Kierian Lycett joined the bar team at Ansty Hall back in November – just as the elegant Grade 11-listed mansion was enjoying its annual role as the perfect destination for Christmas festivities.
Ansty Hall was built in 1678 by Edward Tayler, and later remodelled by his heir and nephew, Simon Adams, who added a third storey and two wings. Later extensions were added in the 19th century and the house is said to have been the inspiration for the home of Mrs. Cadwallader in George Eliot's Middlemarch. Descendants of the Adams family remained in residence until 1965 when the house was sold and converted into a hotel. Ansty Hall was purchased by the Macdonald hotel group in 1996.
Enter this stunning, red brick Georgian mansion and you’ll get a real sense of period elegance, whatever the time of year. You’ll also enjoy fantastic contemporary hospitality and if you drop into the Warwick Bar for a pre-dinner drink, it’s likely that Kierian will be on hand to create something special for you.
Finding a Home in Bartending
Born and bred in nearby Coventry, where he still lives with his grandparents, a career in hospitality was always on the cards for Kierian - but he didn’t anticipate going to work every day in a 17th century country house!
“When I was at school, I had a huge interest in cooking, so I went to North Warwickshire and Hinckley College to study catering. I loved it, but my course included bar training and I realised I was hooked!"
"During college, I was working in a social club as a bartender and that’s where I found my spark – the bar felt like my natural home".
"Since then, I’ve worked in lots of different bars, but my interest in making cocktails began when I was Bar Manager at the Saracens Head, a 16th century village pub. I really threw myself into learning about what made a great cocktail, how to recommend them to customers and how to create my own version of a classic to mix things up a bit. Once I had confidence in my ability, I realised it was just as much about people as it is making drinks".
Enhancing Guest Experience
Working in a four-star hotel naturally brings it's own distinctive challenges, however, Kierian finds there’s more opportunity to enhance the guests' stay by giving fantastic service - and getting creative.
“The best thing about being a bartender at Ansty Hall is being able to play a part in our guests having a wonderful time – and making them smile! I was serving a hotel guest recently and she’d just been for a cocktail in a local pub. It hadn’t been great but as it was her favourite cocktail, I offered to make it for her again. She told me it was one of the best she’d ever had, which was nice to hear".
"I enjoy experimenting with different flavours. I like to use ingredients that might not be obvious. For example, I make a cocktail called 'Chocolate Dream', which includes whiskey, Cointreau, milk and hot chocolate powder, which sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it does!"
A Venue for All Seasons
Ansty Hall is well located for visitors to the nearby cities of Coventry and Birmingham and to Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon. It is also an award-winning wedding venue, which brings a whole new meaning to customer service.
“The nice thing about working in a hotel is experiencing the seasons and the different occasions. Ansty Hall is hugely popular for weddings and they’re held all year round. I’ve only been here for four months, but I can’t wait to be inspired by a wedding theme, or experiment with summer flavours and I’ve already had fun creating cocktails for Valentines.
So, what does a keen cocktail maker drink when he’s on the other side of the bar – and given the choice, where would Kierian most like to work in the world?
“I’d love to work at the Burlock Rum Room in London. It’s a basement bar, inspired by 1930’s Havana, and it’s my dream to go there. You won’t be surprised to hear that a well-made Zombie cocktail is my favourite drink – heavily featuring rum!
“Kierian is our main bar person at Ansty Hall and in his short stint at the hotel, he’s already shown great qualities. He’s not just a good bartender but also a leader in the making, instrumental in driving standards on the bar, from cleanliness to stock levels as well as service. Having said that, he’s obviously been creating some amazing cocktails! I think Kierian is a great asset to the team.”
Erwin Middel, General Manager at Ansty Hall