Cocktail Bartender Interview – Kevin Griffin
Kevin Griffin is the Head Cocktail Bartender at Tigerlily in Edinburgh and was recently a finalist in the Diaego Reserve World Class competition, regarded by many as one of the best cocktail competitions in the world. Kevin was the winner from the Edinburgh heat, beating bar tenders from fine establishments such as The Voodoo Rooms and Bramble Bar & Lounge.
How did you get started in bartending?
I first started bartending at the tender age of 16 in my local pub in Dublin; I started off with collecting glasses and taking orders on the floor to eventually running the small cocktail bar in the nightclub…
What bars have you worked at?
I’ve worked in my local bar in Dublin, The Belgard Inn. Moved to Edinburgh and I was lucky enough to get a job in Tigerlily Edinburgh. After two years there I joined The Raconteur, which unfortunately is no longer open
What do you think makes a good bartender?
Being a good host. Looking after your every guests needs is number one priority. After that being knowledgeable about what you sell and be a good entertainer.
What is the one mistake you see young bartenders make?
Not looking up when they are making drinks! Thinking they know if all when they have just started out as a bartender
How would you describe the Edinburgh Cocktail Scene?
I love the Edinburgh cocktail scene. Everyone knows and looks out for each other and the standard of bars is really good. All I would want to add to the Edinburgh scene in a very nice late night drinking venue for after work, hopefully the guys of Bramble who have a new site opening get a later license than 1am.
Outside of work, what`s your favorite cocktail bar?
In Edinburgh my favourite bars are The Bon Vivant, Bramble, The Last Word in Stockbridge and the Black Cat on Rose Street for it’s great Whisky selection and craft beers
What`s your favorite cocktail: to mix / to drink?
My favourite to make would be difficult to just choose one but I do love making classics and my favourite is a Negroni (Gin / Campari / Sweet Vermouth) My favourite to drink would either be a Tommie’s Margarita or a drink we used at make at The Raconteur the Sakura – Japanese Whisky / Cherry Marnier / PX Sherry
What`s your favorite ingredient?
I love mixing drinks with really good Liqueurs /vermouth. I used Distillierie De Provence vermouth and Liqueurs a lot during World Class this year
What`s your favorite piece of equipment?
My favourite piece of equipment out with the usual basic cocktail equipment would be an Ice ball maker. It’s solid copper and you place blocks of ice into it and it melts them into perfectly formed spheres. It’s great for serving cocktails with over ice as it melts slower and it’ s good simple theater
Tell us about the cocktails you created for the final stages of Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year competition:
Tanqueray No. TEN / Rin Quin Quin Peach Vermouth / Sugar Cane Syrup / Grapefruit Zests / lime zest / Hopped chamomile bitters / Sugar Syrup / Homemade Chamomile Perfume – Aromatized .
Stir all ingredients and serve in a vintage sherry glass, serve with lime and coriander marshmallows
Twist on a classic gin martini, the botanicals in Tanqueray No.TEN with fresh citrus fruits inspired my ingredients to deliver a clean, crisp pre-flight cocktail.
The Clouds Above the Kingdom
Tanqueray No. TEN / King’s Ginger / Chamomile Liqueur / Lemon Juice / Lemon Sherbet / Caster Sugar.
Add all the ingredients to the shaker, add ice and shake for thirty seconds until its ice cold. Shake, double strained and serve in a vintage stemmed glass.
History of the aviation built around redemption. Inspired by cultures of NYC and a cocktail called the Penicillin created at Milk & Honey. Hands around some tea and botanicals to smell and bring out the flavours of Tanqueray No. TEN.
Chocolate Night Cap
Zacapa XO / Noix Saint Jean / Mozart Chocolate Spirit / Pimento Dram / Orange Zests / Coffee and Chocolate Disk.
Stir all the ingredients over ice with two orange zests and serve on a glass teacup with a Coffee and Chocolate Disk.
Mr. Walkers’ Nightcap
Johnnie Walker Blue Label / Condensed Milk / Half & Half (Half Milk, Half Cream) / Popcorn Tea Syrup / Nutmeg / Chuncho Bitters.
Shake at 35,000 feet and serve in a 1/3 vintage milk bottle with a straw.
West coast Flip
Talisker 10 Y/O / Sweet Vermouth / Half n Half / Egg / Nutmeg / Bitters / Salt and Pepper
This drinks was created in Madrid and was inspired by the film “Angles Share” as part of a Red Carpet Challenge for World Class 2013
Zacapa / Lime, Fresh Pineapple / Grand Marnier / Orgeat / Chuncho Bitters
This drink was created n the food-paring round in WC; it was paired with a Catalan Cream dessert, which is very similar to a crème brulee
Have you mixed cocktails for any famous people?
I’ve made drinks for Brian O Driscoll, Jamie Roberts Irish / Welsh rugby players over the years when the 6 nations have been in Edinburgh.