When movers and shakers in the cocktail world want to know what’s hot in drinks they look to Simone Caporale.
Caporale, 30, once voted the best bartender in the world, was the maestro mixologist behind the award-winning Artesian Bar for several years and now spends his time travelling all over the place as a brand ambassador, guest bartender and general spirits expert spotting trends and educating the industry.
One of his latest projects in London is revamping the cocktail list at classic Mayfair hotspot Quaglino’s, where the handsome Italian has introduced a punchy new seasonal drinks menu and has been throwing masterclasses in how to recreate them ready for the Christmas party season.
From mixing Mezcal AND Tequila to a dangerous twist on Kate Moss's favourite French 75, these drinks are not for the faint-hearted but - having road tested them all - Detox|Retox can confirm that they ARE perfect for anyone wanting to throw a seriously fun soiree. Three of the best below...
1. The Q75
Caporale's twist on the French 75 uses Cognac instead of Gin and is served with a 'teardrop' of Absinthe and a scoop of sorbet. It's the ultimate welcome drink for real cocktail fans (Caporale likens making a good cocktail to getting ready for a night out, including fragrance and accessories).
Our verdict? Absinthe may have a bad rep but here it adds a nice touch of freshness. Caporale says: "It has this reputation of making people crazy, well today there are a lot of crazy people around and I doubt they have ever drunk absinthe!"
THE Q75 RECIPE:
10 lemon / 15 sugar / 30 Cognac / 1 Absinth dash / 30 Champagne / blood orange sorbet scoop / atomizer spray Cognac (!!)
Pour the first four ingredients in a shaker, shake with ice, strain into a flute, top with Champagne and a scoop of sorbet and then spritz with Cognac - if you're a master bartender - or a spritz of orange oil from a slice of peel works almost as well if you're not.
2. THE CANCUN SOUR
Mezcal is the drink of the moment among the best bartenders and as a result the category is booming in London. The smokiness and earthy flavour of the spirit matches really well with citrus fruits like lime, yuzu, mandarin and pink grapefruit. And also, Tequila!
And you don't need to spend lots. Caporale says: "You can get a very good Tequila for around £20, just look for the one saying 100% agave, which is the most important thing. I like Tequila OCHO or CALLE 23 or ARETTE or TAPATIO."
THE CANCUN SOUR RECIPE:
25 Montelobos Mezcal /25 Tequila blanco / 25 lime / 20 agave nectar
Shake all the ingredients and pour over ice. Garnish with an orange zest.
3. THE UNION JACK APERITIVO
This is how to do 'responsible drinking' in style: a drink based on the Italian ritual of a petite, pre-dinner 'digestif' to get the appetite going.
Caporale says: "Bitters and Amaros are a traditional part of eating and drinking culture in the Mediterranean: bitter before a meal to stimulate the appetite, Amaro after a meal to help the digestion. Enjoying the slightly bitter taste is something still new in some countries... but this is a drinks trend which drives consumer to be a bit more responsible."
THE UNION JACK RECIPE:
40 White Rum / 30 lime / 15 sugar syrup / 20 Tuvé Bitter
Shake all the ingredients and strain over ice chunks into a small claret glass. Garnish with a lime zest.
Take a masterclass in cocktail making with the expert bar team at Quaglino's.
Tickets are £35 per guest and include three cocktails and nibbles.