The initial brief was for an autumnal/seasonal twist on a cocktail masterclass, so beyond an expectation of pumpkin martini I hardly knew what flavours to expect. Welcome to the world of Saf, a vegan’s paradise which originated in Europe in the cultural hub of Istanbul.
The ethos of Saf is to source organic ingredients and spirits, saving the land around and the earth itself.
Our well-travelled, charismatic host Joe McCanta gave us a fascinating insight into why organic products do not just promote a healthy and sustainable environment, but offer a purity of taste and passion that are seldom seen in most mass-produced brands.
It was with this theory in mind, that Joe and experienced bartender Lee gave us a potted history into the initial conception and evolution of cocktails, explaining that irrespective of the flavour you need to let your choices be dictated by the season of the fruit, with top autumnal contenders consisting of pumpkins, pears, dried fruits, apricots and cranberries with vodka and gin being the seasonal tipples of the moment. Once we’d nailed the basic necessities of cocktail creation (the sweet, the bitters and the spirit) it was time for a a quick live demo of the perfect cocktail shake which I can testify is more difficult than it looks, given the time constraints of the modern day bar.
Now that we were all veritable pros Joe challenged us to come up with a Qype flavoured cocktail, selecting the necessary ingredients from the range presented in front of us, including the award-winning UK 5 vodka and Juniper gin. The resulting taste was much to everyone’s taste so watch this space for our very own branded cocktail hitting the cocktail list in time for the Christmas rush!
Now our palettes had been suitably quenched, it was time for a trip outside to the greenhouse which annexed the restaurant and workshop space. Here we were delighted by all manner of herbs and vegetables, I swear I have not been this captivated by gardens since visiting the Royal Horticultural Gardens in Wisley which brought out a glimpse of the Charlie Dimmock in me.
Joe’s top cocktail bars in London:
Photos courtesy of Holly Falconer