Jody is a craft bartender and gin brand ambassador in Edinburgh, Scotland. He's a collector of Horror In Clay, and a few years back was deemed the Ultimate Kraken Hunter and has won other international accolades. He send us some recipes to try and settled down for a chat.

The Demon in the Dark

(winning cocktail of the Ultimate Kraken Hunter bartending competition)

  • Grated cinnamon
  • Grated nutmeg
  • sugar cubes
  • peppermint bitters
  • 3oz Kraken Dark spiced rum

At its heart, the drink is a Bumbo, which is then set ablaze: Firstly heat up two tankards boiled water, set those aside to warm. Grate some Cinnamon and Nutmeg into a pewter goblet. Fill a mixing glass with water and place the goblet inside. Place an absinthe spoon above the goblet with two sugar cubes on top. Saturate the cubes with a few drops of Peppermint bitters.

Then comes the fun part: Dump all but around 25ml of the water from the blazer mugs. Add about 3oz of Kraken to one of the mugs and set it on fire. VERY carefully, pour the flaming rum back and forth from mug to mug, each time increasing the distance between the two in order to get that famous blue strand of flame.

After 4 or 5 good pours, pour the rum over sugar cubes. It's essential that you do this whilst the flames are still burning; this allows the sugar to caramelize. After the sugar has been broken down, give it a little stir with the spoon to combine everything fully. Remove the goblet from the mixing glass and enjoy!

 

Give us a brief rundown of your awards list and competition history.

My accolades are quite modest, to be fair, relative to the rest of the bartending world. I’ll never forget my first competition; I was lucky enough to take 1st place. November 11th 2011. It was for Grand Marnier. It was citywide but I didn’t know at the time, after I’d won, I’d be the only Scotsman being taken over to the Grand Marnier Chateau in Bordeaux. Here, I competed against bartenders from various countries as far afield as Australia. I placed 3rd, which I suppose isn’t too bad considering I was up against some major players. That gave me the motivation to enter other competitions for brands including Diplomatico rum, AquaRiva tequila, Kraken rum, Martin Miller’s Gin, 42 Below and more. I get a lot of support from my wife; Sian, and it’s down to this that I’ve won or placed in every competition I’ve entered. I’m a lucky guy.

You said you’ve used our products to win a competition…could you tell me a little more about that?

Yeah! I took part in the UK’s Ultimate Kraken Hunter competition. Almost a thousand bartenders from all over the UK were whittled to 10 for the semi finals and then 5 for the UK final, in London. My drink was inspired by an old Caribbean/Privateer concoction.

At its heart, the drink is a Bumbo, which is then set ablaze: Firstly heat up two tankards boiled water, set those aside to warm. Grate some Cinnamon and Nutmeg into a pewter goblet. Fill a mixing glass with water and place the goblet inside. Place an absinthe spoon above the goblet with two sugar cubes on top. Saturate the cubes with a few drops of Peppermint bitters.

Then comes the fun part: Dump all but around 25ml of the water from the blazer mugs. Add about 3oz of Kraken to one of the mugs and set it on fire. VERY carefully, pour the flaming rum back and forth from mug to mug, each time increasing the distance between the two in order to get that famous blue strand of flame.

After 4 or 5 good pours, pour the rum over sugar cubes. It's essential that you do this whilst the flames are still burning; this allows the sugar to caramelize. After the sugar has been broken down, give it a little stir with the spoon to combine everything fully. Remove the goblet from the mixing glass and enjoy “The Demon in The Dark”.

I’m from a small fishing town in the far north east of Scotland, so I told the judges about our history, our stories and some of the real exploits of the fishermen I knew back home. To emphasize that I was indeed the UK’s ULTIMATE Kraken Hunter, I showed the crowd a trophy I’d taken from the first Kraken I’d killed: I held aloft the Horror In Clay Tentacle jigger with pride, the only man to have faced the beast and lived…albeit, a baby beast.

 This presentation won me the title and the coveted hunter ring. It’s the only one in the world.

What was your earliest exposure to heavily themed restaurants? To Tiki?

My friends, Mike McGinty and Andy Stewart (who were the first to teach me about bartending) were actually the guys who kick-started *pun intended* me down the Tiki trade routes. They would tell me little bits of history as they made me, ever more elaborately garnished and complex drinks. I sat at the bar, soaking up the stories of Donn Beach, Trader Vic and then learning from the new wave of Tiki ‘tenders like Beachbum Berry. Of course, along the way, I soaked up some rum!

You’ve been all over the world competing as a bartender. What are some of your favorite locations?

Where do I start!? Well, straight off the bat, I’d have to say PDT in New York. Jim Meehan helped me propose to my wife there and even got me behind the bar to make some drinks. For that, I was honored. On top of that, every time we’re back in New York, we head to Amory Amargo.

I began learning my craft in Aberdeen (Scotland) so that’ll always have a little place in my heart. I got to stretch my wings a little which is why I’m still bartending. From there, it’s taken me to New York, Manchester, Leeds, Paris, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bordeaux. This business is nuts, but it’s the most fun you’ll ever have in your life and every new city means new friends.

 

Tell us a story or two…what’s the strangest thing (perhaps spookiest) that’s happened to you behind the tap?

I started working as a bar-back (glass collector and general dogsbody – for those who don’t know the industry) in Ninety-nine Bar & Kitchen. Back then, it was a sorta up and coming place in Aberdeen. Downstairs in the cellar always felt a little weird, but hey it’s a cellar, right? Those places aren’t exactly the kitchen at parties. Anyway, I’d been down there, digging through some boxes trying to find some bamboo canes I’d bought ages ago. You know that way when you feel someone behind you? I figured it was one of the guys on shift, grabbing some stock or changing a keg. I glance up and saw someone out of the corner of my eye and began explaining what I was doing “Big competition coming up. Have you seen those bamboo poles?” Silence.

“Hello? Yes or no, have you seen them?" Silence.

Turned round and there was no one there. Normally, I’d figure they hadn’t heard me and ran back upstairs to finish up. This was different. Then it hit me, the figure had been wearing a white shirt and trousers. At the time, the dress code was a little more casual, so no one was wearing that kinda thing and the chefs had all left for the night. It creeped me out so I left, thinking some dude had snuck downstairs. No one had seen anything, nothing was missing and nothing on CCTV. When I explained to the guys on shift, they simply shrugged “Ah, that’ll be the guy who used to own this place”.

I later found out, one of the owners, many years ago, had been victimized for being gay. He couldn’t take the constant abuse and had hanged himself in the cellar. Needless to say, I never spent any longer than I had to, in the cellar after that.

What are your most popular or favorite ingredients and "go-to" brands lately? Favourite rum?

I couldn’t say what my favourite rum is. I haven’t tried them all…yet. Rum’s so versatile, my preference depends on my mood and, of course, the drink I’m making/drinking. That said, however, Diplomatico, Appletons, Bacardi and Havana Club are like swiss army knives in the right hands.

At the moment, I’m reading up on as much Tiki culture as I can possibly get my hands on; specifically where Gin is found in those styles of drinks. On January 1st, I became the UK Brand Ambassador for Rock Rose gin, thanks to my exploits behind the bar. The Fogcutter, Saturn and Winchester are perhaps the most famous. I just need to find more! Craft Gin’s are HUGE right now in Europe so to marry both worlds would be amazing!

Pretty much everything I’m using right now, as you would imagine, is based around Rock Rose. It’s a really interesting liquid and I’m on a mission to find out all the flavours it works with.

What is the Tiki scene like in Scotland?

Honestly, it can be a hit or a miss. There are few Tiki bars in Scotland, which is a shame. The weather here is generally harsh and cold. We could use a little Polynesian passion sometimes, if only to forget about reality.

Some places hold Tiki events or Tiki nights, ranging from weekly to yearly. Any I’ve been to are, pretty much, the wildest thing you can think of. I accidentally started a weekly Tiki night in my old bar, through sheer laziness: Someone bailed on their shift (tsk tsk tsk) so I was called in to cover at VERY short notice. I spoke to my boss on the phone, saying I’d come in and cover, on the condition that I could host an impromptu Tiki  night and wear a Hawaiian shirt. This was partly due to my obsession with Tiki and partly that this was the only shirt I had clean at the time! Tiki Tuesday was born!

3 years later and my old bar have only JUST stopped doing them (change in management). I’m quite proud of that.

 

 

 

Scotland makes some awesome contributions to Horror movies and stories (“Dog Soldiers”, a highland werewolf story, is one of my favorites). Any guidance on authors or films I should check out?

Dog Soldiers is one of my favourites! Especially the “there is no spoon” line. Kills me that it’s set in Scotland but was actually filmed in Luxembourg – I’m a bit of a film buff. Of course, The Wicker Man. One, I think, you may be interested in is Lord Of Tears. It’s based around a character found in Scot’s pagan lore and when you see it, you can be forgiven for thinking that Lovecraft had a hand in it. Other notables: The 39 steps and Braveheart – the historical inaccuracies of that film will haunt me forever ;-)

Literature-wise: Shelley and Stoker were HUGELY influenced by the Scottish countryside. Victor Frankenstein visits Orkney, in the novel. That’s one you can’t argue with, as being a benchmark for horror literature.  Also, the stories of beasts like the Kelpies and Selkies are legendary, capturing the minds of generations. If you haven’t read it, pick up Muriel Gray’s The Ancient.

Do you have a favorite story by Lovecraft or Edgar Allen Poe?

I must confess, with Lovecraft’s work, it’s the imagery associated with his work that first captured me. Cthulu, Janai’ngo, and M’basui Gwandu are the things of nightmares. Anyone with an active imagination would find it hard to sleep after reading about them. Poe on the other hand, everyone should have read “The Raven”, but I’m a fan of “The Tell-tale Heart” and his short story “Manuscript Found In A Bottle”.

 

Do you have a recipe you like to serve in your Cthulhu mug

Jody's Bali Bali

  • 25ml El Dorado 3yr
  • 25ml Gosling’s Black Seal (or Lemon Hart 151 depending on how your day’s gone)
  • 25ml Courvoisier
  • 25ml Rock Rose gin
  • 25ml Lime juice
  • 25ml Orange juice
  • 25ml Pineapple juice
  • 12.5ml homemade Falernum
  • 12.5ml Passionfruit syrup (If you can find fresh puree and add a little sugar syrup – more power to ya!)

 

For all fruit juices, if you can, use fresh. If you can’t, then at the very least, please stay away from concentrates. Add your ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake the living daylights out of it! Just like most things in life; the harder and faster you do it, the quicker it’ll be done. You’ll know you’re done because your hands will be frosted to the tin! Fill your Horror In Clay mug with ice (crushed is preferable) and strain the delicious liquid over it. My top tip for anyone making a Tiki drink: if you think you’ve garnished it enough…ADD MORE GARNISH!

Thanks, Jody, for taking the time to share your experiences! Any Horror In Clay fans visiting Edinburgh, should definitely go visit Jody at Heads & Tales Bar & Gin Emporium! Since he moves around a bit, you might want to follow him on twitter.  Go ahead and follow us too!

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