BBC1: Doug Williams on Bottle, Boot & Cigar’s first birthday

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Bottle, Boot & Cigar–BBC–celebrated its first birthday on Sunday with free drinks and a Nepal earthquake relief fundraiser that raised over rmb8500. I asked Doug Williams, one of the co-owners, about the first year of business.

When you guys opened, did you expect to make as big a splash as you did?

With the space being small, we opened it to be a takeaway bottle shop and office, so while great cocktails were a focus we were not sure if the space would allow it.

What spirit have customers ordered a lot more than you expected?

We tend to go through a lot of gin and whiskey, with aged rum and tequila rounding out the top four. The clientele that visit are savvy in general and know a good amount about spirits and cocktails. Whether it is the expat crowd or local Chinese, they appreciate our selection and care we place in every cocktail.

When it comes to vermouth, most bars have one or maybe two or three. You guys have — well, what is the highest number you have had and which would you rank as “must try”?

At one point I think it was 26. We are down to a manageable 16. During the summer, any of the Bianco-style vermouths are beautiful, Mancino makes a really beautiful one. Also Cocchi Americano is great this time of year with crushed ice and soda water.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of having an incredibly heavy cast iron front door?

Our 600-kilogram door is not going anywhere anytime soon and, since it is also our sign, that is a good thing. We have a couple bartenders of the female persuasion, who are not fans of opening and closing it.

What are three craziest drink orders you guys have received over the past year?

Samogon, which is a Russian-style moonshine. When I pulled out a bottle I think it surprised them.

Another person refused to believe the ice was real as it was too clear and too perfect. Not really an order but interesting as it is hand cut from ice blocks and I am not sure what fake ice looks like.

We get requests for all the usual things, Long Islands, and so on. Linch has a house coke syrup he has put together. Customers think it is crazy but they taste it and absolutely love it.

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