion or learnt about a forgotten cocktail. The things that are available to us now means we can progress a lot further than ever before with help from the brands, the ingredients, the knowledge, the competitions etc. It's an exciting time for bars and bartenders.
Rose Villa Tavern. Phone 0121 236 710 or Tweet @RoseVillaTavern 172 Warstone Lane, Hockley, Birmingham, B18 6JW
Take a look at the website here.
With thanks to Antony and Rose Villa Tavern for the photos.
Got a favourite cocktail bar you'd like featured. Contacts on @BrumFaves or comment below.