About ten days ago seven 5 star hotels from Geneva held a press event under the name “Cocktail Haute-Couture” to introduce the new libations that will be on their menu all throughout the summer. Unfortunately I only learned about it after it happened, so I can’t comment on it. The following video will speak for itself.
Maybe more than the video and pictures of the drinks that certainly make me want to hit these hotel bars come summer, it was the fact that such an event actually happened. Or to quote a bartender friend: “Seeing this 5 years ago would have been unthinkable. Glad to see the nice evolution of cocktail in Geneva…” His words really resounded in me. Cocktail isn’t new but cocktail culture here in Geneva is.
Five years ago, if you wanted to drink a cocktail in Geneva, you would think of student bars serving mojitos, caipirinhas and, maybe, tequila sunrises. People tended to go out more for beers. Maybe my opinion is age-based (i.e. going out for beers was what people the age I was 5 years ago did and still do now) or completeley biaised by how my nights out were five years ago. Nevertheless I don’t remember many cocktail bars back then or, rather, I don’t remember my friends and I going to a certain place because we particularly liked their drinks. We would go here or there because we liked the atmosphere, end of it. We would always find something on the menu after all. Now, maybe because my friends and I have grown older and our palates have evolved, we’re not only looking for a nice atmosphere but we’re looking for great drinks as well. We’ve learned that the world of alcoholic beverages extends to more than beers (even if there are some really good ones) and the aforementioned cocktails. As said before, our palates have evolved and we’ve developed new tastes. Some more surprising than others. We’ve been accompanied, educated even, through these changes by new drinks (new for Geneva, that is).
The last five years or so have seen the emergence of a number of true cocktail bars, led by bartenders who are passionate about their craft and dedicated to bring both classic and modern cocktails to the forefront of their menus. The clients follow. They want to discover new places and experience new drinks. They are getting more knowledgeable about products (My friend doesn’t ask for just any G&T anymore, she orders a Hendricks & Tonic and don’t forget the pepper! another one wants a Tanqueray & Tonic and don’t you dare serving it with anything other than a slice of grapefruit!) and they are more appreciative of presentation.
In a little over two months time I’ll be attending Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, the annual rendez-vous of the cocktail industry. I am especially looking forward to two of the many seminars I registered for: Why do Cocktail Cultures Develop or Don’t and Creating Cocktail Culture In Small Cities. Needless to say, I’ll report on them!
Just as with cuisine, bartenders have understood the importance of presentation and visual stimulation to the drinking experience. The Artesian and Nightjar in London are both famous for the extraordinary mise-en-scène of their cocktails.
I remember a conversation I once had in Hawaii with Colin Field, the famous head bartender at the Hemingway Bar of the Ritz hotel in Paris. He told me one of the criteria to decide which drink to serve to a customer when given free reign was to look at your surroundings: if you’re working in a classy hotel bar, you’ll serve the guest something elegant both in terms of content and presentation. The cocktails at “Cocktail Haute-Couture” are a perfect example of that. As hinted by the name of the event, the drinks and their presentation were inspired by high end fashion, a reflection of what guests at the 5 star hotels might be wearing or, at least, exuding the style they might expect to find in this environment.
«COLLECTION CYGNE» – Sophie Raballand (recipe), Adil Bouarbi (design), Beau-Rivage Genève
Because there are encounters that fall within your story like the swan’s waltz over water. A magical instant, the majesty of a dance forever set in time and destiny, symbolized by a dress straight out of a fairy tale.
4 cl Vodka Stolichnaya Elit
2 cl Rum Mount Gay black barrel
4 cl Champagne Deutz Rosé Cuvée du Chat-Botté
2 cl Fresh lime juice
2 cl Gum syrup Monin
5 Fresh raspberries
«SWISSMONTAIGNE» – Reinier Van Brussel et Steven Bernard, Le Richemond
A trip on Montaigne Avenue with notes of raspberry, rose, pepper and verbena.
4 cl Eau de vie de framboise Morand
2 cl Douce de Williamine Morand
1 cl Rose water
1 cl Lime juice
Opaline Verbena and Pear juice
«DEVIL’S PASSION»- Gabriel Santana, Mandarin Oriental Geneva
A slightly spicy, fruity and refreshing cocktail, served in a quite particular case.
5cl Vodka Stolichnaya Elit
2cl Liqueur de Saint Germain
2cl Passion Juice
1 Passion fruit
1,5 cl Hibiscus Syrup
1 Vanilla pod
1 Red chilli pepper
«ICE GLOW» – Simone Abrignani and Antoine Geoffroy, Hôtel Président Wilson Geneva
The cocktail pairs the sweetness of dark rum and the power of ginger with notes of citrus peels, the whole refreshed with an apple emulsion and served in a frosted case.
4 cl Ginger lemon infusion
4 cl Dark rum Doorly’s XO
1 dash Bitter orange
1 Maraschino cherry
1 dash Green apple emulsion
«ROSA» – Stéphane Collo, Intercontinental Genève
Spring has come! A cocktail gving freshness the place of honour. Go on a journey to the flavour country.
2 cl Lime juice
1.5 cl Orgeat syrup
6 cl House rosé vermouth
3 cl Tanqueray 10 Gin
Thai basil leaves
2 cl Pineapple juice
2 cl Champagne rosé
«GOLDEN GLITTER» – Bruno Seguin, Swissôtel Métropole Genève
An elegant cocktail made of white chocolate, Jamaican rum, cranberry juice, topped with champagne, garnished with gold flakes to turn it into the star of this very Genevan Fashion Week!
1 cl White chocolate
3 cl Captain Morgan
4 cl Cranberry juice
7 cl Champagne Laurent-Perrier
1 pinch Gold Flakes
«LADY G» – Giovanna D’Auria, La Réserve Genève
A lady, sparkly long black dress, big hat, sitting at the bar with a magnificent cocktail in her hands. An elixir passion, bright red colour, served in a fine smoky flute. The perfect match of Stolichnaya Elit Vodka and softly and slowly home-infused with verbena leaves Saint-Germain liqueur, fresh fruit slices selectionned and muddled to make the all summery and, finally, to balance the flavours, a touch of Monin Grenadine syrup and 2 drops of Angostura bitters.
5 cl Vodka Stolichnaya Elit
3 cl Liqueur de Saint Germain infused with verbena
1 cl Lime juice
1.5 cl Grenadine syrup Monin
2 drops Angostura Bitters