If ever we needed a reminder of just how much cocktail-tastic talent we have in our London bars (not that we need one of course) then the recent little get together in the Paramount Bar at the top of Centre Point provided it.
The event in question was Bols ‘Show Your Colours’ and the talent on show hailed from Callooh Callay, The American Bar at The Savoy, Roast, Paramount, London Cocktail Club, Gilbert Scott, The Connaught, Lab, Rules and Artesian.
The brainchild of the debonair Mr John Clay, Lucas Bols Brand Ambassador, the idea was not to have a competition between bartenders but rather a celebration of their collective skills. And that’s exactly what we got. Moreover, thanks to the mood being so relaxed that it was practically horizontal and the fact that everyone was clearly having such a good time, it felt like we’d been invited to a party where the majority of the guests just happened to be the very best London bartenders.
During the afternoon we got to taste re-imagined classics, unusual ingredients, even more unusual serves and some downright Grade-A creativity. And they were all very tasty indeed.
Charged with using either the classic Bols Genever or the family’s new baby, Bols Natural Yoghurt Liqueur, the bartenders could go wherever their imagination took them. And believe us, their collective imaginations took us so far we felt we should have brought our passports along.
This afternoon of cocktail delights included (in order of appearance):
Ian McIntyre, Simon Toohey and Elliot Davies served up a range of drinks including their recipe for the best pun of the day ‘Yogurt To Be Kidding’ (Bols Genever, Bols Natural Yoghurt Liqueur and mulled wine cordial) served in an actual yogurt pot.
The American Bar at The Savoy
Tom Walker told us how he had taken inspiration from The Savoy Cocktail Book from the 1930s to create a spin on the Aviation with his ‘Holland House’ (Bols Genever, lemon juice, dry vermouth, pineapple juice and maraschino).
Marek Kusniarski and Sebastien Guesdon got incredibly intricate, cutting countless tiny stars from lemon peel to add a sparkly garnish to their ‘Twinkle Stars’ (Bols Genever, Sherry Don PX and lemon juice).
Jiri Majerik was inspired by the location of his bar at the top of Centre Point for the name of his ‘Altitude Adjuster’ (Bols Genever, Kummel, Galliano Balsamico, lemon juice, sugar syrup and fresh celery stalk).
London Cocktail Club
Andy Mil served his ‘Powershake’ (Earl Grey-infused Bombay Sapphire, Bols Natural Yogurt Liqueur, ginger bread syrup, Coco Lopez and egg white) in a baby bottle complete with teat if you don’t mind and constructed his ‘Cold As Bols’ (Bols Genever, cinnamon and vanilla-infused white wine and butterscotch syrup) in a snow globe – replacing the water with his liquid ingredients and replicating snow with edible silver flakes. Oh, and he served it with sweets, sprinkled it with sugar, put it in a box and wrapped it up in Christmas paper.
Dav Eames went for the subtle treatment with his ‘Trade Winds’ (Bols Genever, gunpowder tea, rosemary, homemade ginger syrup, nutmeg, lemon, cardamom and clove), while Sam Dinsdale went for drama with her ‘George’s Smash’ (Makers Mark Bourbon, pineapple bourbon infusion, lime juice, mint leaves, frozen pineapple steeped in bourbon syrup), served with a square of toasted marshmallow.
Rusty Cerven used the yogurt influence to give a breakfast vibe to his ‘All Day Morning’ (Bols Natural Yoghurt Liqueur, Maker’s Mark, Sauternes, apricot puree and grated tonka bean on top).
Chris Lacey-Malvern delivered big boys classic style drinks including ‘The Cardinal Sin’ (Black Grouse, Bols Natural Yoghurt Liqueur, visciolata del cardinal, Xocotal Mole bitters).
Artesian at The Langham Hotel
Simone Caporale and Rudi Carraro (aka Super Rorro) watched over by Alex Kratena, built a garnish that kept on giving for their ‘PainKilla’ (Bols Genever infused with nutmeg, Artesian citrus mix no.4, Bols Natural Yoghurt Liqueur, Disarrono, sugar syrup and Peychaud’s Bitters). Served in an elegant John Jenkins punch glass, they added an elaborate Mexican swizzle stick, then some Pandan leaves and a passion fruit shell. Then came the crocodile’s head, yep, that’s right, a crocodile’s head into the jaw of which was slipped a miniature bottle of Bols Genever. Game over? Not quite. Trigger the Disaronno aromatic cloud.
And the tenth bar? Well, that was Lab who pumped up the volume with their reimagined Disco Drink.
Yesiree, that was some afternoon. It was very good fun and incredibly creative but it wasn’t style over substance. As we said before these drinks ticked all the boxes taste-wise too.
In keeping with the ethos of the event not being a competition but a celebration, we’re not singling out any one bartender, bar or cocktail as our favourite. Instead it just makes us very glad to know that all this talent is plying its trade right here in the capital. Another Gold for London.
Find out more about Bols Genever and Bols Liqueurs at: www.bols.com
And find details of the bars at: