The art of mixology
Mimi Byrne is a mixologist who was born and bred in south London. She has worked in a number of restaurants and bars, most recently at Fred Sirieix and Andi Oliver’s One Love pop up. I spoke to her about the profession and got her to create some bespoke drinks inspired by my forthcoming Island Dreams collection.
What is it about mixology that gets you excited?
The creative process. Mixology is about creating the most elevated drink experience possible. It’s like cooking, but with alcohol.
What makes a great cocktail?
Balance. When most people complain about a drink it’s often due to it leaning way too much in one direction, usually sweet. A drink needs to be equal parts sweet, sour or bitter. It needs to have flavours that compliment one other and have nice impact on the nose and feel in your mouth. The last 2 are slightly less important but they really separate a nice drink from a truly delicious one.
Recommend a place to go and have a drink.
El Vermut in Nunhead, south London. It's really local to me and specialises in varieties of vermouth, which is in my opinion, a criminally underrated drink. It also serves wine and cocktails, as well as Spanish meat and cheese boards. An evening there is like being transported to the Mediterranean. I actually got the rose vermouth I used in The Carmesi cocktail from there.
What elements of the Island Dreams collection inspired the drinks you have created?
I was mainly inspired by the influence the Mediterranean has on the collection. I tried to include as many flavours from that region as possible. Citrus fruits, herbs and alcohols traditional to that area were all included. I wanted the drinks to evoke the long warm summer nights and easy atmosphere of places like Spain, Italy and France. I also thought the colours that the brand uses were very beautiful, so I tried to emulate them in the drinks.
Talk us through the 2 drinks
For the cocktail I remembered you mentioning oranges both in terms of the colour and fruit. I knew that Tanqueray made a delicious Seville orange gin. I then had a think about what paired well with orange and found that rosemary was a lovely combination, so I created syrup flavoured with fresh rosemary that grows in my garden.
However, that combination was very sweet, so I added some lemon juice. Now the drink needed depth of flavour but not without upsetting the balance of sweet and sour. The reason I chose vermouth is that it is often drunk over ice with an olive in places like Spain. This brought a delicious richness to the drink and made it a very pretty colour. I garnished with lemon rosemary and olive to finish it off.
For the mocktail I started off with kombucha as a base. Kombucha is slightly fermented and I’ve used it in mocktails before. I went with a rose flavoured one because the brand is called Crimson Rose after all. I paired this with pomegranate, another Mediterranean flavour and some lemon juice to balance. The basil for garnish is for the smell as you lean in to take a drink.
Make the drinks at home:
- 1 glass rose lemonade flavoured kombucha
- A nice pour of grenadine
- Squeeze of lemon
- Combine in a fluted glass
- Rub basil around the rim of the glass for scent
- Basil leaves for garnish
- 50mls (double shot) Tanquerey Seville orange gin
- 25mls (single shot) rose vermouth
- 20mls rosemary syrup (see recipe below)
- 15mls lemon juice
- Shake together
- Double strain into a martini glass
- Garnish with lemon and/or rosemary
Rosemary syrup recipe
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 sprigs rosemary
Heat water and sugar till dissolved. Add rosemary and let simmer 5 mins and the strain and let cool. Store in a closed container in the fridge.
Remember to drink responsibly and only if you are over 18 years of age.
Follow Mimi on Instagram @thecocktailgal