Words by: Difford's Guide
Born in Camden Town, Andy Mil is a true Londoner. Winner of Diageo’s World Class UK 2012, he now operates the Cocktail Trading Company near Brick Lane in the East End of London.
Andy was always attracted to the bar industry – He has always liked to make people ‘feel welcome’, and landed his first job at the peak of the credit crunch of 2008, after dropping out of school aged 17. A friend of his took pity on him when he was looking for work, and gave him a job waiting tables at a pub in Lots Road. Andy met Ali Burgess while working there, “Ali gave me some amazing advice and a great starting point in the industry.”
The next move was to Teatro where Andy honed his craft as a bar back after meeting JJ Goodman one night in Lab Bar – By December, he had a promotion. “I managed to blag my way up to be bar manager – I literally had no idea what I was doing, but I made it work!” He recalls.
Summer of 2009, and Andy moved to the first London Cocktail Club (now Covent Garden Cocktail Club). As ops manager, opening LCC Goodge Street in 2010, and LCC Shaftesbury Avenue in 2011 were big stepping stones. “Towards the end of 2012 a chap called Nick House approached me. He was looking for me to be involved in the opening of the Match bar venue off Regents Street. I left LCC and moved over, but it didn’t work out. However, in 2013, Nick asked me to open Steam and Rye, which was a three bar, 500 capacity restaurant, bar, club and live music venue in the City of London. I ran Steam until July 2014. It was then I decided it was time to open the Cocktail Trading Company.”
Andy looked to people he had worked with in the past to get the project off the ground. Olly Brading and Elliot Ball. The three of them pooled their money and spent time trying to get things rolling. Andy admits it was a tough time. “We spent all our time picking up consultancy gigs and trying to find a venue. However, every time we put an offer on a property we were outbid or the landlord didn’t want to know.”
But in January 2015, the Cocktail Trading Company pop-up opened just off London’s Carnaby Street. This was swiftly followed by Her Majesty’s Secret Service in Bristol, opened with the help of a good friend Ben Alcock. A second Cocktail Trading Company pop-up in Smithfield Market launched in October 2015 – During this time, Andy and the team signed the long term lease for the Cocktail Trading Company near Brick Lane. Both pop-ups have now been merged into this flagship venue.
Andy says, “When a guest leaves our bar and says thanks, we’ve had a brilliant time, that’s the reason I get up in the morning.”
Camden Town, London, England
Bar owner and consultant