Article from the Billericay Gazette: A Billericay barman known as the "mad scientist" because of the quirky cocktails he serves up is in the running to be named the UK's favourite.
Don Johnson, 26, who works at The Rare Cow in Jacksons Lane, has been nominated in rum company Sailor Jerry's "The Nation's Favourite Bartender" competition.
He stood in 12th position across the whole of the country as of Monday, and hopes Gazette readers can now help him to the top.
Somewhat taken aback by the support he has received so far, Don believes it is his alternative approach to creating cocktails that has led to his popularity.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Don Johnson"]I like trying out a variety of combinations and to be creative and experiment and I'm known as the mad scientist. I don't really run to the normal script of being a bartender. You get the very, very personal treatment if you come to my bar. I'm always trying to mix new flavours and combinations – if you want it I can make it, nothing is impossible.[/quote]
It is the license to experiment he is afforded at The Rare Cow that Don believes has been key to fashioning his reputation within the area.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Don Johnson"]I can't explain how grateful I am to them. It is nice when you have people who are working in and around you who allow to be creative and keep you on your toes by challenging you. People are always challenging me to come up with new ideas and this has led to me creating some of the craziest drinks you have ever come across.[/quote]
A bartender at The Rare Cow since March 2014, Don first discovered his penchant for cocktail creation during a difficult time at his previous job, as landlord of the New Inn pub in Gravesend.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Don Johnson"]The pub wasn't doing too well. So we were pulling out all the stops to try and turn things around and I decided to come up with a basic, basic cocktail menu. I didn't have a clue at first how to make cocktails but I taught myself, it worked and it helped us turn things around.[/quote]
The competition winner will receive and expenses-paid trip to the Austin Music Festival in Texas, as well as a "Sailor Jerry Party" for them and their friends at a venue of their choice.
Don, who lives in Southend, is already the number one Essex representative in the contest, and now hopes to do Essex proud and walk away with the top prize.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Don Johnson"]I just want just want to put Essex up there, because if it wasn't for the people in the area supporting me I wouldn't have got this far in the first place. I want to go as far as possible. I'm getting more and more optimistic, I'm aiming for the top ten but I'm not getting ahead of myself. The response I have got back is quite overwhelming, it is so unexpected to have this much support, I can't believe it. I will do anything in my power to make anyone happy if they vote for me – I will even make them their own cocktail. I am ridiculously proud and grateful of the votes I have received so far. I started off in real rough back street boozers not even knowing how to pull a pint properly, and now here I am in the running to be crowned the UK's best barman.[/quote]
To vote for Don visit http://www.bartendersday.co.uk/leaderboard
Article and image by the Billericay Gazette