Back at the beginning of 2012 when everyone else was making New Year’s Resolutions to drink less, mine was to drink more. It’s odd, I know, but I figured after having worked (in events and marketing) for two of Birmingham’s best drinking establishments for over a year, I ought to actively learn in depth more about the product on offer.
After attending some Rum Clubs which were open to the public and bartenders’ training sessions, I started filling a notebook with info and soon realised that as great as it was to understand the products on the back bar, I needed more of an outlet for this newfound knowledge and a reason to build on it. Sure, to most people bartending might’ve been a more sensible progression but I wanted to apply what felt like the alchemy of cocktail making with another kind of alchemy; baking. After all, I like cake, I like spirits, why not add them together. And so Half Cut Cakes was born; the name being a play on the idea of ‘half cut’ referring to cutting cake and also being drunk.
There isn’t really much rhyme or reason as to what I make. Sometimes it’s just a case of wondering whether a single spirit in a cake would work, other times it’s what something would taste like with some alcohol added and others how a cocktail can be re-imagined in cake form. I’m lucky enough to have bartenders of three pretty awesome venues to pose questions to, get advice from and most importantly feedback on the cakes (although I think they win on that too).
Pretty much all of my cakes are tasted by my non-bartending housemates, the general managers of two of the venues I work for and a random sampling of whoever else is about and gets to the cake first. I’m not a professional baker by any stretch of the imagination, but I like to think getting bartenders and ordinary folk to try the cakes means I get an idea of how accurate the flavour is, but also if it appeals to people who don’t spend their lives around them. It seems to work pretty well.
Oh and in case you were wondering the photo banner is a small portion of the Island Bar in Birmingham’s back bar. It was taken by the wonderful Jack Adams.