How did you get started in mixology? 'I'm self-taught. I bartended throughout university and decided after graduating that I didn't want to be a lawyer anymore because it's really boring. I entered some cocktail competitions and won a big national competition. [The contest involved] creating a number of cocktails using a cognac, a vodka and a flavoured vodka. Because of my training as a lawyer, my approach was to use the bar as a stage, as if I were presenting a case. My presentation was much stronger than the other bartenders', who were used to just making drinks. Today, cocktail competitions are like being on stage. But for a long time, nobody caught up with that, so winning was quite easy. There were also no women doing it 10 years ago, so I was an anomaly. One of the reasons I won was because I took inspiration from chefs and incorporated elements of the kitchen into the cocktail. That's something bartenders do naturally today but back then it was a new concept.' What are the current trends in mixology? 'There are a lot more bitters being used. Bartenders use bitters in the same way a chef uses salt and pepper. Even standard bitters, such as Angostura, can add a new dimension to drinks. Consequently, bartenders are now experimenting with their own home-made bitters. If you think about the 1990s, we were drinking a lot of fruit-based martinis. In the 80s, there were a lot of pina coladas, tropical tiki-style drinks. And, at the beginning of the century, we were drinking a lot of clean minimalist cocktails. We're seeing a renaissance of the classic and the more 'spirit-y' cocktail.' Are there any trends you disapprove of? 'I appreciate all trends provided they're not gimmicks. Two years ago, we were talking a lot about molecular mixology and there are aspects of it I could do without. If you can't make a great drink, then adding any amount of foam, or a pearl, or caviar, is not going to improve it. Understanding great cocktails is [about] using ingredients sensitively and intelligently rather than just throwing in a lot of gel, air, foam or gas to make them seem more sexy or exciting.' Should James Bond have his martini shaken or stirred? 'You get a completely different drink when you shake a martini, because what you're doing is adding air, so it's lighter. You also get a much colder cocktail, which is easier to drink quickly. [You need] to think about density. If all the ingredients have the same density, like vermouth and vodka, then stirring is sufficient. If you have something like vodka and juice, where the juice is weightier, you need to shake it to incorporate the ingredients.' Is it a faux pas to order a Midori sour at a trendy cocktail bar? 'It's a brilliant drink! There are bars that celebrate when someone is brave enough to ask for a Midori sour. I shouldn't say it because I work for Belvedere [vodka], but I love pina coladas. If you go into a bar and order a pina colada, there's a certain ilk of bartender who will make you feel bad for doing so. But consumers want to feel safe, like they're being looked after and not being judged. Our currency is fun and we trade in happiness; it's not about making people feel bad about what they like to drink.'