My name is Adrian Gomes, I’m 32 and for the past 14 years I have had the pleasure of serving drinks to friends and strangers alike. I own a cocktail catering company called 10 Dollar Shake, which in turn runs a weekly industry social in Aberdeen called ‘The Corpse & Cocktail’, held every Sunday at Ninety-Nine Bar & Kitchen. The remainder of my working week involves serving drinks for corporate, private and branded clients – each week is never the same!
What does the World Class competition mean to you?
World Class represents the highest echelons in competitive bartending – it’s the Ivy League of cocktail competitions. To be a part of it is a great honour. To be competing alongside my colleague Mike McGinty is a fantastic recognition of the Aberdeen bartending scene which has come a long way in a short space of time. I’m looking forward to London…
What’s your earliest cocktail memory?
Serving Sex on the Beach’s and Woo Woo’s at my first ever city bar job – an over-heated ‘style’ bar (when that term actually meant something) in Aberdeen called Café Ici’s. All the cocktails were pre-mixed, bar the fruit juice, and served in basic half-pint hi-balls. I remember thinking the £4.50 charged for each drink was a rip-off…
Did you choose the profession or did it choose you?
I think I kidded myself that I was going to be something else – an architect, a sound engineer, a DJ, a gig promote, then one day I realised I had worked just about every job a nightclub has to offer. I proceeded to successfully manage one for the next four years (www.clubsnafu.com).
How do you think bartending is regarded as a career?
I’m delighted that, at the age of 32 and in charge of my own bartending business, my dad no longer hassles me to go back to uni and finish my architecture course. If an Indian man in the generation above me can regard this industry as a career, then we’ve made it!
If drink hadn’t entered the equation, what would you like to think you’d be doing now?
I like to think if I were in another industry, I would be in the same position. Drive, work ethic and ambition is specific to individuals and people with these qualities would have the same success in any industry they were involved in.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The social vibe, the drinks and the good times.
And the hardest?
Cleaning…but it’s essential. I’m a stickler for hygiene.
Who’s the most memorable person you’ve ever created a cocktail for? Who was it, what was it and why does it stand out for you?
I had to make a Disaronno Sour for renowned Italian film director Silvio Soldini. We were all in a casting audition at the Rome International Film Festival last year (having won the trip as a European finalist in the Disaronno Mixing Star competition). Whilst making the drink, we had to deliver a line in Italian and give a little cheeky wink at the same time. I couldn’t pronounce the line in the first place, let alone complete all three tasks simultaneously. I didn’t get the call-back. The Sour was good though…
Who’s your favourite cocktail drinker and why?
If I say Ernest Hemingway, I’m being too obvious. Nevertheless, the great man had such an influence on drinking culture around the world, I cannot think of anyone to top him.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you picked up at the World Class Forum?
I managed to make it to both Forums in Edinburgh and enjoyed every presentation and talk, each for different reasons. Jim Meehan stood out for me, especially when he stated that “in my bars, I’m never the best bartender, the fastest or the best looking, but I always become the manager.” I think that sums up my position as an underdog at this moment in time.
What’s your favourite cocktail…
a) to mix
I love the subtle changes you can make to an Old-Fashioned, never toying with the formula, but just using different ingredients to get a completely different taste. I’ll never grow bored of making them.
b) to drink
Give me a Tommy’s Margarita any time of the day…
c) on your menu
Dopo Cena, a delightfully sour combination of amaretto, kirsch, maraschino liqueur, Angostura bitters, sugar syrup, lemon juice and egg white. Effectively, an Amaretto Sour for grown-ups. The Aberdeen bartenders can’t get enough of it (wrong!).
List three ingredients you’d put in a cocktail to sum up the facets of your personality?
Interesting question. Maybe a touch of spice to relate to my Taurean stubbornness; a hint of citrus for my razor-sharp wit (?), and an egg white to signify that my word is my bond. Deep.
You’ve created a World Class cocktail to secure your place in the finals, can you give us a simple failsafe recipe for cocktail lovers to create at home?
My ultimate fail-safe recipe at home is a good old Rum Buck (or Mule). A healthy measure (50ml) of a quality aged rum, a fat lime wedge squeezed and dropped in, a few dashes of Angostura bitters, topped with a fiery Jamaican ginger beer. Winner.
The recipe that got him through:
The Blossom of the Thistle
45ml Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky
Dash of Regan’s No. 6 Orange Bitters
Small pinch of sea salt.
Stir all ingredients over ice, straining into a small, chilled goblet. Zest with mandarin and discard peel.