Shaking up a real cocktail storm at Kuckoo, in Preston

Jake Cain, bartender at Kuckoo, Preston
Jake Cain, bartender at Kuckoo, Preston

Just like the eighties film Cocktail, being a bartender is more than thirsty work.Staff at Kuckoo, in Preston, are fast learning there is more to the job than mixing the shaker and pouring drinks, as they take advantage of the cocktail chain’s unique management system, providing greater opportunities.

Jake Cain is a 27-year-old living in Preston, originally from Chester, who started his career in the hospitality industry nine years ago.

Sean Lane, bartender at Kuckoo, Preston

Sean Lane, bartender at Kuckoo, Preston

While at university studying for a career in astrophysics, combined with efforts to pay his fees by working as a bartender, he was offered a job opportunity he couldn’t refuse.

He was invited to an industry party hosted by the Kuckoo founders and was offered the chance to become part of the brand’s unique, managerless system.

Giving the opportunity to enhance personal development and employability prospects, the flat management system means that every member of staff is equally accountable for the customer experience and gains invaluable experience in all aspects of the job.

Jake says: “I don’t know anywhere else that has a managerless system in hospitality or other industries.

Richard Powell at the Kuckoo cocktail bar in Fox Street in Preston

Richard Powell at the Kuckoo cocktail bar in Fox Street in Preston

“It’s fantastic. It’s great from a business stance as everyone has full accountability.

“Instead of one person knowing how to deal with stock, HR, rotas, training etc, now all staff have universal and equal knowledge of the business.

“From a business and bartender point of view, you have a great sense of responsibility and ownership. When doing cash and stock you have a real feel that it’s your bar. It gives you a sense of pride.”

That said, with 64 exciting cocktails on the menu, the job can be extremely demanding and requires a great deal of knowledge.

Jake continues: “It’s a very intense job, yes, the menu offers 64 amazing cocktails, but this is not inclusive of the extra 150 we make on an everyday basis – from martinis to old fashioned manhattans, there’s lots of knowledge involved – and not everyone makes it.

“Some people just don’t have what it takes to succeed through the training.”

Training in cocktail making is not just limited to staff.

Kuckoo, which has venues in Preston, Chester, Sheffield and Knutsford, also offers DIY cocktail masterclasses to the public.

The initiative allows people to make drinks from their imagination with lots of help offered by staff on which combinations of spirits, mixers and fresh fruit work best.

Jake concludes: “From hen parties to sophisticated corporate groups, we lead them on a prodigal journey, exploring the history of cocktails and offering a personal style of bartending.”

Sean Lane, 30, is also a fan of the career boosting philosophy of Kuckoo.

In his first term studying English Language at university, he got a job offer in a bar in Liverpool with the chance to quickly rise through the ranks.

This prompted a move to Preston and the start of a career with Kuckoo when it was founded in 2010.

After working in Kuckoo Preston until 2013, Sean was given the chance to head up the Chester bar, before returning to Preston in a brand champion role alongside founder, Richard Powell, helping with bar training, research and development, operations and the recruitment process.

Sean says: “I still make time for bartending, as it’s great to give people a brilliant night out. It’s a real privilege to take people on a journey through cocktails.”

Richard Powell, founder of Kuckoo, says: “The manager-less system means each team member is individual and equal.

“Bartending is their career and not just a weekend job. They are salaried – which in turn, encourages a skilled and motivated workforce.

“Many of the bartenders have been with us since we first began and have undergone professional training and continued development to ensure they are happy, having fun, and doing the best job they can.”