In September, Shea Campbell, 26, won the position of Funkin Innovation Champion for 2016-17 thanks to a sensational and unique Jalisco Cooler cocktail and his talent for taste. We had a chat to him about his background, his tastes and his favourite haunt.
Congratulations, Shea. What was your reaction when they read out your name?
I was amazed. It was incredible, it was one of the best, well-run competitions I’ve attended and the focus on innovation and use of concepts made it really special.
What is it about the role that you’re most excited about?
Innovation and the focus on creativity. I can’t wait to get working with the development team at Funkin, to experiment with the range – and the new products too – and to teach other bartenders how to use them best.
Have you always been a bartender?
No, through my teenage years and before University I trained as a chef, then went on to study Mechanical Engineering at Aberdeen and Chicago, with a following degree in Material and Subsea Engineering. After working in that field for a while, I decided to return to the hospitality and flavour-orientated industry – as a bartender. And I love it.
So, what was your winning cocktail?
It’s called a Jalisco Cooler (named after the Mexican state where tequila is made) with Reposado Tequila, Manzanilla Sherry, lime, jalapeno syrup served over a block of cucumber ice. The exciting thing about the cocktail is the way it allows a development of senses with the spiciness of the capsaicin (the component that contributes spiciness) being subdued by the cooling effect of the cucumber ice as it dilutes. [see full recipe below]
What’s your favourite Funkin product?
I really like the new Jalapeno Syrup – it has a great complexity and lasting spice. And the Citric Syrup is great for bartenders wanting to add consistent acidity without the use of fresh citrus, tying in with the ongoing sustainability movement.
Any top tips for making cocktails?
For the home bartender, keep it simple, as overall it should be about your guests and your enjoyment.
Good cold hard ice is very important for the consistency of drinks. Ice absorbs flavours around it so store and seal it carefully so it doesn’t take on other flavours from a freezer.
Most importantly, no matter how many times you have made the drink, taste it. The recipe you read is a good guideline, but might need tweaking to suit different tastes. Check the balance and trust your palette.
Different cocktail suit different situations – which would you go for…
…at the start of a night out?
…at the end of the night?
Negroni. (and a Daiquiri in the middle.)
…for a celebration?
What do you rate as the best bar in London?
69 Colebrooke Row. They’re constantly experimenting, resulting in fabulous creations – and all of that sits behind the beautiful service, atmosphere and dare I say it, romance of being there. It’s a pretty unforgettable night each and every time.
See you there sometime…
Jalisco Cooler by Shea Campbell
- 40ml Reposado Tequila
- 10ml Manzanilla Sherry
- 20ml Funkin Jalapeño Syrup
- 20ml Funkin Pure Pour Lime
- 3 dashes saline solution
- Garnish: cucumber ice block
- Shake all the ingredients and pour over the ice block. Garnish with fresh cucumber.