With Cinco de Mayo approaching and MOST of us still confined to the comfort of our home living room bars and liquor cabinets, I thought I’d take the initiative to get the party started with some of my favorite cocktails.
I’ve been a bartender for almost three years now, and I’ve met a lot of talented people in my profession and sampled some yummy libations. But nothing compares to the experience I had when meeting Austin last year in East London while staying at the QBic Hotel. My boyfriend at the time had decided to give us a staycation at this cute hotel. As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by their immaculate bar and the person who would become the highlight of our trip – Austin.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Mr. Charlot Nathaniel Austin Garland, known by his middle name “Austin.”
Hailing from the Turks and Caicos Islands and partly raised in Miami, Florida, Austin currently resides in Birmingham, United Kingdom. At fifteen years old, he began his work in the hospitality industry. His first internship was as a Junior Line Cook in a World Class hotel by The Luxury Sandals Brand “Beaches Resort Villages and Spa, Turks and Caicos.” This 5-star decorated resort hotel is potentially the most awarded resort in the Caribbean and the world’s most popular family resort for over twenty years.
A short while later, he moved on to be the headlining “Lil’ Chef” of the first Caribbean Wine and Food Festival, TCI 2011. Austin has also worked with notable chefs featured on various Food Network shows, including The Next Iron Chef America and Worst Cooks of America, Season One.
Austin continued his journey across the pond at only age nineteen years old, and since arriving in the United Kingdom, he has lived in London and has worked at many of the nation’s top hotel brands. Today he is a 25-year-old practicing Mixologist, Junior Sommelier, and hospitality manager and also works for the Top UK Hospitality Supplier, “Evolve.”
His solid bar background makes him a force. Austin is known near and far as a firecracker in the industry with his bold personality, friendly outlook, top professionalism, and, most of all, his charismatic smile.
“This guy is incredible.” - his words (and mine)
Now that you know a bit more about Austin’s background, you understand the kind of powerhouse personality and skill set that awaited us. He spoiled us the entire weekend and showered me with so much love. When I tell you, we opened and finished bottles, sampled and sampled and sampled his fabulous creations, and I was even sent hot tea and cookies to our room to help me wind down (and probably sober up).
His attention to detail, expertise, leadership, and overall enthusiasm for his work shined bright. Austin made our experience 100x better. We were so happy to have him be a part of our experience, and we’ve all become good friends since then. I make it a point always to see him when visiting the city, and you can bet that we’re painting London Town red every time I visit.
But yes, back to our cocktails.
If you’re like me, you’re over all of this social distancing stuff. All of the amazing things like going out to grab drinks with friends, hanging out at your local bar, or one of my favorite past times – trying a specialty drink at a new bar in another country – has been stripped away from us (temporarily). So I thought I’d bring the drinks and the travel to us all here. And who better to get us all together than Mr. Garland himself, honey?
So let’s take a trip around the world (or at least around the corner) to sample spirits inspired by different regions across the globe.
Whether you’re into rum, tequila, vodka, or gin… we’ve got you covered. And get your pen and paper ready to take notes, because Austin is here to school us on the history, quality, and overall 411 on each of our spirits. Have fun, and drink safely.
Lady in Red Spritz
Build in glass, Stir then top with Sparkling Wine, Cubed ice
50ml Absolute Berri Vodka, 25ml Lemon Juice, 15ml Strawberry Syrup, 15ml Peach Schnapps, 75 ml Cava/ Sparkling Wine
Large Wing Glass
Absolute the World’s Favorite Vodka and first vodka to release a flavored selection is easily obtainable worldwide. This is also my favorite vodka as it’s the first alcohol brand that openly supports the L.G.B.T.Q community based out of The United States of America. The Raspberry Vodka is the perfect choice for a vibrant spring cocktail topped with a fabulous garnish of Cotton Candy. Bottle Price £17
Spring Fruit Gin Martini
Shake with cube ice, Fine strain, Pour into chilled glass
50ml Bombay Sapphire Gin, 25ml Lemon Juice, 12.5ml Limoncello, 12.5ml Apricot Liquor, 12.5ml Peach Syrup, 10ml Cointreau, 10ml Campari
Dried Rose Petal
Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin is undoubtedly one of the Top Five (5) Best and Most Famous Gins on the planet. It’s easily accessible, very smooth, and widely enjoyable to many palettes. Currently in the United Kingdom, gin and whiskey rank as the highest grossing spirits with over two billion pounds in sales annually. In this cocktail the gin plays a vital role in adding botanicals and spice and a bit of dryness to bring the beverage’s fruity ingredients together. Bottle Price £19
Eldorado Rum Old Fashioned
Long stir in glass, Cubed ice
60ml El Dorado Rhum (12 yr), 10ml Vanilla Syrup, 10ml Maraschino Cherry Syrup, 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Cherries on a toothpick
El Dorado Rum 12 Year, (In my mind… the most incredible liquid to be created), is the life and spirit of Guyana, West Indies. “El Dorado” meaning rich in treasure/opportunity is a small city in South America where explorers would find gold dust, silver or much treasure. This rum brand is over 300 years old and is known as the “FINEST RUM FROM DEMERARA, SUGAR CANE”… in the last 10 years alone this rum has won over 24 gold ,medals and numerous silver medals but never bronze for this level. In our Old Fashioned cocktail, the level of flavor and
Spiced Salt Paloma
Shake and stain, Cubed ice, Soda water top
50ml Sierra Gold Tequila, 25ml Lime juice, 15ml Sugar Syrup, 50ml Grapefruit Juice, 50ml Soda Water
Spiced Salt RIM. Spiced salt optional (salt, ginger, crush chili, smoky paprika, cinnamon)
Sierra Tequila comes from the Destilería Sierra, situated on a historical Hacienda in Guadalajara, the capital of tequila in Mexico. This tequila brand is the first brand to harvest their plants by hand to allow the cactus to relax in its own environment free of heavy machinery. Ms. Jameca Lyttle “CEO of the Capricious Traveler” is the biggest fan of a well presented, bold & smooth tequila and I made this “Spiced Salt Rim Paloma” in honor of her. This tequila is a popular corner shop/ high street brand but any tequila will do just fine. The spiced salt is optional but its sooo good to have and this cocktail is traditionally made with a sister spirit “Mezcal”. Bottle Price £17