Interview with Joe and Daniel Schofield – Bartender Brothers
Over the course of their careers thus far, bartending brothers Joe and Daniel Schofield have worked in some of the world’s top venues and collected a handful of the industry’s highest accolades. They’ve certainly never turned down a challenge, as demonstrated by the sheer number of projects they’ve undertaken in the past year and change.
In addition to collaborating on a cocktail book, launching a vermouth with Asterley Bros and touring the world doing bar takeovers, seminars, masterclasses and more, the brothers are gearing up for the opening of their first venue, Schofield’s Bar, in Manchester. Time we caught up with the globetrotting duo, don’t you think?
We sat down with Joe and Daniel ahead of their seminar at the Vantguard’s Speak Easy event in London last week to talk about their projects, guest shifts and life on the road.
Hi guys. You’ve been travelling a lot over the past year ahead of the opening of Schofield’s Bar. Why did you decide to take this approach, rather than going straight into the opening?
Joe: When you open a bar, there's a lot of waiting around. Plus it was on the back of a lot of recognition that myself and Daniel had last year. When Daniel was at [London bar] Coupette it won 18th Best Bar in the World [at the World’s 50 Best Bars Awards] and best new international cocktail bar at Tales of the Cocktail. I won International Bartender of the Year at Tales and Bartender's Bartender at World's 50 Best.
Because of that recognition, we’ve had so many travel opportunities. We estimate that in the last 15 months or so we've done 60 or 70 different countries and over 100 different events. Instead of just doing these events as Joe and Daniel Schofield, we thought, why don't we start to build the Schofield’s brand? So the first things we had made were the uniform, the logo. That way we're essentially building the brand before we've even opened.
Daniel: People might think we're taking a holiday but we're not. We're working all the time. On a long-haul flight we'll get the laptops out, work in the airports.
We're doing all these events with some of the world's best bars, and it's great because we can always look at different angles of doing things. You're constantly learning things as well.
Which takeover working together has been your favourite?
Daniel: It's hard to put your finger on one. We did one with Little Red Door in February with the American Bar that was one of the best. I used to work [at Little Red Door], so it's nice to get behind a bar that you know. The first half an hour of a guest shift you’re like, ‘Where are the glasses? Where's the ice?’ and for that one it was just getting back on the horse.
You recently launched Schofield’s English Dry Vermouth with Asterley Bros. Why did you want to focus on vermouth in particular?
Joe: I tried some of the Asterley Bros vermouths [when I was working] in Singapore. The drinks we’ve been doing have been very classic, and we felt there was a real gap in the market for dry vermouth. It’s a product that's been often overlooked by bartenders and the trade.
We love British flavours, so we thought about speaking to Asterley Bros and working with them to make a dry vermouth. It's got 28 English botanicals and English-grown grapes.
What makes a good vermouth?
Joe: For me, it’s the quality of grapes and the quality of the botanicals. We use the best grapes we get our hands on, and the best botanicals. [The vermouth is] quite complex and left field, but we love it.
Daniel: It's interesting seeing people's reactions, because everybody has this opinion of what vermouth will taste like. They try this and it's so different. It's incredibly floral. You get a lot of elderflower and jasmine. That's what we wanted to create.
Last month, you also released a book, Schofield’s Fine and Classic Cocktails. What was your favourite part of working on it?
Daniel: Finishing it [laughs].
Joe: A lot of people don't realise how long and arduous the process is. It took 18 months, and we think we've invested maybe 250 hours into that project.
It can be quite challenging at times trying to manage so many projects. You're doing the photo shoot and it takes something like 12 hours to get seven shots, but when you get that first book in your hands it's all worth it.
And what's the biggest challenge of working together so closely?
Daniel: I don't think we have any, to be honest. I say it a lot, but Joe is one of the main reasons I got into the industry in the first place, so for me it's great to be back working with him again. I've worked with him at a few different bars in the past in Leeds and Manchester, and I was excited. We've got different strengths and complement each other quite nicely. There's a lot of trust too.
Joe: Our vision has always been aligned, and we've got a very similar vision of what the bar will be.
This article was updated from one that was originally published in imbibe live magazine on November 12, 2019
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