“Bartenders today are obsessed with the Japanese hard shake and cutting ice from big blocks, they force history down people’s throats and inflict their techniques on customers, putting foam on something for sake of it,” he says. “They don’t realise that if it takes 20 minutes to make, it’s a shit drink. And they never sit the opposite side of the bar, they won’t check the toilets.”
I have a huge amount of respect for Nick, but can’t completely agree with him here. It’s another case of referring to ‘the industry’ and ‘bartenders’ as things one encounters only within a 10 mile radius of central London.
There are a great many bars in the UK that balance creative drinks and expansive knowledge with showing guests a good time; good old fashioned bartending in other words – Take a trip to cities like Bristol, Reading, Oxford, Manchester and Leeds, or indeed London suburbs like Clapham, and it is the norm, rather than the exception.
While I totally agree with what he says when it comes to some of the pseudo-speakeasies that have cropped up in the Capital, I find myself feeling frustrated yet again on behalf of bartenders and bar owners outside of London.
To get a real view of the ‘state of the nation’, one has to get out and see it. That means travelling all over the country, visiting bars that aren’t always in the news, speaking to bartenders who don’t go on all the press junkets, and judging cocktail competitions regardless of their location or stature.
This article is not meant as a criticism of Nick, more so of the consistent lack of credit and coverage given to non-London bars when talking about the UK bar industry as a whole. His points are absolutely valid, but should only be applied to a tiny percentage of bars and bartenders in the UK.