Murray Drysdale has been bartending for nine years and is currently working at Rick’s, Edinburgh. He goes through to the World Class UK 2012 Finals with his drink inspired by ladies, the Elsa Banitez Cocktail.
What does the World Class competition mean to you?
For me, World Class is one of the most challenging and highly regarded cocktail competitions. It provides an opportunity to test your skill, knowledge and creativity against the world’s best bartenders.
What is your earliest cocktail memory?
My earliest cocktail memory is having a taste of my dad’s Brandy Alexander, at a young age, whilst on a family holiday in the Greek Islands.
Did you choose the profession or did it choose you?
A bit of both really. I developed a passion for the industry working in bars whilst at university. Following graduation, I decided to pursue a career in bartending.
How do you think bartending is regarded as a career?
I think the current passion, commitment and innovation within the industry is helping to advance the profession to new levels. Through exceptional service and educating our customers, people are growing to respect what we do.
If drink hadn’t entered the equation, what would you like to think you’d be doing now?
If I hadn’t pursued my passion for bartending, I would probably be working in architecture or design of some kind. Hopefully at some point, I can combine the two designing my own bar.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is the people I have met and friends I have made, within the industry and over the bar. I really enjoy that every day is different and presents a new challenge or a new experience.
And the hardest?
The long hours, late nights and the commitment it takes to stay on top of your game and up-to-date with the ever-advancing scene.
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?
For me it is every satisfied customer I have served. I love the smile on a customer’s face when they first taste a drink you have recommended or created especially for them, and the thanks you receive for introducing them to something new. That’s very rewarding regardless of who they are or what they’re drinking.
Who’s your favourite cocktail drinker and why? (living, dead or fictional)
Ernest Hemmingway, a man who appreciated his drinks and was particular about how and where he liked them.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you picked up at the World Class Forum?
Jim Meehan’s emphasis on the customer environment and atmosphere.
What’s your favourite cocktail:
a) to mix?
A Blue Blazer – combines theatre, skill and an element of danger.
b) to drink?
A Negroni – well suited for most occasions and seasons.
c) on your menu?
Tommy’s Margarita – simple, approachable and refreshing.
List three ingredients you’d put in a cocktail to sum up the facets of your personality.
1. Lagavulin 16 – Scottish and full of character.
2. Green Chartreuse – combines sweetness, complexity, strength and depth.
3. Campari – not everyone’s favourite, but loved by some.
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?
For me, you can’t go wrong making a Negroni. You’ll need a decent amount of ice, a bottle of good quality gin – Tanqueray works for me – a bottle of Campari, a bottle of good Italian Sweet Vermouth and an orange. Simply add equal parts of gin, Campari and vermouth to a rocks glass with plenty of ice, stir to your preferred dilution, garnish with a twist of orange zest and enjoy.
The recipe that got him through:
Elsa Banitez Cocktail
50ml Don Julio Anejo
15ml Gruner Veltliner
12.5ml cardamon infused agave syrup
Dash of absinthe
3 chunks of fresh mango (approx. 2cm sq each)
Muddle and shake all ingredients over ice. Double strain and pour into a crystal cocktail glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.