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15th July 2015

5 minutes with: Max Hicks from Aluna

As one of the Mailbox’s latest openings, Aluna has already placed itself firmly on Birmingham’s cocktail scene. Delivering drinks with an extra dose of drama, expect to find smoke, fire and things a little out of the ordinary at this canalside bar.

So what better way to find out more about Aluna than catching up with the man behind some of our new favourite cocktails? It’s time to meet bartender, Max Hicks…

Hi Max, first things first, tell us about yourself…

I left Australia when I was 18 and started working in bars to earn enough money to travel the world. When I moved to Manchester I got myself a job in the cocktail bar at All Star Lanes and loved it, so my passion for bartending and the hospitality industry started there. I later moved on to a more high-end cocktail bar which is where I learnt most of what I know now; it was always busy and attracted such a range of customers, so was the perfect place to really develop my skills. The general manager at that bar is the new general manager at Aluna, so he brought me with him when he moved to Birmingham!

I still love the challenge of someone saying they don’t know what they want, or can’t choose. Being able to make someone a tailored cocktail using their favourite spirits and flavours always tends to get a ‘wow’ response; it’s much more personal!

So you’re from Australia – what Aussie tradition do you think we should adopt here in the UK?

Whether it’s sunny or raining, we’re always up for a party, and you should be too!

You’re new to the Mailbox, how would you describe the latest opening, Aluna, in three words?

Fun, exciting and mysterious

Max Hicks, bartender at Aluna Mailbox

What’s your signature drink at Aluna, and which ones have been the most popular drinks so far?

The signature drink at Aluna would have to be Lava Lamp, but the most popular have been the Bubblegumtini and the Marshmallow Daiquiri. I won’t tell you what’s in them, you’ll have to come and give them a try!

Sounds like a plan. Talk us through some of the more unusual ingredients in the cocktails at Aluna, are there any you hadn’t come across before?

Caviar balls are definitely an unusual ingredient; they add a different texture to the drink and can be quite theatrical! Adding them alongside dry ice makes them bubble around the drink and bounce off the glass which always gets a good reaction! Customers tend to be quite intrigued by what we can create on the bar in front of their eyes; the science and theatrical element is definitely something unique to Birmingham.

For anyone looking to recreate some of the cocktail making magic at home, what are your top tips?

Making sure you use fresh ingredients, quality spirits and correct measurements. The most important thing is to have fun though!

Right, it’s time to put you on the spot! If you had to design an exclusive Mailbox cocktail, what would you include and why?

I’d have to include caviars, dry ice and foams, as they’re all things the majority of Birmingham hasn’t seen before, so ties in with the luxury concept of the Mailbox! Those ingredients all create a bit of a surprise element to the drink and allow the customer to engage with the bartender more too. I think I might have to go and create a Mailbox Special now…

And finally, it’s our round. What’s your all-time favourite cocktail?

Aviation – Gin, Crème de Violette, Maraschino, Lemon Juice and garnished with Maraschino Cherry. Gin is my favourite spirit and the other flavours work really well together to create a light and refreshing cocktail.

To see Max in action, visit Aluna at the Mailbox now, or join the conversation on twitter: @AlunaUK

Aluna cocktail bar opens at the Mailbox this Saturday