The Evening Standard recently included him in their list of the top 1000 most influential people in London, but for Rich Woods this is just one of many esteemed accolades he has to his name. Under his official title of Head of Spirit and Cocktail Development at Samba Brands Management, Rich has overseen the direction of beverage programs at locations across the globe, including SUSHISAMBA in New York, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Las Vegas and London, and Duck & Waffle in London. Appearing on popular radio and TV shows such as the UK’s Channel 4 Sunday Brunch, Rich has become the go-to expert of the industry and is known globally for his culinary cocktails such as the Blue Cheese and Chocolate Martini. He speaks to The LuxPad about his career highlights so far and shares one of his favourite cocktail recipes below…
What has been your career highlight to date?
For sure one of them would have to be voted into the top 1000 most influential people in London. I was so excited but proud too. Though these kind of things don’t come along every day. Generally with what I do, to be taken so seriously by chefs is a highlight. After all, bartending is for the most part a lifestyle choice born from a hobby. There are no career paths or guidance given out on career days ; )
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Never look down on anyone unless you’re giving them a hand up. You can’t fail if you never give up and anything worth doing is worth overdoing…
What’s your favourite place in the world and why?
In the arms of the ones I love.
Can you share one of your favourite cocktail recipes with us?
If it was a cocktail I’d be drinking, I’d say a dry gin martini. 75ml Bombay Sapphire 15ml Dry Vermouth. Stirred with large cube ice, until icy cold. Cold but not too diluted. Not forgetting a couple of large olives.
What are the most important tools of a cocktail making connoisseur?
Taste/sense of balance/passion. Skill can be taught, but without passion the skill is just a tool not a weapon. Without a sense of taste you can’t imagine flavour. Without the concept of balance your ideas may never be understood.
You’ve just discovered a time machine that can take you to either the past or the future, what year do you go to and why?
I don’t want to know what the future holds. I want to discover it or create it. So I’d go back to the past. Probably to the point where some person decided an old fashioned should come with a muddled cherry and muddled orange. Then I’d slap them and show them how much harm they did in the future.
If you weren’t the Head of Spirit and Cocktail Development at the Duck & Waffle, what would you be and why?
Outside of the industry? I’ve not been bartending long. When at school and collage I always wanted to be an architect. I loved design and the creativity… I guess some of that I still use in a very different role.
What is your favourite way to spend a day off?
I’m an all or nothing kind of guy… So a lot of what I create I do at home. My kitchen is more akin to a lab than a kitchen. Some of my days off are spent playing around with ongoing projects… I love to cook so if I’m not creating I release my steam and cook dinner as often as I can.
If you could make a unique and personalised cocktail for any celebrity or famous fictional character who would it be for, why, and what would it be made of?
Hmmm. Neither celebrity nor famous but I’d love to of made and shared a drink with my dad.
What does 2016 hold for you, do you have any exciting projects that you can tell us about?
New openings – London – NY – Miami – Vegas
A few projects including a beer…