Beckenham bar star is determined to shake up our taste in cocktails
PUBLISHED: 13:28 25 October 2012
The journey of a Beckenham bar manager from bottle-smashing novice to the world's best bartender is a story 21 years in the making.
Tony Adams, born in Liverpool and raised in Southport, can occasionally be seen on ITV’s This Morning when he’s not flipping cocktail shakers behind the bar at The Beckenham in High Street.
But reaching the top of his game was a distant dream for an eight-year-old boy bottling up in a pub close to his home.
He said: “That was my very first pub job. I think it cost my mum and dad more to get me there than I earned.
“From there I ended up working in a Chinese restaurant and it wasn’t until I went to university that I really started getting into bar work.”
He began working at TGI Fridays while at university before transferring to Leicester Square where he began to hone his skills.
“When you first start out you think this is actually quite tough but you can pick up things like catching a bottle on the back of your hand easily.
“I’ve been doing it four to six hours a day for the past few years and that’s how I was crowned the world’s best.”
As part of a TGI Fridays competition, Tony was pitted against the UK’s best in 2008 before he eventually became the European champion in Oslo.
From there he headed to Las Vegas where things became serious and he spent countless hours memorising recipes, honing his skills and ignoring all the distractions to become world champion.
“It was a really great time in my life – I went to Oslo just for the ride and came away with the win. I went to Las Vegas to win.
“I’m actually going back there in a couple of weeks for my 30th birthday – it’ll be the first time I’ve been there on the other side of the bar.”
From a family of pub, club and bar workers, it seemed he was destined for little else, especially as his grandfather owns The Cavern in Liverpool, early home of The Beatles.
He is now attempting to raise Beckenham’s profile in the cocktail world with his unique creations and work on television.
His inventions, including squid ink sours and bacon and egg coupes, have been tasted live by This Morning presenters Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.
His forays onto the small screen came as a result of his world title and it took him a few attempts to overcome the nerves of working in front of a TV crew.
“You forget how many people watch it”, he said.
“I did one a few years ago where there was a crowd of about 40 people and I was so nervous.
“After, one of the guys said to me ‘forget the people here, there are two million people watching at home’. I think that made it worse.”
He is now channelling his efforts to educate people about cocktails, helping his customers in Beckenham try something that is a little different.
“People always order mojitos and cosmopolitans,” he said. “It’s their default but it’s because they don’t know anything else. I like to help them choose something different and tailor it for them.”