Barton G. Herbal Cocktails
Jeff O’Neil, executive chef at The Villa by Barton G., was asked to create a revolutionary group of drinks relying on herbs and other natural ingredients rather than traditional bases. An innovative bite was conceived to complete the sensory experience.
“Fruit and vegetable bouillons, infusions, purées, extractions and reductions serve as the core vehicle for these intriguing and diverse new-age cocktails,” O’Neil says. “Absent of traditional mixers and sweeteners, our challenge was to take a gastronomic approach to creating perfectly balanced concoctions, finding a new platform for flavors to come together. Whether it’s aromatic, floral, tangy, spicy or sweet, we are aiming to devise a system that the modern palate recognizes, yet provoke flavor and fragrance combinations that are stimulating enough to create a truly unique ‘gastronomic’ cocktail experience.”
“Fruit and vegetable bouillons, infusions, purees, extractions and reductions serve as the core vehicle for these intriguing and diverse new-age cocktails.”
“The inspiration for this cocktail comes from the longing for a sparkling wine drink other than the typical mimosa or ‘fruity’ drink—something with a bit more depth and intrigue. The fact that the flavor of this drink changes as the ice cubes melt puts it in a class of its own. This is perfect as an apéritif or as an after-dinner drink.”
How to do it
Cocktail: Sparkling prosecco rosé, with saffron, lemongrass and orange-blossom honey bouillon (ice) cubes. Garnish with nepitella mint and torn opal basil leaves
Bite: Tuna, which has been cured with a blend of salt, brown sugar, juniper, orange and clove, is sliced thin and pounded to resemble prosciutto or Parma ham. Those strips are wrapped around cantaloupe marinated with nepitella mint and prosecco. This sweet and savory morsel is topped with fresh raw sea urchin, and dotted with Sriracha honey.
“The natural cooling sensation of cucumber, laced with ginger, is a soothing base for this effervescent ginger ale. The gin helps to elevate this cocktail to become the ideal drink for a day by the pool, or at the spa.”
How to do it
Cocktail: Fresh cucumbers blended with steamed ginger root and passed through a fine sieve, resulting in fragrant water as the base for the cocktail. The vibrant green cucumber water is shaken over ice with fresh lemon balm, lime juice, gin and a touch of ginger ale. Garnish with lemon balm.
Bite: Spicy liquid pimento beads with gin-soaked cucumber balls and garnished with coriander blossoms.
“This refreshing blend is inspired by the backyard ‘vodka-spiked watermelon.’ Reinterpreted as a sophisticated cocktail, it is best as an after-dinner drink, or to sip with friends and family at a summertime barbeque.”
How to do it
Cocktail: Ripe watermelon blended with elderflower extract, and a touch of fresh pomegranate juice. Strained clear, and shaken with marjoram, vermouth and a touch of watermelon liqueur.
Bite: Crisp smoked bacon is used as a bed or “nest” for the cotton candy. The cotton candy can be made with any store-bought machine, but by adding the rosewater to the sugar, we achieve the sweet and fragrant match for the refreshing watermelon concoction.
“What makes this drink distinctive is that it is served in two forms: one fluid, and the other as frozen ‘smoking clouds.’ A delicate balance of beet, horseradish and tequila ensures the integrity of this superlative cocktail, while the methods of preparation and serving are unparalleled.”
How to do it
Cocktail: A reduction of fresh beet juice and port wine, seasoned with freshly grated horseradish. This is then spiked with tequila and a touch of brandy, set mildly with gelatin, and charged in an iSi canister (whipped-cream dispenser). The cocktail is then discharged into a bath of liquid nitrogen to freeze into mini boulders. The base of the cocktail (before the gelatin and nitrogen) is poured into the glass, and the frozen boulders are dropped in to serve.
Bite: A spherical beignet—crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside. Garnished with whipped horseradish, green olive and oregano flowers.
This clean, clear and spiced drink is inspired by the classic bloody mary, but served in the style of a cordial. It is ideal for brunch or lunch, and also perfect for an early-evening cocktail party. This aromatic, savory and unforgettable potion pairs perfectly with sharp cheeses and herbal canapés.
How to do it
Cocktail: Fresh heirloom tomatoes blended and steeped on a low flame with herbs and spices: star anise, fennel, black pepper, cinnamon, chili, garlic and clove. Then bloomed with basil and a touch of cayenne, before being slowly strained through cheesecloth, leaving the bright-red fragrant tomato water behind. This is chilled, and shaken over ice with vodka and a dash of Pernod. The cocktail is slicked with sweet basil oil and spicy chili oils, so each sip will vary with sweetness and spice.
Bite: A petite perfect heirloom tomato, stuffed with Pernod-laced lobster rillettes and topped with sevruga caviar, sliced radish and a brioche bread crisp speckled with toasted celery seed and tarragon.
Photographs by Claudia Uribe Touri