Cocktails & Conversations with Will Meredith

Tattu is a restaurant group in the UK with sites in Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, Birmingham and most recently London.

A contemporary Chinese Restaurant and Bar, the venues showcase elegant, fun and lavish settings, with drinks and dishes to match.

Tattu were consistently the top-selling bar at every Cocktails In The City event we hosted together and we recently caught up with the new head of bars, Will Meredith who has joined the business after 5 ½ years at the internationally renowned Mr Lyan Group.

Let’s start with cocktails, if you had to recommend one Tattu cocktail at the moment what would you go for?

Recently, we’ve made some ground in refreshing our cocktail offering down in London. From that menu, I really love the Oolong Old Fashioned. It is made with brown butter which has been fat-washed with Takamaka Rum, stirred with a splash of Dom Benedictine and Oolong tea. It has a beautiful rich mouth feel and silky texture that just leaves you wanting to dive in for another sip.

Tattu is famous for its signature cocktail, Skull Candy. I think they sold at least 1,000 just at CITC, what’s the drink and give me some stats….

Since Tattu opened, we have made around 222,100 of these. That’s a lot of sweet treats!

And what do you recommend for a great cocktail at home?

I’d always recommend a gin or vodka martini. It’s so easy to make at home and you can just prep it in bottles so save the mess. Replace 200ml from a full 700ml bottle with 50ml of vermouth and 150ml of water and leave in the freezer (ideally with some glassware if you can). It’s hard to get a cocktail cold enough at home, however a freezer is purpose built to do it. You can then play around with garnishes to finish off the drink. You’ll end up with an ice-cold martini that’ll take the edge off a long week.

You’ve taken on the role as head of bars at Tattu after 5 ½ years at the Mr Lyan Group which has an amazing reputation in the industry, why did you make the move?

The experience in the Lyan company was absolutely fantastic. We pushed the boundaries of what a bar could do and challenged a lot of the norms of our industry in a super positive way.

After that amount of time though, I felt the need to come out of the safety net and try and build something completely different and work with a whole new team. People really interest me, it has always been the draw of working in hospitality, and the chance to work across multiple sites and work with so many different individuals was something I really loved the idea of doing. The operational challenge is also something that is really exciting.

And what are the challenges and opportunities in a Head of Bars role?

You need to be organised and prioritise effectively as every site has it’s needs. Learning who needs what and when is always a challenge. Trying to plan ahead so we’re not chasing our tails is another part of the job which is so exciting because there’s so many people involved in the process, therefore communication is always something that needs to be constantly developed and worked on.

Tattu comes across a very slick, beautifully presented business, what does it look like back of house?

It’s a fast-paced environment. We believe in experimenting and will happily try out new ideas on a regular basis to assess their viability. If it works, then great, if not, we learn and move on or develop the idea differently. The owners and the directors are very hands-on which really helps.

The Operations team (barring myself actually) have been promoted from within, so they know the business inside out and this intangible experience is incredibly helpful.

As a multisite business do you strive for consistency or individuality from site-to-site?

Until the opening of London, we had focussed on providing consistency, but we’ve experimented with new ideas at the Outernet Building (London site with amazing views) and now we are working towards giving each venue more ownership of their beverage program. Of course, there are elements that are fundamentally Tattu, and anything consumable which translates over several venues needs to be as consistent as possible. However we want to sprinkle elements of individuality and uniqueness across all the venues, and this beverage development next year will help to do that.

We communicate and share ideas through an internal social platform called Yapster which means our teams can keep their work communications and personal channels distinct from one another which we think is really important. Nobody wants their WhatsApp cluttered with work stuff on their days off, so this is way to help the company engage internally whilst allowing team members to switch off too.

As someone with years of experience in hospitality are there any rules or mantra’s you try and work by?

Anticipate people’s needs. The simplest example of that is filling up a water glass that is close to empty. A more nebulous example would be dropping a splash of a particular wine to a bar guest when they have ordered some snacks as a pairing option to bring the most out of their food. They don’t necessarily ‘need’ it as such, but it’s a way of elevating their experience and offers a touch of the wow factor, showing a genuine extra mile touch which is what hospitality is all about.

Read the situation like a book. An example of that could be one person has barely touched their second drink and you feel they much preferred the drink from their first round, in this situation I would come to the table with another drink and swap it out. This may seem a brash step, but if you’ve worked hard to build the rapport and trust, the guest will love that touch and thank you for it. Alternatively, you may overhear someone mentioning that they haven’t eaten so you just pop a tiny snack in front of them from the kitchen as a gesture. It’s not going to fill them up, but they’ll know you genuinely care and will appreciate it.

Try and leave whatever else is happening at the door. It’s easier said than done, and some things will inevitably spill through. I guess compartmentalising is something that has always come easy to me. Generally speaking, I will come in to work with the soul purpose of having a great service, and all the implications of that. The team and guests become my absolute priority for the hours of service and everything just sort of washes away.

Do you have a book, podcast or something else you recommend to other people in the industry?

I think Setting The Table by Danny Meyer is a great read for anyone in hospitality and I’ve just ordered a book called Twelve and a half by Gary Veynerchuk. It’s based on emotional intelligence that has been recommended to me a few times, I’ll tell you if it’s any good shortly.

I believe that when you have the right people with the right attitude in the business everything else falls into place. It is important to really invest in people because they are the make and break of it all.

If you can nurture people, showing them respect and care, you’ll benefit ten-fold.

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