Programme is just the Tonic for bartender

Ellie Raeside expands knowledge through William Grant & Sons’ scheme

Ellie Raeside of Tonic in Edinburgh has worked in the trade for four years

ELLIE Raeside, bartender at Tonic in Edinburgh, was chosen to take part in William Grant & Sons’ on-trade advocacy programme, the 1887 Collective, this year.

Here, she shares her thoughts on drinks, dogs and David Attenborough.

How long have you worked in the trade and how did you start?

I have worked in the trade for almost four years now, but started in cocktail bars about two and a half years ago when I was luckily given the job on a temporary basis whilst I looked for further retail work. I was hooked and liked it too much to even bother starting the initial retail search.

Describe your venue and its drinks offer.

Tonic is a cosy cocktail bar in the city centre of Edinburgh. We have an exciting cocktail list, and keep our menus as entertaining as the staff that will serve you. Whether you’re in the mood for a quiet glass of wine or a real party it always seems to deliver! Since moving to Edinburgh it’s always been one of my favourite spots.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

I love so many different aspects of my job, but thoroughly enjoy the creative side of it. I learn loads every day and am always encouraged to try new things.

What’s your favourite drink and why?

My favourite drink… I love Negronis! But I’ve recently developed a love for whisky as I’ve had the privilege to learn so much about it and try different styles. A whisky and Coke is my favourite.

What’s your career highlight so far?

I recently got to the finals of Jägermeister’s Meister Hunter competition, where I’ll get to represent Scotland. This is definitely one of my highlights so far; I’m still over the moon. Being invited to be a part of the 1887 Collective has also been amazing. I’ve learned so much from all the incredible people involved and it’s really helped my confidence.

Who do you admire in the industry and why?

I’ve learned so much from so many different people. My first manager Neil Bowie taught me everything I needed to know about cocktails and really encouraged me to get fully immersed in the bartending world. I now get to work with so many inspiring women who are total bosses of the industry and amazing role models!

How do you relax outside of work?

I have a little Lab who lives at home in Lanark, and I love getting back to see her whenever I can. I’m not overly outdoorsy but love a wee bit of hillwalking and getting a good bit of fresh air after being inside all day and night.

If you could invite anyone for a drink who would you ask, where would you go and what would you drink?

If I could invite anyone for a drink, I think it would be David Attenborough. I would say minimal words and just listen to all of his unbelievable stories. We would go to The Pot Still in Glasgow and work our way through every whisky on the shelf.

What does the William Grant & Sons 1887 Collective entail?

The 1887 Collective entails monthly meet ups which are engaging and rewarding for the bartenders involved. We get to learn about the brands and spirits, and also get to learn different things outwith the trade, which is great. It progresses our knowledge but also gives us time away from the bar and work which is a good way to rejuvenate and clear your head.

In which ways did the 1887 Collective benefit you?

It’s benefitted me in loads of different ways. I’ve got to meet so many new people which has helped my confidence in dealing with more social situations. All of these people have turned into great friends which makes the Collective as a whole super rewarding to be a part of.

Of course it’s also really beneficial getting closer insights into each brand and being able to work with their great products more closely.

What was your own highlight from the 1887 Collective programme?

So far our Reyka trip to Mersea Island. We had two days of land and water activities, listened to great chats from UK ambassador Fabs Latham and got to try fresh oysters pretty much straight from the source. It had a bit of everything and brought everyone together in a really different way than we had done before.

How is the 1887 Collective going to help you in your trade career going forward?

The exposure to like-minded people who are able to share all their personal knowledge and experiences is definitely something that will help in my career going forward.

The Collective has delivered on this and given me an insight into what other opportunities there can be in the hospitality world.