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Meet the creator: Adam McVay

4 June 2019 / Meet the Creator /

Garden to Glass is the big concept behind the new bar at The Glasshouse and this ethos infuses the whole drinks menu, especially the cocktails. It was dreamt up by Adam McVay and his company HolyWater. Here, we caught up with him as he returned from a business trip to the US, rather jet lagged but happy to chat and divulge secrets!

Adam McKay, Holywater

Garden to Glass is such a perfect fit for The Grove. How did you come up with the idea?
It was just common sense for The Grove as it tells their story. The minute you turn the corner into the drive, you see 300 acres of countryside for foraging and then the Walled Garden. Garden to Glass says that everything comes from the ground – the earth is the start of everything. Yes it’s about sustainability, which is fundamentally important to me, but it’s also about getting really inspired by nature. An important part of the training for the bartenders was about getting them to smell, select and pick the fruit, herbs and edible flowers that go into the drinks from the Walled Garden. It’s more exciting when bartenders themselves do this. You need the right people for all this – they’ve got to be warm and human and read people well. We want to create magical experiences for guests at The Glasshouse bar, as well as fantastic drinks.

Have you worked much with The Grove before?
I know The Grove well. I’ve been working on some big events there for the past five years so they invited me to devise The Glasshouse bar menu and pretty much gave me a blank canvas.

Can you name a few of your favourite bars?
I’m a massive fan of really good five star hotel bars… I like to sit down and have an experience that feels like a bit of bliss. The Aviary in Chicago have taken it to another level with an ice chef! Ice is massive, it’s so important in a cocktail. Another favourite is Little Red Door in Paris.

Where are you from and what has your journey or career been to this point?
I left home at 16 – well, I ran away from home and got a job in a pub in London, it’s how all this started. Hmm, I shouldn’t really say this for any Watford-based guests, but I was born in Luton and am still a fully-fledged Luton supporter. Sorry about that…! I’m only human. 

Lemon Alone Cocktail at The Glasshouse Bar

What’s your own favourite cocktail?
It depends on the day, depends on the season, depends on how I’m feeling and the day of the week, like on a Monday I’d have something with Tequila and Mascal… I’d make a really good Cardamom Paloma. I’ve just had seven days drinking (for work!) in San Francisco so I’ll be drinking nothing for the next couple of weeks.

And what do you drink when you’re off duty?
There’s nothing like a cold pale ale. Or a glass of oaky Napa Valley Chardonnay.

Peak moment in your career?
When I took the plunge and launched HolyWater – I knew nobody else was doing what I wanted to create. I’ve travelled the world and have been to some amazing parties, but nothing beats the feeling of creating something yourself and trying to create a better, more sustainable world.

What’s your favourite part of The Grove?
The Walled Garden in late spring. It’s stunning.

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