Essence of Harrogate | Premium Beverage Importer APAC

The Rusty Bartender

Essence of Harrogate meets mixologist and social media influencer and blogger - The Rusty Bartender @the.rustybartender Ben Goodwin! Originally from Belfast in Northern Ireland, the drinks expert chats from his home in Victoria, Australia to share all things gin, cocktails, flavours and the future of mixing drinks - for a night in. 

What was the spark that made you decide to become a mixologist?
Ever since I was 19, I worked in bars/clubs in N Ireland. It was not until a few years later when I worked in a bar called Morrisons Lounge Bar that I discovered a love for Mixology. They had recently renovated the bar and it became one of the busiest bars in Belfast and that was at the beginning of Belfast’s big cocktail renaissance.

There have been many famous mixologists hailing from Belfast. None more so than Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry of the Dead Rabbit in New York. They won the best bar in the world a couple of times in their careers, and I was luck enough back in my twenties to have done some cocktail training under Jack McGarry’s tutelage. I guess nothing specifically made me want to become a mixologist rather than it was my job at the time. But I do know it was something I enjoyed immensely and still have a passion for to this very day.

Do you remember the first cocktail you ever made?
Ah yes Sex on the Beach. I thought I was so cool when I first learned how to make it. So easy to learn how to make. It really is a great beginner’s cocktail

Weddings and cocktail recipes - what are some of your favourites?
As far as Cocktail recipes go the classics or twists on them are my favourites. My all time favourite has to be the Old Fashioned, Bourbon , sugar and bitters. There is nothing better.
My own wedding is memorable. My friends flew over from Ireland and they did not disappoint. Especially the groomsmen and best man who as any Irish person does at last drinks ordered 40 whiskies at the bar. The bar staff said you will never finish those. The bar staff stood on with amazement as the drinks vanished within a couple of minutes. Never underestimate Irishmen especially when alcohol is involved. 

When it comes to Gin are you sweet or dry?
I love dry Gins especially London Dry style, but I do like using Old Tom style in my cocktails.

With the ripple effects of COVID-19 and staying in, what is your prediction for the future of mixing drinks as a social media influencer. Do you think more people will start making their own drinks at home?
I think making drinks at home will become a thing. Even when lockdowns are over, cocktails are a real social thing. I can see the rise of cocktail house parties happening. Even on my page I know of a few groups of ladies who visit my page for inspiration on what they are going to make at their own cocktail parties.

As for my own role I just try and make drinks that I would drink, because after I make them I drink them!! Or sometimes my wife does. But Mrs Rusty Bartender tends to enjoy sweet cocktails whereas I prefer stronger ones!