Thursday, 19, May 2016
Interview with K Bar’s Bar Manager, Ben Manchester
The stylish K Bar at The Kensington re-opened its doors after a re-launch back in February 2016 and since then it has fast become one of the most on-trend bars in the Royal Borough. Behind K Bar’s success is Bar Manager, Ben Manchester. With 10 years experience of mixology and bar work, Ben has meticulously cherry-picked an expert selection of premium wines, spirits and cocktails with every guest and every sip in mind. We sat down with Ben and discovered the inspirations behind K Bar’s drinks menu.
What’s your background in hospitality and what led you to this position?
I started working in pubs and bars as soon as I was old enough to serve alcohol, which was originally to pay the bills while I studied graphic design at university. After a while realised that I got more satisfaction from working behind the bar than I did from the design. Once that was clear, I made an effort to progress through the ranks of the hotel bar I was working in at the time, all the while reading as many books as I could on wine, spirits and cocktails to increase my knowledge.
What gives you the inspiration for a new cocktail?
I can find inspiration for new cocktails from anything really – it might be a new spirit that has recently arrived on the market, it might be a recipe on a cookery show I’ve stumbled across, or it might be a creation I’ve been working on for a cocktail competition in which the theme has already been set! I have to admit though, sometimes I just think up a good name for a cocktail and work backwards till I’ve got a drink that suits it perfectly!
What is your favourite thing about the K Bar refurbishment?
My favourite thing about the K Bar refurb is the moment when guests walk through the doors for the first time and realise what an incredibly good looking bar we have here. If I was a customer, I think it would be the bar stools. The spots at the bar are the best seats in the house, and give you a great opportunity to watch a bar team do what they do best.
What’s your favourite cocktail to make?
I’m a sucker for a classic Mint Julep served in a proper tin with a fat sprig of mint. They just always look so good.
Has there been a noticeable change in the world of cocktail making over the years and how has it evolved?
The cocktail world always goes through trends and fads, some which stick around, and some which fade back into obscurity. The one trend that won’t ever fade away is the one for incredible tasting drinks created with fantastic attention to detail in both presentation, taste and service.
What tips can you give for making a perfect cocktail?
If a cocktail needs to be shaken, then shake it hard. Too many bartenders look like they’re rocking the drink to sleep! Other than that, using high quality ingredients will set you on your way to a fantastic tasting drink.
If you had to work with one spirit only, which one would it be?
That is a seriously hard question. I’m not sure I’d be able to only work with one spirit. My answer to this would probably change with the weather, but at the moment its hot and sunny, so rum!
As the sun is starting to come out more, what K Bar cocktail would you suggest to complement this warm weather?
I’ll be looking to add some more summery cocktails in the near future, but from the current list, I’d go for a Jouanacaera – rhum agricole blanc shaken with lime juice, a touch of sugar and a good few dashes of celery bitters. Shaken and served up. Simple, but seriously tasty.
Now couldn’t be a better time to head down to K Bar to sample some of Ben’s new creations especially with the arrival of the exclusive Chelsea Flower Show cocktail, The Casual Violets. To view the current menu click here.
Are you tempted to come and try one of Ben’s creative cocktails? Tweet us at @HotelKensington and let us know which one takes your fancy.