In part 4 we travel to Leicester to meet Robert Squire. This is a bartender who is clearly passionate about what he does and with whom we have enjoyed some great cocktails.
How long have you been bartending?
I have been bartending roughly 10 years now.
What made you decide you wanted to work behind a bar?
I started off working in a student pub whilst studying at university. After I graduated I wasn’t ready to give up the fun I was having and settle down, so I carried on working at the pub. After a few years I started to develop an interest in cocktails. I got my first job as a cocktail bartender at Hakamou in Leicester just over 7 years ago now and then moved to Haycock & Tailbar when it opened just over 3.5yrs ago. I guess I’m still not ready to give up the fun and settle down!
Where do you find your inspiration for new cocktails?
Inspiration can come from anywhere, that’s one of the things I love about this industry. You try a new flavour combination for the first time, or you learn about a new product, be it spirit, syrup, fruit etc. and it just gets the creative juices flowing.
What’s your go to ingredient?
Go to ingredient for me is always bitters, be it Angostura, Peychauds or some of the crazy flavoured ones. I just love the level of complexity it can add to a drink, especially in such a small amount!
What’s your proudest accomplishment so far?
My proudest accomplishment so far… that’s a tough one. Nothing beats the feeling of having your first ever cocktail listed on a menu. That feeling of achievement I’ll always remember. Professionally was about 3 years ago when I made it through to my first national cocktail final with Old Forester Bourbon, at the time I didn’t think I’d ever achieve anything like that.
Define the perfect cocktail?
For me the definition of a perfect cocktail is balance. I want to be able to taste the various ingredients in the drink, to be taken on a journey. There’s nothing more disappointing then getting a cocktail where all you can taste is citrus, or it’s far too sweet.
What is your go to drink on a night out?
Go to drink on a night out honestly depends on my mood and who I’m with. I’d never turn down a pint of Guinness or a Tequila & Tonic though. Cocktail wise depending on the bar I’m in, Batangas (Cuba Libra but with tequila instead of rum) if it’s a party style bar or if it’s a cocktail bar Negronis or Aperol Spritz all the way. It’s a running joke with my friends when they try to tempt me to come out they offer to buy me a spritz! But before drinking my go to I’ll always try at least one drink off the list. The team have spent a lot of time and effort developing the menus and to not try any of them, personally I think is insulting to the staff.
What’s your favourite thing about working behind a bar?
My favourite thing about being behind the bar is that every day is a school day. There’s always something new to learn be it about the products I’m using, or the people I’m interacting with. I’ve had some pretty interesting conversations across the bar over the years including the names of the different parts of a horse… in French (not that I can remember now mind).
What’s your least favourite thing about working behind a bar?
My least favourite thing is probably the anti social hours and the health implications that brings with it, be it mental of physical. I’ve seen too many people fall victim to it over the years. I won’t go to far into it but there are a lot of people out there that are trying to help and make things better within the industry which is fantastic to see!
What is your favourite drink to make?
My favourite drink to make as cheesy as it sounds is the drink my customer is most going to enjoy drinking. I love seeing their face light up when they try something for the first time and fall in love with it. This house of Angostura quote sums it up for me “If you enjoy the drink half as much as I enjoyed making it then I’ve won!”
Where can we find you to enjoy your cocktails?
You can find me at Haycock & Tailbar Associates based in Leicester. I’m there pretty much every night the bar is open.