For a long time I thought I was a bit of a pro in terms of putting together a good cocktail. I may not have the dexterity to pull off the acrobatics achieved by some bartenders but I was convinced that I knew how to mix and match any spare ingredients left over at a party into something delicious. Now in the presence of a professional, I am shown up to be the amateur that I truly am.
His name is Andrew and he runs three bars in London including the prestigious Loft Bar in Clapham. He is in the middle of preparing a range of drinks appropriate for different seasons. First up is a delicate mimosa type concoction made with pear and mango juice. The soft flavours of the fruit are smoothly balanced with the sharpness of rosé champagne. It’s a drink brilliantly suited to the summer with just the right combination of juice and booze.
I now realise that the thing that separates Andrew from hobbyists like me is the dedication he puts into his ingredients. Whilst I am happy to throw together any combination of spirits and mixers, Andrew maintains a rigorous thoroughness to what goes into his drinks.
For example, his Bloody Mary contains all the familiar ingredients but with his own twist. Pepper, salt, tomato juice, Worcester sauce, Tabasco sauce and vodka are all present along with Andrew’s extra ingredient, pepper and celery juice. It has quite a kick and is ideal for recovering from the evening before.
Another of his creations is the Ginny Vaughan, a variant of one of his earlier drinks. It’s a gin-based drink using the much-underrated grape as a base. Combining the gin, grape juice and elderflower is a masterstroke.
However, Andrew’s creative process is not finished there. His next seasonal delight is a Christmas pudding martini. An ingenious creation, it combines all the flavours one associates with the dish in drink form. Nuts, citrus and fruit are all present, topped off with a smooth layer of cream on top. It was so good that I had to have a second helping, which is not something I’ve often done with the solid form.
Andrew’s display was a masterclass in every sense of the word. The way he went through the creative process explained the reasoning behind his choice of ingredients and why they went well together. Yet despite, being able to follow everything he said, there is no way on earth that I could have replicated the concoctions he put together.
The Cocktail Masterclass took place at:
67 Clapham High Street
Tel: 020 7627 0792