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Interviews

Farm to table, Michelin Stars and a Gem of a Bar

24/01/2022

Andreas Grammatikopoulos puts in the hard work to create a gem of a bar in the Lakes District with local, fresh ingredients grown on their farm with a drinks menu that blows their guests away.

Where do you work?

Henrock by Simon Rogan, Rogell Limited.

Tell us something about yourself

I am Andreas, I am from Greece and I am the Bar and Lounge Manager at Henrock by Simon Rogan, at Linthwaite House. I have a bachelor's degree in International and European Relations and in Hospitality. My passion for Hospitality and Bartending has taken me through this journey for 16 years now. I love mixology, spirits and wine but I really do appreciate a pint of a very nice ale. I used to play football at semi-amateur level until my thirties and team spirit was built in me through that experience. I moved to England in 2019 and have been enjoying the bartending scene even more since then, especially after accepting to work for Henrock and moving to the wonderful Lakes District.

(On Left) Conservatory at Linthwaite House; (On Right) Andreas Grammatikopoulos: Passionate, Forward-thinking, Focused, Hardworking Bartender.

(On Left) Conservatory at Linthwaite House; (On Right) Andreas Grammatikopoulos: Passionate, Forward-thinking, Focused, Hardworking Bartender.

What inspired you to get into bartending?

Since my university years, I started to work as a waiter and later as a bartender to make some extra money. I fell in love with the job, but it was only when I got my first job as a Head Bartender in a 5-star luxury hotel in Greece, that I got passionate about fine dining and fine drinking. I have always enjoyed socialising with guests, but when I figured out that there is so much more in mixology and how you can elevate the drinks experience, that was when I got blown away by the potential.

Knowledge, books, techniques, development, new ideas, flavours, and chefs. Yes, Chefs!!!! Being able to discuss and learn from food professionals was an enlightening experience for me. Nowadays, it is all about getting more and more knowledge, finding great artisanal producers, getting to know them, creating and presenting something exceptional to the guests. Honestly, belonging to a company that has many Michelin star restaurants in its portfolio is an amazing feeling, as you are always pushed further and to strive for excellence and I personally love that.

How according to you has the role of the Bartender evolved, especially now during Covid times?

Simply put, bartenders are not just drink pourers or cocktail shakers anymore. Nowadays, they put extreme effort into research and study. They are becoming professionals. Believe me, the amount of studying and knowledge that is required is at the high end. Pair that with the social skills that are required and we have an extremely demanding profession.

Covid made us put aside the socialising part but gave us time to become even better at what we do and forced us to evolve, to seek new ways, to reconsider, and to come out as even better professionals.

The drinks list at Henrock mirrors the food menu in its essence, utilising fresh, seasonal ingredients from the surrounding area. Bar & Lounge Manager Andreas Grammatikopoulos and his team aim to minimise waste by creating as many spirits, ferments and syrups in house as possible and by using each plant in its entirety.

What are some of the most important skills for a bartender to have?

The most important skill for myself is for the bartender to be passionate about his/her job. To understand that the show only lasts a few hours and that the actual work is done behind the scenes. Finally, to understand and be ready to put in the required amount of work. Everything else can be taught with practice, time and experience.

What do you look for when you plan to buy spirits for your bar?

You need a vision. A concept. What you want to present. Today, we have so many options. Big names have to be there, but the real magic starts when you start to research amazing products, from incredible, unknown people. Very good produce might be closer than you think.

What support programs work best for you from suppliers?

A good relationship with a supplier is very important. They need to be there, to help out with the knowledge and research. I believe one of the best things is for a supplier to help with helping your staff to gain knowledge. Also, helping with marketing and concepts is very important.

What cocktails and drinks trends do you see in 2022?

Low ABV cocktails are here. For the rest, guests now know what they drink. Traceability, sustainable practices, and fresh products are very important. 

Classics will always be there, but everyone craves for something new. Simplicity is the key.

Canned and bottled cocktails are also on the rise after Covid.

The team behind Simon Rogan’s Henrock has created an all-day menu served in the Bar & Conservatory at Linthwaite House.

The team behind Simon Rogan’s Henrock has created an all-day menu served in the Bar & Conservatory at Linthwaite House.

What's the best part of your job? 

Development, research, and discussion with the chefs. Also, I love teaching young people how to become experts at what they do. Developing people and drinks is incredible. Then seeing them shine behind the bar and in front of the guests is just astonishing.

What are your favorite TV shows right now? Or your favorite movie?

I am a massive fan of the Marvel Universe, so anything that has to do with superheroes is a yes for me. We are all superheroes in our lives in the end.

If you had to pick one spirit as your personal best, which would it be and why?

Rum and Mezcal. Great potential and it is their time for a big comeback.

How are you marketing your bar to drive some foot traffic during Covid-19?

I am very lucky because a lot of our product comes from our farm, where we grow our produce for all of our restaurants. Other than that we work with many local producers.

Any tips for new bartenders?

Love your job and be ready to put in all the effort needed to become the best you can be. Most of it will be on your own time.

What’s the most underrated cocktail ingredient or spirit?

Sake, oregano, mastixa, and yogurt.

Andreas Grammatikopoulos

Andreas Grammatikopoulos

What is an experience or a customer story you thought was funny and that you remember?

One day I had a guest that came through to the Bar after his dinner at Henrock restaurant and he said, ''Oh there is also a bar? Why did we not know?''. After having the bar experience with us he was blown away and commented, ''I thought I just left London to come to the Lakes District. I feel like I am in heaven and have London too.'' It is funny because ''gems'' can be found anywhere. If you believe in what you do and your team anything is possible. Quality is not only for the big cities.

What are 4-5 challenges you face in your business and how do you overcome them?

Covid and Brexit have hit us hard with staffing and products being unavailable. But as we are focused on local produce and our farm we manage to cope with it.

What's your career goal? Where do you want to be and how are you working towards it?

Making Henrock one of the best bars. We put in hard work, trying to get better each day and presenting a combined experience that will be unforgettable. I want the entire group to understand that restaurants with amazing bars can offer the ultimate experience. It all starts at Henrock and who knows where it will lead us. 

Tips for brands looking to pitch to bars? What should they cover in their pitch? What do you not need to know? Give us the best elevator pitch brands can make to you.

Offer help, be there, and have an amazing product. Marketing and spreading knowledge is the only way nowadays.

Define a good Bartender according to you.

A person that is passionate about his work. A life student, an explorer, and a good listener.

What's an ideal bar drinks menu? what should it include, what profit metric should it try and achieve?

Best quality at the best possible price. It is that simple. You need to make the guest be happy to exchange his money for the experience. What is the balance? That depends on your venue and clientele, but the basic idea is always the same.

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