Playing With Fire and Ice at London Cocktail Week 2012
Looking to fire up your cocktails a little? Why not take the literal route and indulge in some scorching behaviour, just as we did at London Cocktail Week.
At a masterclass on "Fire and Ice Cream," held at the cosy Smatt’s Rum & Ice Cream Shack, Tim Robinson, managing director of events company and mixology/cocktail design specialists Twist London, demonstrated how fire can add a unique kick to several different cocktails, as well as handling out some welcome samples of his cocktail-infused ice cream to cool things down.
Robinson ably demonstrated several cocktails in which fire was key to acquiring the best flavors. The first of these was a Smatt’s Passion: Smatt’s Silver rum, passion fruit juice, lime juice and sugar syrup, scorched with Angostura bitters. The drink originally began as a variation on the famed pisco sour, before being worked into something else entirely.
Scorching the bitters (by using the very flammable 80 percent proof Stroh 80 rum) caramelizes them, creating a deep aroma and ensuring that their taste isn’t lost under the passion fruit.
The result is a fruity, ever-so-slightly creamy drink, refreshing but sharp thanks to the passion fruit, and with the beautiful Angostura aroma and flavor adding richness.
Next was the Rum Bad Boy Blazer (Smatt’s Gold and Silver, cinnamon syrup, Spanish bitters, and a ‘secret ingredient’), which is served ‘Blue Blazer style’ in homage to cocktail pioneer Jerry Thomas. As with Thomas’ iconic drink, the flaming ingredients of the Rum Bad Boy are mixed between two mugs.
The fire burns off some of the excess alcohol, as well as caramelising the syrup and accentuating the flavors of the rum.
The finished product is a powerful, heady cocktail, with the aroma of the rum and the warmth from the fire hitting hard even as you raise the glass to your lips. The heat of the fire genuinely does open up the flavors, and a fruity tang from orange peel gives a Christmassy, comforting feel to the drink.
And what better way to cool down than with a few cocktail ice creams afterward, including the refreshing Tiki Orchard, a blend of Smatt’s rum, pineapple, lime and apricot, which proved very tasty.
Finally, we were given a demonstration on the use of dry ice in creating the ice cream cocktails — a process that gives dilution and texture to the ice cream, as well as further lowering the temperature and providing an eye-catching visual spectacle.
It was an entertaining but also informative masterclass, that showed both the ‘wow factor’ of using fire and ice, but also explained the reasons behind the techniques and how they can open up elements of a well-mixed drink, taking them far beyond just a novelty. And as it happens, the resulting and cocktails ice creams tasted pretty damn good, too.