Wednesday, October 6, 2010

His shot at stardom: William 'English Bill' Codman

Woodward bartender will mix it up on reality TV show

Q. You’ve tended bar around the country and in some of the best bars in Boston. What do you think the biggest change in the profession has been in recent years?

A. I definitely feel over the last five years the cocktail world is becoming more prevalent, and better made cocktails are becoming more understood. The general public has had more chances to taste better cocktails and are saying to themselves, now that we’ve tried these great cocktails we’re actually going to start looking for them. Ultimately that has led to a certain notoriety with a number of bartenders. People start looking for bartenders and people start putting them on these pedestals, saying great bartenders have similar traits as great chefs.

Q. What do you see as the fall cocktail trends?

A. I definitely think the classics are pushing hard again. It’s weird: The classics come in and out. Maybe eight years ago classics were being brought to the surface, as cocktails were being revitalized, but then they went away for a while. People wanted to do their own thing with flair and infusions and foams. . . . Now it seems we’re going back to classics again since there are a lot more resources now. . . . People are playing with 100-year-old, 150-year-old recipes.

Q. What are you serving at Woodward that you’re excited about?

A. I’m gonna do three or four different styles of Manhattans, one whiskey, one rye, one bourbon. I have one that I’m calling a Campfire that’s gonna be a really fun little play on flavors and contours. I wash the glass with Ardbeg [a single malt Scotch] then use Bulleit bourbon, with Xocolatl Mole Bitters, maple simple syrup, and a marshmallow on top. It’s not sweet, it’s got a big smell to it, and it goes down very smoothly. It has smokiness like a campfire, chocolate bitters for bitterness but also the essence of chocolate, maple that gives it some sweet vanilla, then marshmallow to give it that camp fire s’mores feel to do it.

Q. You’re heading to Los Angeles to compete on a reality show?

A. It’s for LX TV, a show called “On the Rocks.’’ It’s a reality bartending TV show sponsored by Absolut that’s just been picked up by NBC. There were hundreds of applicants from all over the country, and eight were picked, so we’re all competing against each other for the chance to win $100,000. [Trina Sturm from Trina’s Starlite Lounge in Somerville will also compete]. Normally they have different people from different cities, for some reason they picked both Trina and I, which I think is awesome. It’s an elimination show, with various different challenges ranging from knowledge of spirits to food pairings, to creating themed drinks, to creating specific drinks for certain customers. I’m really excited, and I’m nervous as hell. I know there’s going to be some serious competition.

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