Ben Newton-Syms






Manager of Anise, Liverpool Street


A hard one to answer, but here goes: The Old House, Sheffield, is where I first found a taste for a good drink, and I still love it. Zetter Town House is a great London bar, particularly because it’s next door to one of my favourite restaurants, The Modern Pantry. Seven at Brixton is a great example of a casual cocktail bar knocking out good drinks en masse, and handily also surrounded by some great places to eat.


A Sazerac, preferably with a blend of both rye and cognac. It's my go-to benchmark drink and has been since my first one at Floridita on a mad night back in 2007. I still remember the bar, the scene, the bartender. It just shows, good bartenders don't make drinks, they create moments that will last a lifetime, as lame as that sounds!

Bad ass barman/rock n roll moment?

I was in the London final of a comp, and everyone was in waistcoats and full regalia. But it’s a blazing hot day, we're on a roof terrace, and the drink is meant to be inspired by the Mediterranean. So while everyone's going tomato and olive crazy, I made a drink that represented summer in the Med to me. I lit up a roll-up packed with rosemary and thyme, and made a flip using gin, sun-tan lotion (actually a coconut and lychee zabaione I’d managed to funnel into an old Soltan bottle), and an egg white I drained from a condom. I got a lot of laughs.  

Ever done it on a bar?

Haha, no, why would you?! It’d be cold, uncomfortable as hell, and you’d likely end up with a bar spoon up your bum. Sex should be like a good Old Fashioned; there’s not a lot to it, but to be properly enjoyed you need to turn the lights down low and take your time over it. And never ask your bartender for one in the middle of a busy service.

What's next for you?

I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself. I’m loving running Anise and building a great team here. I want to take what we do here to new levels, you’ll have to wait and see. Food and writing are my two big secret passions. When I have time off I get all my friends round and cook for them. I’m currently applying to be on Masterchef.

Best/worst chat up lines you've heard at a bar?

Ha! I think I’m probably guilty of the worst! Stood at a packed bar in my younger years, I caught eyes with a cute girl down the bar and mouthed,”You look hot!” before playfully launching a small chunk of ice at her. Unfortunately, too many tequilas down, the playful toss more closely resembled a baseball pitch, and the icy cube of death caught her square in the temple, almost knocking the poor thing out cold. Oops!

Tell us a secret or something we don't know?

Menthol works on the trigeminal nerve; the cooling sensation is read by the brain as a form of pain. My signature drink fuses peppermint tea and celery, to harness this layered effect of sensation and flavour. I’m secretly a huge science geek.

If you were to make a barchick cocktail, what would you put in it?

I was judging a comp recently, and I’m nicking this drink because it just seems perfect. It’s seriously boozy, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I can’t remember what the original version was called, so let’s just call this Knickers In Paris. Anyway, it’s loads of cognac, I’d use Pierre Ferrand’s 1840, because it’s packed with flavour, stirred with dark chocolate bitters and crème de cacao - because chicks dig chocolate, obviously - and, of all things, Jagermeister. I love Jager. I actually have a Jager machine in my kitchen. Anyway, it sounds crazy, but forget your inhibitions and try it. It’s a damn fine tipple.

How do you like your Martini?

The house twist at the Red Door, West Kirby, is Bombay with a touch of orange liqueur, and an anchovy-stuffed olive. The sweet and salty balance is spot on. Failing that, a dry Number 3 is great with just a lemon twist.

What did you want to be as a kid?

A fireman at first, and then a chef. I was making spaghetti carbonara at five, before I could properly say it. And I’d make pancakes every weekend, before mum got up. No wonder I was a fat kid.