- Published: Tuesday, 22 March 2016 13:56
- Written by James Bruce
We have an amazing team here at the Assembly Rooms all of whom we are very proud of. So we thought you should get to know them. Every quarter we will introduce you to another vital member of our team. First up is John-Paul Valentine.
John-Paul, tell us what you do here at Assembly Rooms and what it involves?
I’m the bar manager here at the Assembly Rooms. I am also passionate about the environment so take on the role of sustainability champion too.
My job has definitely evolved over the last few years. I have been given more freedom to create a bar experience I’m certain our customers would want from Assembly Rooms. This historic old building exudes grandeur, those that attend an event here expect the highest quality experience and that’s exactly what they get from our bar.
Our staff are well trained with great product knowledge so they can cater for a range of requests. I also analyse and refine all our processes to ensure we are as efficient and, more importantly, sustainable as possible in every aspect of our work. We work hard behind the scenes to ensure our customers can trust we are doing our bit for the planet.
It’s also my job to make sure the bar is well stocked. However, my philosophy has always been to challenge the status quo. Nothing stocked in the bar is there without good reason. We challenge everything to make sure we have the right fit.
So how do you decide what goes into the AR bar?
We start by removing the mainstream drinks. We then do our research and put our many years’ experience to good use. We know what people are drinking but as I mentioned we are here to challenge people and give them an experience they won’t forget, in keeping with the rest of the venue.
For instance, we’ve worked with our supplier to find a slightly more unconventional but great tasting house wine. It is better quality but because it isn’t mainstream the price is lower providing better value for money for our customers.
We now have three organic wines on our list from the Torres Wine Country, which was international wine company of the year in 2015.
It is also important to get creative with your beers too. Instead of the standard approach we went in search of a more discerning tasting beer. We host Krusovice, a Czech beer as our main draught beer. Creativity doesn’t always involve a search abroad. We have some wonderful craft beers right here in Scotland and we stock a wide range from Innis & Gunn, Harveston, Summerhall and BrewDog.
We adopt a similar approach to spirits. Our tequila is Aqua Riva which has been developed over 11 months to maintain the wonderful agave flavours without the burn of traditional tequilas.
Too often visiting the bar at an event or conference is a less than inspiring experience and I am committed to that not being the case here at Assembly Rooms.
What are the most interesting drinks you are working with at the moment?
Well because of our approach there is a lot to talk about but I guess one might be Hudson.
Hudson Whiskey is definitely a bourbon that disrupts. They have a very unique approach to almost everything they do. The first distillery in New York since prohibition, they started very small so they had to be creative. Tradition suggests that you should tip you barrels on a
vibrations agitated the whisky enough to create the right effect. They call it sonic maturation.monthly basis but with very few men and lots of barrels they needed a solution. One of the team brought in their music system complete with speakers and the
Why is sustainability important to AR and what measures to you take to ensure it delivers?
As I mentioned, I have always been passionate about sustainability. I firmly believe we all have to take responsibility and do our bit. It is having an impact and if we don’t take action as individuals then nothing will change.
I have the power here to make a difference and we are doing just that. I have ensured everyone in the bar team is well trained and that we’ve all bought into the process. Much of our glassware is now recycled and our cleaning products are water based which means there are no harmful after effects.
So what do you love most about your job?
I’m very lucky that I get to combine my passion for sustainability with my job as a bar manager. The freedom I have here to develop is great but seeing the reactions from customers at events or conferences when they try something they’ve never tasted before makes it worthwhile.