My First bar job was working at TGI Fridays in Southampton in the 90’s, back then it was a fast paced event that was strict on customer service. Going to work was like going into war with your best friends and comrades. Later I went on to work for a bar that was the former hotel for the VIP’s of the Titanic. It was when leaving there that I decided to make bartending a career choice. I enrolled on a master bartending course with ‘Shaker Bar School’ and studied International Bartending as well as Flair & Molecular Mixology.
Passion and curiosity allowed me to pass with distinction and I joined the UK Bartenders Guild and was snapped up by the Captains Club Hotel in Christchurch. My manager Salvatore Damiano was more like the 'Bar Godfather’, he pushed me to enter many competitions. In fact he still does to this day! Thanks to his positive influence I have competed in the likes of Beefeater Global Challenge, UK Bartenders Guild (UKBG) Nationals & World Class as well as many other brand and UKBG competitions. My mother lives in the countryside and being exposed to fresh ingredients compared to supermarket quality really made me passionate about organic cocktails.
I was fortunate enough to realise this passion during my time at the 5 star hotels, Chewton Glen in New Milton and Lainston House in Winchester. Both hotels allowed me to meet great groundskeepers, that would grow me fresh veg, fruits, tea’s and herbs to make my cocktails. During my time at the Chewton Glen, Salvatore asked if I would like to champion the UKBG as an Ambassador, I felt fortunate to have received such support from the bartending community and set up the 'Southampton Bartenders Association’. This is a group for local bartenders to support ad discuss anything industry related be it professional or social. They regularly have competitions and masterclasses hosted by different venues across the city.
In December I opened 'CoCo Bar and Lounge’ in Southampton. This is a Cocktail Bar with a late night venue attached. The lounge specialises in Local gins from both Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and we have a selection of bespoke G&T cocktails that shows them all off.