Summer, the perfect time to kick back with a cocktail and soak up some sun. Unless you live in the UK that is, where currently you’re more likely to be soaked with a downpour than top up on any vague tan.
Despite the recent inclement weather, The MALESTROM, confident of a parting in those dark clouds, began thinking as per usual about booze, more accurately that of the sun tinged kind that we might sip near a pool (or pond, we’re not picky). We started to wonder what new trends we might take a shine to when that yellow globe in the sky does finally put his hat on.
In need of some knowledge from those really in the know, we hooked up with Chris Edwards and Dave Tregenza, the two very special mixologists behind the award-winning Brixton cocktail bar and restaurant The Shrub & Shutter and Herne Hill cocktail bar First Aid Box. They divulged as to what they thought the drink of the season will be, the craziest antics they’ve seen in a bar and as a cherry on top, the boys made us a very special Summer cocktail.
The MALESTROM: Tell us a bit a bit about yourselves …
Chris Edwards: A chance meeting 10 years ago saw us become close friends and work together at various bars and restaurants before forming Salts of the Earth cocktail consultation. My background is Art & Design and Dave’s is music, we artistically clicked. From our experience, passion and fearless attitude towards innovation we drove forward creating menus for bars in London and around the UK & Europe.
Nine months after forming the partnership we opened our first bar The Shrub and Shutter (Brixton, London) to much acclaim in Sept 2014 and then the First Aid Box (Herne Hill, London) 15 months later.
Our vision was innovative, theatrical and above all tasty drinks inspired by the seasons & culinary creativity. We opened the back of the First Aid Box in June 2016 into “Blinder”, a drinking den which became our third bar – something of a mix between a speakeasy, cowboy style saloon and a barn. We continue to strive for new flavours; whether through our food, our drinks or our experiences, both new and nostalgic.
TM: How have things changed in terms of men’s drinking habits, are more men drinking cocktails?
Dave Tregenza: We don’t think men’s habits have changed too much over the years. Perhaps the ’70s and ’80s saw a drop off of men drinking, as drinks then were ultimately very sweet and female-focused.
The resurgence in popularity of strong straight up or stirred drinks – like the Old Fashioned and Manhattan, or twists thereof – have seen a rise in men drinking cocktails.
Whiskey Sours are also a real winner for the male cocktail drinker. The hero/ trophy or tiki cocktails are always popular too! Beer will never go away as a drink of choice, but a quick beer while waiting for a cocktail is the way forward … the best of both worlds!!
TM: What’s the number one go-to drink for men?
C: Old Fashioneds and Manhattans are the most obvious, buoyed by shows such as Mad Men or films like Crazy Stupid Love. Sazeracs are back big style as well, or twists on all the above with a decent mescal.
TM: What’s the most popular spirit at the moment?
D: Gin will always be the most popular as it’s so versatile. Straight up, stirred, shaken or long. I think we are seeing a more varied spread in popularity with more people open to tequila, mescal and back to interesting vodka serves. Rum will always be loved as, like gin, it goes well in most styles of cocktail. Pisco and Aquavit need to be drunk more!
TM: What are we going to see as the drink of this summer? Do trends change that much?
C: We are loving mead at the moment. Crowded Hive mead in a Negroni or Old fashioned is beautiful. Gosnell’s meads are fantastic to drink from the bottle or as lengtheners in Collins style drinks.
Simple summer drinks like a Warner Edwards Rhubarb Daisy or G&T always hit the spot. We have a cocktail on at the moment called a Pollen Count which is summer in a coupe. Floral, aromatic, fresh and sweet in equal measures … very down-able!
TM: Coffee based boozy drinks have gotten big, will that trend continue?
C: Espresso martinis and twists on them will continue, as they work across so many occasions throughout the year. Iced coffee twists come into play around spring/summer, but bartenders need to come up with more playful serves.
Our Coffee and Cigarettes is a coffee Negroni twist at the First Aid Box and works year-round. We use Campari, Amaretto, Picon, Orange bitters, Alchemy espresso and orange smoke. With cold press coffee and various forms of it, we all need to challenge ourselves to come up with more interesting serves to continue the trend.
TM: What inspires your drinks?
D: Food – old and new recipes, wildlife, flora and fauna, travel, getting drunk, everyday life, our children – pretty much everything!
TM: Favourite cocktail?
C: Old Fashioned, Aviation, Dirty Martini, Army & Navy, Clover Club, Mescal Papaya Margarita, Pisco Sour, a well made G&T, the list is endless and mood dependant! One real favourite was one of our signature drinks when we opened the Shrub and Shutter called a Deer Hunter based around our hunting trip to Scotland. Think cigars and tension.
TM: Tell us about something you’ve witnessed in your bar?
C: Sex on a roof – I won’t tell which. Finding machetes hidden in walls when refusing. Great jazz. The best wedgie I’ve ever seen. Too much drink consumed over a short period by certain people (you know who you are).
TM: What tip would you give a cocktail mixing novice?
D: It’s easy if you know the basics. Learn the basics, keep things simple and then experiment and go wild. Think weird.
The MALESTROM asked Chris & Dave to give us a show-stopping cocktail that you guys could while away those Summer nights with, and it’s a bit special …
Brockwell Park Bramble
A twist on the Bradsell classic with more zip and a doctor’s tip.
brain power, heart health
Vitamins & Minerals
super tart on the tongue, followed by sweet Chambord; balanced
John Jenkins double rocks old fashioned
50 ml (1¾ oz) Whitley Neill Handcrafted Dry Gin
10 ml (⅓ oz) Chambord syringe (uden’s tipple)
10 ml (⅓ oz) Maraschino
20 ml (¾ oz) fresh lemon juice
1 g citric acid
20 ml (¾ oz) sugar syrup
a frozen raspberry on a splitter skewer, Chambord syringe
Add all the ingredients to a shaker. Shake hard and single strain over an iced glass. Top up with ice leaving room for the syringe. Garnish with a frozen raspberry. When serving, advise the patron to top up their drink with the syringe. Alternatively, into mouth or other…