At Home With Anya Lily Montague
Parisian bistrots, Hawaiian tiki bars, and Michelin-starred restaurants are only a few to name her clientele. Anyone could call Anya Lily Montague a travelling bartender, but her 'experiments' with edible and medicinal plants turned her into a versatile mixologist— or scientist, if you will.
Tell us what makes a good mixologist.
Someone who loves food, flavours, a bit of science and looking after people.
How do you bring a client's vision to life?
If they’re doing a Middle Eastern food menu, I’ll start looking at ways to use ingredients like sumac, za’atar spices, pomegranate, blood orange and perhaps ancient beverages drunk in the Middle East. I love food, so I spend a similar amount of time in the kitchen speaking with chefs about what they’re making as I do in the bar.
Do you hold any mixology courses?
Sometimes private ones, yes! I did one with Jo Malone fragrances a couple of years ago on the launch of their new honeysuckle perfume where I taught their guests how to make honeysuckle liqueur and cocktails to mix it with. I love teaching people about mixology, flowers and herbs. Maybe I’ll do an online course if anyone wants me to!
On her favourite creation...
I’m really excited that I’ve discovered my own recipe for the French liqueur Chartreuse (stay tuned for the recipe!), because you can’t buy it in Bali and it’s essential for lots of my favourite classic cocktails like the bijoux and the Last Word.
What inspired the tropical flavours and medicinal botanicals you incorporate in your drinks?
My mum is a natural herbalist and forager who taught me all about plants and their medicinal and spiritual benefits. My drinks usually play on a certain plant and often I’ll name them after their spiritual properties or folklore story. For example, I made a drink for Room 4 Dessert last year called the “Lucid Dreams” which had homegrown mugwort and marigold as the main flavours, which would be drunk as a tea to induce lucid dreaming.
Could you concoct a drink just by understanding someone’s personality?
Haha maybe but you know they say you can’t judge a book by the cover! Sometimes the woman in a flowery dress wants to drink a negroni and a hench guy wants a pina colada so you can't really tell, it's more about their palate than their personality or what they look like.
On working with Dom...
We’re both so passionate about local produce that if either of us finds something interesting to use we’ll immediately bring it to the other to taste and mix or cook with. Like the other day she got these red Australian finger limes from a local organic farm and she used the sour inside for a canapé and I used the skins for a gimlet cordial.
Tune in next week for Dom's gorgeous homemade granola recipe and Anya's morning chai latte pairing.
Or read Anya's story, her partner in crime here.
Follow Anya on Instagram @anyalily
Photographed by Jade Nina Sarkhel @jadesarkhel
Words by Sachi Kondo @sachi_kondo