Jay Smith : Reverend JW Simpson (London)


Jay is a bartender at Reverend JW Simpson, London. He shows us 2 cocktails, one is bourbon based and the other one is gin based

Jay introduce yourself
Hi, my name is Jay Smith, I’ve been a bartender coming up to 8 years now. I started after going to see my friends after work at TGI Fridays in Kingston. I’d help them clean up and drink bullet bourban and then go out partying. I saw their lifestyle and thought “this is not bad”, everyone knows them and thinks they are cool. I used to hang out at the bar my friend worked at and finally one night they asked me to help collect glasses. It went from there… for 3 years i worked in a bar in Wimbledon, being trained, then I kept moving until I started at Reverend JW Simpson, London. Here, we work with a forager, trying to be as seasonal as possible and bringing back old techniques.

The classic you want to show us
Larder batch (Twist of old fashioned)
60ml of Bourbon Four Roses small batch
15ml of Pinot noir reduction (cardamon and pink peppercorns)
1 dash of Angustura bitters

The bar or party you dream of
Wow, every bartender has thought of this a million times. Nice and dark, cosy, candlelit, some zeppelin, a little bit of rock’n’roll in the background. So it’s got the elements of a dive bar, but the sophistication of a speakeasy, but without any pretence. I like that people can just come in and tell me what they like. Everything stirred, maybe a couple of little shaken drinks, but mostly stirred. Like Amor y Amargo in New York, but darker and with a longer bar.
And for me, it depends. In summertime I don’t like the heat, so basement bars with air-con are best. In winter, I like party baresque.

The spirit you like the most
When I got into the cocktail world, cuba libre became my go-to drink, because of the history of it and the story behind it. So rum was my favourite thing to mix with for about 4 years. Finding the different types from different countries. I love the sweetness of it, the oakiness, roundness and it’s mixability, it excited me. Now, it’s completely changed as over the years my palette is less sweet and more interested in the elements. My favourite thing to mix with is gin and London dry gin for sure.

What makes a good cocktail and which product do you want to highlight at this moment
First of all you have to start with fresh, delicious ingredients and seasonal if possible. But with modern day preserving techniques and old ones such as pickling, you can use things like strawberries in winter. So for me a good drink is: quality ingredients, knowledge, history, delicious and ice cold. I like something with a story, I want to be excited.

There’s a couple of things we are using right now. We made a liqueur from douglas fir (Christmas tree pine) it has an amazing sweet pine flavour. We use trees, juniper branches (which we’ve smoked), maple leaf, it’s definitely products from nature, that’s why we work with a forager.

The signature cocktail you want to show us
Fir Douglas Rathbone Esquire
20ml of Rathbone gin
30ml of home made Fir Douglas liquor
20ml of lemon juice
7ml of mapple syrup
Spray of bergamot oil

Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender
There is a guy in Barcelona called Julio Falcone in Creps al Born. He just looks at you and knows what to make.