If you are walking along Hammerton Street in Burnley on a night out, you won’t see a flashing sign announcing what the place is called. It’s only a buzzing crowd of people with cocktails in their hands and rhythmic tunes that give away what the venue is.
Located in the middle of the town’s established circuit, Illuminati is one of the most creative cocktail bars in the Burnley area; think nitrogen gas flames, delicious aromas in the air and unique cocktail glasses. And the décor is certainly not traditional or common – a tasteful yet trendy vintage style with retro details give the bar ultimate cool reputation.
Each drink is carefully prepared using the innovative techniques of mixology and guests are often mesmerised by distinct cocktail names, their incredible display, production and presentation.
New menus are crafted four times a year each combining unique and creative ingredients to great effect reflecting different seasons. There is autumn’s Smoked Rum Old Fashioned made with premium rum and smoked hickory chips, while a summer gin mix called Candyland contains the perfect balance of gins, limoncello and candy floss resulting in a sweet and fruity finish.
The bar first flung its doors open in December 2013 and as soon as the word got out about the new bar in town, it became one of the most popular venues for tasting cocktails and spending a great night out with friends.
To enjoy a cheeky glass or two, guests pour in from near and far. The owner of Illuminati Tom Lord and bar manager Dale Hughes reveal having customers who come down not only from Burnley, but also from Barrowforld, Clitheroe, Whalley and even all the way from Manchester to try out their impressive drinks.
“Burnley is quite a big market for us. We’ve got a lot of people coming from Manchester who heard about the bar from their friends and decided to experience for themselves what Illuminati has to offer,” Tom brings to light.
Both local and national celebrities are not an exception. According to Dale, Southampton striker Jay Rodriguez, Burnley FC footballers Danny Ings with Kieran Trippier, Chris from The Only Way Is Essex and Stacey McQueen are just a few among the stars who chose to spend their night out at Illuminati.
With a name derived from a secret group of people who were believed to have ruled the world for centuries, Illuminati sets itself up for not only superior drinks, bodacious bar environment, but also for a spot-on personal customer service.
Dale said: “With only a small team of twelve, the level of service we provide at Illuminati is something that makes us stand out from the crowd. We don’t just strive to sell drinks, we aim to ensure that peoples’ night out is made and changed.
“It’s not that type of bar where you come in and leave saying what a fabulous drink you had. You come into this bar and you go away knowing your bartender’s first name, your bartender knows your name and your drink. You walk into the Illuminati and you leave having made a couple of friends. It’s that level of personal service we have in store for our customers.”
The quality of both drinks and customer service is ensured by Illuminati weekly staff training. Once a week bar crew get together and undergo rigorous training sessions crafting and testing out new cocktails, and brainstorming ideas what to name them.
And as one might think, it’s not a piece of cake to design a new drink. According to bartender Benjamin Smith, a lot of research, product knowledge and testing out go into designing a new cocktail.
The long queue every Saturday night proves the bar to be a resounding success. The magic formula behind it is the advice given by Tom’s friend: “A good friend of mine once told me not to chase the money and do what is right and what is best for the bar. That’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m constantly reinvesting the money back into the bar, looking at the best equipment and what are the best spirits we need to offer to our customers. Our spirit offer has significantly improved since we started,” Tom shares.
The next time you are in town looking for a great venue, drinks and music, remember the secret Illuminati bar which will take your Burnley night out experience to a whole new level.