Words by Andy Keir and Sammy Hemmings
"We're kind of the grandfather bar of Dundee in terms of we were the first ones there and we're still going," says Andy Keir, owner of Bruach, a cocktail bar and restaurant in Broughty Ferry, Dundee, Scotland.
For Andy, Dundee's bar scene is flourishing. "Several great bars (led by great people) have opened in the last few years and helped to establish Dundee as one of the UK's emerging cocktail destinations," he says.
Growing up in Dundee, Andy has never moved away from his corner of the world, enrolling at the city's university before moving back home again. "I've always kind of been a hometown boy," he says. "I live about a ten minute walk from the bar so I've got a very nice work life balance in terms of being at work enough and being at home enough."
His start came when he stumbled upon an opportunity much by chance. "When I came out of university, I fell into the industry and was very lucky to work for a progressive and young business that was quite ambitious in terms of growth," Andy explains. "I got a lot of opportunities...then through working for the same guy for a long time, he felt he could trust me enough to work a deal to take the business."
In addition to Bruach, Andy holds a degree in law and also owns an events business combining mobile bars and hog roasts. While navigating an active work life, Andy spends his spare time doing various sports. "Family comes first and I love spending as much time with my daughter as possible, teaching her how to ride her bike and bake cakes. When I have the time, I enjoy golf, running, cycling, football and snowboarding in the winter."
Cycling from Florence to Rome
In 2018, Martini launched their health and well-being programme, Martini Racing Ciclismo. In light of the brand's cycling history, Martini invites bartenders to join their growing community of cyclists around the world. Besides workout programmes and group rides, Martini hosts La Classica, an annual ride across Italy's beautiful landscape.
Passionate for fitness, Andy didn't need convincing to join. "I jumped at the chance to get involved in Martini Racing Ciclismo following an invitation from Mike McGinty and used it as an opportunity to buy myself a road bike by signing up my company to the Ride to Work scheme, and am now able to offer that as a perk to our employees," he says.
"When I signed up for the Scottish group ride, I was loosely aware of La Classica," Andy explains. "We were all given the La Classica qualification information and incentives to win some high-quality Rapha/Martini cycling kit." The Rapha Custom Martini Racing Ciclismo apparel range was designed specifically for the programme.
In the months leading up to La Classica 2019, bartenders were encouraged to log their cycling performance into Strava, an online cycling app. Those who displayed most engagement in the programme were then invited to take part in the annual ride. Andy was one of them. "To be chosen to represent Scotland in Italy was a huge privilege and an amazing experience," he says. "Easily one of the best things I have ever been involved with."
His training regime included long distance running and months of cycling. "I'm very fortunate to live in a very beautiful part of the world and spent a lot of long days in the saddle over the summer months which really improved my cycling ability," Andy says. "I have also ran two marathons (London & Berlin) this year, so I had a good level of base fitness."
La Classica 2019 united bartenders on a ride from Florence to Rome in just three days. "On paper, 300km over three days sounded very daunting, including 130km on day one, which was easily the longest ride I have ever done," Andy says.
"In reality, I loved every minute and every kilometre. Everything; the organisation, the bikes and the team from Italy Bike Tours, the scenery, the bespoke cycling kit, the pit-stops, food & aperitivos, made the experience very enjoyable. But most of all, the people and team spirit helped us all get to the finish line in Rome," he says.
Riding across country also proved challenging. "There were some tough climbs (especially on day one) which were the hardest sections of each ride, but the reward is a fast descent from the top, so not all bad," he says. "The cold shower at the end of day two, as our hotel had its water supply affected by an overnight storm, wasn't ideal!"
Andy considers La Classica an incredible experience. "It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to meet and spend some quality time with people from all over the world," he says. "The organisation of the event was excellent and every detail had been considered. The shared sense of achievement at the end of each day really kept everyone motivated (especially with a Negroni in hand)."
Martini Ambrato stars in Andy's La Classica celebration cocktail. "I wanted to create a drink that captured the feeling we shared during La Classica and connected to the places we visited," he says. His drink is called Life is Beautiful, which takes its name from an Italian movie filmed in Arezzo, also the starting line of La Classica 2019.
What's his advice to those looking to join Martini Racing Ciclismo? "Get on a bike and start riding," Andy says. "This is general advice as the benefits are huge and I can assure you that you will feel much better both physically and mentally if you can incorporate regular exercise into your daily or weekly routine."
"Don't have a bike? Join a gym, or better still ask your boss/employer if there are any Cycle to Work schemes available," he says. "Encourage them to consider offering this to staff as there are tax incentives for the business as well as having a fitter and stronger workforce."
Completing La Classica wasn't all Andy has planned as he leaps into his next challenge. "We completed La Classica on the Tuesday and on the Sunday I ran the Berlin Marathon!" he says. "I'm looking to get into Zwift to keep my training going over the winter months, and have entered the Caledonian Etape in May 2020. I'm looking forward to taking on the 136km route through Perthshire in my La Classica Rapha kit."
He'll also be training hard to get his spot on the La Classica team next year. "I will be doing everything in my power to be involved in La Classica 2020 and am very excited to see how Martini develops and grows the programme for its third year," Andy says. "There is nothing better than getting to enjoy a reward that you have worked hard to achieve."
Garnish: Grapefruit zest twist
Method: STIR all ingredients with ice and strain into chilled glass. (Can also be served in a rocks glass, preferably over a chunk of block ice.)
60ml Martini Riserva Ambrato
30ml Star of Bombay Gin
4 dash Grapefruit bitters