Bartending is about being the perfect host, says Joe Petch

Jul 08, 2018, 08:30 IST | Kusumita Das

Joe Petch, who created the world's cleanest martini, breaks down the art of bartending to the very basics

Bartending is about being the perfect host, says Joe Petch
Joe Petch

Joe Petch is not your everyday bartender. In fact, he could be among the very few who prefers being called a "bartender" and not a "mixologist". The 34-year-old who started off as a student of art and photography, went on to chart a fascinating career as bartender, being the global brand ambassador to iconic brands like Reyka Vodka and currently, Monkey Shoulder. Previously, his clientele has boasted names like BAFTA, Glamour Magazine and Brit Awards. Petch was recently in India to host the grand finale of the Ultimate Bartender Championship, 2018, during which he made a quick stop in Mumbai.

For Petch, the key word has always been "innovation". Two years ago, he created the world's cleanest martini with glacial ice imported from Iceland. The martini had vodka from the volcanic springs of Iceland, Icelandic glacial bitters and a few sprays of Lillet Blanc vermouth. "Clean water is essential to clean tasting spirit" was his reasoning. The UK-born says, "I couldn't take everyone in London to Iceland, so we brought a piece of Iceland to them." Petch's tryst with bartending began in 2004, during his year between secondary school and university.

"I loved it so much, I didn't end up going to university. I started consultancy business working across bar events," he adds. He built his own lab and attained a spirit rectification license from the UK government for further flavour research. Among his latest innovations are a petrol chainsaw power cocktail shaker, a tool that can shake 10 cocktails in less than half a minute. Ask him why the hunger for research and Petch says, "That's what everyone asks, but most of the time I don't even know!" Right now, his aim is to make drinking scotch exciting, especially in markets like India. A tool called The Claw was recently launched here. It's meant to ensure more precision through its hooking technique, to add more ice to drinks. Prior to this, there was the Ispoon and Konga shaker.

When not toggling with his bar tools, he DJs at leading music festivals like Secret Garden Party and Glastonbury. Why a bartender, and not a mixologist, then? "In my head, I make drinks and therefore, I am a bartender. Mixologist is a term used mainly by the industry and the media to distinguish between someone who pours pints and someone who makes cocktails. I don't fuss over terms. A great bartender is not someone who has the greatest bar knowledge or makes the best drinks, but someone who can be the perfect host."

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