Drinks with Claire Best
Ozone Coffee, Shoreditch
What we drank
Claire: Rosemary Ice Tea £4
Hebe: Ruby Oolong Tea £2.80
Claire is my cup of tea. I loved interviewing her over a cuppa on one hot afternoon and wish there was space to fit everything we talked about.
Hello! Tell us a bit about you…
I currently work for Amathus drinks and I look after essentially everything European, except the cool stuff like Calvados and cognac. So Gin, vermouth all the weird and wonderful bits like Eau de vie, aquavit, stuff like that. I was bartending before that for a long time. I was at Callooh Callay and before that, I was at Milk & Honey. That was in London, before that I was in Manchester and before that, I was in Yorkshire. So I’ve been probably been in hospitality since I was 15 when I worked for Burger King.
What got you into the hospitality industry?
You’d like to have that idea that somehow there was a moment, but I was 17 and needed a job. I think my first hospitality job was a waitress and I was a really bad one. I dropped a grapefruit on an old man’s head, I didn’t understand cutlery placing, I was shit at it. I was really moody. I was just this little bitch all the time, mouthing off to my boss. And then I had two jobs at the same time, I had a waitressing job and I had a shitty pub job that was late at night. I hated that as well, there was always violence. It was in a really rough area in Hull. I remember getting to, I was there for 4 years and I think I was 22 and I remember having a moment whilst I was pulling a pint thinking if I don’t move I’m going to be here forever, I need to like get out of Hull. So I went to Sheffield for Uni and then I started working in a
What’s your day to day at work like?
Loads and loads and loads of tastings. So my role is
What’s your favourite part about working in this industry?
People. I know that sounds a bit cheesy. You have moments where like (I’m sure we’ve all felt it) where you’re just like I can’t be bothered or I’m not looking forward to it and then you get in front of people and it just, it makes you happy. You know when you meet nice people and…I’m naturally really chatty and full of beans all the time. So yeah, people. Just meeting nice people.
and what’s your least favourite part?
Probably the least favourite part is things like, I try to not drink every day if I can avoid alcohol, I mean it’s part of my job, but at the same time, I love booze. I love it. Day to day I try and avoid it because I don’t want to drink every day. I hate being hungover. I’m never good at it. I’m not one of those people who you know is like I’m out every night and partying. If I have to pick a negative side it’s the intake of alcohol.
Have you found being a woman in this industry a positive, negative or both?
This sounds a little bit bad, but there have probably been more negatives than there are positives. I can’t think of an example where it’s been hugely positive, but I can definitely give examples where it’s been negative. Like someone will come in about makeup or ‘oh you’d look so much better if you didn’t wear trainers.’
There’s so much of that. You do get it every now and again from older dudes. It’s a bit of a sad thing to think of it. I won a comp about a year and a half ago and one guy (it was a joke and
Have you faced any challenges in this role?
Now in this one, I the people are surprised to see girls with knowledge of spirits or just knowledgeable in general. Older guys. I have a challenge with older guys. The women in our work are wonderful. There’s no bitchiness or anything like that. Obviously, this isn’t all dudes
What the next big trend?
Keeping it simpler. There was this big phase where everything was really complicated in terms of actual drink development. Now it looks like it’s going back to being simpler, going back to the classic way of doing it. Just simple stuff, letting the ingredients speak for themselves. There are a lot of conversations about how we can help our women also, keeping it more positive and keep it protected. You know, look after each other.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to someone who wanted to do your job?
Work hard and be nice. I know it’s a thing said by so many people. Just be nice. You can teach anyone anything really, in terms of knowledge. Just be nice. Don’t cancel on things. If you try to cancel anything like that it puts you back and leaves a negative connotation in
How can we support you?
All of this. This is great. More of this. I think it’s just conversations. Conversations between people, face to face. If it’s an argument, try and keep it as constructive as possible.
Last question, what’s your favourite drink?
Penicillin is probably my favourite drink ever. And then when it’s summer you can do a
Probably Apples at Coupette. It’s
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