We caught up with Cronx mix master Matt Lisle, founder of Street Cocktails, to see what's shaking in the world of mixology..
Is Croydon still a town where the ‘pint of the usual’ still reigns supreme, or are we more adventurous with our tipples these days?
Nah I don’t think so, but I don’t see anything particularly wrong with that. There’s loads of backstreet joints in the Wild West or Deep South (Croydon) that stick to the Fosters/Strongbow draughts, and I hold it down for those guys too; they often look after their product REALLY well. But aside from Del Boy, the original Street Cocktailers were already in the heart of the Cronx, WAY back in Opal Fruits days when Daryl Bynon was at the Tree House mixing up Dr. Pepp with rum; this was before even before C&A shut down!
Your menus are full of imagination and variation, but is there a cocktail that you -or your customers - never get tired of?
The Cronx Island Iced Tea, I reckon. We designed it for Boxpark originally, but ended up keeping it for ourselves. It’s was based on their ‘independent’ business ethos, so we took the biggest soft drink there is, Coco Cola, and bastardised it. We also used tins to serve them in, inspired by Boxpark’s container unit/stacking system. So it’s a deconstructed Coke with all the original ingredients (minus cocaine), soda, and your iced tea spirits (rum, vodka, tequila, gin, and triple-sec). We put it back together freshly as a cordial, but used the coriander as a garnish that you stir in; iit’s totally mental how good it tastes. All that slow-release flavour. People stick to that like Lionel Ritchie!
Image used courtesy of Fluid4Sight
You mix surprising ingredients such as Um Bongo and Nurishment into your cocktails but have you ever come across an ingredient in your experiments that promised so much, and delivered so little?
Not really, it’d be my fault if it didn’t deliver. That’s kinda the whole idea about what we do, creating something bigger, better and boozy from the local store. The ideas are getting more and more interesting I think, which is great; the amaretto/Farley’s Rusk infusion I did recently was a TOTAL badman! I guess if I had to say one it was...ha! I know EXACTLY what it was! Early hours of a party someone challenged me to try and to make something with a blueberry Actimel; man that was HARD. There’s footage of it somewhere, which is probably about as comfortable to watch as The Undateables, or that series Flavor Flav did.
If you could only make cocktails with one spirit for the rest of your career, which one would it be? What does it mix best with?
Most probably Tequila, I’d have so much more fun. Rum I love the most, as there’s so much versatility in rum, but tequila would make for more wilder times. What does it mix best with? Ting of course, like everything else!
You don’t just mix drinks, you mix tunes too. Which artists would you recommend readers to listen to if they want to tap into the special Street Cocktails vibe?
Street Cocktails are vibing ANYTHING positive really. There’s a time and place for the introverted music, which I mostly listen to at home, but when it’s a Street Cocktails party, it’s gotta be a PARTY! I wanna hear Sylvester mixed with Tubbyboy, Topcat with Brainstorm, The Chats with Buju, DJ Assault with Dylan.. we ALL good..
Tell us about the pop-up bar. Is Street Cocktails finally going to get a street address!
We’ve had a great time doing food and music, pop-up festivals between Croydon and Brixton, and our sound system is totally rocking now. So currently we’re getting ready for the summer season, but yeah, there’s been an offer to do our thing up at a permanent address in central Croydon, shouldn’t really say where. Sadly things got in the way with the premises, but we’ve just been offered somewhere else equally as exciting , that’s all I can say. We’ve got so many good people behind us, it’s massively encouraging; I hope it pulls off, we’ve got such big plans, Bigger Than Wrestling in fact! Can’t wait..