- Words Notion Staff
Havana Club and Black Eats LDN spotlight Lucas Campbell, AKA The No Hice Bartender, in a series highlighting Black talent in the hospitality industry.
Black Eats LDN, based at its Hackney market platform, is the UK’s first and only Black-owned restaurant directory, boasting 300+ vendors. It was launched in 2020 as a response to the lack of exposure of Black-owned restaurants and businesses in mainstream media.
Havana Club’s goal has been to shine that light that has so often been lacking, and to that end, its teamed up with has Black Eats LDN to champion and elevate amazing talents within the mixology scene.
In the fourth part of the series, we caught up with Lucas Campbell, AKA The No Hice Bartender. Having been in hospitality for around a decade, Lucas first began his bartending and mixology career in festival bars while he was at university, then he moved on to working at bars around London Bridge. Now, his menus and drinks can be found at Camino or Big Chill locations across London.
Tap in below to hear about Lucas’ love of the hospitality industry, learning his first cocktails from his Grandpa, and much more!
What does hospitality mean to you?
To me, hospitality means a completely social environment. Whether you go to networking events, you meet people, you have a drink, you chat, you vibe. Whether you’re actually in the bars talking to people. It’s an environment that brings people together. And you can have a bit of fun over a drink as well.
What challenges have you faced as a Black bartender?
If I had to say any, it would be burnout. Across every kind of job, every kind of environment, in terms of every kind of person you are, you’re always going to face burnout for the job. But as a Black bartender, there’s micro-aggressions, there’s little bits of social moments where you involve drink, you involve people who like to speak freely, and you almost have to relax yourself, calm yourself and hold yourself to the same standard. Personally, I try to be an inspiration for the bartenders around me and it can get tough at times, but it’s still fun.
What’s your advice for up-and-coming bartenders?
My advice for any up-and-coming bartenders and anyone in the hospitality industry would definitely be to just put yourself out there. Meet people, go to events, talk. There’s bartending hospitality events all around London at all times of the year. They’re all around the country, they’re all around the world. Get yourself involved and you find hospitality is such a friendly industry. Everyone’s talkative, everyone’s social. So go out and talk to people. Go out and put yourself out there and you’ll find hospitality will give to you what you take from it.
What’s your process for making a cocktail menu?
That one’s a little bit more difficult, but it always starts off with research. When you start building a cocktail menu, you need to know what trends are coming out, you need to know what people are drinking. I look at my drinks from the past menu. What’s selling the most? And then, from there, you figure out an idea of what kind of direction you want to go in with your menu. Then, of course, you have to make a drink for everyone. You have to have the fruity drinks, you have to have the light drinks you have to have the strong drinks, you have to suit everyone’s certain occasion.
Then once you’ve added all the bits of the making process together, add your own little spin. Add your own little flair. Add your own little creativity so there’s a little bit of you in every menu that you do. And then, last thing, I’m sorry, we’ve always got to talk about the money. When making a cocktail menu, always think about the GPs; how much is going into your drinks? How much is it going to cost? How much is it going to cost for the staff to make it? And then make sure that the money of your drinks balances.
Who are the most influential people to you in terms of bartending?
If I start off with bartending, I have to talk about the people in Big Chill. Big thanks to everyone. The people I’ve worked with over the years, but for me, my biggest influence, whether it is in bartending, whether it is personally, has got to be my grandad. Shout out to grandaddy! But basically, my
grandad, he is an old-school Jamaican man. He’s strong, he’s powerful, but he’s also friendly. He talks to people. My grandad used to have bars when I was a kid and grandad was the first person who taught me how to pour a pint, pour a spirit, and I’d see him sitting around with his friends, playing dominos, chatting, vibing, and he was just surrounded by people that loved him, people that wanted to be around him, people that had the same vibe as him. So, throughout my whole life, I was just trying to aim to be a bit more like grandad. Aim to be someone that people can respect. Aim to be someone that people find it easy to talk to, that people want to be around, and then also, what can I say, grandad was the one to give me my first recipes as well. Taught me my first rum punch, my first Guinness punch, my first pineapple punch. So yeah, trying to be a bit more like grandad out here [laughs].