Alex Walker is currently tending bar at the critically acclaimed and award-winning Beaufort Bar in the Savoy, an establishment that continues to cultivate pioneering cocktail talent. Living up to the standards set by his Savoy forebears, Alex recently won the UK Beefeater MIXLDN 7 Cocktail Competition. Here he tells us what he loves about gin and gives an insight on the concept behind his award-winning drink.
Why do you enjoy working with gin in cocktails?
Using gin in cocktails opens up a world of creativity. With the amount of gins available on the market today it’s easy to find flavours that suit a guest’s tastes and needs
What makes Beefeater and Beefeater 24 unique?
Beefeater has the flavour range to work in mixed drinks (cocktails) or stands up on its own as a Martini, allowing numerous possibilities. With Beefeater 24, the more complex notes of the extra three botanicals, grapefruit, Chinese green tea and Japanese Sencha allow for even more creativity.
What does a competition like this mean to you?
A comp like MIXLDN 2017 was a great way to push my own personal creativity. I always enjoy participating in comps. I like to see what everyone bring to the table, and each time I take part I learn something new, which allows me to improve for the next one. Entering comps should always be a personal choice, but I love doing them, and what you can achieve if you set your mind to a drink can be amazing.
Why do you think consumers will enjoy your drink?
Again, it’s about that complexity of the ingredients combined with an overall refreshing flavor, and it should all appeal to guests who prefer a more gin-forward cocktails. It helps that I’ve used a base gin that was designed for the modern palates of today.
“ENTERING COMPETITIONS SHOULD ALWAYS BE A PERSONAL CHOICE, BUT I LOVE DOING THEM, AND WHAT YOU CAN ACHIEVE IF YOU SET YOUR MIND TO A DRINK CAN BE AMAZING.”
Is there a saturation point with gin in the bar?
Not yet. My guests are still enthused by gin, with the number of gins available of the market today the quest for knowledge of my guests is only just beginning. It’s partly the responsibility of the bartender to maintain that enthusiasm, we are the people who answer questions and make the drinks when consumers visit bars. But it’s also important we encourage them to do some exploring away from the bar. There are numerous ways to educate yourself and grow your knowledge of spirits, and the more they learn the more gin benefits.
What bits of education should bartenders pass on to customers?
You should pass on the information that a particular guest requires. Whether that is the basics of making gin, to the more complex things like taste profiles, pairing and finding a gin to suit their palate.
Talk us through the drink that won the UK competition:
My drink for Beefeater MIXLDN 2017 is called Syon House. It was named after the Syon House estate in the west of London, which is where Beefeater 24 (my chosen expression of Beefeater) was launched in the later part of 2008. The drink has been inspired by the grand and decorative features, as well as the romantic and picturesque settings of the estate itself. Building the drink around the changes of ownership of the estate during 16th to the 20th century, and linking the ingredients to various botanicals of Beefeater 24. Using the gin as the core and the other ingredients to compliment the flavour of Beefeater 24.