THE CZECH MATE
Smoky, sweet, seductive, spicy and with a smooth-as-fresh-snow finish, our final Budvar Hoptail couldn’t be more perfect for a wintery eve. This beer cocktail is a thing of beauty and outrageously good tasting, so no surprise it has taken devotion and considerable time and experimentation to bring together. Hats off, then, to Jack Barrott, the visionary mixologist behind The Czech Mate who works at Science & Industry, one of Manchester’s most talked-about and impressive bars. One look through its old nineteenth-century apothecary window into the on-site drinks lab and you understand the buzz. It’s clearly science and industry by name; science and industry by nature. Back there, Jack and his bar team come up with all manner of amazing concoctions, including the homemade ginger and rhubarb cordial and the grilled banana syrup that make appearances here. It’s also why Jack insists on using Budweiser Budvar. Creativity, process, putting hours in to get things right, and achieving consistency and quality are the watchwords this bar lives by; they are also key qualities that make Budvar and its 102-day brewing process unique.
A big inspiration for Jack’s cocktail was the tradition of friends gathering in winter, hence the name. But the season is reflected in the evocative ingredient too. From the sweet-fruity flavours of the rhubarb and banana to astringent, green notes from the gin, the snowy-smooth emulsified egg white and the spicy taste of the cinnamon and ginger. And then there’s the bite and sweetness of Budweiser Budvar, 90-day matured for that incredible bright flavour, fresh from the fridge and cold as an icicle. Stunning to look at, filled with theatre, this is a beer cocktail fit for friends around the fire or lively Christmas parties. So let’s dive in and see how it’s done.
I came to Manchester University about five years ago and got a job as a bar-back in a busy bar and club on weekends. Then I trained up as a bartender and mixologist, quit university and went full-time. I guess it was down to a mixture of the money I was making and really enjoying the bar life. I liked learning about drinks more than lectures! I have been back and finished university but this is my path now.Have you entered any competitions?
Sure. I competed in an Angostura competition a couple of years ago. I went down to London on Absolute Invite too and did a few in-house competitions.Tell us about Science & Industry. What’s the ethos?
We’re a speakeasy style bar where we specialise on modernist twists on classics using new techniques. It is a small table service bar where customers can escape the hustle and bustle of busy Manchester with a great cocktail and some great blues.We couldn’t help but notice the laboratory at the back there. What’s the story?
We make all our own ingredients for our cocktail menu. It is a lot of work, but it is definitely worth it in the end as it gives us originality, is great for flavour and keeps us constantly creative.
I guess there will always be people who just want beer as it comes, but cocktails and cocktail culture are on the rise. Bartenders are choosing all sorts of ingredients and new combinations to progress and stay original. Great beer like Budweiser Budvar makes a fantastic ingredient because of its quality and the methods used to produce it. It’s a bit like with our lab: it takes time and effort but it’s all worth it in the taste.
In terms of taste, The Czech Mate is inspired by a few things. Firstly the beer itself – Budvar has a beautiful flavour that fuses that sweetness from the malts and the 90-day maturing in the tank with a subtle hoppy spice. I wanted to play on that and added some wintery spices and aromas like cinnamon and ginger, finishing it off with that classic winter scent: a log fire. That’s why it’s served with a bit of smoking birch bark, which adds that amazing aroma as you take your first sip. Also The Czech Mate is inspired by the look of the landscape at this time of year. When you see the drink it looks like a snow-covered field, and that was intentional. The name came from what I think this time of year is all about: friends and family getting together and having a drink.What does winter mean to you personally?
All those things: snow, fires, family, friends and booze! It’s a nice excuse to meet up with people you don’t always see throughout the year to have a little tipple.What was it about the Budvar that gave you the inspiration?
At Science & Industry we are crazy about technical dimension of drinks. Budvar has the same dedication in the way it brews its beer as we do with cocktail composition. For us and the guys at Budvar it's all about quality and consistency.What is it you love about Budweiser Budvar?
I like the complexities it has. You can tell it’s a cut above most lagers in terms of quality and time taken for ageing. It ties this all with those fresh, citric hoppy notes and malty flavours to bring a warm, almost honey-like sweetness.
Balance, balance, balance. Oh wait, that's three.
THE CZECH MATE(Makes one)
1 bottle of Budweiser Budvar Original
25ml Daffy's Gin
20ml Mancino Rosso
20ml Rhubarb and ginger cordial
Teaspoon of grilled banana syrup
20ml egg white
12.5ml lime juice
Two drops smoked apricot and rosemary bitters (could use Angostura bitters).
Mix the gin, Mancino Rosso, cordial, banana syrup, egg white, lime juice and bitters in a cocktail shaker.
Add ice and shake well.
Strain and remove the ice, then shake again to emulsify the egg white.
Pour into a chilled glass and top up with Budweiser Budvar Original.
Garnish with dried banana and grated cinnamon. Serve with smoking birch bark.