As the Liquorists open up their newest venture, Kowloon Correspondents Club, a 1930's themed experiential cocktail adventure in the historical and vintage Barton Square, we took the opportunity to sit down with one of the co-founders and directors, Tom Sneesby. We find out how the Liquorists met, the story so far and delved deep into the new innovative and bespoke menu at KCC.
Belvedere are the official partners of the KKC, with all drinks involving the premium spirit
How did you meet and what made you take the leap from Bartenders to Bar Consultants and Trailblazers?
Jody (Monteith) and I met when I was managing Black Dog Ballroom, he, a dour northerner and I a mouthy southerner. He was looking for a job and started working at the bar and we just hit it off, a shared passion for all things booze certainly helped and the idea for The Liquorists came shortly after that. We just coming up to our 4th year in business now. We saw a clear gap in the market for bar tenders - the only training they seemed to get came with a commercial bias from the drinks own brand, we felt bar tenders were getting short changed and the bar guest was also missing out on a much better potential experience. We started by training bar people then discovered consumers wanted more too - so we brought in the cultural and historical elements and wrapped it up in experiences such as The Gincident which have been a huge hit. Kowloon Correspondents Club and Reserve @KingSt allow us to really show off all aspects of our service - working with super brands such as Belvedere, mixing and creating great drinks, providing an excellent service and being a little creative at the same time. We want people to enjoy their drinking experience.
Where do you get your project ideas from? What influences you when coming up with new concepts?
Influences and ideas have come largely through doing the job - between myself, Jody, Jamie, Massimo and Nate, we've all travelled the world as bar Consultants or bartenders, if you're passionate about this industry you can't help but take all you can from trips to places as diverse as New York and New Zealand. Ideas also come from books, film and shared thoughts amongst us as a team. I was born in Hong Kong and have always has a fascination for its history, this has partly influenced KCC.
Your new project is about the journey from 1930's Manchester to Kowloon - Where have been the most excited places you have visited and have influenced you the most since you started?
London is now truly the world capital for cocktails, it used to be New York but the sheer variety of bars in London, which feels like a dozen little cities in one, is incredible. But New York is still the place that's made the biggest impact, it's such a melting pot of different cultures, everyone is accepted, their service is like no other, it's spectacular. My Favourite bar there is a place called Employees Only on Hudson Street. They just do everything right, it's buzzy and sexy but not sleazy, the drinks are world class and the service unbeatable plus you feel welcome the moment you arrive.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to work in the drinks industry or is looking for ways to take that leap from working behind a bar to creating one?
Take it seriously, this trade rewards the lowest paid well, if you do it right. We all worked hard and travelled as a result, you might be approached by a brand or you can make it happen yourself, it's a global trade. If you want to create a bar you need to stay confident but lose the ego, so many bar owners or managers think people are there just to see them, they're guests not customers and they're there to have a good time
Tell us about the Kowloon to Manchester journey and what the project is all about?
Set in 1930’s Kowloon, Hong Kong, guests will be transported back to the decadent glory days of the Pearl of the Orient and a time when cocktails reigned supreme. The perfect setting in which to reinstate the art of the cocktail hour, The Liquorists’ Kowloon Correspondents Club bar will feature world class bespoke cocktails alongside signature serves in an elegant, colonial setting. We're introducing a fantastic martini bar equipped with personal bartender to serve a 'three martini lunch' to guests allowing them to understand and explore the types of martini that are right for them.
We were excited to come down and try some of the new Cocktails , but have been spoilt for choice and you're the experts. SO which ones would you recommend?
We've created cocktails to suit all tastes but as this experience includes a journey from Manchester to Kowloon, we suggest you start, as every journey does, with the first step. 'Single Step' is one of our own creations using Belvedere's Earl Grey and Pink Grapefruit mascerations with a local twist which comes from IPA Syrup, brewed by First Chop in Salford. You must also try Belvedere's Lemon Tea Vodka. Kowloon Correspondents Club will offer guests the first taste anywhere in the UK.
And as our journey takes us to Kowloon, the Kowloon Cocktail should be on the list - it's very simple and refreshing with Belvedere Pink Grapefruit and home made cucumber soda water. And for a truly personal experience you must try out our Martini Station - it's built into the bar and seats three - you get your own Liquorists expert who'll mix up a three martini lunch or the martini of your choice...what's not to love.