High up on level 40 of Heron Tower, Rich Woods, head of spirit and cocktail development at The Duck & Waffle, is pushing things forward in the field of sustainable drinking with a new menu of delicious and elegant serves: Origins.
Taking the previous menu concept of Urban Decay one step further, Woods and his team this time not only make use of products which would otherwise be discarded, but turn their attention to the separate components of these ingredients, in order to create drinks which showcase the various layers of flavour you can find in just one element.
Cocktails are simply titled for the plant which takes centre stage – the exception being the Earth cocktail – with offerings such as Lime, Walnut, Coffee and Tomato. A combination of infusions, home-made distillates and cordials are used to deconstruct the core ingredients – squeezing out the essences of their various parts – and then mixed to create drinks which get down to the heart and soul of their namesakes.
‘Everyone loves avocado, but everyone throws away the skin and the stone,’ says head bartender Massimiliano Terrile, giving an example of how these cocktails are born. ‘We found a way to re-use them – we make an avocado liqueur from the stone and the skin, and then add prosecco.’ Avocado also features Bacardi Carta Blanca rum and is finished off with ‘super dry’ avocado pit bitters. The result is a crystal clear cocktail which retains the rich buttery quality of avocado, cut through with the bubbles and tartness of the prosecco.
Each and every drink shares this level of care and attention, leading with a no-waste ethos which results in a new multi-layered expression of the libation’s origin.
Highlights included Olive – an Americano created with infusions of Kalamata and Nocellara olive seeds and leaves, finished off with olive branch bitters. It had all the light refreshment of a classic Americano, with a roundness and depth from the olive elements that just kept on giving.
Coconut, an Old Fashioned-style drink, led with smoky notes and gave way to rich, bounty-esque naughtiness. Terrile explains how Monkey Shoulder whisky is used to extinguish burning coconut hair and combined with coconut reduction and toasted coconut husk bitters.
Strawberry is another example of how these guys just won’t let anything go. Once the strawberries have been infused with the wine base, they are fermented to make a strawberry cordial (with leftovers used for strawberry puree) and even the green tops and stems of the strawberries go into the bitters which adds the finishing touch. What looks at first like a glass of rosé starts with a full-on strawberry aroma, translating into much greater complexity and just enough acidity on the palate.
Woods explains that this level of resourcefulness comes from a close working relationship with the kitchen. He began to move things in this direction when, working on the pass, he noticed just how many ingredients were thrown away, even if conscientiously. Banana skins, for example, featured in the previous menu.
‘So the ideas have been around for a while,’ he says. ‘Urban decay came from looking at what products society deemed wasteful. Origins comes from understanding how we can extract from one element multiple times.’
With the added bonus of wonderful hospitality, it’s the kind of clean, green imbibing that we just can’t get enough of.