Calum Robb is a drinks designer, bartender trainer and UK Brand Ambassador for Luksusowa Vodka. He tells Taste Club why he loves the industry.
People, places and books are just some of the things mixologist Calum Robb looks to for inspiration.
“There are also flavour combinations that sometimes just jump out at me, sometimes for being obvious and sometimes for being strange,” said Calum who worked at pubs and nightclubs when he was younger before joining The Living Room, in Newcastle.
“I think like a lot of people, I almost fell into the industry. Originally, I worked in schools, but after bartending part time I realised how much I loved it and decided to change careers.
“I took a full-time position and never looked back. The Living Room was an institution and to be trained there by some of the best bartenders in the North East was a privilege.”
He went on to New World Trading Company – which owns The Botanist bars, The Florist bars and other venues across the UK, before returning to the North East, where he is now UK brand ambassador for Luksusowa Vodka
“Every day brings a different challenge, I get to be creative and still focus on training and development is perfect for me.
“I love playing with herbs and teas as flavours in cocktails. I love botany and using herbs that most people associate with food rather than drinks, that can be very interesting. I also like teas as they can provide a real depth of flavour that we’re so used to drinking, but in a completely different way.”
Tasty Drink I love a good Vodka Martini. Although at home, I like to make myself something more sessionable like a spritz. If I’m going out in the North East, there are so many good bartenders and venues it’s hard to pick one place. The guys at Mother Mercy, in Newcastle, are doing some great things for cocktails. Then there are institutions, such as Alvino’s, which are always worth a visit when out in the city centre.
Tasty Snack I have a soft spot for Turkish Delight. But for the most part during lockdown, I’ve started trying out healthier snacks. You can’t beat a pink lady apple.
Tasty restaurant? Hibou Blanc and Trakol (both in Newcastle) are both fairly recent places I have been to and loved. Meat Stack is a guilty pleasure of mine and I was lucky enough to visit Newcastle’s Michelin-starred restaurant, House of Tides, and it’s hard to top that experience.
Tasty experience Drinks wise, the American Bar at the Savoy. I took a group of my bartenders there once and it was an amazing experience tasting so many perfectly crafted cocktails. There’s a reason it is consistently voted one of the best bars in the world.
Taste of Happiness I love making drinks but happiness to me is sharing that experience with friends and family – that’s what makes it worthwhile. My partner is a huge cocktail lover, so having her taste them and share with is the best. Plus, family events such as birthdays and Christmas, are a great time to share a homemade drink with everyone.