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Imagen Basic Creative Mixology Manual implemented - Part I

Basic Creative Mixology Manual implemented - Part I

George Restrepo

Since I started working behind the bar I felt the need to structure, to conceptualize a way of working as I used to work during my years in advertising agencies, where I had to put on paper, as a set of rules, mental structures to help me find the formula to break the mold.
From that adventure through the advertising world it became clear that the idea is everything. First you find the idea, then comes the rest.

Mixology, in my opinion, looks more and more to what I used to like by those advertising years: mixing ideas and concepts in order to surprise, to be memorable and to break the mold. Well, to expose some of these rules I normally use I found a practical example -spontaneous or consciously-applied - of how to make creative cocktails: the new Cocktail Menu of Slow Barcelona. A menu that comes after three months of work by the maste Paco Bretau where his knowledge and experience of over 30 years as a bartender are applied, and Franky Galera -Bar General Manager-, with extensive experience behind nightclubs and even though novel in mixology already making a difference.
Both, The Shaken Brothers as they call themselves, are a bomb. Mixing classic and irreverent, a explosive and creative combination. The result: 18 cocktails, an inspiration well linked and structured, suitable for everyone. Come, see, taste and judge yourself!

6 rules applied to the Cocktail Menu of Slow Barcelona

Rule #1: Tell a story
idea + story + recipe = memorable cocktail
Paco and Franky had as starting point to work with local spices and botanicals, and focused on Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea. With this premise arises also the choice of some products, the way they were going to prepare the presentation and also the twist of some classics.
Choosing a city is comparable to an art exhibition: the curator' eye is the creator of the exhibition, not the artist. This means that the importance of the elements chosen "paintings" or "recipes" is what shapes the "exhibit" or "Menu" as a whole, and not a single paint or cocktail separately.

De Algeciras a Estambul cocktail (from Algeciras to Istanbul)
The name of the cocktail presentes a mental journey from Algeciras (city located in southern Spain) to Istanbul (Turkey). And includes 5 glasses on a chessboard. The cocktail consists of 4 shots, and are an invitation to talk, to play, and drink, and even to think. Chess is proposed as a power and strategy game, and each flavor might even evoke trans-Mediterranean areas. The Sour are smoked, herbaceous, citrus, as a journey of flavors that could find similarities with places, ports or islands. A cocktail that can generate a historical talk about the Romans who took this geopolitical route, up to the spice route of later centuries. Or the name of the cocktail which is present in the lyrics of Joan Manuel Serrat song The Mediterranean:

Que en la piel tengo el sabor / That I have in the skin the bitter flavor
amargo del llanto eterno / of eternal weeping
Que han vertido en ti 100 pueblos / That you have poured into 100 villages
de Algeciras a Estambul / from Algeciras to Istanbul
Para que pintes de azul / So you can paint in blue
tus largas noches de invierno / your long winter nights

What is clear is that having a chessboard as coasters, won't  be unnoticed.

Rule #2: Surprise
Surprise at least 3 of my 5 senses
A drink tasting starts with the visual part where we see the type of liquid, thus we can define the color, turbidity, density. For cocktails, it will show the texture, ingredients and if the tone is nice. The next step is the nose stage, which aromas we can find, fresh notes, smoky, spicy, etc.. And finally comes the taste, what flavor notes found in the mixture.
But gentlemen, we came to this cocktail bar to have fun and to taste surprising cocktails, therefore, what else is there? Smoke, air, foam, the vessel, the atmosphere, the music and the presentation of the bartender are variables that make the difference in a cocktail. If the cocktail is good, it doesn't matter the glass, the cocktail is going to be good. But if the cocktail is good, the vessel surprises, it comes with some show and the bartender is a genius, the customer will not return alone.

Barbe-Rouge Captain
Smoked cocktail with whisky, Italian vermouth and Pedro Ximenez. A mixture of several corners where Captain Barbe-Rouge probably made his way as a pirate. A cocktail that evokes pirates times where they drank the stolen whisky and the atmosphere was clouded with gunpowder. We would then say that it's almost a movie cocktail (Whisky Johnnie Walker Platinum, Laphroaig Whisky, Carpano Formula Antica Vermouth, Maple Syrup, Pedro Ximenez, roasted applesauce, Laphroaig smoke.)

The Pitiusa cocktail
The Pituisas are the Balearic Islands recognized as the pearl of the Mediterranean and where relaxation and luxury take place every summer. The glass gold painted and the use of Ysabel Regina wink at the exclusivity relating the cocktail with the islands. To prepare the cocktail a tool that not all bars have the luxury of having as the liquid nitrogen to finish it with a frozen lemon meringue (Ysabel Regina, lemon juice, Bénédictine, rhubarb bitters, Lemon meringue).

Stromboli cocktail
An Aegean island gives it name to this cocktail that is characterized by the constantly activity of its volcano. The fire in mixology is always an attractive tool especially when your intention is to highlight the flavors as in this case, where it will slowly burning the rosemary garnish giving the aroma to the glass and generating feelings that will blend with the flavors present in cocktail (red Vermouth, Rye Whiskey, Catalan Brandy, Lime Cordial, Bitter Lemon, orange liqueur Slow).

Rule # 3: Stage
A glass should not always be a glass container.
An anecdote in the portal Mujerhoy.com (in Spanish 9/8/12) related to the topic tell that when Elena Arzak returned to Juan Mari, her father, to work in the famous restaurant Arzak, she did it full of fresh ideas and proposals. And some of them were about the stage of the dishes, to propose some special vessels according to the culinary dishes. I quote from the interview: -I said, "Why don't we give joy to the dishes?" And then he started to buy tableware and design them ... even the chef had to say: "Juan Mari, you're going to make me crazy, do not bring more dishes because we have no where to put them." -

Sun and shadow cocktail
This is a very simple and quite common cocktail in the cafes and bars of Spain, being Shadow the brandy and aniseed the Sun served in the same proportions. In Slow this cocktail was reviewed and reformulated. Paco as being a lover of the classics and together with Franky with the idea of ​​reviving it in a different way, the took literally the cocktail to the scene where Sun and Shadow arises: a bullring. Where the anise and brandy also mix like social classes (which gives the sun) versus those who prefer the shadow. The dish, which I foresee already selling records as souvenir, is a creation by the Slow team (Sherry Brandy marinated with anise star and green anise, lemon and orange skins, absinthe bitters, served with anisetes).

Bloody Orchard cocktail
Now I see bloodys everywhere, and I love all versions! In this case, a version of the Bloody Mary with the Mediterranean menu hallmark. Well, the staging of this cocktail is an orchard in a small bath tub where fits all the salad that the Gin & Tonics in the city reject. With spicy fair enough to ask for another and another without stopping. A cocktail without fear of being called Gazpacho but with the detail to be well made and impeccably served (Vertical vodka, tomato water and celery, tomato juice, basil, virgin oil foam and spice).

Costa Brava cocktail
A cocktail presented in a seashell with Mediterranean products, from the gin to the skin using orange marmalade. Inspired by the Mediterranean Sea of the north Catalan coast where the sea is rough. The container is surprising (Gin Mare, lemon syrup, fir syrup, bitter orange marmalade, bitter laurel, sugar, cranberries, currants, fresh rosemary and sage).

II part of this article here.

© Photo courtesy Slow Barcelona

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