Meet the Mixo: Introducing our Head Mixologist, Alex!
Our Head Mixologist Alex has been part of the Slingsby Gin family for 7 years now and during that time has created some of our best and most-loved cocktails, and been part of some of our most exciting events. We sat down for a chat with him recently so that you can find out more about him and his wonderful world of Mixology...
Q: Hi Alex! All of us in Team Slingsby know all about you but could you tell our readers who you are and bit of your background?
I’m Harrogate born and mostly bred, although I am half Greek and love a Gyros! I’ve worked in hospitality since the age of 14; starting off by pot washing and cleaning ashtrays at the local snooker hall and once of legal age, I started working behind a bar.
My first cocktail bartender job was at 18 at ‘The Viper Rooms’ in Harrogate and I was lucky enough to learn from some of best bartenders in Harrogate at the time. I went to university a year later where I got another cocktail job which taught me all about cocktail culture and classic drinks. My 3 years in Sheffield were packed with amazing bar experience, and on one of those evenings I was having a gin-focused conversation with Marcus’ (co-founder of Slingsby Gin) PA. I thought nothing of it but 6 weeks later, I was called asking if I wanted to interview for a job at Spirit of Harrogate job, and after 2 hours of talking Marcus’ ear off, I was offered the position.
I started here way back in October 2015 and kicked things off with a gin experience for 40+ people at the West Park Hotel in Harrogate! I then helped get our store ready for opening and created our gin experience alongside others, and the rest is history.
Q: You’ve made thousands of cocktails before, but which is your absolute favourite?
Good question! I’m partial to a Negroni but for something a little different I really enjoy a Vieux Carré.
In terms of how to make my perfect Negroni, I like to switch out the London Dry for a Navy Strength gin to balance the drink better. I also dilute some of the ice by stirring it in a chilled glass for 20 seconds before adding the first ingredient. I then stir, add more ice, the next ingredient and repeat.
The perfect way to drink Navy? Double measure (always!) into a goblet glass with ice. Squeeze 2 large wedges of pink grapefruit and a barspoon of agave. Top with 150ml of aromatic tonic – like a G&T Paloma really! The tonic adds the perfect balance and robust flavour to the drink.
And for Old Tom, I’d add another double measure, lemon peel, grapefruit peel and blackberries to a large goblet glass and top with 150ml Mediterranean tonic. For those who don’t know, Old Tom is similar to a London Dry gin but ours has a distilled liquorice root which adds an earthy sweetness and special twist to the gin.
Q: You’ve got an amazing knowledge of gin. Tell us something we don’t know…
Between 1600 and 1814, it was not uncommon for the Thames to freeze over for months at a time. Whilst the harsh winters were tough and often tragic, Londoners used them to set up the ‘Thames Frost Fairs’. The fairs would have been quite a spectacle; full of hastily constructed shops, pubs, ice skating rinks… everything that you would expect in the crowded streets of London but now on ice!
During the peaks of the gin craze (1716-1740), it was almost a necessity to have a drink whilst bracing the cold. Naturally, the popular drink served was gin. It was actually warm gin served with hot gingerbread. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it; gin and gingerbread have gone hand-in-hand for centuries. In fact, they were the first ever recorded alcohol and food pairing.
Q: What have been a highlight of your time at Slingsby so far?
Wow, there has been so many that it’s hard to single them out! Personally, some of the sporting events we’ve worked on have been amazing. The British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand is up there for me! However, the personal feedback I’ve had from the gin experiences has always been great too.
Q: If you weren’t a mixologist, what would you be doing?
I actually always wanted to be a teacher. I’m not the most organised person though so don’t think that would have ever worked. Whatever it would have been though, it would have to be something that involved a lot of talking – I’m a bit of a chatterbox!