Ibiza interview: Chris Edwardes, Aura beverage director

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Photography by Gypsy Westwood

Proudly presiding over the all-new Aura cocktail terrace bar, Chris Edwardes isn’t just any bartender. The award winning cocktail guru has been in the trade for over 30 years, and his credentials – spanning over 30 years behind the world’s finest bars and including a lifetime achievement award for outstanding contribution to the industry – are enough to make anyone thirsty! However a new opportunity knocked in 2010, giving Chris the chance to coordinate Aura’s bar design and create the cocktail list. He says, with a knowing smile, if all goes according to plan, he’ll be here throughout the winter too. We love a man with a plan…

What’s your favourite aspect of your job?
I love the social aspect of it. I love working with people, it’s been a great chance to meet everybody in Ibiza – it’s such a social environment! And it’s lovely working outside…

What’s your own tipple of choice?
It’s a tough one… but my favourite drink is an Old Fashioned, a drink that harks back to the 1920s. I like it with rum, and it’s basically a sugar lump coated with Angostura bitters and then crushed in a glass, with an ice cube. You stir it for about three minutes until the ice cube dilutes and the sugar turns into sugar water, and then you add a little bit more ice and a little bit more rum and a squeeze of orange skin… then a little bit more ice, and a little bit more rum! Traditionally it’s made with bourbon, but you can make it with any good quality alcohol really.

Creating a cocktail list – is it a labour of love?
It’s great fun. I love experimenting with drinks and flavours – actually, I get quite a lot of inspiration from chef’s dessert recipes. It’s all about flavour matching and trial and error. I’m a bit of a cocktail geek I guess and I’m a real stickler for using measures. If you use a measure and follow a recipe, the drink will always taste the same.

What’s your background – how did you learn the art of cocktail making?
My first proper cocktail bar job was in Covent Garden in a place where they had 250 cocktails on their menu, so I had to learn a lot of drinks very quickly! I’ve never been one to learn from a book, it was more of a case of having to remember because I had to make them. Now I do quite a lot of training and consultancy work as well, I teach other people how to make drinks.

So how did you decide what made the cut at Aura?
I have a boutique hotel in England, which has won ‘best cocktail list in the country’, so I wanted to base it on that, however the English style is very much short drinks, and I couldn’t do that here because obviously it’s too hot. The signature island drinks are caipirinhas and mojitos, so I combined a few of the classics with long fruity drinks and four different types of mojito, just to put a twist on what I knew I would end up making. I also came up with a few specifically for here, which involved local products, like Hierbas.

What other bars do you like to go to in Ibiza?
To be honest, not as many as I’d like to. I don’t go out after work, because I don’t really like the big clubs. I’d rather have a ‘small’ night here on a Friday or a Tuesday. I know it’s a bit of a busman’s holiday, but I like to have a bit of a boogie at the end of a night here.