At Home With... Danny McManus
Okay Danny, what's the first thing you look to get sorted for having cocktails at home?
(Beyond any liquid prep, of course!)
This may sound ridiculous but one thing I think can elevate the experience of drinking at home is having good ice, chilled, correctly sized glassware, or both preferably. We’ve all been in a situation where you’ve had an amazing drink in a bar, you then try to recreate it at home using the same spec, but something just isn't quite right...Why? It can be a combination of things but oftentimes it’s because the glass is way too big, which instantly doesn’t match up with the idea of what you thought it was going to look like in your head, or the ice is bad and has diluted your drink too much before you’ve even taken your first sip. So having the correct glassware and some high quality ice is a great place to start on your journey to making the perfect at home cocktail.
So you take some of our favourite cocktail photos on the internet, what’s your secret sauce?
I appreciate a pristinely set-up, high concept, curated image as much as the next person but I always try to approach my photos with the question of, how would I like to drink this at home? My images are far more on the lifestyle side of things, in the sense that they represent a more organic drinking experience. I feel that people respond well to this because it’s relatable, approachable and doesn't feel stuffy or staged, it gives the feeling of “Hey! I could whip that up at my home bar” and that’s really all I want out of what I post on my social media.
If you had to choose one aspect of curating a space that everybody should get right first, what would that be?
For anyone who’s ever commented on any of the interior design within my photos, I can’t take too much credit as my partner Kay is the one with the talent in that department. The first thing we always try to do before sitting down with drinks at home is to make sure that the space is clean and organised. You can have a gorgeous, ambient, beautifully scented room with your favourite playlist on but if it’s a “midden” as my mother would say, it’s going to take away from all of that. Your space doesn’t need to be clinically clean but tidy to the extent where you feel comfortable in your mind.
Music-wise, we’ve all been there when a song has perfectly captured a specific moment or experience - what’s your go-to song/album and cocktail pairing?
Despite the fact I used to be in a metal band and grew up listening to pretty much only that, our go to playlist has to be F.S.D - that’s funk, soul and disco for anyone who isn’t already in the know. Can’t beat a bit of Diana Ross whilst sipping on an Adonis or two.
Do you have any recommendations for things people can pick up to enhance their at-home cocktails?
I know I mentioned it before but I can’t stress enough how important having the right glassware can be in taking your drink from mediocre to perfect. I have a couple of pieces that I use on a regular basis, one being the pony glass from Nude’s Remy Savage collection which I use for drinks like Manhattans and Martinis, or anything that requires a 4oz glass essentially. My other favorite is a stemmed rocks glass from the Libby Levitas range which I typically use for Negronis, Old Fashioneds and even Whisky Sours. The one thing I would say you should look at before buying any piece of glassware is the size, as this can make or break the drinking experience.
Alright, set us the scene for the cocktail you’re craving right now. What’s the space look, feel, sound like and what’s the drink at the end to tie everything together?
Here goes - I’ve come home from work, put my F.S.D playlist on and start mixing up my favourite drink. At the moment this is a Black Manhattan because it has the flavour from the whisky at the forefront of the cocktail, backed up by the sweet, herbaceous bitter finish. I pour this into some ice cold glasses straight out the freezer. There’s some fresh eucalyptus in the vase on our kitchen table surrounded by fresh warm bread and a small cheese board. The sun is setting so we’ve lit some candles and between cooking something delicious we take breaks to dance in the middle of our kitchen. For me this is the idea of a perfect evening and doesn’t take that much preparation to achieve.
Sounds like a bangin' night in to us.
If you want to join Danny on his journey of flavour, spirits and photography you can find him on instagram under @danny_mcmaniel or if you're ever in Glasgow, pop into the shop or the bar!