Like so many bartenders, Tomas Cisty has been using his forced time at home to write and even design the new menu for 12 Hay Hill, the members' club where he's the bar manager.
Words by Tomas Cisty
I'm working in hospitality around nine years now and am from the Czech Republic where I was working mainly as a waiter and bartender just before I moved to London some six years ago. In London, I started as a runner in Banana Tree in Soho before moving behind the bar at Las Iguanas at South Bank, Barrio East and Ceviche Old Street where I fell completely in love with bartending. I moved to Duck & Waffle where I worked with Richard Woods who was big inspiration for my drink creativity. At the same time, I was learning all about vodka from Veronika Karlova as part-time sales representative for Goral vodka. Then I got the opportunity to become a bar manager at 12 Hay Hill, a private members club in London's Mayfair where I was working until now. I should also mention that for the last year, I've been a Brand Ambassador for The Wrecking Coast Distillery.
I've been developing the menu for two years now and I'm happy with every part of it. We are not under any contract with distributors, so I have control of spirit selection. I tried to create a menu for everyone. For people who have no clue about spirits but also for industry colleagues. Before each section is a little text to inform and explain what's in each category is. There are categories to cover every type of spirit. I was always disappointed when I saw a bar menu listing five vodkas with four of them made from wheat and one from potato one. No wonder people think that vodka is a flavourless spirit.
Also in every category is a "Customer choice" (a well-known spirit for people who just want the brand they know and don't care about the rest) and a "Bartender Choice" (from smaller, mostly independent producers who bring great value. We're also trying to support these producers). Everyone has a choice and we manage to earn the trust of our members that allow us (bartenders) to pick spirit for them.
The cocktail menu is always related to our club. The bar is located on floor one, so we are kind of the roots of the building. We have a team with very little previous experience behind the bar so I ask them to go through cocktails and the history of bartending before 1950 and make a twist on classic cocktails from that time using at least one root related ingredients. We managed to pull together really nice drinks which you can see in the "Back to the roots" section below. The second half of the cocktail menu features our best-selling cocktails from previous menus.