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Making cocktails accessible for all

With a new cocktail menu on the horizon, we head to Leeds’ Milo to talk to mixology maestro Chris Robb about the art of building accessible cocktails.

While the craft cocktail movement continues to gather pace, and bartenders the world over are honing their mixology skills more than ever, there is still something to be said for a modest cocktail that just gets to the point. Particularly in a hectic city centre establishment, where bartenders don’t necessarily have the time to craft extravagant cocktails with over-elaborate home-made syrups, and precious herbal-tinged tinctures – or at least to the lofty standards we try to set ourselves.

Like artisan food producers, craft cocktails aim to deliver a unique experience bursting with flavour and high-quality ingredients. But when the craft behind these drinks is often characterised by pedantic ratios, fussy apparatus, and the aforementioned pretentious ingredients, at what point do cocktails prioritise style over substance? After all, isn’t alcohol supposed to be fun?

One such bar trying to buck the artisan trend, and make accessible, satisfying cocktails for all, is Leeds’ Milo. Located in the city’s bustling Call Lane nightlife district, Milo has recently undergone a lengthy period of refurbishment. So, with a brand new cocktail menu on the horizon, how does your self-proclaimed ‘friendly neighbourhood dive bar’ reintroduce itself to clientele both old and new?

Chris’ philosophy on cocktail-making is simple: keep it straightforward, accessible, and most of all, fun. However, it is still possible to combine craft cocktail concepts and accessibility. His favourite addition to Milo’s new, upcoming cocktail menu is perhaps the Breakfast Old-Fashioned.

The cocktail’s base spirit is Woodland Reserve bourbon, and it utilises a process called fat-washing. Fat-washing is the process of freezing a spirit and a fat together in a container.

While the fat freezes, the spirit doesn’t, though the two components transfer flavour molecules. So in this instance, the bourbon will be rounded off with a distinct taste of bacon. It is then a case of building the rest of the cocktail around these breakfast-themed ingredients:
• 50ml bacon fat-washed Woodford Reserve bourbon
• 4 dashes of Angostura Bitters
• A squeeze of maple syrup
• Orange peel

If the idea is to build an accessible, flavoursome cocktail, then look no further than this. A greasy, fat-drizzled breakfast is, of course, something we can all relate to, and by infusing your Woodford Reserve Kentucky bourbon with a hint of bacon, the end result is an authentic, no-frills craft cocktail – heavy on flavour and light on labour. The addition of the maple syrup and orange peel also underpins the cocktail with a fun, American breakfast theme, that doesn’t exclude itself from the more casual cocktail drinker.

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