Twas the night before her birthday, an evening enshrouded in magical intrigue and open ended possibilities, where drinks would dance across the waiting tables, with a flair in their step, surrounded by a blanket of futuristic steam, riotous colour and space debris. The veil between past, present and future had blurred in an infinite journey between space and time, where the clock hands stopped ‘ticking’ frozen in a moment, and sensory experiences were paused in between wonderment and confusion, a psychological feast for the senses. For Quaglino’s was no ordanairy bar, no hum drum ‘escapist venue’ where you plunge into alcohols murky waters; Quaglino’s was an enlightening journey into the ‘science of sustainability’, where cocktails and ‘science’ collided in one mystical narrative of educational fun. There was a thought provoking three part systematically structural menu that elevated pre-notions of past, present and future, in Science, pin-pointing social issues like ‘global warming and Climate Change’ through the medium of ‘drinks’. You listen entranced by the cocktails that drip off your tongue like honey, textures changing, colours elevating, steam and smoke surrounding your table like a Halloween Dream.
In Quaglino’s ‘journey through Cocktail Land’ there is endless wonder ; you listen entranced by Bar Manager Marco Sangion and Head Mixologist Federico Pasian’s creative menu, which aims to explain the ‘sustainability of cocktails’ through a visual experience, as well as a journey of taste and flavour. You begin feet firmly planted in the past, forgoing the ‘Roaring 20’s’ glamour of Quaglino’s establishment, which was founded in 1929 and landing in a past where grandeur and glamour disappear in a storm whirl, and in it’s place are the cocktails ‘Roots’ and ‘Lets Be Clear’ which eloquently set out the menu’s narrative by pinpointing the key factors in human history that have contributed to global warming. In ‘Let’s Be Clear’ a 1976 Santa Theresa, mixed with a honey-esque concoction of vanilla and cinnamon, clear milk, bitters and finished off with lemon,gold and nutmeg, the past is uncertain, hesitant on the lips, a refreshing cocktail that plunges down your throat without re-compensation. There is a slight promise of turbulent storms , an allegorical allusion to darker changes ahead, but for now the drink is light and ripe with positivity, a sunshine drink among an army of bitters.
‘Roots’ is more bitter on the tongue, sharp in contrast to ‘Lets Be Clear’ a cocktail that pays homage to the’leftovers in the food world’, the parts that get left behind. It urges, nay implores you to look beyond the flavour and taste profile of a cocktail that you sip in a bar and into its backstory; where was it made? How Sustainable is the drink in question. Roots is a rarity, a drink that catches you by surprise with its vestal potato vodka intermixed with lemon, kummel, ginger, All Spice Green Chartreuse and tonic water, emphasizing the clarity and purity of the ingredients used. Could the lemon be an emblem for a purer more sustainable world? Where we go back to our ‘roots’ and be more forgiving towards Mother Nature? The menu then addresses the ‘present’ modern world and our need for ‘sustainability’, accentuating the issues around global warming and climate change in society today, before moving briskly to the future where Quaglino’s looks into technological and scientific advances that will produce a greener, more sustainable world for us all, as exemplified by drinks like ‘Tornado’ and ‘Rocket’ which become the unlikely ambassadors of Quaglino’s new sustainable menu, available from the 24th September.
The Tornado and The Rocket fascinate you the most, both emblems of a future characterized by stormy destruction and technological augmentation. There is The Tornado, lovingly doused with Hennessey Fine de Cognac, 10-year-old Madeira, Quaglia Liquore di Camomilla, 30’40,Grapefruit and ‘Clouds’, a visual and sensory exploration of ‘power’ that has spiraled out of control . But there is hope too, out of the steam that clouded the ‘The Tornado’ in ashy clouds comes a drink that is both powerful and mighty, standing tall and proud among its smaller competitors. Strong to taste, it warms your belly in a flurry of flavours, sour base notes mixed with a heavier tasting profile of cognac, filled to the brim with strength. According to Canadian engineer Louis Michaud, the average 100mph tornado can generate up to 10 megawatt-hours of power, about the same as a large utility plant, but determines he has figured a way to trap a twister and make it spin indefinitely, generating a cheap, virtually limitless source of energy. The Tornado at Quaglino’s therefore is not a representation of the destruction that it can cause in it’s murderous wake, but rather a nod to a more sustainable future, where climate change can be used for the power of good, which in this case is a cheaper energy source, without needing to use non-renewable energy supplies like fossil fuel, that has been fueling our homes for generations.
The Rocket is more of a symbol of ‘scientific progression’ as opposed to ‘Climate Change’, an allusion to the significance of Rockets being used throughout history, from the first rocket being invented around 1100 AD in China to the expansion of ‘rocket engineering’ in the 1930’s and 40’s. Quaglino’s version of ‘The Rocket’ is a firecracker, made with Johnny Walker Blue Label, Coconut Soda, Enoki, Oleo, Sacchrum and Islay Perfume, another drink that towers over the rest. It explodes with taste in your mouth, but it is the implications of ‘The Rocket’ that touches your heart the most, with a predominant focus on ‘space pollution’ as humanity’s ‘next big problem’ , alluding to ‘congestion in space’ and how, space pioneers like Jason Held, (former lieutenant) created a device to eliminate ‘space pollution’. Called the ‘Drag En’ this device can be attached to spacecrafts and satellites, which in turn unspools hundred of meters of string made of a conductive material that gathers electric and magnetic forces as it travels through the earth’s magnetic field.
While Quaglino’s undoubtedly blurs the boundaries between ‘the future, past and present’ with its focus on ‘the preservation of sustainability’ Quaglino’s Bar has also teamed up with Hunger Project UK and food waste collection service, Indie Ecology, and made sure that every aspect of the menu not only raises social awareness, not only demands social responsibility for our actions, but also lowers wastage, with metal and pasta made straws instead of plastic that harms our creatures habitats. Vitamin Sea is a cocktail that is a good example of pioneering environmental change, with its emphasis on raising awareness around the dangers of plastic consumption in the oceans; plastic decomposes very slowly and is often mistaken as being ‘food by marine animals’. Consequently these poor creatures, are left struggling for breath, as high concentrations of plastic garbage block the breathing passages of turtles, dolphins and more which can sometimes result in impending death. As a result even Vitamin Sea, whose name evokes ‘Tropical sunsets’ uses local and organic products to reduce transportation costs, as well as creating a menu that is made entirely out of recycled materials.
Last year Quaglino’s created a menu that was focused on exploring the history of its 1920’s establishment, and this year it has endeavored to champion social and environmental responsibility, from root infused drinks that symbolize deforestation, to futuristic bespoke serves that represent the mounting problem of space debris. Using unusual ingredients and thoughtful flavour combinations that are matched by ingenious presentation, Quaglino’s has gone above and beyond your typical ‘cocktail bar’ to create a menu that is as thought provoking as it is delicious to taste. An exploratory feast for the senses, combined with a desire to empower it’s consumers, as well as educating them on the world around them, makes Quaglino’s a school of ‘learning’ that will have you begging for more. Question is what’s your cocktail of choice?
What Are Your Thoughts On Increasing Sustainability In The Cocktail Market?
Please note I was given this experience in exchange for this post but all thoughts are my own and are not affected by complimentary services.