Our favourite bartenders: Nelson Bernardes, Good Godfrey’s, The Waldorf Hilton

ByThe Cocktail Lovers

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Where did you learn your craft?

I had my own bar back in Portugal for about seven years, but due to a lack of cocktail tradition to be fair, I owe everything I now know to London! Here I’ve taken some courses, attended trade shows and seminars and visited all sort of bars – London has been my best school so far…

Name a few of the places you’ve worked

Bungalow Bar Café, a small family bar that I owned in Portugal with Alvaro Anjos; Kingsway Hall hotel, my first job here in London almost five years ago, and The Waldorf Hilton hotel where I’ve been working with great pleasure for the past four years.

Who’s the most inspiring person you’ve worked with and why?

In my professional career I should give some credit to Alvaro Anjos and Daniel Carvalho, both for having the patience to work with me and for sharing their points of view – I’ve  learned a lot from them. Also I undertook a course here in London called ‘Bartender Makes Sense’ with Mickael Perron, I must say I left that course on fire!! It was great to open my mind and start thinking differently.

What makes a good bartender?

In this job you must love learning (about drinks and people) – always.

Which bartenders do you admire and why?

The usual suspects…

What’s your proudest moment as a bartender?

When I achieve one of three things or all of them: 1. Guests leaving the premises happy and coming back again. 2. Promoting a friendly/funny work environment with the gang. 3. When the boss is happy with my team’s achievements.

Shaken or stirred?

For me to drink? I would say shaken. I’m more of a Sours cocktails man, with some exceptions the stirred drinks tend to be the strongest ones which is not my style. I don’t go out much and when I do, I don’t want to get off on the first drink…

What’s your favourite drink?

To mix:
Perfect Host

To drink:
Perfect Host

On your menu:
Perfect Host

Perfect Host. Photograph by Daniel Carvalho

Recipe for Perfect Host

50ml Bacardi Superior
25ml fresh lime juice
20ml apple juice
17.5ml gomme syrup
15ml egg white
Celery & basil
Method:
Muddle the celery in the bottom of the shaker; add the rest of ingredients and dry shake. Shake again with ice. Double strain into a chilled coupette and garnish with ground black pepper.

What’s your definition of a bartender and a mixologist and where do you fit in?

I think that a mixologist is a bartender in an expensive suit! Before we used to say, “I’m going to see a doctor”, now we say “I’m going to see a specialist, a dermatologist, a pathologist…” Both Jerry Thomas and Harry Johnson have written books with the word bartender as part of the title and these have been the centerpiece of many bartenders’ libraries. I think I’m a Bartendologist, if that’s okay with you… just kidding!

What’s your favourite ingredient?

Egg white for the mouth feel and the lovely foamy appearance.

Where do you drink off duty?

Since I came to London I’ve been trying to ‘collect’ places for my experience memories, but the list of great bars here is long and increasing all the time. Probably because this was something new for me, since we don’t have this kind of culture of frequenting hotel bars in Portugal unless you are a resident, I tend to visit them more often nowadays, but still love the more relaxed ‘street bars’ which are great for crazy fun. It really depends on with who am I and what are we looking for…

What’s your essential piece of bar kit?

Since I’ve used a jar as shaker, a jug as mixing glass, a wooden cooking spoon to stir and shot glasses to measure*, the word ‘essential’ has a whole new meaning to me… What’s really essential is the ICE!!  *At a friend’s crazy party… ahahahah good times!!

What’s your failsafe recipe to mix at home?

Since I live in a studio by myself, once and a while I feel the need to invite some friends over just to mess it up… Perfect Host is the cocktail we all start with – created almost a year ago and still bringing smiles to people faces.

If you could mix a cocktail for anyone alive or dead, who would it be and why?

I would like very much to mix a cocktail for Mr. Frank Sinatra, someone I really admire. I would create him something at My Way, a cocktail that can make Strangers in the night become friends and I would call it “I’m driiiiiinking in the rain!…”

 You can find Nelson tending bar at Good Godfrey’s, The Waldorf Hilton, Aldwych, WC2B 4DD. T: 020 7836 2400. waldorfhilton.co.uk.

The Cocktail Lovers

The Cocktail Lovers

The Cocktail Lovers are Mr G and Ms S, a man and a woman who share a passion for cocktails. (We also happen to be married, so we’re cocktail lovers in more ways than one…)

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