Cocktail Bartender Interview – Adam Montgomerie

Cocktail Bartender Interview – Adam Montgomerie
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Adam MontgomerieAdam Montgomerie is the Head Cocktail Bartender at Bar Kohl Edinburgh, which turns 20 this year and celebrated in November with a huge party that was the talk of the city. Throughout 2013, Adam and his dedicated team have been working on the Bar Kohl cocktail list – gone are the flavoured vodkas and shots to be replaced by a far more sophisticated offering including barrel-aged cocktails and a negroni grid so you can make your own.


How did you get started in bartending?

Like most people I fell into it accidentally. I was looking for a part time job while at uni to fund some drinking. Once I started making cocktails I just fell in love with spirits and that was it. Being a General Manager is cool because you get to run a business but also keep the creative side in coming up with new cocktails and menus.


What bars have you worked in?

I’ve been at Bar Kohl for a good few years now. I worked in a few boozers round Edinburgh including the Queens Arms and Uluru (now the Hanging Bat) but started as a bar back in Bar Kohl and worked my way up to General Manager.

What makes a good bartender?

Outstanding customer service, product knowledge and a passion for making really great drinks. With these three qualities you can’t really go wrong. An unpretentious attitude helps too!


How would you describe the current Edinburgh Cocktail Bar Scene?

Really good. There’s so many places to try both unique cocktails and classics done well. Loads of new bars have opened in the last couple of years which has definitely helped the scene. I can’t think of anywhere in the UK outside of London that has a better selection of cocktail spots.


What makes Bar Kohl “special”?

Last week we turned 20 years old, there’s not many cocktail bars in Scotland that have lasted that long. We make our own house infusions including Four Berry Gin, Tangerine Bourbon and Earl Grey Rum. We have over 100 cocktails on our list, some classics but mostly created by the bar team here. We only use premium spirits and high quality fresh ingredients and have made a deliberate decision where we can to work with local businesses such as Hula juice bar, Eteaket tea shop and Roots craft sodas.


How did you develop the new Cocktail List for Bar Kohl?

We spent the guts of six months on it. We looked at the style of drinks we wanted to do and how we could do these at high volume. The whole bar team was involved and everyone has cocktails on the new list. We spent a lot of time researching old classics and how we could update these or put our twist on them. We made a lot of drinks and kept tweaking recipes till we got them right. It was an intensive process but we think the end result was worth it.


What ingredients were particularly influential?

No one ingredient was particularly influential on its own. We wanted to include the current popular stuff like gin, rum and bourbon but also wanted to think outside the box a little. We’ve got lots of tequila and mezcal on the new list as well as some malt whisky drinks and lots of vermouth ones too. We experimented for the first time with making shrubs and we also make about ten of our own house syrups too.


What’s your own personal favourite on the new Bar Kohl list?

My favourite to drink is our Barrel Aged El Presidente. I’m a huge fan of Cuban cocktails and this classic works really well barrel aged. Havana 7yo rum, Cocchi Vermouth Di Torino and triple sec are aged in a Kentucky Oak barrel for a week then it’s bottled and to serve you simply stir it down with a little homemade grenadine and finish it with a twist of orange.

My favourite to make has to be the’ Sneaky Peat’. This twist on the classic Old Fashioned is a play on the senses, it smells like a malt whisky but then tastes like a really rich bourbon. To make it you stir down some Lapsang Souchong-infused Buffalo Trace with a little sugar syrup and chocolate bitters. The glass is then rinsed with an Islay malt and it’s all served over ice. Delicious.


Who (living or dead) would you most like to serve a cocktail to at Bar Kohl?

Tough question. Since we opened in 1993 we’ve always played hip hop music so I’m going to have to go with Biggie Smalls.


Written by Guest Author

Posted: November 20, 2013