Party Drinks with Missy Flynn
A self-portrait story
It’s time to raise your glasses
This is a nice one to have on the table for arrival drinks and also a low-alcohol option so you don't overdo it too early!
Take a pitcher and add:
250ml of Red Vermouth
250ml of Campari
2 teaspoons of sugar
A few fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme.
Chopped seasonal fruits:
plums and berries for winter
Stir and leave to macerate whilst you cook.
When it's time to serve, top the jug up with ice and a nice,
crisp dry sparkling wine like a cava or a pet nat.
You can then pour this out into small tumblers,
it makes a perfect celebratory aperitif.
This is our signature, a very classic margarita with a little twist,
and of course a popping neon pink hue.
Take a pitcher and add:
20ml Hibiscus infused triple sec*
40ml Blanco tequila (try to get one that is 100% agave)
20ml freshly squeezed lime juice
A tiny pinch of sea salt
Shake all the above with 4-5 ice cubes ice for about 15 seconds,
either in a cocktail shaker, a jam jar or any vessel with a lid.
Strain this into a chilled glass using a tea strainer to remove
any small shards of ice and add fresh ice cubes.
Top up with citrus zest using a fine grater.
*To make the hibiscus triple sec, infuse 20g of dried hibiscus flowers into your triple sec overnight and then strain out. Keep the steeped flowers for garnish or for baking!
If you’ve ever tried to snag a reservation at Rita’s, routinely dubbed one of London’s coolest restaurants, or if you’ve followed their progression over the last decade from a fried chicken sandwich shop in a converted toilet in Dalston to the fully-fledged restaurant which opened in Soho last year, you’ll know this is the place to come for a rotating menu of modern American dishes alongside an innovative drinks menu that leans heavily on tequila and mezcal.
As co-founder of Rita’s, along with her partner Gabriel Pryce, Missy Flynn is the mastermind behind the creative cocktails that reflect her background working with agave spirits in Mexico. Growing up in a Covent Garden pub, she originally studied fashion but fell into the hospitality business via a passion for American dive bars. Taking inspiration from classic diners and old-school Soho institutions, Rita’s focuses on warm-hearted hospitality that sticks to the simple basics of great food and great drinks.
“One of our biggest challenges was closing our first restaurant in Hackney, but the Soho space gave us a home for Rita’s again. We opened after the pandemic in an iconic location that I have a lot of love for, it felt like the renewal we needed,” she explains.
With festive parties fast approaching, we call upon Missy Flynn to share all her entertaining tips and tricks, as well as the perfect cocktails to serve up when hosting at home.
What is your ideal way to celebrate a big occasion?
With a small group of people who are comfortable in each other's company, without drama and with lots of delicious food and drinks. Ideally we’d start at lunch — which is surely the most fun meal of the day!
When you’re hosting at home, what are your favourite recipes to serve?
Home is very small now as we’ve moved into Central London to be closer to work, so I try to avoid lots of platters and plates – there is nothing worse than looking at dishes out of the corner of your eye when you should be enjoying the company of others!
I like cocktails that can be batched and easily refilled and food that allows for the host to not be stuck in the kitchen, which usually veers heavier on prep but are easy to finish.
You’re pushed for time but guests are arriving soon, tell us some go-to tricks to improve your presentation.
Everyone is fooled and the most basic food is disguised by well-chopped herbs, so if you are going to learn one knife skill it may as well be the chiffonade!
How would you describe your personal style and what are you looking forward to wearing this party season?
I have two styles in winter: either very functional when I’m in work mode due to the changeable nature of the day (and the staircase in our restaurant) and when off-duty, some sort of dressing for the North Pole / Matrix vibe!
Your background is in agave spirits, with premium tequila and mezcal getting more and more popular, how do you choose between different styles?
The best thing is to work out if you have a personal style. If you like grassy, green, fresh flavours, go for a Blanco, or unaged, If you need something a bit rounder and sweeter, go for a reposado (rested) or Anejo (aged). Despite their obvious similarities, it’s important to know that mezcal and tequila are very different.
For tequila look for 100% agave, and for mezcal look for things that don't have a worm in, and maybe denotes they are made in small batch on the bottle. These don't need to be expensive though my favourites are, and I think they should be! Neta, Derrumbes, Koch, Real Minero and Del Maguey are all mezcal brands or importers I back.
I’m not blown away by many of the newer hyper millennial looking Tequila brands entering the market. The heritage and Mexican family owned brands are my favourite and many of these actually make the liquid for the newer brands anyway. I look to Tapatio Blanco, Ocho and Calle 23 amongst others for an affordable and honest sip of tequila.
What will be on your playlist for the festive season?
I have a hard rule on 'no Christmas songs til Christmas' so I was offended to hear Christmas songs on Oxford Street recently. Most likely my playlist will be my usual moody, dark winter morning mixes of Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders (RIP style free jazz), a bit of mid-afternoon Shoegaze punctuated by some generic top 4 dance music to get me back into running again and keep my energy levels up. We love a bit of jazz at Rita's though, it's just the perfect Soho winter spot, cozy and away from the bustle.
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