The Cocktail Trading Co, London
We put our hand on the trigger and pulled.
The doors to The Cocktail Trading Co flew open, and we let go of the pistol door handles as we stepped inside. Dark wooden paneling, pints filled with peanuts, and warm carpeting give off a relaxed 1970s pub vibe until you turn your head towards the bar. While at first your eyes are fixated on the mountains of neatly lined bottles, just another glance and you’ve caught sight of a grassy golf tee, a SPAM jar and other odd pottery vessels you don’t normally find lying around.
We begin looking at the menu, a booklet that includes a sketch of the cocktail, ingredients and method. Everything is visually led and designed to appeal to the eye, which in turn delivers a cocktail that suits your individual tastes. We order A Bag O’ Chips, which comes topped with chips (salt and vinegar not optional), and the Instaspam with a cooling dollop of ice cream. We keep flipping through the booklet to the back where we can draw portraits of “anything we want (but please refrain from penises” it says) and begin filling out the crossword puzzle. We’re in awe of the novelty, but more than that, the incredible flavour combinations as we enjoy our drinks.
Elliot Ball, one of the three partners joins us. He’s in the process of creating a new menu. “We never start with the liquid, it’s always the concept that comes first. Funny Stuff. Silly puns, you know?” We’re dying to divulge the details, but we’ve been instructed to keep it under lock and key…
He’s the neuroscientist who loves building flavours. Andy’s focus is on methodology and Olly has the best customer service out of anyone Elliot knows. The three of them had been in the industry for a while before deciding to open shop together. As Elliot puts it, “Everyone likes drinking so there’s always a demand for it. But we are forward thinking not only with our cocktails, but in the way we treat our staff.” Hot on training with twenty-five percent of the profits going directly to his team, he still has a few rules. 1) Everyone does every job with a router balancing out the day and night work. 2) There’s a zero tolerance policy for ego-driven bartenders. 3) Muscle memory is key. Each bartender must know the The Cocktail Trading Co’s drinks menu inside and out. Bartending is about holding a station and if they can whip up the cocktail menu without thinking, the more time they can spend engaging with customers. And that’s what it’s all about.
A cocktail bar where you can have a good time. We try not to take ourselves too seriously. We’ve got a reputation for our drinks, but what matters more is how we make people feel.
Best thing you’ve ever overheard at your bar?
One night I was bartending and this guy and a girl were on a date. He was pushing well above his weight because he was a strong 5 and she was a 9. But he wasn’t bothered or felt like he had to compensate for his lack of good looks in any way. I was bringing their drinks over when he outright says to her “Your good looks make me think you won’t put any effort in later…” I basically spilled the drinks all over. They might still be together.
Why do you think gin is so popular?
Gin is iconic British and there’s a movement to consume your own culture. It’s a natural spirit at its base before being flavoured with wonderful, delicious things. And at least one half of consumers don’t know what it is. You normally get introduced to it like you would an artsy movie. You know, we all have that geeky friend who is really into movies and convinces you to watch it even if it’s not your thing. Same with drinks.
What is it about Brockmans that appeals to you?
It attracts a different crowd in that it’s normally the gateway product to liking gin.
If you could have one last drink before you died, what would you choose?
An ice cold lager. Proper cold. Like frozen. In a scooner.
by Elliot Ball
50ml Brockmans gin
25ml lemon juice
20ml beetroot-chocolate grenadine
1 egg white.
Shaken super hard, double strained into a coupe and garnished with pretty things.