Enough of the historical stuff – here are some fresh ideas to get the bartending ball rolling, says Marcis Dzelzainis
Where do we go from here?’ It is probably the most pertinent question for bartenders today. Collectively we have reclaimed our past, pinpointing the origins of the Mojito, the Daiquiri, the Sazerac and much more besides. This doesn’t strike me as enough, though. We are, by nature, inquisitive, inventive, spontaneous people, always searching for the exotic, not because we enjoy it in itself but (truly) because it fascinates our guests. Embury summed it up when he said there are just two types of drinks: Sour and Aromatic. Some think that they have transcended these limitations with liquid nitrogen, foams, caviars, explosions and barrel ageing, but under scrutiny their collective claims of liberation feel hollow. What follows is not a list of drinks, but more a collection of ingredients. The drinks they should be drunk in have not been invented yet. I leave that to you.
Garnish: Lime twist
Method: Build over cubed ice, stir, top with more ice, add soda water, and stir again.
35ml fresh lemon juice
15ml yuzu juice (non-salted)
25ml gomme (2:1)
Lemon Barley Water
Garnish: Lemon slice
Method: Build in highball over cubed ice, starting with gomme and lemon juice, stir to dilute and mix, top with barley water and stir again.
75ml barley water
15ml gomme (2:1)
50ml orange juice
25ml fresh lemon juice
Wild Rooibos Tea
Glass: Tea cup
Method: Add tea to the teapot, boil water to 80°C (no more), leave to infuse for two minutes and strain into tea cup.
1tsp of wild rooibos tea
200ml water boiled to 80ºC
Glass: Small porcelain bowl
Garnish: The kombu can be eaten afterwards
Method: Cut kombu into two strips, soak in cold water for 30 minutes, then gently bring to the boil. Once the water is at boiling point, take off the heat, let sit for 10 minutes and strain.
8 inch kombu seaweed
Homemade Ginger Ale
Garnish: Orange slice
Method: Mix ingredients in a 2-litre plastic bottle (allowing one inch for carbonation), seal and shake gently to mix. Leave in a warm, dark place to ferment (24-48 hours), shaking every four hours. Chill and serve.
250g caster sugar
10g freshly grated ginger
2g bakers yeast
50ml fresh lemon juice
1,688ml mineral water
Method: Add cocoa nibs to water, add chopped chilli with seeds, add vanilla pods with a slit down the length of the pod. Bring to the boil, let simmer for a couple of minutes, let stand and strain. Leave to chill.
200g cocoa nibs
1 red chilli chopped
2 vanilla pods
Santa Chupitos, Liverpool
To a large extent this article has been about experimenting with new ingredients, and to this end many Japanese ingredients are extremely challenging and interesting to the Western palate. A lot less focused on the sweet/savoury distinction that has come to define the majority of Western cuisine, Japanese cuisine often introduces savoury elements to desserts, and vice versa, making it a useful source of inspiration for new flavour combinations. If you are looking at incorporating yuzu or similarly hard-to-obtain products into your drinks, Tazaki is a great supplier for all traditional Japanese fare.
Beachbum Berry Remixed: A Gallery of Tiki Drinks
As you may have guessed, I’m a big fan of the underdog – I like to think that I’m more rebel alliance than galactic empire. If I take this analogy to its natural conclusion, then Happiness Forgets is Alderaan (does that make The Savoy the Death Star?).
Anyway, the point being that Monsieur Alastair Burgess (of Pegu Club and Quo Vadis fame) has done a damn fine job of opening a cracking little bar in Hoxton, with great music and a simple and accessible drinks list, that’s full of inventive house twists on classic mixed drinks, and all of this done on a shoe-string budget.
It proves, once and for all, that the bartender makes the bar and not the other way round. In other words, you don’t need a separate fridge for your garnishes, or a specially-devised sink that is also chopping board, hairdryer and bin at the same time. Well done, squire!
8-9 Hoxton Square, N1 6NU; 020 7613 0325;
5–11pm every night; happinessforgets.com