Ninetyeight Bar: Infusing to Impress
There are cocktail infusions and then there are cocktail infusions served at Ninetyeight Bar in East London, where flavors are everything and each infusion has to be carried out correctly in order to maximize the impact of each cocktail, whilst taking in the often fantastical décor and surroundings.
“We don’t infuse with gomme [a gum sugar syrup commonly used in cocktails], because then you get a false flavor. We infuse with the alcohol itself, because it’s important that the alcohol works with whatever’s being infused,” says Kath Morrell, owner and designer of Ninetyeight. “For instance, we infuse Southern Comfort with apricot, and Cointreau with lemon, and we couldn’t get that depth of flavor and richness if we didn’t infuse directly into the alcohol.”
Ninetyeight’s speciality is crafting “crazy infusions,” says Morrell. Past cocktails have included marmite and baked beans (not served together, just for reference), but these extrovert ingredients aren’t simply thrown in a cocktail for novelty value, and all the infusions at the bar are undertaken with the highest degree of care. “You have to monitor your infusions to make sure you’re serving the same quality of cocktails all the time,” explains Morrell.
Ninetyeight bar has a quirky but laid-back feel to it, with a style which is “Baroque, French, playful and loaded with toys and sweets”, says Kath, who explains that the bar aims to provide a relaxing atmosphere and temporary escapism from the toil of the real world.
And what better way to escape reality than with one of the bar’s two innovative infusions planned for an upcoming new menu: one with Earl Grey tea, gin and marmalade, the other with petits pois, mint and gin, the latter of which Morrell describes as “sweet, but not sugary sweet. It just has a tang because the peas are so young.”
Or, if a jolt to the senses is more your thing, go straight for a Strawberry Jolt, another of Ninetyeight’s new cocktails, this one containing homemade cinnamon-infused rum, and served inside a strawberry with chilli sugar. “It blows your head off, actually,” says Morrell,, “it’s fantastic!”
Animated GIF created by Christian J Petersen