This week we caught up with Gabriele Veri, Bar Manager at Tom Dick and Harry’s.
1. WHERE DID YOUR PASSION FOR DRINK AND COCKTAIL MAKING START?
Probably around 2008/9 when I moved from Italy to the UK after finishing my studies in architecture. I was always interested in cooking and learning to recreate dishes the way my mamma used to make them, but I found it wasn’t quite my thing. When I was working at a bar in Camden Town as a bar back and glass collector, I noticed so many different bottles of rum from the same distillery and remembered my old bar manager telling me that each bottle was different because of their age. It was this that inspired me to learn the differences between spirits, from the ageing process to the raw materials you use to make the spirit or wine. Similar to a chef, I learnt the way to mix different ingredients and it made me think ‘I love cooking and I love alcohol, why don’t I mix the two arts together?!’
2. YOUR NEW BESPOKE MENU AT TOM, DICK & HARRY’S SOUNDS GREAT, CAN YOU TELL US THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE MENU?
As I’m sure you’re aware, the cocktail menu is inspired by 9 celebrities who are infamous Tom, Dick and Harry’s. As a starting point, I worked closely with my colleague Nigel to research the celebrities we wanted to feature, as well as their habits and preferred drinks. For example, we have our ‘Just Like That’ cocktail, inspired by Tommy Cooper, which is a mix between Gin, Martini Rosso, and Yellow Chartreuse. Tommy Cooper supposedly used to pour gin in his cereal in the morning, drank Yellow Chartreuse and used a vintage bottle of Martini Rosso to do one of his famous magic tricks – that’s how we got our inspiration. We followed the same idea for every celebrity on the menu. Another example is our ‘Sex Bomb’ cocktail, inspired by Tom Jones. We know he has a beautiful and strong voice and he drinks champagne to keep slim, so I came up with a mix of Honey, Lemon and Cognac in homage to his wonderful voice, topped with Champagne!
3. WHAT MAKES TOM, DICK AND HARRY’S STAND OUT IN COMPARISON TO OTHER BARS IN THE UK?
We currently have around 70 provence rosés on the menu, from the driest to the fruitiest of wines, and guests can order a glass through to a magnum – the perfect serve for any size party. Every month, I challenge my bartenders’ creativity with new ingredients and new spirits, so we always have a fresh ‘Cocktail of the month’ ready for our guests to try. Let’s not forget to mention our unique DIY Bloody Mary bar! Along with live music on the weekends, we open a ‘serve your own’ Bloody Mary bar during Saturday brunch and the Sunday Roast Club, where you can create and mix your own cocktail, or follow the classic recipe – whatever tickles your taste buds.
4. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS?
Well, well well….somewhere way further down the line, I’d love to own my own cocktail bar with a focus on gin and rum, known for its fusion of unique flavours and ingredients. For example, I recently created a cocktail inspired by the famous Waldorf Salad, so every time you are sipping the cocktail, you’re experiencing the taste of the salad!
5. WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN?
When I was younger, my late grandfather told me ‘Don’t settle for the normal or don’t ever create a comfort zone…always aim for more and be hungry for knowledge’. He was always telling me to reach for the stars, which I think has driven me to push on in my career and always look for new challenges.
6. WHAT WOULD YOUR PERFECT SUNDAY BE LIKE IN LONDON?
I am a foodie and obviously love a good tipple, so my perfect Sunday would be out on a rooftop having a good G&T or one of London’s only carve-your-own roasts at Tom, Dick and Harry’s. If the weather is cloudy and grey, my perfect Sunday would be a nice day at home on the sofa watching cartoons with my kids.