I joined in 2008 and on my first day ended up arriving four hours late. I’d been to Thailand for a month, on the last day we found a place that sold Seagram’s gin for £2 a bottle; needless to say that didn’t end well.
I started as head bartender; and it was very small back then, very ‘independent’: the spare stock was in a sliding wardrobe at the end of the restaurant, the ‘office’ was a cupboard and we kept all the charcoal under banquettes, but it was brilliant, so much fun.
And it was busy. On one of the hottest days of the year, on a Tuesday lunchtime, we’d still get 90 covers. I never understood all the people eating massive steaks on a hot day, but I did appreciate that they needed a drink…
I actually bought Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew with me, to Hawksmoor. I’d made it for a Beefeater cocktail competition just before I came to Hawksmoor. I didn’t win, I came second – I was beaten by Nick Strangeway. It was a drink inspired by London; I’d walked past Hay’s Wharf and read a plaque about how all these ships would bring exotic ingredients like ginger to London, and I made the original recipe that evening. I just called it Ginger Brew, but Huw suggested that we add in my name – I’ve been called Shaky Pete for years because I’ve got hands like the Waco Kid when I get nervous in bartending competitions.
Now my drink is everywhere, it’s crazy. Friends have sent me pictures of it on lists from Denmark to Australia. It’s been on TV and cocktail historian Jared Brown says he thinks it’s one of the best modern classics of the last 10 years. The last one gave me goose bumps. I don’t mind where it turns u, I just think it should have the proper name on it. Will once sent me a picture of a menu with Wobbly Bobs Ginger Brew! If the Ginger Brew goes with it, then I can succeed where Robbie Williams failed and crack America.
Shaky Pete himself is now living in Australia, and his wildest heavy-drinking days are behind him. In his honour we’ve also created Steady Pete’s Ginger Brew, a temperate take made with Ceder’s ‘gin’ blended with ginger and lemon, topped with the finest (almost) alcohol-free ale we’ve ever tasted. Long, refreshing, guilt-free, very ‘Dry January’ and a perfect ‘decoy drink’ – when you don’t want your mates to know you’re abstaining.
Make your own Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew
- 50ml Ginger Syrup*
- 50ml Lemon Juice
- 35ml Beefeater Gin
- 100ml London Pride
- Put the ginger syrup, lemon juice and gin into a heavy-duty blender (a Nutribullet works well) with a couple of ice cubes. In the restaurants we use 5 ice cubes but they are different to home-frozen ice, so 2 should do at home. Blend until it is liquid, but still has a bit of froth, a bit of air in it.
- Pour into a very cold glass and top it up with a London Pride.
*To make the ginger syrup we roughly peel fresh ginger, making sure to leave some of the skin on, at that’s where the fire is, then put it through a centrifugal juicer which removes all the pulp and spits out the juice. We take the juice and combine it 2:1 with sugar and stir until it’s dissolved. It’s a really thick and heavy syrup, so this takes a while, but it’s worth all the pain.