By Alwynne Gwilt.
Heston Blumenthal step aside: someone new has beat you to the punch! Well, not someone, per se, but a group of people; those people creating the latest trend in London's bar scene: savoury cocktails!
“Savoury cocktails?” you ask. “Really?” you continue.
Yep, that's right. From Bacon and Egg martinis to ones using a hint of gorgonzola to freshen you up before a night out, the savoury cocktail is hitting quirky bar shelves faster than you can say: holy (smoking-nitrogen-infused) moley!
So where might one purvey this type of savoury treat?
Well, first off, there's the ever-delectable London Cocktail Club in Fitzrovia. They're whipping up a whole load of flavoursome treats in their drinks, including the aforementioned breakfasty martini, an '80s party-favourite cheese and pineapple cocktail, and a strange sounding squid ink sour. You can even get an App for that, by iPhone-ing them in the store under "London Cocktail Club".
Meanwhile, this past summer saw a whole host of new players try out the savoury sauce: Prism Bar (near Bank) put together a mustard cocktail collection with a new mustard vodka from the Sipsmith Distillery; Pearl Restaurant & Bar in Holborn showcased its salty side through its recent pop-up Salad Bar, where tasters tried drinks like the Waldorf, made from walnut vodka, celery, apples and grapes; and, Michelin starred chef Jason Atherton is trying out one in his new cocktail bar The Social Room (a part of the Pollen Street Social restaurant) called the Gorgonzola Olive martini.But another group which is taking things even further is Neo bar, near Barbican, which is not only making a savoury cocktail, but savoury cocktails that are actually GOOD FOR YOU!
I'm surprised the Atkins people or the Department of Health hadn't caught onto this idea before!
Neo bar’s owner, Sonny Johal, told me he wanted to create something for his bar that would have some positive, rather than the negative, connotations often associated with alcohol consumption (ahem: listen up, Department of Health).
"You can have it as a one-off; it's interesting and quirky," he told me.
So what goes into the salubrious drink that the bar advertises as its Thinking Man's Cocktail?
Well, the Belvedere Brainbox contains your five-a-day, and gets you a bit tipsy at the same time. What's not to like? It comprises tasty ingredients such as smoked salmon, avocado, sage, broccoli, egg white and green tea. Oh, and of course, some smooth sipping Belvedere vodka.
Yes, smoked salmon and broccoli, in a drink.
Okay, so it's not very traditional, but I can honestly say it is very tasty. The cocktail is smooth, cool and refreshing. The smoked salmon adds a slight oiliness, but not one that is in the least bit off-putting, while the avocado makes it creamy. And, far from being super salty, the cocktail is actually a bit sweet, due to the green tea and sage. It is, in short, a surprising delight.
But, with award-winning mixologist Andy Pearson at the creation helm, it's no surprise this is going to be good.
We here at Fluid London are - as always - big fans of the cocktail, and the fact there may be some room for health in that equation makes it an even more exciting proposal. We can only hope more folks start trying these crazy concoctions. There's always room for experimentation.
Neo bar’s Belvedere Brainbox is available after 4pm at a cost of £15.