It’s slightly less cold, but the sleet and snow aren’t far behind, as we enter Manchester for round 2 of the Black Cow Gold Top Cup Competition. It may be raining outside, but the sun is gleaming across the judges faces as we’re presented with another round of complete genius from some of the most ambitious Mixologists in the North.
The competition was fierce as whimsical and wonderful creations alike made their presence from across the bar – taste sensations, visual delights and a whole lot of talent paved way for one of the toughest decisions these judges had made in their careers. But alas, only one winner could be chosen – a title that went to Sevi Marshall of The Strait & Narrow in Lincoln.
Her creation ‘Eventide’ was a visual sensation – a taste-worthy journey and experience that continued to evolve with every sip from the glass. The cocktail ingredients were indeed a forage through the countryside as they brought to life a selection of blueberry, lavender, honey and bee pollen in a unique and inspiring light – incredibly well thought and exceptionally well executed.
We sat down with Sevi to explore exactly what went through her mind as she set about making the winning cocktail for our Manchester Heat.
Winner: Sevi Marshall
Cocktail Name: Eventide
“So the inspiration was based on my memories of evenings in my countryside home in Norfolk. It’s a very rural place, in the heart of the countryside – I wanted to embody my memories of the surroundings (what I could smell, see and feel) into the drink. Since I’m so fond of these memories, I was also inspired by triggering the drinker’s memories of their own memories of a time which was peaceful and meaningful to them, thus making the drink very personal.
I felt that this should be a drink using very natural ingredients, which remained subtle but complimented one another – embodying the idea of Black Cow as a very complimentary vodka and a reminder of the elegance of the vodka in taste and texture.
Seeing as Black Cow is an incredibly smooth and creamy vodka, all the ingredients were chosen to allow the spirit to take centre stage.
The home-made blueberry conserve was used to give the cocktail a floral top note, homage to the lovely floral notes in the countryside air. It also extends the vodka’s flavour profile by giving it a creamy, fruity finish The existing vanilla notes in Black Cow pick up on this beautifully, thus complimenting the subtle qualities of the berry.
The lavender bitters were used to add a very personal touch to the drink, as I have fond memories of lavender growing in my back garden, and noting its relaxing qualities which always seemed suitable for the evenings. I wanted to incorporate this into the drink, thus working with the existing floral notes of the blueberry and giving the drink a soft, relaxing aroma.
Oak smoked honey Honey has a wonderful depth of flavour, which I wanted to finish the drink with. By smoking the honey with oak, this has also given it a wonderful aroma, with the smoke being detectable on the palate as well. The reason I decided to include the smoke is because it is a reminder of the burning wood aromas in the distance, which is carried through in the countryside air. It also compliments Black Cow’s warming finish, thus allowing the drinker to taste, smell and physically feel the concept of Black Cow and the idea behind my drink.
The bee pollen coating the glass was used for several reasons. Although it is my garnish, it does affect the flavour of the drink as it has subtle cardamom notes to it. This relaxing spice works really well with the lavender too. It also provides a physical contrast in the presentation of the drink – the yellow standing out against the dark violet of evening sky. Lastly, it allows the drinker to feel the soft texture of the pollen, whilst smelling the floral notes of the berry and lavender, tasting the vodka and the complimentary ingredients, with a warm and lasting finish.
I feel that it is important to procure a memory when sipping a drink. Although this is possible with most cocktails, I wanted to embody this by stimulating as many senses from the drinker as I could – smell, taste, touch ad sight – in order to make the memory as realistic as possible. Since it is a very personal drink, I feel that each drinking experience should be personal as well.”