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How to Drink Outcast Brands with Jason Kidd

How to Drink Outcast Brands with Jason Kidd

Are you ready to be comfortable with discomfort? Our guest was. Now  after nearly 25 years in the Guinness and beer space, he’s making a name for himself in the spirit world. 

Jason Kidd, founder of Outcast Brands, spent most of his career trotting around the globe working with beer; now he’s home in Ireland making Blood Monkey Gin and Two Shores Rum. Both prove that, in Jason’s words, “interesting drinks are always on the margins of the category that we work in.” Find out why his two liquids are not only breaking the mold but Irish through and through.

Watch it on YouTube

Cocktail of the Week: Two Shores Golden Mojito

Two Shores Golden Mojito
Two Shores Rum shows off its fantastic Mojito recipe!
Check out this recipe
Two Shores Mojito

Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Jason. Just remember that I own the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of Lush Life podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as my right of publicity. So if you want to use any of this, please email me!

This transcript is sponsored by:

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Susan: So it’s great to have you on the show today, so thank you for being here.

Jason: Thanks for having me.

Susan: Absolutely. So I always love to hear how people got where they did. So why don’t we start at the beginning. Where did you grow up and how did you get into the drinks business?

Jason: Yeah. I grew up in Kent in Southeast England. I lived most of my formative years there. I am one of three. So I have a brother and sister who are twins. They’re in a completely different industry to myself, one is a teacher and one is a nurse. I’m not sure how I ended up in drinks, but after university, I applied for the European orientation program, which is run by Enterprise Ireland.

And as part of that, I was very fortunate to get a role working for Diageo. It was then Guinness Germany based in Dusseldorf and then moved to Frankfurt. So I cut my teeth in the industry working on Guinness and Kilkenny Brands in Germany,

Susan: And were you a Guinness drinker?

Jason: Of course. And now that I live in Ireland, it’s pretty much the only thing I drink when I go out.

Susan: As well as Guinness, before that, did you drink beer at university or what  things were you drinking?

Jason: Yeah, I think university is a great playground where you can pretty much try any drinks, any food. I finished university in the late 1990s and it was probably just at the advent of craft beer. It was the advent of new spirits, ready to drinks the likes of Wickeds and Bacardi Breezes.

I usually steered away from those. I’ve always been a passionate consumer of beer. That’s led me to another venture that I have which is we launched a craft beer brewery in London around eight or nine years ago on the Bermondsey Beer Mile. So I’ve always had an interest in that, and then I pivoted into spirits in the last few years.

I think my love of alcohol or the industry at least were definitely coming from my first two roles. One was in Germany with Diageo and the second one was in Heineken in Ireland. So two big traditional beer drinking countries, a lot of heritage, a lot of provenance, stories to be told for within the beer category for both of those countries as well.

While I now work in spirits my  go-to drink at the end of a long week could always be a beer.

Susan: Now back to Guinness, in Germany was the German market big for Guinness?

Jason: Yeah, it’s actually one of the largest markets for Guinness, mainly due to the Irish pub infrastructure that Germany have. So when I worked there in the early 2000s, I think there was around 600 to 700 Irish pubs.

You could go into pretty much any little town or village, and there would always be an Irisha Kniepe, which is German for Irish pub, and they would serve obviously Guinness, Kilkenny, Smithwick’s, there was Cashel’s Cider at the time as well. But yeah, it is, it is still quite a large market for Irish expats.

There is a huge amount of Irish and also English people that live in Germany. I think it’s just down to the fact that there’s a similar culture between the two.

Susan: And what did you learn in that first role that made you want to continue or, or that you brought to your next role at Heineken?

Jason: Sure. I found first of all that the industry is hugely collaborative versus say perhaps the more service based industries that can be a little bit more competitive. I mean, obviously there is healthy competition in the industry that we work in, particularly when you get to the very large players.

But Diageo in Germany was still a relatively small player versus some of the larger local beer manufacturers and spirits manufacturers. So I think that’s the one big thing that I’ve taken out of my career of nearly 25 years in the alcoholic drink space is that it’s very collaborative.

There’s a lot of written and unwritten partnerships that people forge with each other. It’s a category that people like to talk about. It’s a category that a lot of people engage in, be it on a monthly or a weekly basis.

Everyone has an opinion on alcohol, what they like and what they don’t like, who’s doing well, who’s not doing particularly well, what drinks they’re drinking, and what they can make for friends at home, etc. So I think overall I’ve just found it to be hugely collaborative and some of the friendships that I built in my first weeks in Diageo, I met up with three or four of those people this past weekend, and it was our first reunion in around 20 years.

So it’s nice to have that golden thread through our career.

Susan: Yes, yes. No, I always say that it’s so funny because I hear you saying back to me what I usually say, which is there is competition, but is always healthy competition. And I think that usually when you’re drinking spirits, you’re having a good time. So that as a consumer, that lends itself to wanting to talk about it and that permeating through the whole business. Absolutely.

Jason: Yeah, I think you’re right, Susan. I mean there are a number of people in the industry that say that we work in the entertainment industry. I, per, I personally wouldn’t take it that far myself, but cause obviously we need to ensure that people are hopefully enjoying our brands responsibly, but at the end of the day, people tend to kick back with a long drink or a beer or a glass of wine, and you’re using a slightly lower tempo frame of mind.

So part of our job is to make sure that we are delivering on an occasion experience that people are expecting from the brands that they drink. But also as well I’m sure we’ll talk about this a little bit later as well the categories that we are now working in, gin and rum.

They’re becoming ever more popular with consumers that are looking to explore beyond say the spirits of 5 or 10 years ago. If you look at how craft beer has exploded, just in terms of the types of beers and types of ales and types of stouts, you can actually get under that umbrella of craft beer.

I think craft spirits is only just really beginning. I mean we’ve obviously had the advent of large craft positioned or craft style brands that have come out of the larger players globally, but we look at Ireland 15 years ago there’s only 10 or 15 distilleries. There’s now close to 50.

So there are a lot of people entering this market. There are a lot of people bringing new thought into this market as well, and very lucky that I live in Ireland, which is famed for some really premium drinks, both spirits and beers.

Susan: Absolutely. Now what, so what led you from Heineken to where you are now? Was that the last place you worked before you decided to go on your own?

Jason: There, there was, there was a steppingstone in between, which was a three year position with Fosters in Australia. So that was a personal move that my wife and I chose to do, and we happened to find ourselves in very similar roles that we were in Ireland, down in Australia.

Again, just being exposed to different markets, different consumer insights, different tastes, different occasions within Australasia was super exciting. So it was after 10 years of having worked for Diageo. Heineken and Australia in three different markets in mainly marketing roles that I decided to then make a move into advertising.

So I worked for a number of large advertising agencies and small advertising agencies in London, and it was at that point, I started to take some of the things that I’d learned from my days in those blue chip companies into the more entrepreneurial space. So, as I mentioned, my first venture, was into a craft beer brewery.

So myself and a number of others from Fosters and a couple of really interesting and intriguing young craft brewers at the time in London. We launched the Anspach & Hobday Brewery, which is now it’s on the Bermondsey Beer Mile just down from the Shard in London. We also have a production and brewery facility down in Croydon and we have a number of venues in London.

We’ve hundreds of taps across the Southeast, which is fantastic. We’re exporting and collaborating to a lot of other countries with some really exciting brewers, and that just gave me a real taste for wanting to do that  next step into having my own company, but focus away from beer, but more into spirits.

Susan: Yeah, and fantastically, your first venture was successful.

Jason: Well,  we’re still going strong. I think it’s around seven or eight years now. It’s run by Paul Anspach and Jack Hobday. The brewery is obviously named after those two guys. Highly innovative. Don’t take no for an answer. Really try and push the boundaries in terms of beer exploration and flavor.

I think I’ve learned a lot from the process that those guys went through and watched from the side in terms of what worked, what didn’t work. But I think my key takeout from my time there was, from an entrepreneurial perspective, you have to be comfortable with discomfort, if that makes sense.

If you are following a path that others have forged for you? It might not be as exciting. It might not be as collaborative as where we feel that we have got to with our two new brands, but yeah, we try and make things a little bit more difficult for ourselves than we probably should do.

But I always say that I find that the interesting parts or the interesting drinks are always on the margins of the category that we work in. So I think just a world of gin and the world of rum is only now just being properly explored.

Susan: Now when you left working with, well, I guess you’re still working with the brewery, but when you set out to create Blood Monkey, did you know anything about gin? Were you a gin drinker?

Jason: I knew a little bit about gin. I didn’t know as much as I know now, but I think with gin and particularly rum, those were two categories that I hadn’t been personally exposed to a huge amount. So there was a lot of research there was a lot of market visits.

There was of consumer interrogation, just to understand, where the category in the world of gin had got itself to around three years ago. Craft gin has obviously been explosive just in terms of where the category has gone to. I think there’s well over 600 craft gin brands in the UK, there’s well over a hundred within Ireland.

I think a number of commentators on the industry unfairly say that distillers and founders go to gin first so that they can then stockpile and they can then pick up some learnings as they move towards whiskey. I think because we don’t have our own distillery, because we are able to use our recipes and use our liquid development with a number of different distillers within Ireland that gives us flexibility to really push the boundaries on what we’re wanting to do.

 It also means that we are able to do it relatively quickly, nimbly with a little bit of agility because we don’t have the huge overhead of a distillery. But that said no, I went into the gin category with my eyes open, knowing that we had to bring something completely different from a liquid and from a brand positioning in order to even just be noticed really.

Susan: Did you have an idea of what that was before going into it, or did you find it along the way?

Jason: We launched around three years ago and we started working on Outcast Brands, which is the parent company probably around four, four and a half years ago. So we knew that we wanted to move away from dry style gin. We knew that there was a world of gin beyond dry style, be it genever style, be it sloe gin, be it old Tom.

But also as well, we wanted to try and bring a new attitude to the gin category that in, in my mind sometimes over obsesses over botanicals and process. And I think at the end of the day while the vast majority of consumers drink gin with tonic because that’s the behavior that’s been ingrained into them by big brands over the years, there are multiple ways in which gin can be enjoyed.  

Be it a genever style gin that you can drink neat, be it a sloe gin that you can drink for a completely different occasion, be it an old Tom drink, which can change up cocktails in completely different ways. So while the vast majority of consumers drink dry style gins with tonic, I only see that as an entry or an access point to the wider category of gin that I think consumers are now starting to explore.

So the guys at Master of Malt, just literally a month or so ago, came out with an article that consumers are now looking for more savory style gin. So this might be something that we can pick up on Blood Monkey because we market our gin as a sipping gin that obviously goes well in tonic, with tonics, and cocktails as well.

We have key savory botanicals such as Irish rosemary and Szechuan pepper that gives the liquid a much less floral or much less citrusy  taste. The vast majority of the category has gone after.

Susan: Now knowing in concept that you wanted to create something that was slightly different from a London dry or dry gin How long did it take you to develop the recipe that you were like, okay, all right. I think this is exactly what we want.

Jason: Yeah, we co-developed our recipe with our distilling partner, West Cork Distillers, down in Skibbereen on the west coast of Ireland. It took us 14 rounds of prototyping to get to a liquid that we were both comfortable with. We got a couple of bottles of genever we got a couple of bottles of dry style gins that we liked.

We tried to understand just exactly what it was around those liquids that were different and what we really wanted to do. So Blood Monkey is a genever style gin that has been inspired by gins of yesteryear. So just a small history lesson that I picked up when it came to genever is genever is still drunk today and enjoyed today in Belgium, Holland, Northern France.

It’s usually drunk alongside other drinks, usually as a chaser to a beer or as an aperitif, but it is drunk in those countries, as is. It is a malted liquor base or a malted wine base rudimentary gin that has juniper and other botanicals placed into it. The history books will tell us that the recipe for genever found its way across to the UK, found its way across to Ireland, where local distillers were looking to recreate that style of drink.

It was somewhat unpalatable at the start, so they started to throw dry botanicals into the mix. Whatever they could essentially find at the local market or at the local docks. And that is essentially where London Dry Gin came from. The locals weren’t able to pronounce genever, so they called it gen, and after gen it became gin.

So, but we are confident that we have developed a liquid that is inspired by the forefather of all gins, which is genever.

Susan: Now when you were doing your research, was there one botanical or one flavor profile that was common in all of the ones that you liked and you decided to bring it to Blood Monkey?

Jason: Yeah, there was one thing that we were really keen to do, which was to ensure that while we are an Irish craft gin, we wanted to remain relatively true to the original recipe of genever. As I mentioned, genever has a malted grain base, so we use a malted Irish barley base as opposed to a neutral grain base.

We then infuse that with botanicals either within the distillation or within through a vapor basket, particularly for our Tropical Storm and our Spice Storm variants. So what we have sought to do is be as true to the recipe as we can because we can’t call ourselves a genever. We can say that we’re inspired by the forefather of gin.

So we use malted Irish barley and then genever in itself is, as I mentioned, it’s savory. It’s not overly sweet. So we’ve tried to recreate that flavor profile through using, obviously we have juniper, we have orris root, we have angelica, we have citrus in there, but they’re  slightly played down versus the Irish rosemary and the Szechuan pepper that we place in there. So that gives it that savory taste profile.

Susan: So, you have the liquid. You’ve got it after the 14th round, now name and bottle? It’s different from any other bottle that I’ve seen on the back bar. It is black, did you already have the concept to have a black bottle and the name, or did that come later?

Jason: So Susan, as you mentioned, the bottle that you have there versus the vast majority of gins that are out there that come in clear green or blue glass. We wanted to do something different. This is an original corn wine or genever bottle, and you’ll see that it’s a black stone style bottle.

It has white and gold writing on it. So our bottle is a modern interpretation or pays homage to these original bottles. The name Blood Monkey is slightly left of center. So working with our packaging and design agency who came up with the name, Blood Monkey was actually the name that was given to a rogue on a merchant ship.

That rogue or that rebellious spirit would essentially drill a hole into the grog barrel and take the liquid for him or herself. So that’s why we have our drill bit icon on our on our bottle.

Susan: I love it and it’s orange or gold.

Jason: Or copper. Exactly. As old screws or drill bits used to be in those days. Exactly. So we’re, and again, just from a commercial perspective sitting there on shelf or on the back bar alongside clear or green glass bottles. It’s just an opportunity for the brand to get noticed. And that’s all we’re trying to do really as we’re in our third or fourth year of trading.

Susan: And when you’ve told people that, okay, I have a new gin and it’s called Blood Monkey, what was the reaction? Did you have any?

Jason: I think you get the rough with the smooth when you’re trying to launch a new gin, particularly in well established markets. Usually a retailer or bar operator will often joke does the world need another gin?

I think the fact that we are able to bring something new to a retailer’s category or able to bring something exciting to a cocktail menu or to a back bar, it’s allowing us to get into venues and onto shelves where we probably wouldn’t be able to, were we to have a regular dry style gin.

Susan: How have people reacted to drinking it neat? And as I know people are so used to drinking it with tonic that some people might be like, oh, no, no. There are other spirits that I like to drink neat, not gin.

Jason: Yeah. So it’s quite interesting I think we grab attention through the name, we grab attention through the liquid descriptor, but it’s not until you actually try it that you realize, okay, this is actually quite different. So there are a number of gins that you can absolutely drink neat.

Those that go with tonic have a slightly similar production or distillation process. And so what we’ve sought to do is to, as I said, take inspiration from genever, which is drunk neat, but then put certain botanicals into that mix that will give it a certain mouth feel, so it is actually quite viscous when you actually drink it versus some other gins that can be just a little bit shallow, I think so.

You do get a very rounded mouth feel when you drink Blood Monkey, and particularly with the Szechuan Pepper, which is the last botanical that you taste. You do have a lovely warm tingle when you’ve actually swallowed it.

Susan: Now you said that you have the original and you have some other expressions and I was wondering how those came about.

Jason: Yeah, so we essentially, again, did a little bit of research into just exactly what’s going on within the market and it is very commonplace now for retailers or bar operators to have winter drinks menus or summer cocktail menus. So we thought while we can build on what we’ve made within Blood Monkey, we can have a seasonal winter gin and a seasonal summer gin.

Our seasonal winter gin is called Spice Storm. It is quadruple distilled and finishing botanicals are charred Seville orange and cardamom pods. So it’s a lovely warming, yet also there is a good bit of citrus in that because of the charred Seville orange that we have within that. And then Tropical Storm is due to be launched in a few weeks’ time.

Tropical Storm is a mango and lime leaf gin. So, we are fairly confident that we’re the only or first mango gin to come out of Ireland because Ireland’s not famed for mangoes, but again, if you look at some of the trend reports around what tastes and what flavor cues are trending well globally with consumers spice and mango are two of those. So we thought we would give both of those a go.

Susan: Well, speaking of the tropics and tropical and mangoes, let’s go on to your rum, Two Shores. So tell me – you’re doing gin. Rum is a whole different kettle of fish, as we say, was it something that you always wanted to do as well?

Jason: I think truthfully no. But when we looked at where the category was moving to and the increased interest in rum, it was a natural category to move into, similar to gin. Ireland isn’t famed for rum, there are only three or four rums from the island of Ireland and two from the Republic of Ireland, where I’m speaking to you from today.

Rum has been famed for being the next big thing for probably the last 10 or 15 years. It’s since been leapfrogged by tequila and mezcal in the States. But we, similar to us wanting to bring something different to the gin market in Blood Monkey, we’ve sought to bring our Irish interpretation of a craft rum within Two Shores. The rum has always been a category that consumers and retailers have had interest in, but it’s always been pretty much at, let’s say the mainstream slightly cheaper end. So white rums and again, similar to the research that we did on gin.

The world of rum is enormous outside of the Caribbean, which a lot of people is their go-to place when they think of rum. Rum is made pretty much across the globe in and around the equator. So we essentially went out around a year and a half ago and we reached out to between, I think it was 15 or 16 different distilleries and rum sources globally, everywhere for as far as Fiji, all the way to Hawaii.

We were sent samples that we could try and we have landed on working with an independent Panamanian distillery for two reasons. One they were able to source for us sustainably sourced sugar cane rum, which is important from an environmental perspective, but also as well from a taste profile perspective, it is not as sweet or as cloying as some sweeter rums can be.

Similar to our approach when looking at Blood Monkey for the gin category, nearly the vast majority of rums that people are enjoying now are made from molasses, which is the by-product of sugar cane production. So we’ve chosen to take that piece out of our production process and we’re using sustainably source sugar cane rum.

It means that it has a sweet, yet not overly sweet taste profile. The Irish angle that I mentioned was we bring in rum that is eight years old, direct from the distill in Panama. Every single drop of our Two Shores Rum is eight years old, there are some differing rules, around rum whereby you can put a certain amount of age product in and then you can fill up the rest of the bottle with something else.

So we are quite proud that we have a pure play eight year old. We then decant that rum that we get from the distillery in Panama into four different aged Irish whiskey barrels. So again if you look at where rum is moving to, if you look at where Irish whiskey is moving to as well Irish whiskey has got a fantastic name for itself.

It is doing incredibly well within the wider whiskey category. So we are then finishing that rum in Ireland for up to another 12 months. So what you get is an Irish whiskey aged rum.

I guess, really look at the category a bit further back, there are three pillars or three countries of origin or styles within the rum category.

The history that always happened in and around the Caribbean, that there would’ve been French vessels there, there would’ve been Spanish vessels there, and there would’ve been British vessels there because each of those countries had really strong and powerful navies around three or 400 years ago.

So the Spanish brought their own style of rum over, the French brought their own style of rum over, as did as did the British. So British rum tends to come from what were typically or potentially still are historically linked with United Kingdom. Ours is a Spanish style rum.

Our rum is fairly robust, it’s of a pretty high ABV what we really liked about it was the fact that it was sustainably sourced, but also as well, we found that Spanish style rums were able to, let’s say they were able to age better within the barrels that we’ve chosen.

The wider category is showing that people are coming into the category at golden or spiced rum level. So we wanted to make sure that we had a premium golden rum as we go out, but we’re still learning about the whole category of rum and how it’s made and the processes that the distillers go through.

One of the lovely things about Two Shores is that it’s from the shores of Panama to the shores of Ireland. You could see in the future that this might just simply be our first series of rum, so we can source rum from anywhere as long as it is aged in Ireland in aged Irish whiskey barrels.

Susan: How long do you keep it in the barrel? Because Ireland can be a cold place as opposed to Panama.

Jason: It sure can be a fairly chilly place. We age it for up to a further 12 months, so I was just down at our distilling partner in East Galway last week. Five of our six rums are now finished. So they’re starting to be bottled our second batch, but there’s one that’s going to be finished in a vintage port barrel that’s just not right yet. So we’re going to give it a couple more months. But that in total will have been in the second barrel for, I think it will have been 10 or 11 months at that stage.

But we test our liquids every six weeks to two months, there’s an amazing distilling and production team down there. I think just as we’re building out the brand, we’re building out the different styles. It’s one of those ones where you can put it into a barrel and you might need three months.

You might put it into barrel and you might need another 12 months. But, and again, as you mentioned It’s all down to whereabouts in the world you’re actually distilling. So, Panama is a very humid place. It’s got year round, fairly high temperatures and that obviously has a huge effect on that initial aging in expert and barrels in Panama.

But we are very keen to make sure that we had a genuine Irish angle on our rum. So we will always age Two Shores in Ireland in aged Irish whiskey barrels.

Susan: Fantastic. I also saw that you have an Amarone cask style.

Jason: That’s right. This is an Amarone wine cask, which comes from a vineyard in Italy,  which again, when the barrel comes in, we place Irish whiskey into it. We take the Irish whiskey out and then we then place our rum into it.

Susan: So it always has…

Jason: It’ll always have an Irish whiskey finish to us. It’ll have a triple barreled finish to us. We have the Oloroso Sherry, which is aged in Oloroso sherry butt from Herez in Spain, that’s bottled at 45% ABV. Then we have a cask strength, which we age in a peated cask, so it is a lightly smoked rum.

Susan: And then you said that you have a port that’s coming?

Jason: That’s right. We have two limited editions coming, so they’ll be launched in the summer of 2023, they will be relatively low batch. So we’re trying to again drive intrigue and drive newsworthiness for the brand, but also as well, there are a number of high end drinkers that are now looking to explore within rum the same way that they would within scotch or bourbon or Irish whiskey.

So we’ll have an Irish Imperial Porter finish, an Irish black beer stout finish. And we’ll also have a vintage tawny port finish as well.

Susan: I feel like you’ve just gone full circle now because you’re back to beer.

Jason: Well, that’s true. That’s true. I hadn’t thought about it that way. I hadn’t thought about that way. But again, there’s nothing more Irish within the alcoholic drink space than Irish Stout beer and Irish whiskey finish.

Susan: You may have a Guinness finish after all you never know.

Jason: Yeah, I’m not at liberty to say where we got those barrels from.

Susan: No, no, we won’t hold you to anything. Don’t worry, now, so that’s what’s happening. That’s what’s new. The Two Shores, did you imagine them as also sipping as well as

Jason: Yes, the same way that connoisseurs of whiskey would drink higher end whiskeys, they’re not going to put mixers into them or they’re not going to put them into cocktails, so we pride ourselves in all of our liquids, be it gin, or the rum, or any future liquids that we make will always be of a high enough quality and of a high enough smoothness that they can be drunk neat.

We are going for that occasion whereby you can enjoy a drink without it being diluted down with a mixer or changed up into something else with a cocktail.  That said, the cocktail scene has exploded globally, probably 15, 10 years ago, the only place you could get a cocktail would usually be in a high end hotel or maybe in a restaurant.

There are now specialist rum bars, specialist gin bars, specialist bourbon bars, and specialist cocktail bars. So, we export Blood Monkey to New York, where we’re in a number of high end cocktail bars and menus there as well. And the likelihood is the Two Shores will find its way into high end cocktails too.

But we, as I said, pride ourselves on the fact that our liquids can be drunk, neat, or in long drinks or in cocktails.

Susan: Well, I can’t wait to open this bottle and have a sip myself to this evening. Now I think we discussed everything new that’s happening, but , is there anything else on the horizon?

Jason: There is something else on the horizon, it’s no secret that Ireland is famed for whiskey, so I guess really through the gin and through the rum, we are growing ourselves into the market that we’re operating in.

We will be launching a whiskey in 2024, but it’s still very much in early stages in terms of brand, name, look, and feel, and liquid. So we’re only just starting that journey now. So if I had something to share with you, I would, but it’s still very much still very much in development at the moment.

Susan: Well, I can’t wait to hear what’s going to happen and try that as well, now I always end with some top tips for the home bartender, and I was wondering if  anyone who either had Blood Monkey or Two Shores or anything, what would you suggest for them?

Jason: I’d suggest first and foremost, if you are a home mixologist, like I think most people tried to become over lockdown is make sure that you have just even some of the starting equipment.

Get yourself a half decent cocktail shaker. Get yourself a stirrer or get yourself a nice mixing glass. Get yourself a strainer because then at least it’ll give you the confidence to be able to make some of the slightly more adventurous cocktails that are there. I would also say as well, don’t underplay what difference garnishes are able to make to a cocktail. It’s amazing how something as simple as a whiskey sour can be different depending on, how you make that and what garnishes you put with it.

Another one would be within those garnishes as well, is making yourself really simple syrups at home, 50% sugar, 50% water, and then you can pretty much add whatever you want into that and just steep it in there and leave it in the fridge or on the side for a couple of weeks and that those flavors will develop.

One cocktail that was developed by a bartender in New York that’s on a number of menus, very, very simple, it’s 50 mls of Blood monkey, 50 mls of lemon juice. It’s simple syrup and then a freshly crack of, black pepper, it’s got a lovely fresh, yet citrus, yet savory taste to it, and you just need to serve that over ice.

So, within cocktails, I don’t think you need to overcomplicate things. You can make some really interesting drinks with just three or four ingredients. So I’d say give yourself a head start by getting just some of that equipment. You don’t have to get the best that’s out there.

You just need some of the simple things to have in and around the kitchen. And if you’re lucky enough to have a home bar, then just make drinks that you are comfortable making, you don’t need to be putting them under smoke gongs or anything like that, so we can easily make very simple cocktails at home with a small number of ingredients.

Susan: Those are super. Thank you so much. And last but not least, if you could be drinking anything anywhere right now, where would that be and what would you be drinking?

Jason: I’ve been asked this question once before and my answer will remain the same, it would be a pint of Harvey’s Best in Kent which is where I grew up. It was a beer that my dad used to drink, he’s unfortunately no longer with us, but, it’s a fairly basic country ale, but as soon as I drink it, I’m transported back to let’s say where I spent most of my time growing up. So it would have to be that.

Susan: Well, it sounds good to me. Thank you so much for joining us.

Jason: It’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

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