Рядко ми се случва да интервюирам хора, поради няколко причини: не мога да водя класическо журналистическо интервю (да, пробвала съм – абсолютно фиаско), предпочитам да водя разговор с човекът насреща и да споделяме интереси.
Освен това обичам да се чувствам на 100% сигурна в нещата, които правя – а да застана срещу някого и да му задавам въпроси не е моето нормално амплоа, за това винаги съм изпитвала огромна доза неудобство. И като така – почти идеално се получи, че това интервю с Дънкан беше организирано чрез размяна на мейли, защото в крайна сметка – писмените отговори се предполага да бъдат прочетени, а не обичам да преразказвам в писмена форма устни отговори.
След като получих поканата за среща с глобалния посланик на Hendrick’s в бар – очаквах обичайния сюжет: кратка (или дълга и тягостна) брендирана презентация, малко общи приказки и коктейли. Последното нещо на света, което очаквах да видя беше млад и ентусиазиран човек, изпълнен с чувство за хумор и готов да отговаря на всякакви въпроси (нещо, от което българската публика така и не се възползва, а аз трябваше да тръгвам по-рано).
Сбити факти за производството в днешно време, подробна и интересна история на джина на Hendrick’s от различните фази на производство: като „суров“ дестилат и след прибавянето на розово масло и екстракт от краставица. След дегустацията на вино, зехтин и оцет – това е поредното вълнуващо изживяване, струваше си всяко вдишване и всяка изгаряща гърлото глътка.
И така, мили мои- представям ви Дънкан МакРий – глобалният посланик на Hendrick’s, който отговаря на моите въпроси (оставям отговорите в оригинал, на английски – така няма да се изгуби нищо от езика, изразните средства, както и отговорите в зелено, точко както ми ги изпрати) и страхотните всъщност послания, от които това ми е любимо: Bars are in some way the like galleries curated by experts but if every gallery had the same art in it then culture would be dull. For me, cocktails are exactly the same. It is fantastic that globally the standard of drinks served in bars is improving but both the bartenders and the patrons should keep demanding more imagination, more creativity.
During your presentation a bunch of people definitely wanted (me included) to have your job – but what does really a world ambassadors of Hendricks’s do, I suppose there must be way more than just globe trotting, talk, drink and mix cocktails – what’s your story?
It most definitely is a dream job! I fell into the world of gin by accident following a chance encounter and conversation with a customer whilst working in at Dragonfly Cocktail bar, Edinburgh in 2006. What at the time was seemed like an obscure cocktail request sent me spiraling in to the world of classic gin cocktails and a journey of taste and discovery that still motivates me today.
Bartending met my appetite of events and travel and after a short time running my own events company I landed a job at Tanqueray for a few years before moving across to the dream Hendrick’s Gin around 5 years ago.
My role within Hendrick’s is a surreal and varied one – I travel from London where I live to the distillery in Ayrshire where we make our gin and from there around the world spreading the story of our history, unusual production processes to our distributors, bartenders and curious drinkers around the world. It’s a mixture of behind the scenes strategic work, and marketing but with an emphasis on events, either for creative activations or for the bartender community. It’s full of variety, and challenges and I feel very lucky to be able to work within gin, but have a lot of fun on wild projects along the way. We recently launched an airline (HendricksAir.com) in the USA and our aircraft was a giant “flying cucumber” airship!
What did you do before 2009 (I’ve checked your LinkedIn profile – apparently you’ve been brand ambassadoring since then)? (think I answered that above!)
I know how much study is needed for becoming a wine taster, or a sommelier (I have a few friends having these amazing jobs), but what do you really need to do when you want to work in the word of spirits?
I think sommeliers have done a great job in projecting a professionalism about their trade that just doesn’t exist to the same extent in the world of spirits. Yes there are courses you can go on, certificates you can achieve like the WSET (Wine & Spirit Educational Trust), Diploma’s and even everything from general certificates to University Degrees in Distilling – but I don’t think there is one key thing you can point to as indicator of someone being a spirit specialist. Across the industry there are people with entirely different backgrounds regarded as the best in their fields. Some have come from the hospitality industry, others from marketing, others down a specialized journalism path and sometimes even bloggers or just bon viveurs! What binds all these groups together though is extensive research and buck loads of passion that no amount of official certification could compensate for. A technical understanding as well as the general knowledge really helps, of course.
What strikes you most while globetrotting and speaking in front of so many audiences: how much people know or just the opposite, how little they know about gin – the origin, production etc. (and spirits in general)?
I’m always surprised at the amount people know, and sometimes what they don’t! Gin has lots of stories, not all of which are true and because drinking is so entwined into our social lives and traditions all around the world it’s amazing the odd pieces of information that people come out with! I’m always learning new things wherever I travel from people! The current movements in food are a godsend for the alcohol industry. Suddenly people are increasingly conscious about what they are putting into their bodies and where these things come from, and this is great news for producers of good quality, interesting, well made spirits. I travel often in the role of educator – not just promoting Hendrick’s Gin, but placing it within the context of the whole world of gin, it’s history and of course, cocktail culture. And for me, that’s where the everything really comes to life – these are the mediums through which drinks communicate to us – the language we talk when we’re with friends, sharing our free time enjoying things like well made cocktails.
Your job looks to me to be very important in terms of educating the consumers – on how to, when, what to mix with, drink etc. – what’s your take on what you do?
What I do for a living isn’t like a doctor, nurse, lawyer or a fireman, If I didn’t do what I do the world wouldn’t be a hugely worse place to live, however, in my own small way I feel I’m in a gloriously fortunate position to add a little something to the lives of many other people. My ambition is to inspire people to enjoy things in a slightly different way. This ranges from getting people to think about alcohol differently (drinking less, but better drinks) to curating experiences around the Hendrick’s that stimulate their curiosity, creativity and sense of humor. The education part is important, but if I can do that with a fun, memorable event at the same time, then it’s a double win.
I also have the feeling that nowadays – when we have easy, or relatively easy access to great goods – we, as consumers are getting kind of lazy. How important it is according to you teaching the customers to learn new things, ask questions when ordering drinks etc.?
It’s a careful balance; there is much more choice which is really fantastic for everyone but also more trends which in some ways make people aim for the same things. For me, the world of cocktails is a very personal place and the more variety in styles of drinks and bars the better it is for everyone. Bars are in some way the like galleries curated by experts but if every gallery had the same art in it then culture would be dull. For me, cocktails are exactly the same. It is fantastic that globally the standard of drinks served in bars is improving but both the bartenders and the patrons should keep demanding more imagination, more creativity and more specialization. It’s a long process but the results can taste heavenly!
Could you please give me a really quick tip and a quick recipe for a cocktail (or two) to can impress guests with – or even better: how to impress your date with an amazing cocktail.
Here’s a simple recipe for a drink called the Flora Dora. It’s my go to long, refreshing cocktail when I don’t feel like a gin and tonic. Made in the same way, but with just a few additional ingredients. It was apparently made in the early 1900’s to celebrate the first musical hitting Broadway.
50ml Hendrick’s Gin,
20ml Freshly squeezed lemon juice (four wedges squeezed would do).
10ml Raspberry Syrup*,
topped up with ginger beer.
Build all ingredients in a high ball glass over ice and stir well. Garnish with a raspberry and a cucumber slice.
*recipe for home made raspberry syrup: add 100 gr sugar,100 gr raspberries with 100 ml boiling water and blitz in mixer for 10 seconds. You could add additional flavors like a few drops of vanilla extract or even rose oil if you feel creative!
I love pairing drinks & food – so I tend to always ask people about that – what would you pair a gin or a gin cocktail with?
For me, there are so many options with food and cocktail pairings that it is best to keep it simple otherwise you can become so distracted looking for matches between the drink and the dishes that you forget to enjoy the meal!
With gin, I find that white fish works really well because the light, delicate flavors don’t overpower the delicate bouquet you get from gin and it’s more subtle botanicals. A restaurant in London named Clove Club won my heart with a piece of white fish steamed with the inclusion of gin botanicals. At the other end of the spectrum there is a well documented history of Juniper being served with game like Venison, so it follows that a nice fresh gin cocktail might sit nicely along side something like that.
Thank you very much for your time and your answers!
Thanks for writing and I hope these are of interest to you and your readers! I had great fun in Bulgaria and I’m excited to see the growth of the world of cocktails! There are some very talented bartenders that I met in Sofia so I’m sure I’ll be back soon!
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