A good friend and I have birthdays very close together and this year we decided to have a joint mid-birthday spree. The end of a frantic day packed with exhibitions….spas…..shopping…every treat imaginable… was marked by a visit to the dead-cool, not-Blue Bar at the Berkley Hotel.

The Blue Bar currently isn’t blue because it’s being refurbished. But the menu, reassuringly, is the same. One of their classic cocktails is the Mayfair, and that is what I chose to relax with – perfect end to a perfect day.

The Mayfair is made with Snow Queen vodka, Cocchi Americano, homemade hibiscus syrup, blackcurrant infused tea and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

How can an ordinary mortal replicate this at home without compromising its pretty-damn-goodness? And, in any case, what on earth is Cocchi Americano?

 

What is Cocchi Americano?

To answer that last question first, Cocchi Americano is an Italian fortified wine, like a vermouth. It has a Moscato di Asti base, and, like vermouth it’s flavoured with various botanicals including chinchona bark (which donates a bitter note – it’s the source of quinine) and citrus peel. The Queen’s favourite Dubonnet as well as St Raphael also include chinchona bark.

Another chinchona-including fortified wine used to be Lillet, but in 1986 the ingredient was removed. Cocchi Americano is very like the original Lillet, and is now being used by barmen researching classic cocktails which specified pre 1986 Lillet. If you decide to splash out on an experimental bottle it’s apparently very good simply with soda and orange.

I happened to have some hibiscus flower syrup, and a hibiscus flower even, to hand since I’m currently working on a post on edible flowers, so I used those.

So for ordinary mortals, how about:

 

Recipe for the Mortals’ Mayfair cocktail

 

For one

 

  • 4 parts vodka
  • 2 parts dry martini
  • 1 part hibiscus flower syrup (you could substitute kir – British kir if you don’t have any to hand)
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice
  • Few drops Angostura bitters
  • Hibiscus flower to decorate

 

The Blue Bar at The Berkeley Hotel

The Blue Bar at The Berkeley Hotel, currently being refurbished

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