Hendrick’s champions the cocktail umbrella

Aaron Jones and Pierre Dos Santos with their winning balloon umbrella
The tiki revival has already seen the cocktail umbrella begin to regain its place in Britain’s bars, but Hendrick’s Gin is taking that revival further – and doing it in its own quirky style. One of the highlights of London Cocktail Week last week was the pop-up bar which took over two floors of an empty shop in Covent Garden, going under the name of the Hendrick’s Unusual Umbrella Emporium.

It featured many of the vintage paraphernalia familiar to anyone who has experienced a Hendrick’s Gin event before, from stuffed animals to bizarre inventions. But the theme this time was a challenge set by Hendrick’s Gin brand ambassador Duncan McRae to eight of London’s top bartenders to design a suitable cocktail and an accompanying umbrella.

By the front door, there was a 3ft umbrella in a chinoiserie style, with a mini pagoda built on top – inspired by the heritage of the Artesian bar at London’s Langham hotel and created by its head bartender, Alex Kratena. His cocktail was called Spontaneity, which involved shaking together Hendrick’s with John D Taylor’s Velvet Falernum, shiso leaf, Peychaud’s Bitters and fresh lime juice and floating some toasted sesame oil on top. We don’t currently have the measures for any of the cocktails but will update this post if they come through.

Marian Beke and Katarina Mazani of The Nightjar in Old Street created a small double umbrella, with edging based on a hawthorn strainer and a handle made from a vintage bar spoon. Their cocktail was the Chai Ti, which featured Hendrick’s infused with chai tea made of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, plus myrrh-smoked honey syrup and Bangladesh aromatic lime juice. The ingredients were cooled with dry ice (or Marian says they can be rolled between two tea pots). It should be served in two small tea glasses with an almond milk air floated on top, made from either egg white or lecithin.

Erik Lorincz with his umbrella and Croquet Club Cobbler
The two cocktails I was able to sample on Saturday were interesting and also tasted great. The American Bar’s head bartender Erik Lorincz, who created an umbrella called The Savoy Atrium (pictured), came up with the delicious Croquet Club Cobbler. This mixed Hendrick’s with fino dry sherry, St-Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh lemon juice, fresh pineapple juice and caster sugar, served in a goblet over ice and garnished with seasonal fruit and a strip of cucumber.

The other one I tried was the Tea in the Rain, created by Ryan Chetiyawardana from The Worship Street Whistling Shop in Shoreditch, whose accompanying invention was the Punch Bowl Umbrella. His cocktail was built using Hendrick’s, black tea, cucumber gomme syrup, The Balvenie DoubleWood, slices of lemon and orange and mint sprigs. He describes his method as allowing “icy water to drip through the atmosphere onto the ingredients, chilling, diluting and mixing them” and then decanting it through the handle of his punch-bowl umbrella.

Ago Perrone making the Curious Green Lady
Thor Bergquist from Experimental Cocktail Club in Chinatown created the New Black cocktail: Hendrick’s, pressed cucumber water, agave nectar and raw galanger syrup. The cocktail from Miriam Lorendova from Quo Vadis in Soho was called One Week With Mr Hendrick’s and combined the gin with lime juice, elderflower cordial, cucumber juice, crème de violette, Tabasco and egg white.

Ago Perrone of the Connaught Bar at the Connaught Hotel created the Curious Green Lady cocktail, which mixed the gin with Galliano L’Autentico, Mozart Dry chocolate spirit, a barspoon of Matcha Green Tea, yuzu juice mix, sugar syrup and egg white. Shaken and strained into a coupette cocktail glass, it was garnished with three petals of a red rose. Ago explained that his drink sought “to capture this quintessentially British scene using tea and a herbal liqueur to carefully balance dryness, freshness and the delicate spirit that is Hendrick’s gin”.

Cucumbrella Cup winners Pierre Dos Santos and Aaron Jones
But the winners of the Cucumbrella Cup competition – in a “tightly voted” contest – were Aaron Jones and Pierre Dos Santos from Salvatore’s bar at the Playboy club. They created the helium-filled Balloon Umbrella (pictured top) and the Phileas Fogg cocktail, inspired by Jules Verne’s classic Around the World in Eighty Days. This drink mixed the gin with Akashi Tai genmai aged sake, Thorncroft nettle cordial, Adam Elmegirab ‘s Dandelion & Burdock Bitters and a thin twist of cucumber flesh and skin, garnished with the leaf of urtica dioica (nettle) or a floating camomile flower.

As well as buying the eight cocktails at the Emporium, visitors could claim a free gin and tonic if they entered a colouring-in competition to design an umbrella decoration. Coloured crayons were on hand, and bartenders expected a high level of artistic ability – or at least more than just a quick Biro scribble.

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