Meet our Coombe Abbey Bartender, Harry Smith!

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Here at Coombe Abbey Hotel, we’re very proud of our professional, friendly staff who always work to the highest standards within every area of our hotel and grounds.

One of the busiest areas of our hotel is the bar, a place where people can relax, meet for a drink and try something new. All our bartenders understand the importance of creating an ambient atmosphere for our guests, which is something that Harry Smith, one of our Coombe Abbey Hotel bartenders, touches upon in our interview with him this month…

How long have you been part of the Coombe Abbey Hotel team? 

I have been a part of the team at Coombe Abbey Hotel for around six years, on and off.

What does an average day/evening look like for you as a Bartender for Coombe Abbey Hotel?

Our shifts at the Coombe Abbey Hotel can vary massively. Daytimes, mainly, involve the preparation of lots of hot drinks for hotel residents, creating lovely cocktails for those taking afternoon tea and readying the bar for an evening’s busy shift.

Evenings, on the other hand, are a different kettle of fish… From running a busy food service from the bar’s casual dining menu and making sure room service runs efficiently, to the pouring of pints for guests, curating wine for diners, and mixing cocktails for that after-dinner tipple, it’s all go, go, go!

Service in the bar in the evening is a difficult, yet rewarding, shift but it doesn’t end there. In Coombe Abbey’s Garden Bar, we are available to serve residents until late at night – serving guests who have finished dancing at discos or feasting at banquets until they’re ready for bed!

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Without a doubt, talking to people. Whilst I love working with fine wine and the art of mixology; this job wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for the very eclectic mix of characters we have through the ancient doors of the abbey every single day! Here’s a video of me in action preparing a gin based cocktail for guests to enjoy…

What’s your favourite drink to make for guests?

I have a long list of favourite drinks because, for me, drinking is all about timing. But, if I were to choose one, it would be a perfectly mixed Negroni… just before an evening meal. A bittersweet, blend of Italian aromas and juniper-led gin make for the perfect aperitif.

What three words would you use to describe Coombe Abbey Hotel?

Unique, personal and time-honoured.

Do you have any special bartender tricks up your sleeve?

A bartender’s trick I like to use – and this isn’t about making drinks, mixing liquor or tasting wine – is making sure the customer feels as though they are being well looked after.
As soon as they come up to the bar, I like to make them feel comfortable, suggest they take a seat, and look at the drinks menu. This way, you’re not rushing service whilst people are queuing at the bar and the client is more relaxed.

I know it’s not a cool flair trick, or a ‘bottle flipping’ technique, but it should be the most used trick in your bartender’s arsenal. But, saying all this, I do have some flair when creating a cocktail!

Did you enjoy our bartender interview? If Harry’s tempted you to try one of our delicious cocktails or, if you simply want to unwind in a beautiful bar for drinks and perhaps some nibbles, why not book your stay with us today.You don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy the delights that Coombe Abbey Hotel has to offer – see you soon! 

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