Interview: Joe Milner

Have you noticed any trends in the luxury bar scene?
History’s starting to repeat itself. I really think the simplicity of the cocktail is coming back and people are looking for more of an experience. The ultimate ritual is absinthe. There’s a real influx of locally produced products, whether it’s fruits, spices or herbs. They’re all really starting to come into play. Like during the World Class challenge, we saw everything from Balinese saffron to local curry leaves.
You’re here as a guest judge for a World Class challenge—what are your judging criteria?
To be honest, these challenges aren’t all about the cocktail. It’s more like 25 percent about the cocktail itself; the rest is a combination of creativity, knowledge of the alcohol, personality and style, of course. I’ve had Asian bartenders say they don’t think they can hack it against other bartenders from the UK, Australia and America, but that’s such a load of crap. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this or next year, the winner’s from Asia.
Ketel One versus Ron Zacapa in a smack down, which is the one for you?
You’re really putting me on the spot. Ketel One is great for a hot, summer’s day, while Ron Zacapa’s nice at night.