Elliot Ball

ELLIOT BALL

One of the three founders of the British bar Cocktail Trading Co. talks “clever stuff” about life after lockdown. He has a degree in neuroscience and definitely knows flavor, he’s been consulting and managing venues for some time, all while having fun doing what he does.

How do you introduce yourself at the bar, when a new colleague joins the team?

In honesty, seeing as I’m in charge of recruitment at CTC and new team members almost always come through social channels, they basically always know that I’m the owner. That said, when I travel, I usually introduce myself as a bartender at CTC unless bar ownership is directly relevant to the meeting.

How did you spend the quarantine? Did you learn/ discover/ reinvent?

Oh, I’ve been busy. Once lockdown hit, the fundamental of running a business became more visible than ever in importance – outgoings and ingoings. The outgoings is the boring part, but we opened up channels with literally anyone to whom we owe money currently or regularly and began negotiations. Then there were the landlords and applying for governmental grants. While this is even more boring than you could believe, the support to the business from this is almost certainly greater than anything we could achieve in sales in the meantime. Still, the delivery cocktail service has been a success, and it’s been satisfying to develop it with a degree of thoroughness that I wouldn’t have been able to devote during the usual bar operation, and we plan to keep it going even when life gets back to ‘normal’, whatever that’ll mean…

What was the most awesome show you saw during the lockdown?

It’s all about context. Tiger King was what my mind needed during these times.

Best cocktail book written?

In terms of the greatest amount of learning available to people of varying levels of experience, I’d say Tristan Stephenson’s The Curious Bartender. For pure depth of knowledge, Kevin K Liu’s Craft Cocktails at Home. For the spirit of fun and service, Jason Wilson’s Boozehound.

The book you would read over and over again.

Hard to say. Recently enjoyed Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens and its sequels, which I basically treated as the same continuous book. There’s so much in there to learn that I can barely imagine ceasing repeated reads because I’ve got it all.

Which cocktail are you most proud of?

Recently, the Buchu Highball. I like it because it reflects the challenges we’re facing now but also offers solutions to those previously encountered that I missed. In short, it’s a drink that contains no fresh ingredients, is an unusual pairing of aromas but is simply well-balanced, while the intense carbonation allows it to be satisfying but also profitable – selling drinks to people at home means using their (usually not great… and usually enormous) glassware, so portion sizes naturally had to go up with prices going down to reflect the fact that they’re simply not having as good an experience as they would be in the bar – we can’t ignore that. Thus drinks like this became a focus for me. Meanwhile, it contains a tea, a whiskey, a seasoning syrup and water, and I make about 50 of them at once.

Which cocktail is the one you have made the most during the years?

Yeesh. Purely for volume, there’s a good chance my early years mean the top contender in numbers is a mojito. Possibly an Espresso Martini (or the Pharmaceutical Stimulant we had on the menu). Of our drinks, I’ve definitely made an obscene number of Sauvignon Private Ryan’s.

What’s your favorite classic cocktail?

Probably a Caipirinha. Just so simple, and the classic way(s) of making it usually creates something beautiful so long as no lazy compromises are involved. Whereas other favourites like Manhattans are frequently made, even in excellent bars, without a modern understanding of seasoning and thus don’t reach their potential.

The most underestimated drink in the industry?

Sidecar. Everyone likes to put it down, but like the Manhattan above, it just needs to be seasoned well, and then it’s bloody incredible. Who gives a crap if sugar isn’t a listed ingredient? Would using a sweeter curacao/triple sec have been a problem? Just add sugar.

Which ingredient will be used far more in the future?

Salt. Not to be braggy, as it’s not exactly my own discovery, but I’ve been advocating, here and everywhere, a modern approach to seasoning. While some things require very little, there isn’t a single consumable product in the world for which the correct amount of salinity is zero. Even a martini or a simple gin and tonic tastes better with a touch of salt. It’s in every single drink we put over the bar, and in almost all our consultancy drinks, too.

As Nolo, classic cocktails, simple serves were trending, what do you think will be the next trend?

With the current interruption to our industry and social lives, this is a tough one. Perhaps cynical, but when we reopen, there’s obviously going to be an emphasis on safety and cleanliness, so I have a feeling that brands advertising ‘clean’ flavours etc will capitalise on the loose linguistics involved – this could drive increased sales and demand into clear spirits. It’s based entirely on semantics and conjecture, but they’re pretty important to trends, if we’re honest.

Favorite glass shape to drink from? And why?

Oddly specific, but I love stemmed beer glasses, schooners, etc. I’m pretty much always in a happy place when one of them is touching my lips.

Why is the glass that important for a drink?

So many reasons. Glasses are at least a transporter of the experience you’re after – they’re also ambassadors, avatars, to the drinks and overall experience. Rarely do you get a considered choice of glassware, maintained well, and not have a good drinking experience. It partly supports the drink, but also demonstrates the degree of care with which it’s been designed/served.

Glass: Durable or Fragile?

Durable. I’m a practicality guy and don’t like to feel like I’m holding a butterfly in my hand.

What is your favorite Libbey glass?

If I were to define this question as an analysis of which glass has yielded me the greatest enjoyment, the answer would bizarrely but undeniably be the Radiant Cooler. I have a shelf in the freezer for them and it’s what a beer goes in after a long day/night. Pure satisfaction.

What did you miss the most during lock-down?

The orchestral chaos of a bar full of happy people – the inability to pick up any one bit of sound or dialogue that directly states happiness or satisfaction, but knowing that the sound reaching your ears is that of contentment, independent of language.

What would be the first thing you’ll change when the bar opens?

Probably my shoes. I’m at the bar seven days a week now with basically no customer contact and have fallen in love with those ridiculous glove-like running shoes that everyone hates on. There’s no way I could wear them in service and gain the trust of my customers in making drinks recommendations based on good taste.

What will never be the same in the bars after the pandemic?

Having a sneezing fit?

What can be an awesome invention that will emerge in the hospitality from this crisis?

Door-mounted laser thermometers → trapdoor → trebuchet. All jokes aside, someone’s being trying to sell me the first part.

What tips will you give other bartenders and bar owners to prepare for the future?

This is depressing, but, especially if you live in a country where the people are fiercely critical of their government’s (mis)handling of this crisis (UK and USA in particular), expect more lockdowns. The ‘global pandemic’ scare occurs in mainstream media every couple of years, and the next one to come along, if the media create enough hype (regardless of how dangerous the disease is), governments will probably need to react very strongly in order to avoid public outcry. I’m sad to say that I honestly think we can expect to be closed for a month or so every couple of years for a bit. So have plans for how your skillset/business can survive or capitalise on these circumstances. I could well be wrong, and indeed hope I am, but I’ll be developing this delivery model real hard in the meantime.

What will be the one major change in the Hospitality in general, after the pandemic?

The landscape of business is going to change hugely. Lots of places won’t survive, lots of investment might be deterred by the above, etc. Equally, the nature of relationships with landlords could completely change. I think operators are going to be a lot more hesitant, more aware of their fragility.

Philip Duff

PHILIP DUFF

Old Duff during Quarantine

Libbey’s industry friend Philip Duff chatted with us about lockdown in NYC, his road to success, favorite drinks and some future insights.

1. How do you introduce yourself at barshows?

What are barshows? Just kidding! Well, if I’m speaking at a barshow, I usually refer to my background in bartending, managing and owning bars, my current job helping liquor brands communicate better with the on-trade, and the brand I founded, Old Duff Genever. Short version: bartender, consultant, brand owner.

2. How did you spend the quarantine?

Still deep in it here in Manhattan as I write! Myself and my wife just didn’t go outside at all for the first 6-7 weeks, and since then ride bikes in Central Park once or twice a week. Slept in every day – no alarm clock! – wrote two education programs for clients, created a program for bartenders to create cocktails on video for another client, was interviewed a lot on Facebook and Instagram, started drinking lunchtime martinis, tried to support bars by ordering delivery & takeout cocktails, buying gift cards and donating to relief funds. Oh, and I was more diligent about my daily Duolingo in Spanish, and I started watching the Sopranos again from episode 1!

3. Who is the person that inspired you the most to join the drinks business?

Probably John Nealon, who gave me my first bar job in my hometown; he created this stylish, glamourous place in a tiny town and immediately I saw that world I wanted more.

4. Best cocktail book written?

Meehan’s Manual

5. The book you would read over and over again.

Creole Belle, or anything else by James Lee Burke.

6. Which cocktail (you created) are you most proud of?

I’ll get hauled before the Mixology Tribunal of the International Criminal Court in the Hague for this one, but I’m happy to still see the Vanilla Berry Capirinha on menus in Holland – last time I saw it on a menu was at Schiphol airport.

7. Which cocktail is the one you have made the most during the years?

Probably neck-and-neck between martinis and Martinezs, with manhattans a close third.

8. What’s your favorite classic cocktail?

Martinez, no question

9. The most underestimated drink in the industry?

Probably the Collins; I didn’t like it much either until I learned it was originally made with genever, which makes it transcendent.

10. Which ingredient will be used far more in the future?

Honkaku shochu, and baijiu.

11. As Nolo, classic cocktails, simple serves were trending, what do you think will be the next trend?

Zero-waste for sure, especially with products like SupaSawa which mean you don’t need the carbon footprint or eco-waste associated with fresh citrus.

12. Favorite glass shape to drink from? And Why?

A stemmed 4oz martini glass, but it has straight “walls”, not angled like the Art Deco V-shaped cocktail glass’ a bit like some of Libbey’s Acopa glasses. I’ll drink fine whiskey from a pint glass, though, if that’s the only glass available!

13. Why is the glass that important for a drink?

The glass consitutes a major part of the apparance of a drink, which is the first “taste’! It also plays a role in the actual quality of the drink, keeping it cold (or hot, depending on the glass) to the end.

14. Glass: Durable or Fragile?

Durable – our glasses get a lot of use so they need to be dishwasher-friendly!

15. Which bar did you miss the most during lock-down?

Probably the NoMad and The Dead Rabbit, both of which I’m well-known for frequenting.

16. What would be the first restaurant you will go to after the lock-down?

Ooooooh! Hadn’t even thought about The Outside World. Probably somewhere local just to start with, ansd also because I don’t think I’ll use public transport just yet or get a taxi: I love El Paso Restaurante near 103rd St in Harlem, close to where I live.

17. What would be the first destination you fly to?

A client is trying to still hold their global bar contest in 2020, so it might be Moscow!

18. What will be the one major change in the Hospitality, after the pandemic?

God, where to start? The single largest change will be that the entire central paradigm of hospitality – being in close contact with other, random people in an enclosed space – is now taboo, and both operators and brands will have to come up with ways both acknowledge and move past that, while still running a profitable business.

T is for Tiffany

Preparation:

Stir all ingredients in mixing glass and strain into a chilled Libbey Shorty Rocks Glass, finish with the spray of an orange zest (watch Diamonds Are Forever) and Enjoy!

T Is For Tiffany Cocktail

Description:

A Bondgirl inspired cocktail, this one from Diamonds Are Forever. In this edition Bond (Sean Connery) falls in love with Tiffany Case, a diamond smuggler, part of a smuggling ring from Sierra Leone.

Based on the scene where Bond meets Tiffany in an Amsterdam house. As Bond enters the room Tiffany disappears to the bedroom to put some clothes on. James asked if there is a Mr Case and Tiffany replies “The T is for Tiffany”. Bond pours himself a scotch from the drinks trolley.
As Tiffany appears again from the bedroom now “dressed” but James noticed she is now brunette and was blonde before. However bond only cares if the cuffs match the collar.

Combining Dutch jenever for the location, Scottish whisky for the Scottish Bond and South African redbush tea for Tiffany, sums up this scene and even has a bitter aftertaste as James falls for the tricks of Miss Case.

So what is her true hair colour?

 

Recipe:

60ml Oude Jenever (Rutte Old Simon)
20ml Islay Single Malt Whisky (Coal Ila 12)
10ml Rooibos Tea Liqueur (Cartron T Rooibos)
1 dash Black Walnut Bitters (Fee Brothers)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura)

Elixir of Continuance

Recipe:

50ml Don Papa Rum
20ml Plantation Original Dark Overproof Rum
100ml Fresh Pineapple juice
15ml Lime Juice
20ml All Hallows Syrup *
3 dashes of Peychauds bitters
Beer made by monks (Westmalle Dubbel)

*All Hallows Syrup Recipe
1000 ml Water
200 g Almonds
Seeds, fibers and carvings from 1 pumpkin lantern
100 g Bacon
2 Cloves of garlic
13 wooden stakes
31 allspice berries
1 vanilla bean
1 pinch of nutmeg
1 kg sugar
1 shot of Mezcal

Elixir Of Continuance Cocktail

Description:


Halloween is the time when the barrier between the worlds of the living and the dead is the thinnest. Many dangers lurk at night at this time of year. This year we had an alarming number of blood moons, so I was determined not to be so foolish as to disregard these dangers and take my chances. I decided to mix up an elixir that would keep me safe from the different types of evil. This concoction should keep me alive and as I said before if all went I’d be able to share the recipe with you.
All went well and I’m still alive and breathing, so here it is, the recipe for the drink that kept me safe.

Preparation:

> Add all ingredients except the beer in a shaker
> Shake with ice
> Finestrain over ice into a Libbey Pineapple Glass
> Top off with Dubbel Beer made by monks
> Garnish with Enoki mushrooms
> Drink it all up, it’s not meant for sharing

Luke Whearty

LUKE WHEARTY

A cocktail and industry mastermind is coming home. After working in Singapore for almost 4 years, and receiving more than 10 awards in 3 years’ time, Luke Whearty is heading to his hometown Melbourne to open up his new project BYRDI. Luke is known as one of the most forward thinking persons in the Industry and his BYRDI bottles can already be found in bars around the world. With is mind set to focus on only local ingredients we can expect some of the most unique Australian cocktails to be found in Melbourne soon. Will he be recreating his mums homemade Baileys for his bar? One of Luke’s guilty pleasures…

Interview Luke Whearty

  1. What kind of education did you do before you ended up in the drinks industry?
    Went to Coffs Harbour High School in N.S.W and the went on to study a Bachelor of Psychology at Southern Cross Univeristy.
  2. What made you want to focus on the drinks industry?
    At first it was just a job that I found myself liking because I could work nights and then surf all day. Slowly the creative side of bartending and making drinks took over though and I decided to make a career out of it.
  3. Who is the person that inspired you the most?
    So many people to be honest but I would have to say my younger brother and my childhood friends. Growing up I was always surrounded by inspirational and creative people.
  4. Best cocktail book written?
    The Modern Cocktail by Matt Whiley
  5. Best Non-cocktail book you would advise everybody.
    Perfume, Story of a Murderer by Patrick Susskind.
  6. Which cocktail are you most proud of?
    Its actually a drink inspired by the above book called Perfume. It’s a gin based cocktail with lavender, citrus and distilled jasmine and it basically tastes and smells like fresh jasmine blossoms and is Spring in a glass. I love it because Jasmine is only blooming a few weeks a year so we only serve it during this time. Its gives us something to look forward to each Spring.
  7. What’s your favorite classic cocktail to drink?
    Americano
  8. What’s the most easy and tasteful drink to make and drink?
    Also the Americano.
  9. Favorite glass to drink from?
    Wine glass
  10. Why is a glass that important for a drink?
    The glass contributes so much to a drink. From aroma to even the feel of it in your hand it all influences the experience.
  11. Glass: Durable or Fragile?
    Hah hah as a bar owner I would say durable. As a customer I would say fragile.
  12. Glass: Classic and simple or outspoken?
    I think a bit of both. You can be outspoken but still remain classic and simple.
  13. Of which achievement are you most proud?
    The birth of my son Bronson.
  14. You’re going to open up a new bar soon in Melbourne; Byrdi. How is this bar going to be different than your other bars?
    I guess the biggest difference is it will be truly seasonal and have a strong sense of provenance. For example we may only use certain ingredients that are at their peak for a few weeks in the year. We will also be using a lot of different preservation techniques and using fermentation to our advantage to use things from previous seasons. Basically it will be a bar that you have to come and visit to experience because it wont be able to be replicated anywhere else.
  15. What style of cocktails will you be serving?
    We will be stripping things back quite a bit so in appearance the drink may seem simple but it will actually be quite complex. For example on of the drinks we are working on is simply called Apples & Pears and will be based entirely around those two ingredients but manipulated in a variety of ways such as being smoked, distilled, fortified and fermented all the while using specific varieties of fruit from local orchards.
  16. What style of glassware will you be using in your bar?
    Our glassware style will be quite minimalistic and understated to allow the liquid inside to really shine however there will be a strong focus on having glassware that not only compliments the drink aromatically but also offers something in terms of texture and how it feels in the hand.
  17. What is your main goal of your new bar?
    To showcase the amazing and diverse produce that we have here in Australia that is grown by the passionate farmers and producers that quite often don’t get the credit they deserve for their hard work.
  18. The most underestimated drink in the industry?
    It is possibly our greatest resource as a society and its importance is often underestimated. Also on a basic level in hospitality its surprising to me how often people don’t provide water to their guests. In my opinion it is an absolute must.
  19. What’s your guilty pleasure drink?
    Baileys, my mums homemade stuff though, not the commercial one.
  20. Which ingredient will be used far more in the future?
    Anything local. I think people are starting to shift their mentality in regards to exotic imported ingredients. Because of the nature of globalization these ingredients aren’t as exotic anymore as they are more readily accessible. People are going back to using what is growing around them and creating unique experiences around that.
  21. How will the current and future trends chance the current bar industry?
    I think as I said above. Using local and seasonal ingredients to create ever evolving and adapting menus that create unique experiences that cant be replicated in other parts of the world. People will be given a reason to explore again.
  22. What’s your opinion on the whole simplicity trend?
    The idea that less is more even though its kind of a trend at the moment its something that has been around for ages. A great example of this is the wabi sabi philosophy pioneered by Japanese tea masters as early is the 15th Which finds beauty in simplicity and imperfection.
  23. What your favorite bar to visit yourself?
    Here in Melbourne it is a bar called Above Board by Hayden Lambert. Internationally it is Scout in London by Matt Whiley.
  24. Which restaurant would you recommend to everybody?
    Here in Melbourne it is a restaurant called Lesa by chef Dave Verheul internationally Lyles in London by chef James Lowe.
  25. If you could go back in time and change any existing/classic cocktail glass, which glass would you change and why?
    If I had the ability to go back in time changing a cocktail glass would be the least of my concerns.
  26. If you could travel back in time, who would you like to meet and why?
    Id go back to meet myself to give the younger version of myself the heads-up on a couple of things.
  27. After simplicity and the non-alcoholic trend, what will be the next big thing?
    Local, local, local.

BIOGRAPHY

Luke Whearty & Aki Nishikura are bar operators, restaurant innovators and drink creators. Creativity is evident in everything they do, and they do it with passion. Between them they have over 20 years’ experience. And what an experience it’s been. They’ve travelled far and wide, each new place shaping them along the way, and ultimately leading to their latest venture, BYRDI.

There’s a bar on the horizon, and BYRDI bottled cocktails are already available in selected bars and restaurants.

Luke and Aki have travelled the world and gained a wealth of accolades along the way. They’re at the forefront of forward-thinking minds in the world of bartending, and have presided over some of the most progressive drinking programs.

Luke cut his teeth (so-to-speak) at the internationally acclaimed Der Raum, as head bartender, winning multiple awards.

2009 – Winner – Cocktail List of the Year, Australian Bartender Awards
2010 – Winner – Cocktail Bar of the Year, Australian Bartender Awards
2011 – Winner – Cocktail List of the Year, Australian Bartender Awards
2012 – Ranked No. 1 – World’s Best Bars
2012 – 3 Glass Rating – The Age Good Bar Guide

Luke then made the move to South East Asia where he worked alongside Chef Ryan Clift at the highly acclaimed Tippling Club. While Aki trained under her father Hiro Nishikura, at arguably Melbourne’s best traditional sushi restaurant, Shira Nui. Coming back together they joined forces again in Singapore opening Oxwell & Co in 2013, with celebrated chef Mark Sargeant. After establishing this as a mainstay in Singapore’s bar and restaurant scene, they went on to open a trail blazing cocktail bar by the name of Operation Dagger.

Created in a basement space, Operation Dagger is an experimental and innovative bar, pushing boundaries with new equipment, culinary influences and techniques. In its first few years of trade, it made waves around the world.

2015 – Winner – Best New Bar, Singapore Bar Awards
2015 – Top Ten – Best New Intl. Cocktail Bar, Tales of the Cocktail
2015 – Top 30 – Greatest Bars in the World, Conde Nast Traveller
2015 – 57th Best Bar in the World – Drinks International
2016 – Winner – Most Creative Cocktail Program, Singapore Bar Awards
2016 – 7th Best Bar in Asia – Asia’s 50 Best Bars
2016 – 21st Best Bar in the World – World’s 50 Best Bars
2017 – 6th Best Bar in Asia – Asia’s 50 Best Bars
2017 – 24th Best Bar in the World – World’s 50 Best Bars
2018 – Top Ten – Intl. Bartender of the Year, Luke Whearty, Tales of the Cocktail

2018 – Top Ten – Best Intl. Cocktail Bar, Tales of the Cocktail

B Y RD I (Melbourne, Australia)

Luke and Aki’s latest creation has taken them back to their hometown Melbourne, Australia. It’s still in the making opening soon in September 2019, but you can expect the local environment to inform the drinks at the new bar, and a concept that’s uniquely Australian. BYRDI bottled cocktails are already stocked in selected bars and restaurants, so get a taste of what’s to come, early.