Iain Griffiths – Interview with Bacardi Legacy 3MP

Second up in our chats with this years Bacardi Legacy 3 Most Promising, before the big announcement, is Iain Griffiths from White Lyan & Dandelyan.

It’s been a busy few months for the final three in the UK Bacardi Legacy competition. They have spent that time promoting their drinks across the country and rest of the world, for Iain that has meant swizzling a few thousand variations of his Carta Switchel serve.

Iain hosting a Switchel Session
Iain hosting a Switchel Session

Now that the marketing reports have been handed in and they have returned from their well deserved break in Miami & Puerto Rico all they can do is wait until their fate is announced tomorrow. We thought we’d let you know what they have each been up to, Santiago’s piece can be found here and Oli’s interview will be up tomorrow.

Let’s get the elephant out of the room before we get started, Iain is Australian. Let’s not hold it against him as he worked in two of our favourite bars whilst he was out there in the form of Melbourne’s Black Pearl and Sydney’s Eau de Vie. After that he decided he was fed up of sunshine and moved to Edinburgh where he worked at Bramble.

BarLifeUK were actually there on his last night at Bramble (which was a quiet and reserved affair) before he moved to London, got into partnership with Ryan Cheti and started the Mr Lyan empire. All this has left him very busy which may explain this:

BarLifeUK: Take us back to the Bacardi Legacy Final when the top 8 competed to become the 3 Most Promising. How did you feel it went when you walked off the stage?

Iain Griffiths: To be honest I was pretty heavily jet lagged that day so I took the opportunity to have a sleep in the back room whilst it was being set up. That was probably the best thing I could have done, I ran off the stage when I’d finished which is always a good sign, I tend to overstay my welcome and try and correct any issues if the presentation has gone badly.

To be honest I present a lot better than I make drinks so I was looking forward to it.

BLUK: So you must have been pretty confident you were in the final 3 then?

IG: Fuck no.

BLUK: So your campaign has just finished, what did you get up to promoting the Carta Switchel?

IG: The main focus of my campaign was the Switchel Academy, a series of trainings aimed at young bartenders, inspired by the outstanding BarLifeUK Rookie Programme (Iain may or may not have said that last bit – ed). Although it was for London bartenders we had one guy from Paris who came over for every event, legend. 35 were picked to attend all 4 sessions.

During these sessions we covered bar skills such as jiggering, shaking and batching as well as bartenders sharing stories and providing inspiration. Speakers included Alex Kratena, Marc Alvarez, Jamie Jones, John Deragon and Davide Segat.

I didn’t want to get the Carta Switchel listed in dozens of bars around the world, partly as that’s what everyone assumed I’d do, so instead I hand picked a series of high volume bars to partner with. In the end I had 15 bars in 10 countries working with me – USA, England, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Israel, Malaysia, Finland, Denmark and Holland.Iain-Carta

I also did a lot of consumer facing projects including in-room recommendations at the Mondrian Hotel, a Hot Dinners event involving the consumer press and, as a last surprise up my sleeve, the London Metro newspaper put a video up online of me making the Carta Switchel.

There was a final run of guest shifts as well, in Amsterdam at Tales & Spirits, Normandie in Los Angeles, Stockholm’s Little Quarter and finally heading back to where it all began at Bramble in Edinburgh.

It’s been a busy few months and I honestly don’t know how the previous finalists, who had to keep it up for 6 months, managed it.

BLUK: What if Bacardi had given you an unlimited budget? What would you have done?

IG: I’d have loved to have done a global version of the Switchel Academy, taking that to young bartenders around the world would have been amazing.

BLUK: The winners announcement is close now, what will you do if your name is read out?

IG: Predictably I’m on a plane early the next morning to do an event in Athens so whatever I do will have to be sightly well behaved…… maybe.

BLUK: Finally what is your Spirit Animal?

IG: It would have to be a Lion with dyslexia.

What we think?

Iain was the best known of the 3 Most Promising going into the competition and that combined with  his international experience would have made him an early bookies favourite. He has cleverly used his connections to make the most of his campaign without pulling in favours to get his drink in every bar in the world and losing control of the message.

There is no doubt he has not dropped the ball despite all his other commitments but as Iain himself said with all 3 competitors taking such varied approaches to the competition it is impossible to know what the judges will be looking for. One thing is for sure, Iain will be as nervous as anyone sitting in that room on Tuesday waiting for the announcement.

Carta Switchel by Iain Griffiths, Dandelyan, London

25ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
25ml Bacardi Carta Oro
25ml fresh grapefruit juice
12.5ml sugar syrup
4 dashes apple vinegar
4 dashes Fernet Branca

Build in a highball. Swizzle with crushed ice and garnish with a grapefruit twist.