Cesar da Silva, head barman at the Capital hotel, has been honoured as a Keeper of the Quaich. He tells Janie Stamford what it means
What does the honour of Keeper of the Quaich mean to you?
It's very important to me because it means that I am recognised by the most prestigious whisky society in the world, which at my age I think is a huge achievement. It's a very restricted group. My first bar manager was Scottish and his passion for whisky inspired mine.
What did you do to be recognised?
I have sourced many rare bottles of whisky that are locked away at the Capital. I've also developed whisky and cheese tasting master classes, as well as pairings with chocolate which are very popular.
It's about being innovative and whisky can work with food just as well as wine, if paired correctly. There's no such thing as a bad whisky, it's just a matter of introducing the right product at the right time.
How do you keep the Capital's wine list and cocktail menus fresh?
To keep the wine list fresh I attend many wine tastings as I find that there are always new wines around the block. The cocktail menu is very different and we change it seasonally but without a doubt the classics - martinis, manhattans, cosmopolitans - always stay on there. They are served with a house twist though. Everyone has their own way of making them.
Your hospitality career to date has been spent at the Capital. How do you keep abreast of industry trends?
It requires a lot of hard work and dedication because trends change rapidly. I read a lot of the food and drink magazine blogs and attend as many tastings as I can. I also go out to many of my rivals' bars.
It's not necessarily a bad thing to stay in one place. Well over 50% of our guests are regulars and they expect to see the same face. I work 12 hours a day but it doesn't feel like it because I love my job.
What drinks trends do you expect to emerge in 2012?
I'm a strong believer that gin will be the most popular spirit in 2012 and I'm working on a menu based around that. There are a lot of new gins coming up. We will also have a menu for the Olympic Games based on fresh fruit juices, which will run from June to September.