Castle St Townhouse, a new destination for food and cocktails, has opened in Liverpool. Mark Ludmon reports
Jason McNeill has been bringing late-night drinks, food and entertainment to the people of Liverpool since he and his brother Gary took over Circo in Albert Dock seven years ago. He has now unveiled an all-day dining and drinking destination in Liverpool’s thriving commercial district, Castle St Townhouse.
He describes the new venue as combining the “three Bs” – breakfast, brunch and bar – with an atmosphere that evolves through the day from daytime dining to late-night cocktails. With a concept inspired by mirrors, Jason brought in leading hospitality specialist DV8 Designs to transform the Grade II-listed building in Castle Street. Covering 160 square metres with about 84 covers, it features an earthy colour palette with vintage typographic styling, signature green furnishings and a grand multi-mirrored bar on the ground floor. “Based around the concept of mirrors and the changing faces and personalities throughout the day, the venue allows people to show their three sides as they wake, work and play,” Jason explains.
Open from 8am weekdays and 9am at weekends, it offers a range of breakfast dishes ranging from poached eggs with chorizo jam, mushroom and sourdough to mascarpone and buttermilk pancakes with caramelised banana and maple syrup. From 11am, the menu transforms to serve up innovative brunch dishes such as shin of beef with kale and carrot celeriac and a hake fillet with spinach hash, avocado, chilli and chorizo.
Specialities include the city’s first breakfast “afternoon tea”, named The Townhouse Tier, which combines bite-size portions of breakfast favourites such as French toast and bacon, Danish and French pastries and fresh fruit and smoothie shots. The bottomless brunch offers menu favourites along with unlimited Mimosas with Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label champagne, their Brunch Punch or prosecco. “Our culinary offering, devised by head chef Martin Simm, is made up of a range of quintessentially British flavours paired with contemporary ingredients to create novel future classics and is inspired by the ritual of taking brunch at any time,” Jason explains.
He has also set out to add something new to Liverpool’s thriving nightlife, with the lighting and music evolving the space into a late-night place for cocktails – open to 1am on Fridays and Saturdays, to 11pm on other weekdays and 10pm Sundays. Under bar manager Matthew Bradley, the list of classic and signature cocktails reflects the all-day ethos of Castle St Townhouse, starting with a selection for breakfast and brunch. These range from a Mimosa and Bloody Mary to the Tipsy Townhouse Iced Tea, made with Belvedere vodka, Passoã and homemade iced tea, and the Blueberry Muffin, combining Absolut Blue vodka with gingerbread syrup, blueberry jam, cranberry and lemon juice.
With cocktails priced between £7.50 and £9, they draw on the bar’s selection of premium spirits as well as house-made ingredients. Signatures include the Rise and Shine – a pick-me-up with Olmeca Tequila, Cointreau, Velvet Falernum, fresh lemon juice, rhubarb bitters and homemade raspberry jam. They take you through the day to the Sundown with Jack Daniel’s whiskey, calvados, Bénédictine, orange and Peychaud’s Bitters and onward to A Night Cap with Wild Turkey bourbon, Carpano Antica Formula, fig liqueur and Angostura Bitters. Along with a selection of wines and champagnes, the line-up of beers includes Wolf Rock IPA and Pravha on draught and more such as Goose Island and Pacifico in bottles.
To match Jason’s concept for a “future classic” bar and restaurant, the “effortlessly elegant” interior has been designed to transform to “reflect different people at various times of the day”. DV8 Designs has achieved this by preserving the rich heritage of the building which was most recently the offices of former solicitors GT Law. “It was important that the venue remained true to its roots,” says Lee Birchall, managing director of DV8 Designs. “With that in mind, we kept many of the building’s original columns while re-arranging the entrance area to create a central focal point that showcases the full length of the space. By combining a series of modern decors and a playful design throughout the venue, the overall object was to carry out a restoration that suits the originality of the building and its setting, in addition to incorporating a grandeur feel.”
All the features have been designed to be “stand out/grandeur” pieces, perhaps to the point of being over-exaggerated, Lee adds, from the large glass pendants towards the front of the bar area to the large antique-effect arched mirrors on the back bar. Four round forest-green velvet booth seats sit at the back of the venue which has a bulkhead ceiling to create a more intimate space, with an antique mirror feature to make it feel wider. A brick-slip wall at the back has a “bowler hat” feature wall to again emphasise the classy, elegant old British features which is also reflected in the bric-à-brac. “We have tried to run this elegance through on all the details, down to the ironmongery selected,” Lee adds.
The overall experience “pays homage to New York’s pristine socialite culture”, Jason adds. “The venue adds a new dimension to Liverpool’s nightlife by combining a splendid interior with an immaculate service and genuine approach. Regardless of the time of day, we aim to create an unrivalled sunrise-to-sundown experience that goes on to make a lasting impression.”
Castle St Townhouse, Castle St, Liverpool L2 7LQ
Tel: 0151 363 7509
Behind the scenes
Design: DV8 Designs
Main contractors, fixed seating: TJM Projects
Lighting: Chantelle Lighting, E2 Lighting
Furniture: Carlick Contract Furniture
Bric-à-brac: LCT Interior Solutions
Electrics: Atlantic Electrical Services
Originally published in the December 2016 print edition of Bar magazine.