Dominic Willox is 25 and a bar manager at CUE Barbecue Aberdeen. Here is a day in his life.
The first thing I do in the morning is check my e-mails, and then address the stock take to order goods for the bar. Alongside liaising with key industry professionals I also take the time to research new bourbons, spirits and liqueurs which we can use in the bar to present customers with a completely bespoke offering. I tend to research bourbons and what the recent food and drink trends are so I can incorporate them into our cocktail menu, to ensure we are supplying trendy, unique cocktails.
Over lunchtime I tend to update staff rotas and host staff training with the bar team. In our industry, training and knowledge of the different products is extremely important. You need to be innovative and forward thinking to ensure you are always one step ahead of your customers’ expectations.
I also prepare the syrups we use by infusing them. At the moment, we create a number of different flavours for our syrups in-house including drumstick sweetie, strawberry and black pepper, vanilla and coffee flavoured which are used for the cocktails we create.
I also go over cocktail-making skills with the bar team to ensure everyone is trained to the same standards, ensuring that the bar offering is consistent and to the highest of standards. It’s important that everyone’s skills are continually developed. I participate in competitions all over the UK and hope to see some of my staff do the same in the coming year.
After training I then liaise with leading and artisan brands regarding sponsorship opportunities and possible collaborations with CUE.
I also use the spare two hours when we are closed in the afternoon to experiment with different drinks and prepare the bar for the evening service. I will also plan staff rotas for the following month and look over order inventory for the bar. I am responsible for the pricing of the bar offering so I conduct extensive research into what we can offer for the right price. Sourcing local artisan producers for the cocktail ingredients is also very important to me, so I spend a lot of time researching this again and establishing key relationships with other local businesses.
I’ll also try and grab something to eat before the madness of the evening service kicks off. Usually I’ll opt for some pulled pork, which has been smoked in our Ole Hickory wood smoker, the meat just falls apart and makes a great sandwich filler, especially when paired with the Angus and Oink hot sauces.
Throughout dinner service the bar is always extremely busy, so keeping on top of everything is vital. Keeping staff up-to-date on stock take and recommending drinks to accompany customers’ meals shows the knowledge and expertise behind the bar. It’s always great when you get to recommend different things for the public to try out as it shows we can cater for anyone’s tastes.
After dinner service, the bar needs to be cleaned thoroughly. Working with liqueurs and syrups can be a sticky business so cleaning is of huge importance in our industry. Before the end of the shift I prepare the bar for the next service, ensuring everything that needs ordered is noted down for the order to be put out the next day.
Once I’ve finished work, I tend to either go home and chill out, or head to another local bar who we have a good working relationships with for a tipple or two.