My life in food: Andy Mil, bartender
'I love the simplicity of a martini. you can end up with a million different drinks'
Friday 12 October 2012
This year, Mil won the title of GB's World Class Bartender of the Year, and went on to represent Britain at the world finals in Rio. He is prized for his knowledge of food-cocktail pairings and can mostly be found behind the bar at the London Cocktail Shop. He will be appearing at London Cocktail Week events this weekend.
What are your most and least used pieces of kitchen kit?
My most used pieces of equipment are my Home Cocktail Shop shakers. I use them for 90 per cent of the drinks I make; the other 10 per cent are stirred, such as martinis. My least used piece of kit would be my soda siphon. I bought it a while ago because I thought it looked really, really cool – but it just takes so long to carbonate that it's not worth the hassle.
If you only had £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what?
I'd spend it at Matchbar W1, on one of its amazing sliders. It's a beef slider but cut through with some chorizo and there's this amazing bloody mary cocktail sauce on the burger. And then matchstick fries finished with some black sesame seeds on top. With that, I'd have a good old Long Island ice tea – you've got all the major food groups in there.
What do you eat for comfort?
I'm ashamed to say I like the really greasy Dominos pepperoni pizza in times of weakness. I'm not sure – maybe it's the slurpiness – but it is addictive.
If you could only eat bread or potatoes for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
Definitely bread – it's tasty and you've got a lot more you can do with it. Also, there is something about the breaking of the bread and a glass of wine, the dinner toast – drink and bread have a long intertwined history.
What's your desert island recipe?
Dry martini. Just Tanqueray No.10 and Noily Prat vermouth It's one of my favourites; I love the simplicity of them. It's just two ingredients, but depending on how you use them, you can end up with a million different drinks.
What's your favourite bar?
The Covent Garden Cocktail Club. It was one of the first cocktail bars I worked at. It's just a little gem, you're set right in the centre of Covent Garden but it's not full of tourists, it's nice. You go in for one drink and end up staying for two. One of my other favourite bars is a street bar in Rio, one that I found a few months ago when I was there for a competition. It was like a newsagents meets bar. There was Latin music playing in the background, it had a sense of place.
What is your favourite cocktail book?
Imbibe! by David Wondrich. It's a compendium of lots of out-of-print old cocktail books from around the 1800s, books that are pretty much impossible to get hold of these days, but he's gone through and taken the best and most relevant bits out ofeach. It's an encyclopaedia of where cocktail history came from. I pretty much refer to it daily in my work.
Who taught you to mix drinks?
If I had to say one person who taught me bartending then it would be Ali Burges. He owns a bar called Happiness Forgets over in Hoxton Square. He was my first bar manager. He was very placid and methodical – he was an inspiration.
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