FERMENTATION - THAT SWEET SPOT BETWEEN RICHNESS AND ROT - IS THE NEXT FRONTIER OF COCKTAIL EXPERIMENTATION.
It makes perfect sense to partner fermented ingredients with alcohol – no matter how fine the spirit, beer or wine, it was once a bubbling gaseous cesspit of science too.
At Ryan Chetiyawardana and Ian Griffiths’ Dandelyan they have the Concrete Sazerac – a mix of cognac, fermented Peychaud’s, absinthe and concrete – while at Little Red Door there’s a cocktail with fermented passion fruit.
Bar manager Mark Scott explains more: “The inspiration stemmed from our team training and trying to give the guys a real insight into the processes behind spirit production.
"Also, since moving to Paris I have got very interested in the craft beer scene, which has lead us to start experimenting with what is probably the most important aspect of beer production – fermentation.”
But fermented ingredients shouldn’t be shoehorned into a cocktail – they have to fit the spirit.
Scott says: “We detected a tropical, citrussy note in tequila Calle 23 Blanco and, with passion fruits being at their best in France over the autumn and winter, it seemed like something to play with.
"The fermented aspect came when a simple syrup was too sweet and the tequila has a raw agave note which links to the fermented ‘twang’ in the syrup.”
At sister bar Lulu White, they are working with kombucha (fermented tea). “We have not yet cemented anything for the spring/summer menus but we are hoping to supply both LRD and Lulu White with a homemade lapsang tea kombucha,” says Scott.
In the Nordic countries, fermentation is nothing new. At newly opened Copenhagen bar Balderdash, owner Geoffrey Canilao would ferment his staff, if they would allow. His fermented Bloody Mary is pictured above.
“I’m fermenting anything that contains sugar and starch from celery and fruits to chillies. Fermentation brings a lot to a cocktail. The cocktail industry is just scratching the surface on what we can do with it by circumventing citrus juices and increasing the umami value.
“I wouldn’t say Nordic food culture started this but it influences us to explore old techniques. It is no different to making kimchee or sauerkraut, which has been done for hundreds of years, but new techniques can isolate products for their pure flavours and dense nutritional value.”