5 Minutes With... / Pete Saunders / Drinks Stylist

This month we spent 5 minutes catching up with drinks genius Pete Saunders. Pete has worked as a drinks stylist for many years and very few rival his excellent attention to detail and stories to match. Thanks to Pete for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk to us! © Tim Atkins / Live & Breathe / Peroni / Drinks styling by Pete Saunders

Can you tell us a bit about yourself Pete?

I'm a typical Aquarian; obsessive in life as well as work. I am currently in my second relationship with four kids in tow ranging from fourteen to forty years old. I left London some years ago to live in the Fens in South Lincolnshire (I had the best of London in the 60s!)

How did you get into being a drinks stylist?

In the early seventies I started working for young directors like Ridley Scott, brother Tony and Alan Parker etc.  I was a prop man through and through and it was my job to make everything happen for real.  This developed over the years and I became a product specialist which with the dawn of the digital age, became more demanding and specific to liquids.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

Meeting great and interesting people who have a good insight of where they are going in life.

What’s the most challenging part of the job?

Reassuring people it can be done, even if it's not as they envisage it! i.e convincing clients that everything is doable but not always in their desired way.

One of my most challenging times was arriving one morning to work with an infamous director called Lester Bookbinder. He told me the first shot was to be two pints of beer traveling past each other vertically, one the right way up and the other upside down!

What was the most exciting project you had the pleasure of working on?

I've been in the industry so long that I'm beginning to think I've seen it, done it, got the t-shirt! Ha ha.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve been asked to do?

Anyone wanting to take this job on board should really think hard about it.  There's a reason there are so few of us. Two others that I started with had the benefit of coming through the commercial/film industry long before advertising as we now know it. It gave us a huge background to draw on, not just drinks. I think training and practice is good but no substitute for the experience of doing it on the day. Getting it wrong is a great way to learn but you need a thick skin!

Is there any brand you’d love to work with and haven’t so far?

My tipple of choice is a single malt whisky with ice. So Talisker.

For anyone thinking of becoming a drinks stylist, do you have any top tips?

Not really, in the sixties I was playing with bands on the road! I'm a keyboardist and I would be still playing professionally if not doing this.

What’s your tipple of choice?

Other than whiskey, a cup of tea.

What can’t you do without on set?

That cup of tea!

Tell us something about yourself that people might not know?

My claim to fame is that I played with a lot of people in the sixties and recorded at Abbey Road whilst the Beatles were in the studio next door. I jammed with Jimi Hendrix one night at the Speakeasy in London

Where is your favourite place in London?

My favourite place in London is the Portobello Road. I spent a lot of time there during the hippie days.

Thanks Pete!