Interview with Jack Williams, Head of Mixology at Late Night London

Interview with Jack Williams, Head of Mixology at Late Night London
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Jack Williams, 25, has been working in the cocktail bars of London for over five years – and is now Head Mixologist at Late Night London, training the bar staff for the 52 bars and developing new menus and mixes.

Jack Williams, Late Night London>Tell us a little bit about your background in mixology?

I started out as far away from mixology as you can get – as a car mechanic!  But after travelling the world, I found a fondness for new and interesting flavours. Even the way that some countries make their fruit juices was inspiring and the cocktails I tasted made me want more than just a life under the bonnet. At 20, I left my job and started working as a barman.

It wasn’t until 2008 when I began working at Late Night London’s Abacus bar that I really started being creative and really mixing cocktails. I also started to get involved in flaring and ended up training a team for the London Bar Wars in 2010. But I knew I wanted to be even more involved in creating cocktails and really pushing boundaries, so began working in head office at Late Night London as their Head Mixologist.

That was 18 months ago now and I’ve just got back from a trip to Thailand even more inspired! It won’t involve the infamous ‘buckets’ but I’m hoping to bring some Indonesian influences to a bar near you soon.


>What are your thoughts on Cocktail Culture in London?

100 years ago the cocktail culture in London was huge – of course it was led by whisky and had a bias towards more manly mixes – but then it seemed to die a bit of a death. It’s now obviously huge, but with varying degrees of quality. There are too many bars that just knock up a WooWoo or Mojito with no regard for ingredients or technique, and that’s something we really rally against at Late Night London.

We have a Bar School that teaches intrinsic techniques to every bartender and I’ve even been to Cuba to learn from the mojito-makers themselves the very best way to mix and source the best ingredients.

But the cocktail culture is definitely going the right way. Small chains like Be At One are doing a great job and of course all the independents have their values in the right place. I really believe London is the best place in the world for cocktails – only New York and New Orleans come close.

Mojito cocktail>Why do you believe the Mojito is the most popular Cocktail in the UK?

(the only stats we have on this is that it is the most searched Cocktail on Google, but it is WAY ahead of its closest competitor!!)
Funnily enough, it’s our most sold cocktail as well. For example, for the last four weeks (Feb/March) 45% of the cocktail sales across Late Night London’s 52 bars were for mojitos – that’s 3,500 in total which is huge!

I think its popularity lies in its simplicity – people don’t always like cocktails heavy with fruit juice on a night out, and the mojito mix is traditionally very light and refreshing. Plus it appeals to both men and women, which is always a bonus. The trouble with mojitos is that they’re also the easiest to make, but the hardest to make well. You need flaked ice, not crushed. You need fresh lime juice and sugar syrup, not pre-prepared. And you need to know your flavours.


>Tell us a bit about your new Mojito mixes and where the inspirations came from?

Mojitos are so popular at our bars that we knew we needed to have a specific mojito menu. We started off with 50 and then narrowed down to 12 different mixes, including a Champagne, Watermelon and Strawberry & Cream. The Lemon Drizzle is also pretty special – we had the international CEO of Bacardi in the other day and he said he’d never drunk anything like it.

The mojito flavour is so unique that there are obvious partners that I just knew would work – blueberry, kiwi and watermelon just go so well with mint. Then there was trial and error and inspiration from around the world. Orange & Passion fruit was something I tasted in the Middle East and the fresh pineapple is woefully underused in cocktails in the UK – people just think of Pina Colada and heavy fruit juice mixes. The Lemon Drizzle again was sparked by the flavour combination with mint, but then some (which I’m keeping up my sleeve for winter!) were inspired by the dark and spiced rum flavours that are so popular now.

The range is on sale at our bars key cocktail bars Jewel Piccadilly, Babble Mayfair and Jewel St. Paul’s but based on the popularity, look set to go wider.


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Written by Guest Author

Posted: April 17, 2013