Ask the Barman: The perfect English gentleman

William Salsbury takes his job very seriously and can often be found on the other side of bar, "researching" the different types of beer on offer.

William Salsbury 311 (photo credit: Yoni Cohen)
William Salsbury 311
(photo credit: Yoni Cohen)
Entering Shushaa Shvilli in Tel Aviv's "Hatahana" complex and speaking to William Salsbury, you could be led to believe that you’d been transported to somewhere like Oxford, England. Speaking with a perfect English accent, William is an expert on the wide selection of beers served at this roof-top bar.
Born in the UK, William comes off as the perfect English gentleman, making a change from the pushiness that characterizes so many barman in Israel. William takes his job seriously and very often can be found on the other side of bar, doing "research" into the different types of beer on offer.
William Salsbury is not a very Israeli name.
Well my father is actually from England and I was named after my grandfather.
Where in England were they from?
I was born in Oxford and my family are from around that area.
How did you get into bartending?
I moved to Tel Aviv from the North about a year ago and started working in a small café, and then I went to a bartenders course for a month.
Did you learn most of what you know on the course or on the job?
The course was good but I mainly learned on the job. I knew about alcohol from before.
What's the craziest night you’ve ever had behind the bar?
I worked in a bar in Jaffa and it was a quiet night so my colleague and I decided to close early but then just as we were doing so, a couple came in and they started drinking. It was just the four of us. We had music going and we were drinking till four in the morning and the guy said he was going home because he was drunk. The bill was NIS 700  and he gave each of us a NIS 700 tip. He was the only person there that night but he gave us more tips than we made in the whole week.
Who's the most interesting customer that has ever sat at the bar?
That's a good question. I think everybody is interesting. I like to find out about people. For example, how did they get to this bar or how did they get to his part of town.
Who would be your ideal customer?
A guy who comes in and knows what he wants and leaves a nice tip.
What would you serve him?
Probably a brandy or an expensive wine.
For the tip?
Fair enough.
What's your favorite drink to make?
I think it would be Arak.
Yes, with cranberry juice.
Not with grapefruit juice?
No. Just cranberry juice because I think it takes out the vulgarity of the Arak.
Who would be your ideal drinking partner?
Someone who wouldn't say to me "you're on your second beer already." I like to drink fast. I am English you know.
So you still think you have a bit of English in you then?
I don't like to feel guilty about drinking. I need someone who can keep up with me.
Do you have any tips for someone thinking of becoming a barman?
Don't worry about the cocktails. Be serious. Learn the drinks so you won't get embarrassed.
Shushaa Shvilli
Hatahana, Tel Aviv
Open from 9 a.m. till 1 a.m.