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Meet the Mixologist - Stuart McLachlan

Meet the Mixologist - Stuart McLachlan


Stuart McLachlan, Bar Manager at 20 Stories offers an insight into the world of mixology and shares his favourite cocktail recipe.

Botanicals have been a huge trend over the last few years, what is the new trend to watch out for?

I like using ingredients that are usually more associated with the kitchen and our food at 20 Stories, implementing them within our cocktails. I think about sustainability of ingredients, for example I am in the process of using orange peel from our freshly made orange juice to infuse a homemade orange liqueur. Furthermore, the used ground coffee from our Barista will be infused into a coffee liqueur. I like to be experimental with our cocktails, you should see my cellar of ëdrinks in the making!í. Throughout December, our kitchen had some fantastic winter root vegetables that I was able to use within our cocktails for example, ëOur Kind, Maryí was a mix of vodka, beetroot juice, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco, with a blend of fresh herbs and seasoning garnished with candid beetroot and rosemary.

Where do you look to find new trends and inspirations to develop new cocktails? 

I follow what is classified as the Worldís Best Bars and the way that their menus evolve such as Dandelion in London, as well as taking advantage of British seasonal produce and using these to enhance the monthly changes.

What do you order in a bar when you have a rare night off? 

I generally like to try a cocktail that I have never had before so if I see something on the menu that I havenít heard of, I would order that! Should that not be an option, a simple Gin and Tonic is always a winner.

What is the cocktail you would recommend right now on your menu? 

20 Stories signature cocktail for me is a timely classic. It is a really good balance of all year ingredients, both fresh and preserved. It includes winter red wine with fresh summer lemon, perfect for any type of weather. Refreshing yet boozy! If you mix the cocktail up, everyone can relate to it as it acts as a sensory memory, reminding people of Sangria in the sun or red wine in the winter.

If money was no object - what would be your ultimate high-end cocktail? 

I am a man of simple pleasures, it would be a Negroni, however made with more vintage ingredients such as a vintage Gin or Campari from the 60’s.

What tips would you give our readers for a signature cocktail to serve friends at a dinner party?

Have plenty of ice ñ itís the number one ingredient in any cocktail. Also, stock your bar with basic spirits such as vodka, gin and rum, fresh fruit and be as creative as you can be.

At my family parties, I tend to make versions of Aperol Spritz as you can play around with the ingredients. For example, you can switch the Aperol for Limoncello or Cassis, served in a wine glass which make it more accessible to be made at home. Being flexible with the ingredients add versatility to please most people at your party.

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My Little Italy


30ml Ketel One vodka

30ml Limoncello

30ml Fresh cloudy apple juice

25ml Fresh squeezed lemon juice

15ml Vanilla syrup

To Finish:

1 sprig of fresh thyme


  • Firstly, prepare your martini glasses.  Fill them with ice and a little water to chill them down whilst you prepare your shaken cocktail, that way your drinks will stay colder for longer. 

  • In to your cocktail shaker add the ingredients: 30ml Ketel One vodka, 30ml Limoncello, 30ml Fresh cloudy apple juice, 25ml Fresh squeezed lemon juice, 15ml Vanilla syrup, 1 sprig of fresh thyme

  • Add cubed ice to the top of the shaker you are using.  (Tip: More ice in the shaker while shaking will speed up the rate at which your cocktail chills down but reduce the amount of dilution of water in the final drink) 

  • Add the lid to your shaker securely and shake it as fast and as hard as you can until the outside of the shaker feels cold to the touch and condensation has started to form on the outside. This will mean the cocktail is thoroughly chilled and read to drink. 

  • Open the cocktail shaker and have a quick taste test.  It really is important to make sure you taste the cocktail before you pour the final product into your martini glass. Once poured, changes can’t be made. This is the time to decide if you want it a little sweeter (add a touch more vanilla syrup) or a maybe slightly sharper (add extra lemon juice). 

  • Once you are happy, remove the ice that has now perfectly chilled down your martini glass and using a hawthorne and fine strainer, pour into your cocktail glass. The hawthorne strainer will hold back the large chunks of ice in the cocktail shaker tin, and the fine strainer will catch all the smaller shards of ice and small leaves of thyme that have broken away during your shake. 

  • With a sharp knife, cut off a slice of lemon peel and express the oils from the skin on to the top of the drink, which will add an extra burst of lemon aroma when you go in for a sip.

  • Finally, garnish with a fresh piece of thyme across the top of your cocktail.  At the restaurant we use an edible gold metallic effect spray paint on the thyme garnish, but a simple cake decorating gold spray would do the trick if you wanted to go the whole way. 

  • Sit back and enjoy the fresh flavour of how I imagine the Amalfi Coast to smell and taste. My Little Italy.

20 Stories No 1 Spinningfields, 1 Hardman Square, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3EB

t: 0161 204 3333 e:

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