My first challenge was the Mediterranean Mastery, and we were asked to create two cocktails inspired by the area surrounding the Mediterranean. I chose to make two quite different cocktails, one based on a country very close to my heart, Greece, and the other on one of my favourite flavour memories of the Med, Rosé wine.
My first drink, Inception Martini, was inspired by Greece and the island of Crete.
Inception meaning Starting point of something, reflects that I started my bartending career in Greece many years ago.
I chose a martini style drink because Dry Martini was one of the first drink I learnt how to make, and still to this day it’s one of my favo drinks to enjoy. And of course, one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of Crete – Olive oil!
65 ml Qlive Oil infused Tanqueray no Ten
15 ml Bianco Vermouth
1 dash Aphrodite Bitters
Stirred on ice, strain into prechilled coctail coupe. Zest the lemon peel over the drink and discard.
I served the drink on a small wooden plate made of olive tree.
With the drink I also had a side snack, a pipette filled with olive oil (same I used to fat wash the gin, from Sitia, Crete) and on it I put a grapefruit segment and a kalamata olive.
While i kept all the classic elements of a martini, (gin, vermouth, lemon/olive) I changed the way they appear in the drink. Fatwashing the T-Ten with olive oil adds a richness to the mouthfeel of the drink, and it gives it a peppery dry finish, which is why I decided to go with a bianco vermouth instead of the dry. I used the Aphrodite (goddess of Love) bitters to get the coffee and chocolate notes, which in my opinion works amazingly to give the drink a long finish.
For my second drink, Wild at Heart, I wanted to capture the feel of my favo tipple from this area ( we were docked just outside St.Tropez at that time) – Rosé wine.
Wild at Heart
45 ml Don Julio Blanco
20 ml Cocchi Americano Rosa
20 ml Pink grapefruit juice
15 ml 8 Brix Red Verjus
1 dash Peychauds Bitter
Sumac and salt rim
Throw the drink with ice, strain into prechilled cocktail coupe with sumac and salt rim. Garnish with edible gold on the stem of the glass.
The easiest way to describe how the drink tastes is to picture this: Imagine if Paloma went on a holiday to the south of France and fell in love with a winemaker. This would be their baby.
The drink is light and refreshing, and it feels almost like sitting down with a nice glass of rosé. Both Don Julio Blanco and Cocchi Americano Rosa has grapefruit notes, so mixing them with fresh grapefruit works really well. The verjus, made from both ice wine grapes, unripe grapes and ripe grapes, is both sweet and sour at the same time and together with the other ingredients gives depth to the drink, keeping it tasty even as the drink warms up a bit while you drink it.
Unfortunately I don’t have any pics of the drinks, but will update if I get hold of some.
Update: I got some pics of my drinks from the lovely Angela Maridaki – Thank you so much!
All images by Ian Gavan/Getty Images ( except the Insta pic I stole from Guri)