Meet Pusser’s Rum Bartender on Deck Jake Burnham
Jake Burnham of Kukui in Oxford, England.
Tell me about yourself. What’s your background, and how did you end up as a mixologist?
I’m from a little town in the Cotswolds. Before bartending, I spent a lot of time traveling around. I actually taught English in China for a brief stint! I fell into this job by accident. I thought I was just going in for an interview for a promotional job, and I ended becoming a bar back at a premium tiki nightclub! From there my passion for the cocktail grew. I prefer the term ‘bartender’. I tend to my bar, to the customers and regulars. I create drinks for them, and I try to make people feel comfortable and welcome. That’s what we’re really meant to do!
What’s your favourite rum drink? Recipe?
Favourite rum drink has to be ‘The Treacle’ cocktail by the late and great Dick Bradsell. This was the first cocktail I ever made! And it has just stuck with me ever since. I don’t order these every time I drink at a bar, but it’s definitely one I hold close. It’s a large measure of aged rum, stirred down with Angostura Bitters and some sugar syrup. Strained over rocks with ice, the added ingredient is a float of apple juice. During my time under Ruairi Gilles, he made it with concentrated apple juice. It just made the drink sing.
The Treacle (Created by Dick Bradsell)
60 ml (or ~2 oz) Pusser’s Rum
10 ml (or ~ 1/4 oz) Demerara Syrup
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Apple Juice Float
Add Pusser’s Rum, Demerara Syrup, and Angostura Bitters to a stirring glass with ice. Stir down to dilute the mix, then strain over a giant ice cube in a rocks glass. Float apple juice on top.
Please tell me about your personal connection to rum. Why choose rum over another spirit?
As I mentioned before, I started out my career in a premium tiki nightclub Kukui. The bar was filled with rum. So many different variations, country origins, age statements and just in general badass looking bottles! It’s nostalgia to me over everything else.
What do you think the future holds for the rum industry?
It’s hard to say for rum. It sells itself, it really does! More rum-heavy aperitifs! That’s a future I’d like to see.
What inspires you creatively when it comes to making drinks?
Pairings. I love food. I love drinks. It’s an undying industry. There will always be a need for both. Why not pair them? I’m not talking serving a bottle of stout with a steak and ale pie! I mean using flavour pairings you see all the time in food and replicating them in drinks. There’s so much product out there with different flavour profiles, it gives me endless creative chances.
Please tell me about your greatest achievement in relation to the spirits industry.
Other than being featured on the Pussers Rum website, not much! I’ve had a fair few recent cocktail competition final places that I’m proud of. I haven’t come first but I’ve placed. That might not be the apex of an average bartenders cocktail career, but for me it is. Being from a small town, you don’t get much industry attention. You’ve really got to find your own feet. Work and practice and travel. It’s exhausting! So to get asked to do a final, to be told I’m number 3 at least. It really makes everything worthwhile. I’ll get that number 1 spot, don’t you worry!
Any other interesting facts? Hobbies? Special talents?
Love to cook! Drinking while I cook is great. One for the pot and one for me! That’s my ratio. I forget about cooking most times.
How can people learn more about you? (Social media handles, website, etc.)
I’m on Twitter (@simpli_drinks) and Instagram (@nomad__bartender)