Raising a glass with Adam Palmer

Canadian-born cocktail whiz, Adam Palmer, from The Montpellier Chapter, shares his passion for innovation with SoGlos, talking Tiki trends, rum punch, the importance of palate and, erm, walnuts.

Tell our readers a little about yourself and what you do, Adam.

My name’s Adam Palmer, I’m 28 and originally from Canada. I moved to Weymouth when I was younger and then Cheltenham, where I’ve been mastering my craft as a cocktail barman at The Montpellier Chapter for the last three years.

My job is to come up with innovative and creative cocktails and offer guests a warm welcome in the cocktail lounge, which is a great place to unwind.

What training did you do?

I always loved the idea of working in cocktail bars and left school with passion and creative flair. I started out as a bar runner and worked my way up, doing long hours and training on the job.

Before arriving at The Montpellier Chapter, I worked in a number of other cocktail bars in Cheltenham, including Que Pasa and The Daffodil.

What does a typical day involve for you?

At the start of each season I design a new cocktail menu, taking inspiration from whatever is topical at the time in film, magazines, fashion and seasonality. I aim to combine fresh ingredients with unusual spirits that complement each other.

Once the menu is in place, each day involves making sure the bar runs smoothly, keeping it fully stocked and ensuring customers are served well – it keeps me on my toes and presents new challenges every day.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The freedom I have to introduce new flavour combinations and create bespoke cocktails to suit each customer’s individual taste.

The atmosphere and customers are also fantastic. Being a hotel, The Montpellier Chapter has a constant flow of new, fresh faces but we also have many colourful regulars too.

What is The Chapter’s drinks specialism and how does it differ to other local bars?

Creating something that no one else has made before is always something we aspire to do. We use fresh, local produce where possible; revive much-loved classics; introduce modern flavours; and stick to seasonality – berries in winter, tropical fruits in summer and orchard fruits in autumn.

What’s your personal, all-time favourite drink and why?

I’m a firm fan of the up-and-coming Tiki culture trend and the Mai Tai is a particular favourite of mine. The nostalgic yet modern combination of rum, Curaçao liqueur and lime makes it an oldie but goodie!

What one drink from The Montpellier Chapter should our readers try and why?

Definitely the Chocolate and Walnut Old Fashioned. Its unusual combination of Match Makers bourbon, walnut and chocolate bitters makes it a must-try in my book.

What new cocktails are you particularly excited about right now?

The Bitter Sweet Sicilian is a creation I’m particuarly proud of. Some of the ingredients are quite unconventional, such as marmalade and a sprig of rosemary, so I get a few funny looks when I start concocting it!

The interesting mix of flavours and textures takes the drinker straight to Italy and it’s been extremely well received so far.

Sounds yummy. What mixology trends do you predict this year?

Bitters took the limelight last year and we saw the rise of Campari, gin and vermouth.

But this year, rum punches and Tiki will both be making a big time comeback. You heard it here first!

Rum punch, a SoGlos favourite! So what advice would you offer to aspiring mixologists?

Similar to every industry, you’ve got to be on the ball and aware of what’s going on around you. Of course, a good palate is key, as is being forward thinking, predicting trends and knowing your customer.

A great cocktail menu should complement the restaurant menu, so be prepared to tailor your offering to match dishes and diners.

I’d also recommend mixing things that are not just drink-based. Think vegetable juices, herbs and confectionary. The true art is pulling everything together to create a delicious-tasting result.

Have you mastered all the flair moves?

I have actually! This was encouraged at previous places I’ve worked but isn’t very fitting here at The Chapter.

What cocktail should readers steer clear of?

It would have to be a strawberry and black sambuca concoction I tried once. Definitely up there with the worst of them.

Sounds super sickly sweet – we’ll be sure to pass on that one. So what do you get up to outside of work?

I love to snowboard and draw. Sadly, I didn’t get away this year, as my knees needed a break from tricks and tearing up the mountains!

My favourite snow spot to escape to is the Kicking Horse in Canada; I love the sense of space and freedom you can find at the top of a mountain run. That and the après ski, of course.

Where else would you recommend drinking in Gloucestershire, besides The Chapter?

The Jolly Brewmaster in Cheltenham. It’s got a brilliant beer garden and the best ciders – perfect for summer.

Is there anything special happening in the bar this summer?

Our two for £10 cocktail menu is an offer not to be missed. Bring friends and make it an event of your own! It’s available all day, every day and has been designed to cater for all tastes.

On the menu throughout June 2014, you’ll find Elderflower Bellini, Strawberry Collins, Vanilla and Passion Fruit Caipiroska, French Martini, Peach and Bourbon Iced Tea, and Dark and Stormy.

For more information call The Montpellier Chapter on (01242) 266708, email montpellier@chapterhotels.com or visit themontpellierchapterhotel.com.

By Shelly McCatty

© SoGlos
Friday 13 June 2014

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