Harvest time cocktail challenge - Opium



22 November 2019

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 two of this cocktail challenge series, Imbibe visits Opium cocktail bar & dim sum parlour...


Glass: Coupette
Lemon balm leaf
Method: Add sorbet to glass. Shake ingredients (except prosecco) over ice and strain. Top with prosecco. Garnish and serve with a spoon.

35ml Fair Quinoa Vodka
25ml Giff ard Rhubarb Liqueur
Scoop of lemon sorbet*
15ml lemon juice
15ml Mondino Amaro

*Combine lemon juice and peels,
water, sugar and sorbet stabiliser.
Boil, chill, then pass through an
ice-cream maker.

Chinatown is our second stop of the day, although it’s not towards Asia but rather France that our second drink tips its hat. That’s because Giffard’s Rhubarb Liqueur is at its heart. Called Setting Sun, the cocktail is the creation of Opium’s Jeremy Pascal. 'The idea was to introduce Giffard Rhubarb, using it in a cocktail that I could place on my list for a few months over the autumn period here at Opium,’ he explains. 'I love the flavour of rhubarb, and the liqueur is really well made.’

Pascal’s main intent behind the cocktail was to create something approachable. 'I wanted to make an aperitif-style drink, rather than something heavier, and to really focus on the rhubarb base. From there, I wanted to balance it with some sour elements, but with a touch of bitterness too,’ he adds.

First, another nod to France as he adds Fair Vodka to the mix as a boozy base. The bitter element is Mondino Amaro, while one of a few sour components comes in the form of a touch of lemon juice.

But the drink’s noteworthy element is a scoop of homemade lemon sorbet, made with both lemon juice and peels, and placed into the coupette before the drink is strained over it. A splash of prosecco finishes things off.

Pascal serves the drink with a spoon, explaining that the customer can choose to either enjoy the sorbet with the drink, or allow it to slowly melt, giving the drink some evolution over time.
'It’s easy-going and you can sell it for a good price as an aperitif,’ he explains. 'I’m even thinking that I could do a funky welcome drink with it – you can play with the size of the serve.’

'That’s a great drink to offer as a trade up on a glass of prosecco,’ Cawood agrees. 'There’s sourness to balance out the sweetness. The rhubarb flavours come out well,’ concludes an impressed Milliken.

Also featured as part of the Harvest time cocktail challenge: 

Stay tuned for more autumnal serves from the cocktail challenge coming soon on imbibe.com

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