The first seven bartenders have taken part in a new initiative run by mixer brand The London Essence Company to help them “explore and build creative potential”.
All from London bars, they were Connor Poulloara of The Distillery, Dean Ellis of The Trafalgar, Simone Onoratti of The Gibson, Chris Tanner of The Vault at Milroy’s, Piotrek Bartnik and Filip Gregor from Drake & Morgan, and Greg Almeida of Scarfes Bar.
Based at Stu Bale’s bartending lab Crucible in east London, they experimented with the latest equipment, using wild ingredients foraged from the Hackney area before heading back to their bars to create drinks that reinterpret the theme of “Winter Forestry”.
Under the banner of “The Essence of the Season”, the brand set out to establish a “collaborative forum” with the selected bartenders, supporting them in the creation of their own unique seasonal expressions with industry mentors Nick Strangeway, bartender Stu Bale, photographer Addie Chinn and forager/alchemist Jemma Foster.
The workshop on urban foraging was led by Jemma, showing how often-overlooked wild ingredients from the Hackney area could come alive in tinctures, essences and jellies, such as meadowsweet from Walthamstow, sumac from Springfield Park and mugwort from Lea Valley.
Nick Strangeway, renowned for his use of wild ingredients, shared his experience of foraging in London as a way of relaxing and reconnecting with nature.
During the lab session, Stu guided the group around the wealth of equipment there, from the Thermomix to centrifuge, ice cream maker and rotovap. The group created cobnut milk and ice cream, horseradish vodka and a woodruff infusion – all of which were played with and transformed into cocktails using the delicately light London Essence mixers.
Dean Ellis from The Trafalgar commented: “My advice [to my peers] would be that if you have an inkling you want to explore the possibilities of seasonality and flavour, get involved with this programme to connect with people from across the industry to share thought patterns. It’s been a pleasure.”
Taking inspiration from the day, the group will now reinterpret “Winter Forestry” through individual serves, supported by London Essence, with access to Crucible and further sessions on photography by specialist drinks photographer Addie Chinn, with social media and presentation training in the weeks to come.
Participants were chosen by Hamish Bremner, brand ambassador for The London Essence Co, along with Stu. After launching in London, the initiative will be rolled out to other UK cities in future seasons.
Pictured top are Jemma Foster, Connor Poulloara, Hamish Bremner, Ounal Bailey, Chris Tanner, Piotrek Bartnik, Greg Almeida, Dean Ellis, Simone Onoratti. Pictured below is Stu Bale.