Greg Almeida: Scarfes Bar (London)

Greg is head bartender at Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood Hotel in London. He makes two cocktails for us, one with Gin and Mastiha and the second with Whisky and Benedictine.

Greg introduce yourself
My name is Greg Almeida and I’m the new head bartender at Scarfes Bar in the Rosewood Hotel, central London. I actually chose to study cuisine in order to become a bartender. I always wanted to become a bartender, but in my mind I wanted to understand flavours and all the techniques used in a kitchen… like making a jus, roasting, vacuuming etc. So, after my studies I worked as a chef in France and then travelled the world. I began to specialise in bartending when I worked at Papa Doble in Montpellier in southern France. After Papa Doble I moved to Montreal to work at the Lab Comptoir à Cocktails, then moved to London 5 years ago. I was part of the opening team for Novikov, then joined Monica Berg (who blew my mind) at Pollen Street Social and am now at Scarfes bar. I love this bar. When you look around you have all these beautiful caricatures on the walls,  a huge open fireplace, comfortable sofas and chairs which give the bar a strong personality. We’ve just launched a new menu which the whole team worked on and each drink is inspired by the famous caricatures of Gerald Scarfe. We chose 15 of his british caricatures and created 15 cocktails which we believe capture the essence of them. For instance the cocktail created for the caricature of Alfred Hitchcock is influenced by his round face and the movie the birds which is why we have a birds nest on the top of the cocktail. He was the master of suspense, so you can’t see what’s inside the drink and because his past involved herbs and vegetables we used a rocket infused Tequila and beetroot juice, so the drink is very earthy and vegetal. We used this same thought process for every cocktail we created. For instance with the Beatles, the idea was around timeless and loveable, so we made a twist on a classic daiquiri. My baby, is the one about Macbeth, called The Thanes Tipple, so I will make this my signature drink for you. Because we use our own whisky from the Speyside and really try to use ingredients you wouldn’t normally find in cocktails each drink has its own distinctive story.

The classic you want to show us
Orbis Non Sufficit (The World is not Enough)
50ml of Fords Gin
15ml of Roots Mastiha (infused with pink grapefruit skin)
15ml of Pistachio Aged Vermouth Blend

The bar you dream of
My dream bar would be in Montreal as there is a lot to do there. I would open a high volume bar like we have here at Scarfes, that also has a restaurant. So not a restaurant/bar, but more of a bar/restaurant that seats around 60. A quality bar with the best finger food you can have. The ideal would be to have the chef beside me and it would be part of the experience. Even better, I would also have a pastry chef working with me, to create pairings for the drinks. It would a very open place like CopperBay in Paris, with big windows with funk music, as everybody loves a little funk.

What do you do in your time off
I try to do a bit of everything, from sports to playstation, as I am a FIFA fan. I also enjoy going to various bars around town with my girlfriend, to learn from others and see what they are doing.

The spirit you like the most
I would say gin, because of its savoury approach. Since I started as a bartender it has been my favourite spirit. You can create so many styles of drinks with it; from dry and light, dry and heavy ,fresh, sweet or sour, the possibilities are endless. My favourite gins at the moment are The Botanist, Pink Pepper and the Hoppy based on IPA.

What makes a good cocktail 
Balance and a smile, that’s the key. Dilution is your best friend and your best enemy as well.

What ingredient do you enjoy using in cocktails
Any type of spice. I always want more spice, and it works pretty well with gin. My favourite one is something anise flavoured like star anise, as it gives a lovely length to a cocktail.

The signature cocktail you want to show us
The Thanes Tipple
35ml of Scarfes 15 years Old Whisky Infused With Burnt Parsnip
15ml of Benedictine
20ml of Mace and Honey Syrup
20ml of Lemon juice
15ml of Rioja

Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender?
In London go to visit Constança at Peg in Patriot,  as I think she is amazing. You must also go and see Marcis Dzelzainis from Sager + Wilde. In Oslo, you must meet Maxime Verrier from the Thief and my last suggestion would be Maxime Belfand  at Saxon + Parole in NYC.


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