Experiment at Ketel One Spice Market for London Cocktail Week
Amid a tangle of tomato plants in the basement of Covent Garden’s Thomas Neal Centre lurks the Ketel One Spice Market, possibly the world’s (or at least London’s) most alcoholic temporary purveyor of herbs and spices. A major player in London Cocktail Week, with their hub located further down Earlham Street, Ketel One have given discerning cocktail connoisseurs the chance to try and create their own flavour combinations and then have them combined together to create their perfect (or not so perfect) cocktail.
Set up as a series of market stalls, a wide variety of herbs and spices, from lemongrass and lime leaves, to star anise and chilli grasshoppers (satisfyingly crunchy as it turns out), were available for our perusal. Armed with a small tin each, we were invited to choose our own selection, combining flavours, scents and unlikely bedfellows until we had what we believed to be the makings of a fine cocktail.
With our horde of rare and precious spices, we then queued to get our cocktails made by one of the very talented barmen on offer. For my first spice selection, I chose a combination of star anise, lemongrass, juniper berries, licorice bark and salt and pepper. After much sniffing, sipping, one false start and a declaration of undying love for licorice, I was presented with an absinthe martini. From the first sip, it became clear that it was as alcoholic as it looked, yet very smooth and dangerously easy to drink.
For my second attempt, I opted to go for something completely different, this time combining lime leaves, curry leaves and spices such as garam masala to create what I hoped would be a cocktail with an aromatic kick. Though less successful than the first, this concoction became a yellow twist on a traditional Bloody Mary, combined with yellow tomato juice and Ketel One Vodka, it was a thick drink, which definitely delivered on the spice front.
Rounding off the evening with a Bloody Mary tasting from Ketel One’s trademark copper kettles, we learnt about the fermenting process for vodka, and that whether you love it or hate it, a Marmite Bloody Mary is definitely an experience worth savouring. When it comes to creating new taste sensations, it seems it’s always wise to experiment, though in the end, it might be best to leave it to the experts.
London Cocktail Week is on until 13th October 2013, for further information and future events, visit here.