Casey Sorenson, Hingston & Co.3rd April 2018
What’s it really like to start a business in hospitality? We started an interview series to find out.
This week, we talked with Casey Sorenson, founder of Hingston & Co., about bartender’s egos, classic cocktails and where to drink in Taipei.
You’re obviously a fan of the classics. Where do you go for classic cocktails in London?
I’m a big fan. My first choice would be Satan’s Whiskers in East London. They really know how to balance their classics well. Then there’s Experimental Cocktails Club in China Town and Original Sin in Stoke Newington.
Why classics then? What do they have that modern drinks don’t?
Heritage and originality, simply.
Most modern drinks are twists or “riffs” of classic cocktails anyway. And I see more and more modern cocktails with 5 plus ingredients, which, personally, I think makes them overly complex, and masks the quality of the ingredients. I personally like classics for their simplicity and balance.
Bartenders had a lot less to play with back in the day, so to be able to mix – say – 3 ingredients into a balanced cocktail took a lot more effort.
Go on then, name your 3 favourite cocktail creations since 2000.
That’s a tough one!
Hands down, my favourite would have to be the Penicillin, which was created by a fellow Aussie, Sam Ross when he worked at Milk & Honey NYC. Second would be the Young Cuban by Ally Martin, which takes inspiration from the Old Cuban. Lastly, and a guilty pleasure of mine, is the Picante de la Casa from Soho House.
Good choices. I feel a drink coming on! Do you think London is still at the bleeding-edge of cocktail culture?
In a way, it is yes. But I think we should be looking at places like Mexico, Taipei, Singapore and San Francisco for inspiration.
Taipei, for instance, is home to Draftland, which is an all tap cocktail bar bridging the gap between handcrafted cocktails and efficient service. The only other bar with this forward-thinking approach that I know of is Yours Sincerely in NYC.
Bartenders are known to be an egotistical bunch. How have they reacted to serving cocktails on tap?
They are indeed. And they have been the biggest critics when it comes to cocktails on tap. Rightly so in some ways, as some might see cocktails on tap as a means to replace their expert knowledge.
I started Hingston & Co. to help the industry at a time when customers want everything straight away, and venues struggle to meet this demand with quality and consistency. Bartenders are slowly coming to realise the benefits of serving cocktails on tap, and I think 2018 will see more and more bartenders embrace them.
Where do you see the cocktail on tap market heading? Will it be the norm in the future to have a pre-mixed drink?
I see it becoming a useful tool for venues that need to serve major volumes. As cocktails on tap become more accepted within the industry and by consumers, I can see them becoming widespread, yes. It’s such a useful way to serve people when you’re busy. Whether it be small niche cocktail bars like Super Lyan, or semi-casual restaurants like Duck & Waffle Local.
But, in my opinion, going to a bar and having bartenders handmake your cocktail from scratch will never die off entirely.
What’s next for Hingston & Co.?
2018 is going to be such an exciting year for us.
We are currently preparing for a big summer season at some great festivals, along with London's favourite rooftops and outdoor venues. Watch this space!