Interview With The Bar Manager At The Bloomsbury Club – Russell Hayward

4th April 2024

Interview With The Bar Manager At The Bloomsbury Club Russell Hayward

We’ve always had a passion for Fizz Cocktails here at Glass of Bubbly, experimenting and putting new recipes to the test, so when we learned of the new exciting 12 Strong Cocktail Menu at The Bloomsbury Club, we just had to speak to their Bar Manager, Russell Hayward, let’s find out about his life, career and The Bloomsbury Club.

It’s Great To Speak With You, Russell, Can You Tell Us A Little About Yourself And How You Became The Skilled Mixologist You Are Today?

“Thank you. It’s a privilege to speak with you. I began working in hospitality as a barback in a student bar at University in New Zealand. From there I moved into Bartending through the end of my studies, including working Summers in Sydney. Over this time what began as a passing interest in hospitality grew into a love and passion.

After completing my studies, I moved to London for what was originally going to be a few years of fun and travel yet I’m still here 12 years later. Working across many different venues from Michelin Star Restaurants to Award winning cocktail bars, neighbourhood bars to 5 Star Hotels.

The time in these venues allowed me to learn different service techniques and styles, increasing my personal knowledge and skills. I’m the person I am today through the amalgamation of these experiences. Taking lessons and development from each and adapting to new ever-changing environments within the industry as society changes around us so too do guest’s needs and expectations. I feel the greatest skill we can have in hospitality is adaptability.”

Can You Share With The Process And Inspiration Behind Crafting Your 12 Strong Cocktail Menu?

“The development of our new menu took over 12 months. We began by developing our concept, we wanted to expand on our previous menu which was themed around Tarot, the fates and mystic beliefs. So, this new menu is an evolution of those beliefs. It was also important that the menu concept have links to The Bloomsbury Set which was a collection of Artists, Poets and Writers in the early 1900’s. They lived in Bloomsbury Square just metres away from the hotel and from whom the Club Bar takes its inspiration.

In our research for the new menu, we discovered the Ancient Egyptian Philosophy that if you delve deep into someone’s psyche then you will discover hidden truths, secrets and desires. This was the evolution of the previous menu. The link to the Bloomsbury Set was found through George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon. Lord Carnarvon was the chief financier of Howard Carter’s discovery and excavation of King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Lord Carnarvon’s sister was married to Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell’s stepbrother so they shared many of the same social circles.

Once we had our concept in place, we began work on the drink development for the new menu. For the menu, it was important to offer guests a new experience, and one of the ways we wanted to do this was to experiment with perception. For this, we have used different flavours, ingredients and techniques to change how a drink may look, taste or feel than what they perceive when first reading the menu. We have Ir Ma’at, a citrus inspired cocktail that is bright purple. We use clarification to make Kheper, a whisky based cocktail clear with a creamy mouthfeel. Other ingredients that appear on the menu include Saffron Custard and Honey Lassi.

We’ve gone very playful with lots of vibrancy in the presentation. It was important to me that the drinks tied to the concept itself, each drink has at least one ingredient that was found in ancient Egypt and known to the region.”

For Anyone Looking To Experiment At Home, Crafting Their Own Sparkling Wine Cocktail, What Advice Would You Give Them?

“The key to any cocktail whether made at home or in a bar is balance. You do not want the cocktail to be too strong, too sweet, too sour etc. Everyone’s palate is different so the more balanced you can make your drink the wider its appeal. Depending on what sparkling wine you use it changes how the drink will be balanced. For example, Champagne is going to be drier than Prosecco which is why for a French 75 you add lemon and sugars, whereas with an Aperol Spritz or a Negroni Spagliatto, the sweetness in Prosecco is balanced by the bitter notes found in Campari or Aperol. A good baseline when I’m making cocktails at home is a 2:1 citrus to sugar base. So, my personal French 75 would be 35ml Gin 20ml Lemon 10ml Sugar syrup. Hard shake, fine strain and top with Champagne.”

What Ingredients Do You Enjoy Working With The Most When Crafting Your Cocktails, And If You Could Only Drink One Cocktail Again, What Would It Be?

“Very hard question to answer, when crafting cocktails I try my best to let the spirits tell the story as the distillers intended them to be, so I find complimentary flavours or ingredients that meld with the spirit instead of overpowering. I also like to use liqueurs and fortified wines such as Limoncello, Pedro Jimenez etc for the sweetness in my cocktails as opposed to sugar or artificial flavourings or sweeteners.

If I could only drink one Cocktail again it would be a 50:50 Sazerac. It’s always my go to for a night cap or when I’m not quite sure what I want in the evening.”

Thank you, Russell, for sharing your words, knowledge and experiences with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!

Image Credit: The Bloomsbury Club & CHARLIEMCKAY. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission, to use them.

Oliver Walkey

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.