Noughty mixes it up with Chris McGovern, Food & Beverage Manager at YOTEL, to discover his favourite drinks and love of yoga and morning alcohol-free raves.
Q You studied at art college, so how did you become a hospitality professional?
My first ever job as a teenager was as a commis chef, and I was really lucky to work in a great seafood restaurant where I was pushed to be as creative as possible. After graduating from Plymouth College of Art I had the opportunity to work in a brand new cocktail bar in Hertfordshire, led by an amazing mixologist. I was new to area and would often visit on my nights off to learn more about cocktails and flavour balance. Mixology to me is like cooking but with spirits in a much nicer smelling (and less fishy!) environment.
Q What ingredients should any at-home mixologist always have in stock?
Fee Brother Bitters, agave syrup, star anise, chai & juniper berries and fresh lemons, limes and grapefruit. When you’re entertaining your guests might turn up with spirits and sparkling wine, and the above store cupboard ingredients will give your at-home cocktails a bit of edge. Agave syrup adds natural sweetness, and dried spices bring any cocktail to life.
Q You’re currently based at YOTEL Clerkenwell. Tell us something about the hotel that isn't widely known
Yoga classes. Every other Sunday Alicia Navarro does a range of classes and she helped me do wonders for my flexibility and posture. I wish I could find the time to do more of it, she’s amazing.
Q What's the most fun thing you've ever organised in Komyuniti, YOTEL’s bar & restaurant?
Probably the Wii-mbledon Tennis tournament. We set up a Nintendo Wii and projector in our Komyuniti space and it was really popular with guests and visitors. I think it brought the inner child out of everyone.
Q Give us your failsafe cocktails that guarantee to get a party going
My failsafes are Tropical 75 which we twist into a Noughty 75 for friends who want something cleaner. It contains pineapple, peach, passionfruit and Ceder’s 0% spirit topped with Noughty. An alcoholic favourite is Spicy Watermelon Margarita. We infuse the watermelon with Scotch bonnet chilli, then serve with Tequila, Mezcal, Lime and a smoked paprika salt rim.
Q What's the first cocktail you ever made?
Disaronno Sour. It’s made with egg white, Disaronno liqueur, lemon juice, a dash of sugar and Angostura Bitters, It was always super popular but often customers didn’t realize egg whites were in them so I’d say it’s like a boozy meringue to put their minds at rest, These days we have miracle foamers and chickpea water which works great as they are vegan friendly – and the bonus is you don’t have a load of yolks left at the end of the night.
Q And what's your favourite cocktail?
Has to be one of my own, Wrong Island Ice Tea was a blend of 5 different rums instead of 5 spirits. With lime, passionfruit and cola it’s a holiday in a glass.
Q Which bar anywhere in the world would you most like to visit?
Being a big fan of tiki drinks, it would have to be Tiki Chick in New York. They serve high quality Tiki cocktails without the cliché too-cool attitude so often found with cocktail bartenders. I get my local fix from Laki Kane on London’s Upper Street. No matter what day of the week you always have a great time and a great drink!
Q And which was the last cocktail bar you visited?
Homeboy Bar in Angel around the corner from YOTEL Clerkenwell. It’s a great Irish Whiskey Bar, and I’m looking forward to their Hot Buttered Rum this winter.
Q YOTEl is located in the heart of Clerkenwell. Could you give us your tips for fun things to do in the area?
Being a lover of loud music I’d have to go with either Fabric based just around the corner, or The Old Queens’s Head in Angel. Both often have late night DJ’s and a great space to dance to. On the opening weekend of Fabric after the lockdown they had a 54-hour party, not a cocktail in sight but there was fair few people who had the fire of tequila inside them all the same! I once went to a morning rave in the Shard on Summer Solstice, it’s run by Morning Gloryville who do sober raves in the morning to wake people up as an alternative to coffee and early gym sessions. Expect big DJs with ginger and turmeric shots and blended juices.
Q What's your advice for any aspiring mixologist?
Try as many different venues as you can. You can learn all the classics from one cocktail bar but you learn perspective and different processes from visiting many different venues. And don’t think you have to reinvent the wheel. A mojito has been the top selling cocktail for years, so someone must be doing something right!
Global hotel brand YOTEL offers a design-led hospitality concept, with high-tech cabins to stay in with Naturalmat mattresses, speedy wifi, high-power rain showers and buzzy bars, restaurants and rooftop event spaces. The Komyunity bar & restaurant in Clerkenwell stocks Noughty and mixes a range of fabulous non-alcoholic cocktails.