Christmas cocktails at Lost and Found in Knutsford
- Credit: Pics; John Cocks
Tis the season to be jolly, which is the perfect excuse to try some new cocktails. Rebekka O’Grady heads to Knutsford
‘People are getting savvier about what they want to eat and drink,’ says Paddy Howley, bartender at the recently opened Lost and Found in Knutsford. ‘It’s not just food that’s seasonal, drinks are too and people want to match what they drink to what’s in season, so Christmas is a great time to try something new.’
So what exactly should I be looking out for this festive season when it comes to cocktails? Paddy tells me that Amaro’s (Italian herbal liqueurs traditionally used for medicinal purposes) are becoming increasingly popular at winter time, so spirits such as Benedictine and Fernet-Branca won’t look out of sorts in your drinks cabinet on New Year’s Eve.
‘It’s all about deep flavours - fig, plum and cinnamon are huge,’ explains the trainee manager. ‘Our menu here has a lot of fruit-based drinks, with many having berries involved. It’s a selection of grown-up cocktails with a twist.’
It’s true you won’t be short of choice at this Knutsford bar, which opened on Princess Street in October. The eclectic venue, themed around fictional character and lepidopterist (butterfly expert), Professor Emily B Kingsley, has a varied cocktail menu centred around a clever taste map - which breaks down a cocktail’s DNA of sweet, dry, strong and light. You can opt to choose a tipple from the ‘Lost’ section, where you will find classic cocktails with a twist, or the ‘Found’, which in-house bartender creations from across the brand’s sites in Birmingham and Leeds.
‘Gin is a hugely popular spirit at the moment, so one of our bestsellers is the ‘Ms. H. G. Watson’ (£7.50), made up of Tanqueray gin, blackberry purée, apple and lemon juice, lavender syrup and soda. The depth and colour of the drink mixed with this time of year means it goes down really well.’
What happens if, unlike Paddy, your wealth of cocktail knowledge starts and stops with a vodka martini because you saw it once on James Bond? The key is to not be afraid to ask questions when ordering your drink. ‘If you’re not sure, then have a chat about what base spirits you enjoy, or whether you like sweet or sour. I tend to ask them which sweet they would pick out of a bag of fruit pastilles and then go from there.’
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It’s not just for the ladies either, as cocktails have been shaking off their feminine image over the past few years thanks to a rise in people wanting to actually know what’s in their drinks. ‘We’ve moved past men just asking for a Jaegermeister or a pint at the bar,’ said Paddy, who has worked in the industry for eight years. He says that his style of bartending is very customer centred, catering to individual palates and finding them the right drink. ‘It’s almost deemed to be more cool if you have an understanding of your drink. The rise in the prohibition style cocktails, which marries up to our style here, has also encouraged men to opt for them, as they can be a little more boozy.’
So what’s Paddy’s favourite tipple on the menu? ‘It has to be The Mockingbird (£7.50). I am a massive tequila fan. It’s such a well balanced drink - and it’s served in a coup which happens to be my favourite glass.’
Paddy’s tips for cocktails at home:
Making cocktails is like baking a cake, it’s all about balancing flavours. So don’t mix anything you know won’t work, for example gin with ginger beer and nothing aniseed based mixed with milk.
Alcohol can make or kill a cocktail, so don’t get too heavy with it beforehand. You can always add more in, but you can’t take it away. Be prepared. Make sure you have all your equipment before the party starts. Most supermarkets will stock basic kits, and if you don’t have a fine strainer, a kitchen sieve will work!
Paddy’s Let it Sloe
25ml sloe gin
1 spoonful of fig marmalade
20ml lemon juice
15ml sugar water
1 egg white
Shake all the ingredients together and then fine strain into a martini glass or coup.