Meet Dom Horsley, who started out in the drinks industry at just 17, working behind the bar at his local pub. Fast forward a few years and Dom is now head of Creative Development for The New World Trading Company in the UK, where he has twice won Bartender of the Year 🏆🏆. Quite a journey for Dom, who has just helped launch the menu at The Furnace in Sheffield.
Like everyone in the hospitality industry, Dom's life was turned upside down by the events of the last 18 months. As bars finally now begin to reopen properly in the UK, we asked Dom to create a 'Welcome Back Serve' - a special cocktail to welcome patrons back to the bar scene. There was only one rule - the serve had to include Naked Malt. The rest was completely up to him…
As well as discovering Dom's creation, we also spoke to him about his lockdown experiences, and just how good it feels to be back doing what he loves most 👇.
So Dom, how did you keep busy during lockdown?
Right at the start of lockdown I started making a different cocktail every single day. My Instagram account (@domdrink) essentially became a drinks account. I soon realised it wasn’t sustainable to be drinking cocktails every day, so I started doing it once or twice a week instead. I still post them now, every now and then.
What did you miss most about not being behind the bar?
Talking to people. I really missed talking to guests and the staff, a lot of whom are my best friends. When the first lockdown happened here in the UK, I was living in a one bed flat, with no outdoor area, and my partner was working full-time. So I was just there all day every day by myself, I really missed being able to chat to people. It’s only in the past few weeks that guests are able to come up to the bar again and I can actually talk to them. It feels really weird, like you’re not meant to be doing it. But it’s brilliant!
Is there anything you didn’t miss?
The hours. I love being busy but there can come a point where you’re too busy, when you’re run off your feet for 6 hours straight. There seems to be much more of a focus on wellness now though, which is great. With everything that’s gone on, it’s come to the forefront a lot more, which is really good progress.
What do you love most about doing what you do?
I love being creative and trying new things. It’s something I’ve always been into. If there’s anything creative I’ll give it a try, so being able to say I design and make cocktails for a living is pretty amazing. It’s one of those things I never expected to be doing, but now I can’t imagine doing anything else. I'm very grateful.
So Dom, tell us about your Welcome Back Serve.
I call it the 'Sanguinello Sour'. It’s made up of Naked Malt, peach liquor, blood orange syrup and blood orange shrub, which adds a real tangy sourness. The end result is incredibly fresh, with fruity summer flavours that pair really well with Naked.
Sounds delicious! What was the inspiration behind it?
I wanted to make sure I created a serve that would do the whisky justice. Naked Malt is all about making blended whisky more accessible to everyone, so I wanted to use interesting flavours that would pair really well with the whisky, but I also didn’t want it to be too whisky-heavy. And lastly, I wanted to make a serve that people might not have seen before, something they'd be curious to try and surprised when they did.
Do you tend to use Naked a lot in your cocktails?
Yeah we've got a few serves on our menu that use Naked. For example, in our Botanist concept bar we’ve got Naked Malt with grapefruit juice and elderflower tonic. It really throws people off because it sounds like it shouldn’t have whisky in it, but it pairs really well. Going forward, we’re using Naked Malt as our house blended whisky, so we’ll be using it more and more.
Personally I enjoy drinking Naked with coconut water. It’s got these very subtle tropical notes, so it weirdly works really well. And you get to pretend that it’s healthy because you’re drinking coconut water!
Cheers Dom! If you’d like to try the Sanguinello Sour 🍹, it’s now on the menu at The Furnace in Sheffield (pictured above).
Keep your eyes peeled for more Welcome Back Serves coming soon 👀.
The Naked team