Bartenders, rather than blondes, have the most fun is something you’ll learn in this weeks episode. Alex Kammerling is not only extremely creative – but persistent. Experimenting for five years with around 100 ingredients to find the perfect balance of taste, health benefit and nostalgia that Kamm & Sons British Aperitif brings… And Alex did it all in his little flat, unfortunately for his housemate! Learn all about Alex and the Kammerling sons journey below.
Alex Kammerling Show Notes
00:00:00 Marks Introduction
00:02:12 Meeting Alex, setting the scene in Clapham Common
00:02:42 Jumping back in time… Where did Alex’s first interest in cocktails come from?
- 00:02:56 “Growing up I was never really a drinker. I never really saw the point, I didn’t really get it until I started working in bars and I could see how much fun the bartenders used to have in bars.”
00:04:10 Coming from the creative industry – Alex’s two year degree in art & design
- 00:05:03 “It’s not all about making money, is it? As long as you can pay the bills, and you’re doing something that you love. That’s the important bit for me.”
00:05:10 Did being arty come in handy when it was time to work on branding?
- 00:06:16 “I like using my hands to make things. I think cocktails was one of those things – so I can put all the ingredients together in a creative way, make something, and it looks nice, tastes nice and the customer likes it. That gives me satisfaction.”
00:06:39 When did enjoying cocktails become a skill for Alex?
- 00:08:42 “It was not a path you could ever go down… It seemed like it was only the big drinks companies that made new products… So I thought, let’s give it a go.”
00:09:04 Writing a cocktail book for the BBC
00:10:31 How did Alex strike the balance between new, and classic?
- 00:10:41 “I was inspired by Aperol, Campari – and I really loved that culture. But I also wanted to make something that was a bit healthier.”
- 00:12:16 “Take some inspiration from the Italian, aperitif culture… But also take some inspiration from this history of alcohol with medicine. Put those ideas to form a brand, so that was the starting point.”
00:12:40 Getting geeky – staring off with 100 ingredients to work out the flavour profiles
- 00:13:34 “So it was a combination of – get the ingredient, here’s the flavour. Is it useful? Yes/No. Does it taste like shit? No. Great, then it’s got a chance of going in.”
00:14:42 It took Alex five years to figure out his recipe… Did he know what he wanted to create that whole time?
- 00:15:26 “And its 60 botanicals, they come together to form Campari. That’s the flavour. When you try it – it’s definitely Campari. Now that’s genius – how you create a new flavour from flavours that already exist.”
00:16:24 Do you need to have a focused palate to be able to try different flavours and put them together?
- 00:16:56 “It was the hardest thing I’ve done. Creating a recipe and bringing it to market.”
00:17:40 Alex shares his memories of trailing flavours over the year – what was good, what was gross?
- 00:21:10 “I wanted to encapsulate that whole lot of tasting a bush or tasting a tree kind of idea. The idea that the product takes you on a journey.”
00:21:47 Creating all these concoctions… In his flat! What did this look like?
00:22:49 Where there any points that Alex felt overwhelmed?
- 00:23:09 “I started going… I need some time off. I went for a couple of months, just travelling, and then I came back refreshed and… the project carried on and I found a way with it.”
00:24:04 Was his recipe an evolution, what did the ‘trial and error’ process look like?
- 00:24:32 “There was one point where I was testing it, and I’d sort of forgot I was testing it. I poured another one, I think I had three, and I thought – hang on a minute! That’s delicious! I’ve been really enjoying that; I think that’s the one.”
00:25:54 What is Kamm & Sons, how do you make it?
- 00:27:44 “Effectively, it’s between gin making and bitters.”
00:27:51 Why was it important to Alex to design the drink as an aperitif?
- 00:28:39 “It’s just the perfect time to enjoy a lower alcohol drink that has lots of flavour and sort of stimulates the pallet.”
00:30:29 The growth of the market, and why Aperol Spritz are beneficial to Alex’s brand
00:32:16 The family link for Alex’s brand – dedication to his grandfather
- 00:33:33 “A few days later, he called me up and said ‘I’ve found out what it is. My dad used to give me this little sweet when I had a cold, and it tastes like this’. I just thought that was amazing, the fact that the power of smell and taste can take you back – you know, he’s 95 now, to a 5 or 6-year-old boy.”
- 00:34:41 Bringing in the parents & being persuaded to make gin
00:36:48 Ending up with a unique Gin – something that was originally planned
- 00:38:59 “When I taste, I taste in colour. I don’t have full synaesthesia, but when I taste a flavour I imagine shapes and I imagine colours.”
00:39:54 Alex’s thoughts on low & no alcoholic drinks
00:41:54 How important is alcohol in cleansing the palate?
- 00:42:06 “The alcohol for me is the thing that carries the flavour better than water does. It’s a carrier, it extracts the flavour of the botanicals, it preserves them and it delivers the mouthfeel and length of finish in a different way.”
00:42:58 How do you get people to know about your product? Educating in trade
00:44:22 Marketing, branding, finance… how’s that journey been for Alex?
- 00:45:08 “I’m definitely not a natural spread-sheeter… But I’m a wizard at excel now!”
00:47:26 Is there anything Alex would have done differently in hindsight?
- 00:47:55 “I think it took us a long time to focus on our signature serve. And that’s the key – what do you do with this product. You do this with it… It’s gotta be that easy.”
00:50:00 Which part of Alex’s job gives him the most pleasure?
00:51:29 Where’s the best place to get a hold of Kamm & Sons drink, and learn more about the amazing process behind it?
00:52:18 Marks final thoughts and sign off
If you’d like to learn more about Alex, his family and the beautiful British Aperitif (and other drinks!) he’s created… Check out their website and social channels below, or listen to the full episode here.
Facebook: Kamm & Sons – British Aperitif