George Restrepo
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The new gallant generation radiography

George Restrepo

It took a couple of days and to visit some of the most famous bars in Buenos Aires to find out that the Argentinean mixology is more alive than ever.
Today a classic atmosphere can be found in many bars, pub’s corners and on the Cocktail Menu itself. Not only because you can still hear the great historical names of the local mixology but because in the decoration, furniture and even on the same shelves full of old labels you can perceive that vintage feeling. The way the bartenders move and their slow polite gallantry show that even when the young minds know how to reinterpret the classics, the rules set up by the colleagues who built the mixology in the country are present as family seal.
From each bar we visited I learned very valuable things. Reading between lines and recalling the experience, I take three concepts that from my point of view are the ones that are taking the Argentinean mixology to a prominent place:

1. The taste for the classic
Santiago Policastro "Pichín", one of the greatest bartenders in the history of Argentina named "the Gallant Barman", is more present than ever. His famous cocktail Clarito, the national version of the Dry Martini created in 1935, not only has fans but great defenders who work hard in order to remember and not loose these cocktail and is almost a mandatory drink in the drink menus. The media campaign led by Argentinean bartender Fede Cuco named "Save the Clarito" serves as an example.
The classic mixology, mainly dry like the American, finds its perfect audience in the Argentinean public. It’s enough to understand their tradition of drinking mate to know that the Argentine palate is more likely to enjoy drinks little sweet, sour and with botanicals. It is not a coincidence that we can find a lot of products such as herbal waters, flavored water, local herbal infusions, and a long etc. (just to mention a few: Epika, Terma, Levité, Ser, among many others). If we add –together with the classic recipes with modern adaptations, the Speakeasy concept already in the city (Frank’s and 878 for instance), then we know that the climax is ready when the audience understands that the classic can also be modern.

2. Global technique and local product
The current restriction on the imports of products doesn’t stop them to see what is going on out there. The mixology techniques, new trends, cocktail presentations of the best bartenders around the world are well known thanks to the 2.0 communication and are reflected positively. Is when using the products they have, when the Argentinean bartenders must look inside, to the available product in the country. I was told of the existence of more than 15 different Fernet brands produced locally and they have the centenary Hesperidina brand, made with bitter orange peel. They not only have Legui, Pineral, Cynar, Campari and Pernod, among many others on the shelves, but an online club for vermouth lovers and fans called "The Vermouth Club." Moreover, it is worth to mention the rich wine culture and production they have, and I emphasize the native Torrontes wine of local grape and the Malamado, fortified wine dry or sweet, as a corollary in the Cocktails Drink Menu, as a trend of using wine in the mixology.

3. Food pairing without food pairing
Argentina is a land of good meat and good wines. It’s a perfect combination, and the Argentineans are very aware of it; actually, they use it a lot. The wine menus are large and for all tastes. And this gourmet coupage has been taken to bars, where the existence of cocktails and meals is a perfect symbiosis even when it was not conceived as a strict matching.
I found bars where the concept of it was changing during the night: we arrived at a restaurant for dinner and left the same place after a magnificent party, the music and lights were modulated as the same time the main course was replaced by the dessert until the selection of a cocktail was a natural step to do.
An easy way for the mixology is to support itself in a strong gastronomy, as we can find in Argentina. An example of this would be the newly founded A.C.E.L.G.A. (Association of Chefs and Entrepreneurs Linked to the Gastronomy of Argentina), an independent association where there are many owners of the great restaurants that are also, I must say, some of the bars which offer the best combinations. The small businesses also make their contribution; with a small kitchen and a great talent. These places make possible to take a snack anytime. Another example of the power generated when food and drinks are together and where drinking and eating not only benefits the responsible consumption but the cash numbers at the end of the month.

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