As an 18 year old saving as much money as possible for a one way ticket to Egypt in 1991, my first experience as a bartender landed me a job at a trendy night spot called Blues Bar in Newcastle-under- Lyme, middle England. At the time the bar was packed every night and the most sophisticated drink was either Taboo or Mirage, as loved by the ladies, and pints of larger, also loved by the ladies, but drunk by the men in very large quantities.
Eventually I saved enough with my two other jobs as a lifeguard and selling clothes at a fashion store to afford the trip to the Middle East and quickly forgot my time in the bar on the journey of a lifetime to the land of the Pharoes. Six months later, I started my degree at UCL and started to study Egyptian Archaeology. As a poor student in London in the early 1990’s I turned to the bar again as a way to earn some money. This time working in a pub called the Edinburgh Castle, in Camden, working part time, in between my 7 hours compulsory study a week, for a crazy alcoholic Irish landlord called Mick. He would go missing for 3 or 4 days at a time and make his wife just as crazy. He wasn’t such a role model as Tony had been. Again the bar was a means to an end and that was that.
Study time ended in the mid 1990s and at that time in London the bar scene was just starting to wake up. Still not committed to anything in particular, I chose to leave the country to work on the cruise ships, not in the bar this time, but as a photographer. I did spend a lot of time in the crew bar where I learnt to drink all the classics made by an amazing bartender.
That was when I first looked at the bar as being a possible interesting direction to go in. So on my return to London I put my degree to good use and applied for a job as a cocktail bartender in Soho. This time it was more serious. Serious fun that is. London at the Millenium was the place to be on the planet and Soho was the place in London to be. Cool cocktail bars started to open, LAB, Townhouse, The Kingley Club, The Sanderson, Harvey Nichols to name but a few. The flair bars were starting to go out of fashion and the proper cocktail bars were starting to come up. I moved to hush in Mayfair and started to get into the world of cocktails at that point on.
Having spent the last fifteen years opening other people’s bars, I am about to open my own bar for the very first time. I have seen how not to operate. I have seen what to do and how to do it in every single aspect of the business, from the top to the bottom. It’s only now, with the right location, right concept, right partners, right location and the ability to deliver on every level that I feel the time is right to do what started out as a way to save money for a one way trip to Egypt 25 years ago, and open my own bar instead.
The Studio Saigon, will open April 2017. By appointment only. Call: 0911906468.