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 three of this cocktail challenge series, Imbibe visits Heads + Tails...
Garnish: Edible flowers
Method: Build in a highball glass over clear ice and top with soda.
40ml Funkin Lychee-infused Monkey Shoulder Whisky*
15ml Belsazar Rosé Vermouth
5ml Chambord Liqueur
15ml lemon juice
*Combine equal parts of Funkin Lychee Purée and Monkey Shoulder, as well as Pectinex, and leave to separate.
The final stop of the day takes us to Heads + Tails in Hampstead, with its two floors of cocktails, not to mention its sunny garden – the perfect venue to discuss the best drinks to transition into autumn. 'The thing with London is that our summer goes on until the end of September,’ says Calum O’Flynn. And his Highball, incorporating Funkin Lychee Purée, couldn’t be better suited to an Indian summer’s day.
He’s also set out to challenge the perception that whisky-based drinks are masculine and boozy. 'I’ve used some of the most feminine, floral ingredients you can find to create a highball, because that’s the kind of drink I like,’ he explains.
His choice of highball also refers to the Japanese theme behind his drink. 'Lychee is an ingredient that’s used in Japan. I’m going for a twist on that traditional Japanese Highball, and it’s a flavour that works really well with it,’ O’Flynn says. 'Lychee is also one of those ingredients in British bartending, like passion fruit, that when a guest hears about them, they get excited. ‘If I’m trying to steer people towards drinking whisky when they normally wouldn’t, then lychee is a good way to make it more approachable.’
Rather than use the purée directly in the drink, he’s infused it into Monkey Shoulder whisky, then allowed it to separate. Infusing it in this way extracts all the lychee flavours into the whisky, but has the benefit of removing some of the sugar.
'The reason for using purée instead of fresh ingredients, especially with Funkin, is the consistency of the product all year round,’ he says. 'If I squeezed 100 lychees it wouldn’t have the same effect, but you can always guarantee what Funkin Lychee will taste like – and that’s 100% lychee juice.’
He adds Belsazar Rosé Vermouth for its floral notes and Chambord for depth, as well as some lemon juice for balance and brightness, before topping with soda and garnishing with edible flowers. 'It’s such a delicate drink. What’s more delicate than a flower?’ he says.
'You wouldn’t necessarily know this is a whisky drink,’ says Milliken. 'It’s really fresh and delicious. I’m not a big fan of lychee in cocktails, but it works really well here.’
'That method of extracting the lychee flavour is really effective, particularly for this style of drink,’ agrees Cawood. 'And the other components all contribute towards what is a light and delicate, yet interesting drink.’
Also featured as part of the Harvest time cocktail challenge:
Harvest time cocktail challenge - Galvin at Windows
Harvest time cocktail challenge - Opium
Harvest time cocktail challenge - Murder Inc