Cocktails made from cider? Join Tonic and Remedy masterclass to find out how it’s done
PUBLISHED: 20:16 23 May 2017 | UPDATED: 20:27 23 May 2017
Rum. Tequila. Vodka. Out of all the spirits out there, cider would be the last on my list to stick in a cocktail.
But the Tonic and Remedy bar at the M by Montcalm hotel is running master classes in how to create the perfect cider cocktail - and Leo Aragon, the charismatic Argentinean bar manager is passionate about the idea.
There are three cocktails on the demo, based on the Three Little Pigs’ three ciders – Truffler, Reverller and Charmer.
The idea is to teach people how to create cracking cocktails - balanced with something sweet, something sour and then the alcohol.
“It’s important not to overcomplicate the matter Leo explained. “It’s not about throwing things in the air and setting them on fire.
“There’s a tendency to let people think cocktail knowledge is something you only get if you work in a bar for a year, but for me it’s about traditions, stories and poems,” he said. “There are stories behind the spirits.”
We started off with the key ingredient – the cider. Truffler is the lightest and driest of the three. Reveller is a little bit sweeter. And finally the Charmer is less refined and earthy because of the high concentration of apples used in fermentation.
Leo suggested mixing a dry gin to compliment the dry cider, and then he added crushed celery and fennel seeds to give the concoction “a character”.
Sourness came from a lemon, and honey brought the sweetness.
"It’s not about throwing things in the air and setting them on fire."
“This is about not saying ‘No, cider is not for cocktails’,” Leo told us as he energetically shook the drink around.
The result was surprisingly good. Refreshingly floral, and even nicer than homemade lemonade, Leo had hooked us in.
He went on to explain next how the strong sweet character of the Truffler meant he would choose a “light sour” in the form of lime. Maple syrup added even more sweetness and the mixture was super sweet before the addition of whisky. Because it’s all about the cider he didn’t put in too much of the spirit. I’m not a huge fan of whisky but this cocktail was remarkable, with a deliciously sweet and smokey tinge.
We moved onto the Charmer – which was paired with rum, and beetroot – an unlikely choice.
“People get used to flavours, but in a bar you can use completely different things,” said Leo.
The root vegetable is cooked to release its earthy flavours and then crushed. Lemon and agave syrup are added for balance, and “because rum and agave love each other” said Leo in his romanticised fashion, adding: “If I get it right you will love this one.”
And we did.
Leo invited us all behind the bar to try our hand at mixing the ingredients.
We were then presented with three snacks conjured up by the chef to accompany each of the drinks.
A gin and fennel cured smoked salmon for the fennel cocktail, juicy pulled pork cooked in coke to compliment the sweetness of the whisky cocktail and then an indulgent beetroot brownie.
When presented with a cocktail list I’d normally play it safe and opt for a mojito but next time I’ll be asking for the ones with cider.
The classes cost £21.50 per person and include two of the Piggy Cocktails with bar snacks. Email email@example.com to book.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Hackney Gazette. Click the link in the orange box above for details.