101 ON FERMENTED FLAVOURS FOR COCKTAILS
Jay Khan, Co-Founder and Beverage Director of COA, is no stranger to fermenting flavours in his agave-focused bar. Below he shares his thoughts on fermented flavours and how to introduce them in your bar.
For many years and even present day, we (bartenders) have always been inspired by chefs and their way of approaching food. With the entire global healthy food movement and kitchens such as Noma promoting fermented food, it was a matter of time before bartenders started experimenting with fermented drink techniques and using it to up their recipe game.
Fermentation goes way back
If I was asked to explain fermentation, I would reference Sandor Katz’s book, The Art of Fermentation. The food writer nails it in one simple sentence: “the transformation of food by various bacteria, fungi, and the enzymes they produce.”
The first fermented beverage? It’s thought to be mead, an ancient beer made from fermented honey. Mead would have been naturally produced when harvested honey was left out in the rain. The ancient beer has made a comeback in recent years, featuring in a the Diageo Bar Academy’s recipe lists, including one from leading bartender Alex Kratena.
Ferments the world over
Fermented flavours are being adopted by bars worldwide, with places like Native in Singapore experimenting with fermented ingredients. Bars are using local and regional produce to preserve and add an exciting acidic flavour to drinks.
In my bar, we make fermented drinks to bring some traditional Mexican flavours to Hong Kong. This includes Tepache, a wild fermented drink (recipe below) made from fruits such as pineapple. We also use Tejuino, a fermented corn drink.
If done right, fermented flavours can be delicious on their own as a non-alcoholic serve or to bring powerful flavours to cocktails. The most notable taste is the zing from the acidity created by fermentation. Like ginger beer, beer or wine, there is a delicious and balanced taste that is brought to the cocktail when adding this fermented flavour.
Most guests are familiar with fermented products, however, don’t be shy in sharing how it has been part of their cocktail’s journey. For something like tepache, customers will like to hear that its acidity – brought about by special yeast or bacteria on the fruit – has made the drink not as sweet and given a more balanced taste.
Go one step further and draw on the unique qualities and properties of the fermented flavours you are using. For example, some believe tepache can provide health benefits if drank in moderation. Who knew?!
Junglebird with Tepache
40 ml Zacapa rum
20 ml Campari bitter amaro
15 ml Lime juice
10 ml Simple syrup
40 ml Tepache
Add all ingredient into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and double strain into a rock glass. Garnish with a pineapple wedge or a dehydrated pineapple.
Alcohol content: 17.06g per serve
DOWNLOAD RECIPE CARD HERE
Five key takeaways
- The first fermented beverage is thought to have been Mead, an ancient beer made from fermented honey.
- Fermented beverages can be delicious on their own as a non-alcoholic serve or to bring amazing flavours to cocktails.
- The most notable taste is the zing from the acidity created by fermentation. Like ginger beer, beer or wine, there is a delicious and balanced taste brought to the cocktail.
- An easy and accessible way to make a fermented beverage would be to grab organic honey and add chlorine-free water and let it ferment for about a week.
- Draw on the unique qualities and properties of the fermented flavours you are using.
Jay Khan is a paid partner of Diageo Bar Academy
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