Barman Esley Gunaratne learnt and perfected his craft across Sri Lanka, Qatar and Rome, before travelling to London to join us at The Egerton House Hotel. Today, he can be found behind the bar at the Egerton, showcasing his cocktail making and sommelier skills and treating guests to expertly prepared and presented drinks. We caught up with Esley to go behind the scenes at the Egerton House Hotel bar, discover some of his favourite cocktails, and take a look at the recipe for his signature serve.
What attracted you to The Egerton House Hotel and what do you like most about working there?
“I like the fact that it’s a traditional English boutique hotel, and that it’s located in one of the best areas of London. The hotel has a unique bar area, too, which has a wonderful atmosphere. I enjoy providing a personal service for our guests here, paying close attention to the small details.”
What do you enjoy most about being a barman?
“Being a barman gives me the opportunity to be creative by making quality cocktails to suit each guest’s request. While serving drinks to guests, I also have the chance to have wonderful conversations with them.”
What do you think makes an exceptional barman?
“Being a bartender is like being a doctor; you need to find out what people need and then treat them. I talk to my guests and gauge which cocktail is right for them and how they’d like it to be served.”
Have there been any especially memorable moments during your time as a barman?
“I have been lucky to meet many famous people and it’s always a pleasure for me to serve them drinks as they like them. It’s a fantastic feeling when they return to the bar and know me by name.”
Do you consider yourself a wine connoisseur?
“My hobby is to study wine, which means travelling to different wine regions, visiting the vineyards and tasting the wine. The regions I’ve found to be most outstanding are Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone and Champagne in France, and Tuscany in Italy. I’m also interested in New World wines from South Africa, New Zealand and Chile.”
What’s your favourite cocktail?
“For me, it’s a classic Dry Martini.”
Do you ever create your own cocktails? If so, which are you most proud of?
“I have created cocktails for many different occasions, but I think I’m most proud of the Egerton Breeze, a refreshing blend of citrus and amaretto. This cocktails truly captures the essence of summer.”
How to Make The Egerton Breeze
Pour the vodka, lemon juice and lime cordial into a cut crystal highball glass and stir well. Fill the glass to the top with ice, then pour the bitter lemon and amaretto over the ice. Garnish the drink with a fresh lime slice.
Let Esley mix you an Egerton Breeze, or perhaps tailor a cocktail to your own personal taste, on a luxurious stay at The Egerton House Hotel.
Image credits: Cover photo of Esley © Red Carnation Hotels. Cocktails © iStock / ShotShare. The Egerton House Hotel © Red Carnation Hotels. Wine Waiter © iStock / MinervaStudio. Esley at the bar © Red Carnation Hotels.