Christopher McGoven, the head bartender for Mothership Group (Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, Queen of Hoxton, The Book Club, & Patterns), on fresh herbs, favorite cocktails & more.
How did you get into the drinks business and what’s the best of it?
After leaving University and getting a job in my chosen career at the time , I looked for a second job to help me enjoy my social life. There was a new cocktail bar opening within Hertfordshire at the time, and was really lucky to work alongside an expert mixologist, from there I ended up enjoying this role more than the career I had been working for at university , I really enjoyed the fast pace, and surprising customers with exotic flavours and unusual techniques.
What’s the best of working at Queen of Hoxton ?
The amount of events we have on over the year, it means I get to make specific cocktails to fit in with culture trends and themes. At the moment I’ve just finished working on Halloween cocktails – a ‘Stranger Things’ inspired caramel whiskey sour garnished with a waffle for Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, and Mighty Boosh themed cocktails for The Book Club!
What is your favourite cocktail of all times?
Has to be the Gibson – it’s like a dirty martini but using pickled onion instead of olive brine. Trust me – it tastes like alcoholic monster munch!
What is your ‘magic’ ingredient when cocktail making?
For me fresh herbs take cocktails to the next level. Thyme I’ve been using a lot recently at home and at work and brings a lot of depths to flavour when making infusions
How is the process of developing a new drink /drinks menu?
Much longer than you might think, we’ve have been working on our winter menu since July. It’s hard to get your headspace into winter mode when you’ve been drinking Caiprirnha for weeks! The menu is also going to last for 6 months so you obsess that is it still going to be what people want after the first few weeks and have longevity
The look of the drink is almost as important as the taste, how do you come up with delicious but also nice looking cocktails?
Often I try to find the ‘unusual side’ a contrast between attractive and weird. Because what I find most satisfying is the surprise after someone takes their first sip and it wasn’t at all what they were expecting. It’s about finding a balance though, you don’t want to end up with something unattractive because it’s very true that people eat with their eyes
What pieces of advice would you give to people who want to get into the cocktail making at home?
Be prepared, lots of ice is essential and the right equipment makes the process of making a lot quicker.
Any trick for an impressive homemade garnish for your drink?
Rosemary threaded through a slice of ginger. The scent alone is amazing.
What cocktail trend/s are you excited about?
Tailoring cocktails with food menus, Restaurants now are beginning to match specific cocktails with flavours on their menus so you left with a great experience that you don’t often get when dining out. Like they use to do with wines, you can now get infused margaritas that go great with your main course.