Bartenders use foraged ingredients for winter forestry cocktails

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Leading London bartenders have come up with cocktails inspired by “winter forestry” as part of an initiative run by mixer specialist The London Essence Company.

Called “The Essence of the Season”, it is a collaborative forum to help bartenders explore flavours and develop their skills with support from specialists such as industry mentors Nick Strangeway and Stu Bale and food and drink photographer Addie Chinn.

After sessions on foraging ingredients and experimenting with high-tech equipment at Stu Bale’s bartending lab Crucible in London, they created cocktails with the theme of “winter forestry”. Click here for more on the initiative.

Greg Almeida of Scarfes Bar at Rosewood London hotel devised the Berry Shade of Winter (pictured top). “I’ve used foraged ingredients such as a Douglas Fir, which I created by infusing the branches in a straight spirit and distilling through the rotovap, releasing the essence of the citrusy-pine flavour. I created a shrub with English elderberry to give a nice bright acidity to my drink. The spiciness of the ginger ale and flavours of aniseed distillate within the drink pairs really well with the berry flavours.”

Berry Shade of Winter by Greg Almeida
25ml Hepple Gin
25ml Douglas fir distillate
20ml Elderberry shrub
20ml Fresh lemon juice
4 dashes Chocolate bitters
The London Essence Company Ginger Ale
Shake the first five ingredients with ice and strain into a highball glass through a sieve. Top with ginger ale and garnish with a sprig of Douglas fir, dried orange, candied ginger and fresh elderberries.

Dean Ellis from The Trafalgar St James hotel created the Rowanberry Bitter. “I decided to create a classic serve along the lines of a Tom Collins, which plays with foraged flavours,” he said. “It was important to me to create an easy-to-serve drink that anyone on my team can make. The rowanberries growing right outside my house add a great bitterness to the drink, which pairs well with wild thyme and the clean refreshment of The London Essence Co Classic Tonic (which we use as our house pour).”

Rowanberry Bitter by Dean Ellis
50ml Ocho Tequila
30ml Rowanberry syrup
10ml Campari
20ml Fresh lemon juice
1 Egg white
3-4 drops Thyme tincture
Top with The London Essence Company Classic Tonic
Garnish with grated dehydrated lime
Pour the tequila, rowanberry syrup, Campari, lemon juice and egg white into a shaker filled with ice and shake. Fill a highball glass with ice and The London Essence Co Classic tonic until half full. Pour over the shaken mixture and stir. Drop in a couple of drops of the thyme tincture and garnish with the grated dehydrated lime.

Simone recipe

Simone Onoratti from The Gibson created Little John Fizz (pictured above), named after one of Robin Hood’s merry men. “I took inspiration from the forest and from one of my favourite movies – Robin Hood,” he said. “My cocktail features gin infused with mastic resin, eucalyptus, pine cones macerated in honey, silver birch bark, freshly pressed asparagus juice, damson plum vinegar and lemon juice, which is all shaken with egg white. I chose to top with The London Essence Company Grapefruit and Rosemary tonic because the rosemary works with the pine and eucalyptus flavours.”

Little John Fizz by Simone Onoratti
40ml Hepple Gin infused with mastic resin
30ml Vapour-distilled forest cordial (pine cones, birch bark, pine needles, eucalyptus)
4 dashes Damson plum vinegar
17.5ml Pine cone-infused honey
10ml Fresh asparagus juice
25ml Lemon juice
Top with The London Essence Company Grapefruit and Rosemary Tonic
Garnish with a sprig of mint, pine cone and raspberry
Pour the gin, cordial, asparagus juice, lemon juice, honey, vinegar and egg white into a shaker or large glass filled with ice – Simone used a glass with a lid and open hole. Stir down, pour into a glass and top with the tonic. Garnish with a sprig of mint, raspberry and pine cone.

Chris recipe

Chris Tanner of The Vault at Milroy’s created the Forest Floor (pictured above). “I’ve used a woodruff, horseradish vodka, sherry and the distilled forest floor – distilling the essence of an actual forest floor by using a rotovap – to really capture the flavours of a winter forest. I’ve paired this with The London Essence Company Classic Tonic because it can really cut through all the flavours going on in my drink.”

Forest Floor by Chris Tanner
5ml Horseradish distillate
15ml Forest floor distillate
10ml Hackney woodruff syrup
10ml Fino sherry
25ml Vodka
Top with The London Essence Company Classic Tonic
Pour the horseradish distillate, forest floor distillate, woodruff syrup, fino sherry and vodka into a highball glass filled with ice and stir. Top up with The London Essence Company Classic Tonic until three-quarters full. Stir again and pour in the remaining tonic.

Filip recipe

Filip Gregor of Drake & Morgan created the Smoked Mushroom (pictured above). “I was inspired to recreate the flavours of a forest after we were transported to a forest in a meditation session in the first gathering. I used mezcal to include smoky flavours which pairs well with earthy mushroom syrup. It’s a simple serve to make which is great to use in busy venues as the garnish makes use of what’s inside the cocktail as well – and also resembles a forest with the mushroom growing out of the thyme ‘grass’. I chose to use The London Essence Company Classic Tonic because it really lets the flavours shine through.”

Smoked Mushroom by Filip Gregor
20ml Mushroom and thyme sugar syrup
50ml Mezcal
Top with The London Essence Company Classic Tonic
Garnish with grated mushroom, sprig of thyme and a whole button mushroom
Dip the rim of a rocks glass into lime juice and then the grated mushrooms. Fill the glass with ice and pour in the mezcal and sugar syrup. Top with The London Essence Company Classic Tonic and stir. Garnish with sprigs of thyme and a whole button mushroom.

Piotrek recipe

Piotrek Bartnik, also from Drake & Morgan, created the Quality Street (pictured) using the seasonal flavours of walnuts and Quality Street chocolates.

Quality Street by Piotrek Bartnik
50ml Courvoisier cognac
25ml Walnut sugar syrup
12.5 Lime juice
2-3 drops Chocolate bitters
Top with The London Essence Company Ginger Ale
Garnish with crushed walnuts and Quality Street chocolates.
Dip the rim of a highball glass in lime juice and crushed walnuts. Fill the glass with ice and pour in the Courvoisier, sugar syrup, lime juice and chocolate bitters and stir. Top with The London Essence Company Ginger Ale, stir again and garnish with a Quality Street chocolate.

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