For the last six years, Virgin Atlantic & Bacardi's Global Ambassador Marc Plumridge has been performing his role magnificently as the airline's official mixologist or 'flying barman' and can regularly be found making magic and enjoying a bit of banter with our Upper Class passengers.
Having travelled ¾ of a million miles (or 30 times around the world!) there's no surprise that Marc has become a bit of an expert on where to find the cool bars at our destinations. So we thought we'd create a regular Barfly post where we ask Marc to share his tips - should be good. So without further ado, we introduce Marc Plumridge...
Marc, which has been your most memorable flight with us and why?
A tricky question as there have been so many, however one sticks out for me: it was Virgin's inaugural flight to Jamaica...a truly amazing experience! Not only did I have the pleasure of shaking Bacardi Mai-Tai's and Mojitos at 35,000ft to a plane full of eager passengers but when we landed we set up a party for around 400-500 people (including one of Bond's leading ladies who starred in Casino Royale) who all enjoyed sampling our Caribbean inspired creations.
It was held at a private (apparently haunted) mansion, where we made some awesome drinks with great music under the night stars. Throw in the fact that we had our own mini mansion on the beach in front of the famous Half moon resort, our very own personal butlers and a fleet of golf buggies to drive and you could say this was certainly a trip to remember!
What's the strangest drink you've ever mixed on a flight?
I think the most unusual drink created onboard was on an occasion where I ran out of ice and had promised a passenger one last Bombay Sapphire Dry Martini. Thinking on my feet, I headed to the area where the dry ice is stored (commonly used to chill wine onboard). Using the dry ice and the traditional ingredients of the drink - Bombay Sapphire and vermouth plus some water for dilution - I began stirring away, creating clouds of what looked like smoke across the bar. Because dry ice conducts a temperature of – 75.8 degrees Celsius, I was able to chill the martini down to the perfect temperature of around -6 degrees Celsius almost instantly. Et voila!
It was a real crowd pleaser and certainly got the attention of all the people sitting at the onboard bar. Not only was this an example of cocktail innovation, it has led to similar examples and applications used in recent cocktail competitions I've seen in the UK and around the world. If I see you onboard I'll also introduce you to the instant sorbet and of course the true Classic Dry Martini!
Which Virgin Atlantic destination do you think offers the most interesting bar scene?
It really depends what you’re after, but for me, the number one has to be London - it's truly the world leader in the bar world, offering 5-star service and truly inspiring combinations of flavours all delivering what I like to call the 'Michelin-starred' cocktails. Some notable London bars include: The Artesian at The Langham Hotel (my no.1 choice), The Connaught Bar at The Connaught Hotel and the newly opened Hawksmoor in Seven Dials near Covent Garden to name a few.
My number two choice is New York because of the of the prohibition style drinking dens like Milk & Honey, Painkiller, Employees Only and PDT (Please Don’t Tell) with hidden doors, passwords and a rapidly changing bar scene all vying for the top spot.
I also love Miami (South Beach) for its sheer 'glam' appeal and the good friends I've made there over the years – from sipping Leblon Batidas and fruitful cocktails with the sun shining in places like the Sunset Lounge at the Mondrian Hotel (great on a Sunday afternoon) to the W Hotels’s inside bar or the newly-opened Soho Beach House Miami with its Tiki Bar on the Beach.
If you could only have one more cocktail in one more bar, what and where would it be?
A great question and one you should ask every bartender... My last drink would have to be at the Artesian Bar at The Langham hotel in London - I’d park myself at the gorgeous marble bar, place an order for an old school Bacardi Daiquiri made with Bacardi Superior Heritage bottle (a very special rum, which you can buy at London's Heathrow World Duty Free shop and some other select airports worldwide) all made at the hands of one of the best bartenders in the world: Mr. Alex Kratena.
If you're planning on spending any time in our Heathrow Clubhouse anytime soon, there's also a newly-launched cocktail menu featuring a handful of Marc's favourite cocktails too - try the Century Club Punch or the Rum Swizzle on for size!
Do you have any great bar recommendations to share with us? Leave your favourites in the comments below.
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.