Eatnorth caught up with Patrón Perfectionist’s Cocktail competition’s Scottish finalist Mike McGinty from Big Red Teapot’s soon-to-open Edinburgh bar The Voyage of Buck, in the ahead of the UK grand final taking place in London on 16 November 2016 at the lucky Pig, London.
FROM hundreds who entered this year’s Patrón Perfectionist’s Cocktail Competition, only a handful were selected to go through to one of the five regional finals, to meet the challenge of inventing and presenting a Patrón Tequila cocktail worthy of a ‘Perfectionist.’
The winner will win an all expenses trip to the Hacienda Patron – Patrón Tequila’s stunning distillery in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico.
The winning cocktail will also feature as a limited-edition special serve at the winner’s bar.
Competition for the prize is fierce… McGinty will be competing against regional winners, including Steve Young from Pier64 in Penarth (near Cardiff), who was crowned winner of the Southern Regional Final; Matyáš Bušek from Mr Fogg’s Residence in London, Raffaele Di Monaco from Park Chinois in London and north England finalist Joe Wild from El Bandito.
Launched in the UK in 2015, Patrón Perfectionist’s Cocktail Competition has expanded to an international level for 2016; with bartenders in Mexico, Australia, UAE, France, Spain and Italy also on the search to find their own local Patrón Perfectionist. All the winners will meet at the Hacienda in January where they will then compete in the Grand Final.
Judges at the Scottish regional finalist event, held at Tonic in Edinburgh, described McGinty’s The Bell of Jalisco (Patrón Reposado, chamomile-infused dry vermouth, grapefruit IPA, lemon juice and yellow bell pepper shrub), as a light, savoury but complex drink.
You can recreate his recipe here:
Q. What got you into bartending?
I started working at a bar for a summer job during university and fell in love with the trade.
Q. Were your family supportive of your career choice?
At first it never seemed like a career choice but once I started progressing it became clear that this would be my career. My family have been very supportive.
Q. Where did you grow up? If not Edinburgh, then how did you end up there?
I grew up in Fife but went to school in Edinburgh. There are so many great bars and opportunities in Edinburgh. By this time I was embarking on a career in hospitality. It was a natural choice.
Q. What was your inspiration behind The Bell of Jalisco cocktail?
I wanted to create a cocktail with Patrón that would capture people’s imagination. I created the cocktail around the idea that people would be inclined to try it based on its ingredients. It is a unique combination of flavours designed to grab people’s attention.
Q. How did you feel when they announced the Scottish winner?
Naturally, delighted! I am also a big fan of Patrón.
Q. What would it mean to you to win the UK grand final or even the world grand final?
I would be absolutely delighted. Perfectionist as a competition sets the bar so high within the industry.
Q. Have you ever been in a situation where customers bring up tricky drinks for you to make?
I think everyone at some point behind the bar has but that is the beauty of this trade. You are constantly challenged by customers to create drinks, specific to their needs. It is our job to produce the best cocktail possible, in every situation.
Q. What’s the best and worst job you have ever had?
I’ve not really had any bad jobs but I have had to do a lot of unpleasant things in all of my jobs!
Q. Were you not the General Manager at Treacle?
I was, yes.
Q. I bet that was a lot of work managing and bartending. Tell us about it?
It is a lot of work doing both but it is only natural that people should strive to be at the top. Once you become a manager you have more responsibility but you also have a lot more control in what the bar/restaurant is offering. The establishment becomes a reflection of yourself. That should be enough to make anyone strive to do both.
Q. There is a shortage of general managers in the industry, why?
I would say there are a few answers to this question. Personally, I think people can become frustrated if they don’t see progression in their career. It is not easy to be a general manager and it takes a lot of experience to be able to do it. I think some people lack the patience and respect for the job, eventually choosing a different career path.
Q. What hopes do you have for the new The Voyage of Buck opening in October? What’s different about it?
I haven’t properly been behind the bar in months but now I am really looking forward to opening the doors and showcasing the new bar. Our unique cocktail menu has a mix of ingredients from all around the world; I cannot wait to start working with such interesting flavours.
Q. How is your personality reflected in your business?
I like to think that I am very personable. I always strive to recreate this at work. At the end of the day, you are a host and it is important to create this atmosphere at work.
Q. Describe your idea of the perfect cocktail experience.
Honestly, just enjoying great cocktails in a nice environment with my friends.
Q. What do you consider to be one of your most important learning experiences (a career-altering moment, so to speak)?
I think once you’ve reached a major final of a cocktail competition, you really begin to understand the demands of the industry.
Q. Do you have any tips for anyone considering becoming a bartender? What advice would you give to your younger self if you could?
Tipswise, I would say knowledge is key. Reading, learning and asking questions will help you progress further than you can imagine.
Q. What’s your view of the Scottish bar/hospitality scene at the moment and what do you think the future holds?
The Scottish bar/hospitality scene is one of the strongest in the country. Cities like Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow are packed with great bars and restaurants. Inverness and Dundee are on the rise too. If anything we are spoilt for choice. Tales of the Cocktail arriving here next year showcases that.
Q. And for the industry in the UK overall?
The UK will always be a leading player in the hospitality industry. I think we will keep going from strength to strength. I would, however, like to see more independent operators across our country.
Q. Which ingredients do you always keep in your bar and what is your go-to spirit?
Far too many to choose from!
Q. What differentiates an experienced bartender from a mixologist?
I don’t really think there is a difference. They are essentially the same.
Q. Do you like to cook?
I love to cook! I am actually slow roasting some beef short ribs in sherry as I answer these.
Q. If you were to recommend four ‘hidden food and drink gems’ to visit in Scotland, where would you choose?
Can only think of three!
- Loch Bay in Skye is an absolute treat – if you are a seafood fan I would argue that you would be hard pushed to find a better suited restaurant.
- Ting Thai in Edinburgh is a great stop for a quick meal.
- Barnacles and Bones in Edinburgh is also a must visit.
Q. In your opinion, what are the best food and beverage parings?
Genuinely, you cannot beat a fantastic wine paired with the right food.
Q. What do you do when you’re not working – hobbies/interests?
I love cooking, being outdoors and when I can I try to go to the football, not easy when running a bar.
Q. And.. finally… comfort food and drink?
Comfort food has to be lasagne with extra cheese! Basically anything with cheese.