The Curious Eleven With Dee Davies

The Curious Eleven With Dee Davies

Dee is an experienced bartender and very well known in the world of Spirits. Living and working in Bristol, the cocktail connoisseur put her name on the map when she won Diageo’s “Show your Spirit” competition in 2013.

Her Gin-Sake hybrid, Jinzu took the Spirit world by storm. She’s also one of the founding members of the Bristol Syrup Company - a brand that gives that key cocktail component some real TLC!

When did that Eureka moment happen when you realized your mission is to be a bartender?

I started bartending at University just to pay my way through - then I got a barbacking job in my last year and it was so much fun I knew it was the place for me.

My absolute hero is Brody Dalle - from The Distillers. I’ve looked up to her since I was maybe 14.

I did finish my degree, but I knew I had found my place in the world - I fell in love with the creative and social side of it.

What are the TOP 5 skills every bartender should have?

I would say a good palate, flexibility, good chat, creativity and a good sense of humor! Flexibility stands out for me as being mentally flexible and being able to work around ingredients is important, and then quite often being flexible dealing with people is a big part of the job. Not to say that being physically flexible isn’t useful as a bartender.

My favorite cocktail ever is a Mint Julep.

Which cocktail is the biggest pain in the ass to make, pardon our French?

Ramos Gin Fizz for sure! It’s similar to a normal Gin Fizz but you have to shake the ice for so long to make it stiff so a straw can stand up in it. Obviously hand shaking this can take forever - I don’t know very many people who can do it without having to pass the shaker on to someone else.

And which cocktail is served in your version of heaven?

My favorite ever cocktail is a Mint Julep - it looks great, tastes great, and is very refreshing.

Which drink or cocktail would you say is way underrated? (And a tricky followup: Which one is the most overrated?)

Underrated is difficult - I think a lot of bartenders might look down on Piña Coladas - but a good Piña Colada is just incredible. I played a game with a friend Emilio on shift once, called: How many Piña Coladas is too many? We found out that it was three… and needless to say we were never put on shift together again!

My favorite cocktail ever is a Mint Julep.

Then overrated, for me that’s a Long Island Ice Tea. I’m not dissing people that drink it, but when there are so many ingredients and you top it up with Coca Cola it’s just a bit disappointing to not be able to taste any of them.

You come home, slide into something comfortable, and throw yourself on the couch. What's in your glass?

Usually a Scotch, or if it has been a particularly difficult night a Mezcal. Just neat for both of those. I’ve got a full stocked drinks cabinet at home - but if I’ve come home from a long day or night then just a big splosh of one of those does it for me!

What are the five essential ingredients every booze lover should have in their home bar?

Good Scotch Whisky, a decent Tequila, obviously a Bristol syrup company syrup… (passion fruit is our most versatile), some good ice molds eg the Tovolo king cube ice mold, and lastly I would say citric acid then you can make cocktails really quickly without using citrus. (It doesn’t go off too, which is ideal!)

Which booze is the most versatile?

Hmmm.. it would probably be Gin wouldn’t it.

Is there a favorite life hack you learned at your job?

Well, I’ve already given away my citric acid one. Another one would be to pre-bottle cocktails, you’ll be so thankful when you come in after a long day and you’ve got something already mixed waiting in the fridge for you.

I’d love to open my own bar.

What's the craziest anecdote you're willing to share with us?

Oh my god… I have so many. I think one of the funniest ones is when we realised someone had stolen one of our vintage table tops from the bar! We went to clear the tables and there was this one table that had taken the entire table top with them. They were a booking too - so we had all their details! We got it back as she had woken up feeling embarrassed about how the night had ended… it always makes me laugh thinking about that one.

What are your passions outside the world of Spirits?

I love cartoons and knitting - my favorite is Adventure Time!

What would you be doing if you weren't a bartender?

Gosh… a tricky one! Oh actually no I know 100% what I’d be doing. I would bake cakes… that’s my other dream job, although I’m sure I massively romanticize it.

Tell us what's your favorite tool of the trade and why.

A good shaker - tin on tin, they have a good seal so you can double shake cocktails without fear of them splitting.

Dee Davies

Fast-forward five years. Where do you see yourself?

I’d love to open my own bar.

A Genie tells you to pick someone to fix a drink for; dead or alive, real or fictional. Who would it be?

My absolute hero is Brody Dalle - from The Distillers. I’ve looked up to her since I was maybe 14. I think she would like an American Whiskey - I would make a twist on an Old Fashioned with our raspberry syrup. I’d make one for myself too to join her of course!

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