Nathan Shearer is a bartender at Callooh Callay in London. He makes two cocktails for us, the first one with whisky and absinthe, the second one with gin and chamberyzette.
Nathan introduce yourself
Hi, I’m Nathan Shearer and I’m a bartender at Callooh Callay in London. I’m originally from a small town called Porthcawl in South Wales, and I started working in hospitality when I was fourteen years old. Firstly I washed dishes in a kitchen, then when I turned eighteen I started behind the bar in a proper old mans country pub with ales on tap. It was nothing like the stuff you do in a cocktail bar, but I really liked the hospitality aspect of it. I moved to London that same year and began working for an events company which involved holding trays of champagne all day long. Eventually I worked for them behind the bar where I completely fell in love with cocktails. I had the opportunity to work at London cocktail club and started straight away, then moved to Callooh over a year ago and I’ve been making cocktails here ever since.
The classic you want to show us
Remember the Maine
40ml of Rye whisky
20ml of cocchi Torino
10ml of sherry herring
5ml of absinthe
3 dashes of angustura bitters
The bar or party you dream of
I like bars to feel busy. My ideal bar would do about 50 covers, with 2 bartenders, a big long bar with 20 seats along it. It would be dark and underground, as I don’t like seeing daylight when I go to a bar. A simple list of cocktails but making them something special by using some old liqueurs and spirits and interesting, new techniques. It would be a short menu with ten cocktails, that I could change ideally on daily basis with local and seasonal products. In regards to music it would be eclectic and depend on the atmosphere of the crowd.
I go to bars where I have friends in the cocktail industry, new openings or of course Callooh Callay. After service I love going to the closest bar around the corner, getting some shots and beer as I am just fed up with cocktails.
The spirit you like the most
I love the entire category of whisky, there’s new whiskies coming out all the time and it’s no longer just heavy, peaty whiskies from Islay. The Japanese ones are very light and floral, the Irish which are oaty with a cereal note to them or American which are sweeter and more like honey. You have so many flavours, you can easily find the one you need for your cocktail. In the end, my favourite has to be bourbon as suits most palettes and is easy to mix because you have the punch first then the sweetness at the end. And that’s a real base for classics.
What makes a good cocktail and which product do you want to highlight at this moment
Time and place. For instance a Manhattan at midday is not the right time. We are not in the 60’s anymore and you can’t have 3 Manhattans at lunchtime and go back to work. It’s finding the right cocktail for the vibe. Like a beer and a shot in a dive bar or a daiquiri in tiki bar. It depends what you are looking for.
I love to work with seasonal fruits and at this time it’s strawberry season, so they are better and better (and the British ones are the best in the world). So you can make vermouth like chamberyzette or a shrub, sherbet or syrup.
The signature cocktail you want to show us
To coin a fraise
30ml of gin
30ml of chamberyzette
15ml of lemon
15ml of sugar
15ml of St Germain
2 dashes of orange bitters
1 dash of bokers bitter
Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender?
You should go to see my friends, Andrea Patelli and Daniel Anderson at Little quarter in Stockholm. It’s owned by the king of cocktail making in Sweden, Jimmy Dymott.