Schweppes has appointed Josh Linfitt as its Prestige GB brand ambassador. He explains what his new role entails and what it means to him.

Tell us about you and your journey in the hospitality industry

It’s been epic. I’m 38 this year and been in the game since I was 18, so might need a few more pages. 

Akin to many of us in the drinks industry my journey began pulling pints in a pub – more specifically a rock bar in Grimsby, bursting ear drums and serving up layered/flaming shots to biker gangs. Leaving the north, my career flourished down in Cornwall, working with seasonal and foraged ingredients to create menus in several venues, such as Fifteen Cornwall and Ugly Butterfly.

I’d for sure say the full creative side of what I’ve done was hugely helped working with a number of spirits brands as ambassador, within advocacy teams, helping to run incredible bars like Worship street Whistling shop in Shoreditch back in the day and certainly entering – and sometimes winning – cocktail competitions, including making top 10 in World Class last year. My career has taken me all over the world, visiting some insane places, where I’ve met incredible people that I’m lucky enough to call my friends. And I’ve gained invaluable knowledge that I’m excited to bring to my role with globally renowned and loved mixer Schweppes.

What led you to take this role as the Schweppes Prestige GB brand ambassador?

Honestly, everything about the position, working with both the Global teams at Schweppes, and the Global Bartending team for their encouragement, appreciation and value. The opportunity to lead an elite team of Brand Ambassadors throughout GB. The insanely rich heritage and history of Schweppes and last by no means at all getting to work with amazingly creative people in amazing venues across Britain’s bar industry. 

In your opinion, how does Schweppes stand out in the beverage industry? Schweppes has the bubbles, balance and bite without the flavour spikes, so works really well with all spirits, modifiers and is even fantastic in alcohol-free options. It was created by visionary-turned-pioneer Jacob Schweppes who invented industrial carbonation, and it has more than 240 years of rich history, so there’s a lot of super-exciting things to talk about. Oh, and we are the only mixer to have a Royal Warrant – Mic drop.

What trends do you see emerging in the top end of the drinks industry?

The Highball is really booming, I think this is really exciting as not only does it span all alcohol categories, it’s a serve that allows bartenders to experiment expressing locality, experiences, traditions, seasonality and balance. Carbonation is a massively important part of every Highball, not only for the initial taste but also for the nose and finish. And with Schweppes having its famous fizz that stays carbonated to the last sip, it makes for the perfect Highball. There are tens of thousands of edible plants on the planet and currently only a tiny proportion are used in kitchens and bars – we are seeing bartenders and chefs alike reaching past the mint for the meadowsweet and replacing the lemon sorrel with lovage. It won’t be long before we see more in-house grow rooms growing unique edible plants from seed to drink.

What ingredients and flavours do you see emerging in the UK bar scene?

Pandan is everywhere, which is great as I love it. What’s nice is it’s being used with every spirits category and each different spirit brings out massively different flavour profiles when mixed with pandan. I’ve seen bartenders delving more into specifying the variety of an ingredient, like in the world of chillies the Hungarian black or the yellow scorpion. They are then using different techniques and methods to pull out flavour notes specific to that variety to enhance their creations. I said it a while back, but vermouth/sherry-heavy drinks are inevitably going to be returning with the recent curve of more and more low-abv serves being requested from the younger crowds.

We’ve heard you will be managing a team of seven brand ambassadors across Great Britian… tell us more

I’d love to. We’re building an incredibly talented team of ambassadors who we can’t wait to connect with as many awesome and inspiring people in the industry as possible. Our focus is about getting the spotlight back on to Schweppes where it should be and creating an awesome community. We’ll be launching some super-tasty drinks strategies and hosting some epic events. Watch this space.

What is your most recent memorable experience in the hospitality industry?

So many to choose from, this is like asking my favourite cocktail or song. Errrrm, let’s do two. Very recently I was at Lyaness on Southbank, London, with my better half Anett for an anniversary – cute right? The team couldn’t have been more perfect, it was a fantastic representation of what hospitality is all about – warm welcomes, loud laughs, tasty treats and banging drinks. Another that stands out is Café la Trova in Miami. The food was stunning, one of the best octopus dishes I’ve eaten. I sat at the bar drinking blended Banana Daiquiris while a band played on stage to our right and the bartenders played just as loud on percussion instruments and a trombone to our left. We didn’t stop smiling and didn’t want to. Made to feel at home, it was perfect and I’d love to go back, that’s “the” sign for a great bar, right? “I wanna go back!”