Meet Matt, the new Head Bartender at The Rubens at the Palace. With a passion for innovative mixology and a dedication to preserving classic charm, Matt is here to share his inspiration, signature drinks, and unique approach to creating exciting flavours. Join us as we dive into his creative journey and uncover the captivating experiences he brings to the renowned New York Bar.

What drew you to the Head Bartender role at The Rubens at the Palace?

The high hopes and aspirations of the General Manager, including wanting to raise the prominence of the New York Bar, has always been an exciting prospect for me.

What's the first drink you plan to introduce to the menu that perfectly captures your style and personality?

It has got to be a twist on a bit of a forgotten classic called an 'Aviation', which is a gin-based cocktail using luxardo maraschino which is a very complex dry cherry liquor from Italy, some citrus juice and violet. We blend in a few in-house infused flavours such as grape and cucumber and it is served in a swan glass. I think it’s going to be one of those drinks that guests see across the bar and think "I want to order one!".

Can you share the story behind one of your favourite cocktails that you've created?

I invented a ‘Leather-Aged Jack Daniels and Coke’ whilst I was working in a steakhouse in Brighton. This was an interesting process, in which I found an old tanning leather maker who was still producing these old wine skin bota bags in Spain, he commissioned a unique leather bota bag for us which we made in conjunction with Jack Daniels. So, we were able to create a branded Jack Daniels bota bag and then we aged a blend of Gentleman Jack and a few different Amaro’s which replicated the flavour of a Jack Daniels and Coke.

Old Fashioned Cocktail and bartender

If you could have any fictional character sit at your bar, who would it be and why? And more importantly, what drink would you serve them?

Probably Huntress Thompson’s Dr Gonzo from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. First of all, because I’m sure that the spend would be epic because he is very well known for his ability to consume vast amounts. Huntress Thompson was a very big fan of wild turkey bourbon, so I would probably make him a banging 'Old Fashioned'.

How do you plan to bring a touch of your own unique flair to the bar without compromising its classic charm?

Incorporating fresh and high-quality ingredients into the drinks I make, using unique flavours that could surprise the guests’ tastebuds, and keeping in mind the classic cocktails that people love. The menu is still approachable but I'm adding some surprising new twists on the beloved classics.

Are there any unconventional or unexpected ingredients that you plan to experiment with to create exciting new flavours for the guests?

We are using oyster shell for a martini infusion to give some interesting notes of different minerals, that will complement a white chocolate and mint pearl. Also using some flavoured salts that we are making ourselves in-house, for example black lava salt, pink peppercorn salt, and infusing citrus into salt too.

What's your guilty pleasure cocktail, and have you found a way to give it an elegant twist?

A Miami Vice, which is one half of a blended piña colada, and the other half of a blended strawberry daiquiri mixed.

Finally, if you could describe the atmosphere and vibe at The Rubens at the Palace in three words, what would they be?

Elegant, Relaxed, and Inquisitive.