The seasons turn and with them so do the cocktail ingredients and the styles of drink that dominate bars. Imbibe called on bartenders from four top London bars to each team up with a brand and create an autumnal serve with comforting notes of spices and dried fruits, incorporating some fresher flavours to help the transition from the warmer months.
The bartenders were tasked with creating a serve that not only draws on autumn for inspiration, but also on the heritage of a particular cocktail ingredient, ending up with a broad international spread covering Greece, France, Italy and Japan. The drinks on the resulting bar tour spanned everything from stirred-down Martini twists to new takes on the beloved Espresso Martini, using ingredients including sorbets, ice creams, homemade liqueurs and reductions, and much more.
In part one of this cocktail challenge series, Imbibe visits Galvin at Windows...
Garnish Lemon zest, discarded
Method Stir and strain.
45ml Strawbar Origin
10ml Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry Dry
15ml Roots Kanela Liqueur
15ml saffron and champagne reduction*
*Reduce champagne to a third and
add a pinch of saffron.
First stop of the day, with its remarkable views of London, is the freshly refurbished Galvin at Windows at the top of the Hilton Park Lane.
Like the venue’s brand-new decor, the day’s first headline ingredient is yet to be fully unveiled to the world. Strawbar is a range of eaux-de-vie produced entirely from single-origin strawberries from Greece. These spirits capture a side of this fruit that is seldom, if ever, found in other strawberry-flavoured products, and their lack of sweetness gives them a particular versatility.
The range currently consists of the double-distilled Strawbar Origin and the triple-distilled Strawbar Platinum.
Galvin’s Sergio Jiménez has opted for Origin for his drink, Strawbaganza. 'I started out thinking of a Martini-style drink – I wanted to make something that wasn’t super-sweet – so started stirring just Strawbar and vermouth, and then adding more complexity,’ he explains.
The first of these additional elements for complexity is cinnamon liqueur Roots Kanela, added not only for its shared Greek origins with Strawbar, but for its compatible – and autumnal – flavour.
'It adds some spice that goes really well with the strawberry,’ Jiménez explains.
Next up is a home-made champagne and saffron reduction, which adds complexity and a remarkable colour too.
'I think the Strawbar has a grapey note towards the end of the palate, so I was thinking that adding dry vermouth was a winner for sure. Then the champagne in the reduction brings more grape too,’ comments Jiménez.
The combination has no shortage of strawberry eau-de-vie notes, but does indeed benefit from the additional ingredients, making for a complex yet refreshing cocktail. On tasting it, Imbibe
acting editor Millie Milliken declares it 'not sweet at all, with the strawberry notes really coming through’.
'It has a great texture, and then the saffron really comes out on the dry finish – and it looks amazing too,’ says journalist Clinton Cawood. Expect more spirits like Strawbar Origin
and Platinum from the recently established Phi Group, starting with a forthcoming aged expression Strawbar Gold.
Stay tuned for more autumnal serves from the cocktail challenge coming soon on imbibe.com