Top industry mixologist Rich Woods AKA The Cocktail Guy is our ‘go to’ guy for cocktail advice. He is known for innovation in the cocktail world and has helped some of the best bars in the business create their impressive cocktail menus. We wanted to hear all about how his love for cocktails began, so sat him down for this Q&A.
Not only this but he has curated a Festive Sangria recipe just for us using our finest Super Cubes.
Rich, tell us a bit about yourself and how you became The Cocktail Guy…
I attended a seminar on the importance of social media and how you represent yourself, in 2015. During the class I considered how I wanted to be seen, who I was and what I did. That was when the Cocktail Guy was created.
I considered how I wanted to be seen... That was when the Cocktail Guy was created.
How did you discover your passion for making cocktails?
I didn’t dream of being a bartender and even when I started in hospitality bartending or making drinks certainly wasn’t my focus. It was the service and management side that first drew me in – I enjoyed having a positive impact on someone’s day. That said, my favourite seat was always at the bar! I observed and taught myself. Coupled with a love of cocktails, I jumped behind a bar and started making drinks.
You work with some of the best bars and brands in the world, where do you start when it comes to making innovative cocktails?
Listening to the brand and understanding what they want to achieve. If it’s a bar or restaurant, do they have a focus of style or culinary route? If it’s a brand, what is their ultimate goal? What do they want to achieve and who is their audience?
What top tips would you give to someone who wants to make it in the mixology world?
Think about what you want to achieve. It’s a young industry and the risk of burning out is high.
Consider if this is a career for you and mould yourself around your future. Consider how you want to be portrayed and set your goals. Focus and ensure every year to set higher and higher ones – that finally sees you achieve your dream position.
Most of all though, don’t dilute what you want. Don’t take jobs or roles if it doesn’t fit with your end goal.
Where do you see the cocktail industry in 5 years’ time?
We’re experiencing a cocktail boom – another golden era as it were. This will continue for some time but I think we will see more and more people enjoy entertaining at home.
What exciting projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on numerous projects including a couple of existing bars, as well as a new SUSHISAMBA opening and a hotel later this year.
What will be the key trends this Christmas in the drink’s world?
I think we’ll see a lot of cocktail kits, complete with spirits and equipment.
What is your ‘go to’ cocktail advice for somebody making them at home for the first time?
Your only as good as the equipment you use. That said, this doesn’t have to cost the earth. BUT, it is worth remembering that ice is not just an ingredient but a tool, so good ice is very important.
Dare we ask…what is the best cocktail bar in world?
There are so many factors of a great bar. Not just the drinks and service but also the occasion. I have had some of my best times in a dive bar with friends.
Festive Sangria- By The Cocktail Guy
2 – The Ice Co Super Cubes
50ml – Cognac
30ml – Cinnamon sugar (see recipe below)
Dash – Orange bitters
25ml – Dry white wine
Top up – Prosecco
Garnish – Apple slices, blackberries, cranberries
Add Cognac, cinnamon sugar, orange bitters and dry white wine to a glass. Add Super Cubes and stir to mix. Add the fruit as you wish and top with Prosecco.
You’ll need- x2 cinnamon sticks, 250g caster sugar and 250ml water.
In a pan over a medium temperature, heat the water and add the sugar and mix well. Add the cinnamon and allow to infuse for 20 mins before removing from the heat. Transfer the mix to a non-reactive plastic container, seal and allow to infuse for a further 2-3hrs. Filter and bottle. Syrup will last for over a month.
Special thanks to Rich for collaborating with us and giving us the ultimate Festive Sangria recipe to indulge in during the festivities. You can keep up to date with what Rich is doing next by following him on Twitter. He also has a best selling book that is available to buy on Amazon.