A Drink With… Nathan Merriman

18th January, 2013 by Marinel FitzSimons

Nathan Merriman, the Australian bar manager at The Club at The Ivy in London, shares his thoughts with Marinel FitzSimons on happiness, Aussie drinkers and how his mother hated his Mary Pickford Collins.

Nathan Merriman

Nathan Merriman, bar manager at The Club at The Ivy

You recently jumped ship from The American Bar at The Savoy to The Club at The Ivy. Why did you leave The Savoy?
I just got to a point where I wanted to do something for myself. I was given the opportunity at The Club at The Ivy and it was a great opportunity to be in a position to be more in control and make some great drinks.

Do you have plans to go back to Australia?
I don’t know yet, but at the moment I’m not ready yet. I certainly miss Australia – it’s my home, but there’s so much to do and to love here in London and Europe. Also I don’t need to go home to feel that I belong. After two and a half years here I still love London and the UK.

So what are your ambitions?
To win! I want to make great drinks, and have fun. I want to make it great for everyone. As for more specific than that, I can’t say. I live for the day. I want to be a winner – so have the best bar, or be the best bartender, either here or in Oz.

What’s the difference between the bar scene here and in Oz?
The Australian bar scene is in a really interesting place. It’s top notch for innovation, with how Aussie bartenders pair flavours and what they do with consumer insight. But that’s not to say they’re necessarily ahead of the rest of the world – they’re pretty isolated, and consequently the Aussie palate is very different, with often unexpected preferences.

So what are they drinking there?
Flips, sours, everything you can imagine, including some really surprising stuff.

What’s your drink of choice?
Whatever takes my fancy, so long as it’s a good drink. It’s an impossible question because it really depends on the situation. So for example, on Sunday, I like nothing more than sitting at my local pub, having some food, reading the newspaper with a beer or cider. That’s the best. The best drink is the drink you feel like at that precise moment.

You’ve won some pretty high-profile competitions in your time, like UKBG Young Bartender of the Year. What value do you think competitions hold for bartenders?
They really help with your presentation and speaking, as well as professionalism. They’re also a great way of making friends.

What’s the biggest mistake you can make as a bartender?
Doing something that doesn’t make you happy. Make sure you smile. Be happy. Enjoy your drink – it’s all about fun. If you don’t like the drink you’re about to serve, don’t make it. I would not serve anyone a drink I’m not proud of. It took me a long time to learn that.

What’s been the highlight of your career?
Working in London. I love London. I’ve done well here which helps, but it’s mostly because I love it here.

And what’s the worst drink you’ve ever made?
I once made a Mary Pickford Collins for my mother. She hated it, and couldn’t drink it.

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