Budvar Hoptails #3 ‘Hive Minds’

Honey, citrus and a super-refreshing bite - the Lagerita as you've never tasted it before

By Michael Sharpe, Milk Thistle, Bristol

The third Budvar Hoptail in the series takes us to Bristol and the awesome interiors of Milk Thistle, where decadence-themed décor meets historic architecture and awesome cocktails. Priding themselves on being purveyors of the finest cocktails not only in the city but the whole southwest, the team here are drinks nerds and central to their ethos is the homemade ingredient; the guys here create their own mixers and syrups, including an awesome Falernum – an over-proof rum base mixer that is steeped with cloves and spices.

    Heading the Milk Thistle talent list is master mixologist and assistant manager, Michael Sharpe, whose passion for craft, ingredients and quality explains why the house beer here is Budweiser Budvar. He’s created the hoptail ‘Hive Minds’, a Heston Blumenthal-like reinvention of the much-maligned ‘Lagerita’ that plays off the sweet, honey tones of Budvar. Shaking up fresh lime, Tequila, Yellow Chartreuse, apricot liqueur, homemade Falernum and honey with cold Budvar and crushed ice, the Hive Minds is sophisticated, sweet, slightly sour and seriously more-ish. But don’t just take our word for it. Head down to Milk Thistle to try one or have a go yourself.

    Tell us a little about yourself.

    I'm assistant manager at Milk Thistle in Bristol. I like to think of myself as a modern day Odysseus, but as my grandmother used to say, “we'd all like to write our own reviews”. I never did understand her. As well as creating great cocktails and striving to better the bars I work in, I also pretend to sing, and attempt to write, with varying degrees of success.

    How long have you been bartending?

    I've been working in bars for ten years and making cocktails for seven of those. I started work at The Milk Thistle in Bristol before spells as head bartender at Hyde and Co., Hausbar, The Ox and then back here to co-run Milk Thistle. The trophy cabinet is healthy: as well as personal national competition victories, Milk Thistle won “Best Bar” at the Bristol Lifestyle Awards and I took home an award for “Best Chat”, although I think this was largely out of pity.

    Tell us about Milk Thistle. How long has it been open? What’s the ethos?

    Nearly seven years. The ethos has remained the same since day one. Namely, to create an elegant and attractive drinking venue, that serves exceptional drinks in a non-pretentious atmosphere. We will never patronise or be snooty. We’re all about giving you the best drinks.

    It’s an amazing building. What’s the history?

    The building was originally the headquarters of the Merchant Venturers, a trade group operating in Bristol centuries back. While they weren't necessarily Masonic in nature, the building does feel a lot like a Masonic lodge. Post that, it has been a number of gentleman’s clubs, as well as a secret underground oil wrestling arena (no joke) and a Mexican restaurant.

    Where does the name come from?

    Milk Thistle is said to be a plant that helps the liver following a big drinking session. I thought this particularly ironic, as we are so often the cause of a hefty hangover. My advice: have a Margarita and a packet of Hula Hoops and you'll be fighting fit.

    Why do you think beer cocktails are on the rise?

    Beer has been on the rise for many years now, and it seems that people are now starting to marry different sub-sections together. A huge foundation of flavour lies in the world of beer, so it seemed only natural that cocktail nerds and mixologists would want to try working with more left-field yet well-known flavours.

    How did you come up with the ‘Hive Minds’?

    I wanted to change people’s perceptions when it came to using beer as a cocktail ingredient, as well as the concept of beer cocktails generally. And there’s no better beer to do that with than Budweiser Budvar. The Hive Minds was also intended to riff on that classic cheeseball cocktail, the 'Lagerita'. Simple, but misunderstood. Like me. I wanted to take it to a whole new place, making it truly quality and delicious and incorporating the honey notes of Budvar and all these great, crafted ingredients, like Chartreuse and Falernum.

    What is the ethos behind the drink? What’s the name about?

    I started with the ‘B’ of Budvar and thought ‘B’, bees, honey. This chimed with the honey notes and slightly bitter-sweetness I found in Budvar’s taste as well as celebrating the time, tradition and hard work that goes into its making. Here at Milk Thistle we have a similar approach, putting together our cocktails of homemade ingredients like worker bees, inside the massive hive that is this building. It made me think about people bringing flavour together when making a product, just as is done with Budvar in the Czech Republic. Two entities with the same methodology. Hence, Hive Minds.

    You stock Budweiser Budvar at the bar. What is it you like about the beer?

    It's great to have a house beer that is not only delicious and seriously chin-able, but also reputable and incredibly well made with a depth of flavour and dedication to brewing that you just don’t find in many other ‘recognisable’ brands of beer.

    You guys make a lot of your own ingredients. Tell us about that.

    We've enjoyed homemaking ingredients for years. It just allows for a greater degree of flavour combinations than can be easily found in standard syrups. Plus, once you have good systems in place, they're a breeze to make, and utterly controllable by the bar.

    What one tip would you give about making a great cocktail?

    Make sure it's nice. That sounds like ridiculous advice but some people get so caught up in showcasing wacky flavours, that they fail to make an actual drink that works. You should be able to drink a few of them in a row without getting sick of them.
    Or maybe, always stir for longer than you think. That’s a bit nerdy, but true.


    (Makes one)


    1 can of Budweiser Budvar Original
    30ml Tequila
    20ml lime juice
    10ml apricot liqueur
    15ml Yellow Chartreuse
    15ml Falernum
    5ml honey syrup
    Slice of lime and rose petals for garnish


    Mix fresh lime juice with the Tequila, apricot liqueur, Yellow Chartreuse, Falernum and honey in a shaker. Add ice, cover and shake well.

    Add 50ml Budweiser Budvar Original. Strain all into a half-pint dimple glass, filled with cubed ice.

    Top with crushed ice, petals and a wheel of lime.

    Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on Pinterest


    By entering this site you acknowledge and agree to the following terms and conditions. If you do not agree to these terms, do not use this site.

    By entering this site you acknowledge and agree that this site will only be construed and evaluated according to uk law.

    If you use this site from other juristictions you are responsible for compliance with any and all applicable local laws.

    BUDWEISER BUDVAR UK Limited is the copyright owner of this site and no portion of this site, including but not limited to the text, images, audio or video, may be used in any manner, or for any purpose, without BUDWEISER BUDVAR UK LIMITED’S express written permission, except as provided for herein. Without in any way waiving any of the foregoing rights, you may download one copy of the material on this site for your personal, non-commercial home use only, provided you do not delete or change any copyright, trademark or other proprietary notices. Modification or use of the material on this site for any other purposes violates BUDWEISER BUDVAR UK LIMITED’S legal rights.

    By entering this site you acknowledge and agree that your use is at your own risk and that none of the parties involved in creating, producing, or delivering this site is liable (to the extent that such liability is not prohibited at law) for any direct, incidental, consequential, indirect, or punitive damages, or any other losses, costs, or expenses of any kind (including legal fees, expert fees, or other disbursements) which may arise, directly or indirectly, through the access to, use of, or browsing of this site or through your downloading of any materials, data, text, images, video or audio from this site, including but not limited to anything caused by any viruses, bugs, human action or inaction or any computer system, phone line, hardware, software or program malfunctions, or any other errors, failures or delays in computer transmissions or network connections.

    Do not post on this site, or transmit to this site, any pornographic, obscene, profane, defamatory, libelous, threatening, unlawful or other material which could constitute or encourage conduct that would be considered a criminal offence, give rise to civil liability, promote the excessive or irresponsible consumption of alcohol, or otherwise violate any law or regulation. Notwithstanding the fact that BUDWEISER BUDVAR UK LIMITED or other parties involved in creating, producing, or delivering this site, may monitor or review transmissions, posting, discussions, or chats, BUDWEISER BUDVAR UK LIMITED and all parties involved in creating, producing or delivering this site, assume no responsibility or liability which may arise from the content thereof, including but not limited to claims for defamation, libel, slander, obscenity, pornography, profanity, or misrepresentation.

    By entering this site you acknowledge and agree that any communication or material you transmit to this site or BUDWEISER BUDVAR UK LIMITED, in any manner and for any reason, will not be treated as confidential or proprietary. Furthermore, you acknowledge and agree that in consideration of your access to and transmission of any materials to this site, all rights (both legal and beneficial) in the nature of copyright arising or existing in any communication or material in which such ideas, concepts, techniques, procedures, methods, systems, designs, plans or charts are contained are assigned to BUDWEISER BUDVAR UK LIMITED. You agree that you will not have any right to any form of payment or royalty in the event that any such materials are used by BUDWEISER BUDVAR UK LIMITED anywhere, anytime, and for any reason.

    By entering this site you acknowledge and agree that any name, logo, trademark, or servicemark contained on this site is owned or licensed by BUDWEISER BUDVAR UK LIMITED and may not be used by you without prior written approval. BUDWEISER BUDVAR UK LIMITED will aggressively enforce its intellectual property rights to the full extent of the law. Sound, graphics, charts, text, video, information, or images of places or people are either the property of BUDWEISER BUDVAR UK LIMITED or used on this site with permission. Your use of any of these materials is prohibited unless specifically provided for on the site. Any unauthorised use of these materials may subject you to penalties or damages, including but not limited to those related to violation of trademarks, copyrights, privacy, and publicity rights.

    Although this site may be linked to other sites, BUDWEISER BUDVAR UK LIMITED is not, directly or indirectly, implying any approval, association, sponsorship, endorsement, or affiliation with the linked site, unless specifically stated therein. By entering this site you acknowledge and agree that BUDWEISER BUDVAR UK LIMITED has not reviewed all the sites linked to this site and is not responsible for the content of any off-site pages or any other site linked to this site. Your linking to any other off-site pages or other sites is at your own risk.

    BUDWEISER BUDVAR UK LIMITED reserves the right to revise this legal information at any time and for any reason and reserves the right to make changes at any time, without notice or obligation, to any of the information contained on this site. By entering this site you acknowledge and agree that you shall be bound by any such revisions. We suggest periodically visiting this page of the site to review these terms and conditions.

    Notices in respect of this site should be addressed to The Managing Director, Budweiser Budvar Ltd. Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BB


    Cookies are very small text files that are stored on your computer when you visit some websites.

    We use cookies to help identify your computer so we can tailor your user experience.

    You can disable any cookies already stored on your computer, but these may stop our website from functioning properly.

    This website will use cookies to provide you with the best user experience and also to tell us which pages you find most interesting (anonymously).

    This website will track the pages you visit via Google Analytics

    This website will allow you to share pages with social networks such as Facebook, Twitter etc. These social networks may separately record this activity and such record is outside our control.

    This website will not share any personal information with third parties.

    If you do not agree to the above use of cookies, we respectfully request that you do not use this website.