Words by: Tom Innes
Soho House Group bartender Lauren Shaw, 24, talks about getting started in bartending, beer and an Electric future.
I started bartending in 2008 when I was at university in Nottingham and needed to earn some money. I got a job at the Living Room - it was pretty good back then - and was trained up. I did about a year before graduating and another year after that.
I did a degree in history - it's not like a science degree [with a defined career path] with history you can do anything. I went travelling in Thailand for three months in 2010, cleared a bit of 'head-space' and thought that hospitality was something I'd take more seriously when I got back.
The initial choice was between looking for work in London or Manchester. My heart is up north, but I'd always wanted to work in London, and my boyfriend got a job down here, so it was London.
I had heard good things about Soho House Group and was angling for a job at Shoreditch House, however they weren't hiring and the Dean Street Townhouse turned out to be exactly what I wanted. There was a strong emphasis on food, particularly British cuisine, and the chance to get further training.
The third bar manager I worked with was James Sandrini, ex-Match, who was a big influence in making me think a lot more about the drinks I was making, educating me and helping me refine my style. It really invigorated me and we had a really good team at Dean Street in 2011. I've been lucky in that throughout my career I've worked with some quite strong figures who have given me real self-belief about what.
I'm a big gin fan, whenever I get stuck in bartending I'll turn back to gin. I'm very keen on using simple, good ingredients to create tasty drinks, nothing too exaggerated or frilly. I love some of the things that the molecular mixology guys have done but I want to make drinks that are accessible.
I'm currently working at Little House Mayfair [another Soho House outlet] - I like working at a private members' club and having the time to serve people who are interested in hearing a bit about what they are drinking.
Soho House is re-opening the Electric in Notting Hill in November and I will be moving there as Bar Manager. It will be modelled on Au Cheval in Chicago, with high-end food, craft beers and cocktails. I recently spent time in Chicago doing some training at Au Cheval, it was a great trip even if I did end up missing almost all of the Olympics. I learned a lot and think it's going to be a really fun venue to work at.
I'm fairly new to beer, having never really had to think about it before in putting together drinks lists. It was striking in Chicago how much customers knew about beer - you'd have young female drinkers coming in who knew their hops and malt. So in the next two months I'm looking to learn more about beer, including brewery visits and plenty of tasting! We will be championing some great beers, including English, Czech, Belgian and US. I'm putting together the drinks list with Tom Kerr [Soho House Bars Manager] and am looking to introduce some beer cocktails which is not something many places do.