How do you start your day?
I always meditate using an app called HeadSpace for 10 minutes. I’ll often follow this with yoga, listen to a record and make myself a coffee as part of my morning ritual. I was just in Japan and bought the most amazing homemade cups. It’s important to take time to relax before I feel ready to crush the day.
Leisurely lunch go to?
Two of my favourite spots for a leisurely lunch are Rochelle Canteen and Lyle’s. Both are close to our newest opening in Clerkenwell, Fare Bar + Canteen, so I can easily nip out for lunch. I much prefer lunch to dinner (as I’m sure others in the hospitality industry agree) and taking time to talk with friends over a glass of wine. I hate when people take lunch too seriously. At the weekend, I enjoy The Marksmen in Hackney.
Favourite way to pass the time in London?
I really enjoy exploring galleries when I have a day off - one of my favourite in London is Tate Modern. For a relaxing day, I take a walk around Hampstead Heath. I think it’s one of the most under-appreciated places in London; I like how it’s not perfect, it has its quirks, allowing me to think clearly without the noise of central London. Up by the heath at Highgate Cemetery is also fascinating.
Favourite London landmarks, and why?
Somerset House is in my opinion one of the most beautiful landmarks in London but I find the brutalist architecture of The Barbican equally compelling. I studied History at University so also never deny a trip to the British Museum and Natural History Museum.
Tipple of choice and favourite cocktail hangout?
One of my favourite cocktail hangouts is Coupette in Bethnal Green, it has amazing hospitality. The head bartender came from The Savoy and takes cocktails seriously. He makes an amazing calvados based cocktail. At the moment, my choice of tipple is our mezcal. My business partner at Fare, Marcis Dzelzainis, and I have created our own label of spirits - El Destilado - finding real examples of terroir and quality producers for agave in Mexico.
Favourite dining destinations, and why?
I recently had an amazing dining experience at Hill & Szrok in Broadway Market. It’s a Butchers but the food is amazing and their attention to details on the wine list is superb. The steaks are also some of the best in the city. I’m a big fan of Leroy too and their understated bistro approach - what they’re doing with food is incredible.
Final stop for a nightcap, and why?
The Sun Tavern, close to Bethnal Green, is an amazing stop in the evening, serving good drinks until late. The Laughing Heart on Hackney Road is open until 2am and I’ll often visit for a bottle of wine to finish the evening. It’s really important for London to offer affordable options for those who don’t want to spend a lot on drinks post-midnight, as we do at Sager + Wilde too.
Best hangover remedy?
I find drinking non-alcoholic beer helps - perhaps psychologically it feels like hair of the dog! My favourite brand is Lucky Saint, made with high quality malted barley. You can definitely taste the difference compared to other non-alcoholic alternatives. Failing this, a run around Victoria Park to Walthamstow Marshes always perks me up.
Where next on your travels?
I have a few trips planned over the coming months: Columbia at Christmas then onto Mexico with Marcis to source new spirits for El Destilado. We will then head to New Orleans to learn more of their cocktail culture, before stopping by San Francisco to catch up with my former boss and mentor.
Michael's passion for wine started in San Francisco, where he spent two years living. He worked under award-winning sommelier Raj Parr, where he learned the variances between the different wines. Since moving back to the UK, he has overseen institutions including Milk and Honey and Quo Vadis. In 2012, he opened Sager and Wilde, which currently has two establishments, both of which have received a prestigious 3 Star Award from World Of Fine Wine. He has won various key industry awards for his success in wine, including UK Sommelier of the Year, GQ and World's Best Restaurant Bar Winner, Tales of the Cocktail 2018.
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