An experimental mixologist on a journey of flavours

Written by Senna Meloni. Published on

bartender-mixologist-hospitality-senna-meloni-cocktailThe first years of college were mainly about figuring out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. My personal interests were always focused on creative subjects, which is exactly the reason I got a learning contract with a graphical designer. When I was under that learning contract, I soon found a side job in hospitality. First, I was working in nice bars, serving beers, wines, sodas, the regular. Afterwards, I started working in a restaurant, where I was working both behind the bar and in the restaurant operation. At a certain moment, somebody asked me if I would be interested to join him at events to start shaking cocktails. It sounded so cool, I decided to go for it immediately. From that moment onwards my passion for bartending kept on growing and I started to develop myself as a mixologist. More and more requests came my way, and I developed my passion and knowledge about spirits. I see the creation of cocktails and flavours as cooking: There is no end to it. You search for the right ingredients, you apply certain techniques, you add spice with flavours and bitters, and then finally, you garnish your creation. All factors that play a key role in the most important part of the process; tasting! Tasting is why I love doing this so much, I love to experiment, to discover new flavours, search for new ingredients, every time a new journey.

Perfect Serve Barshow and Koppert Cress

perfect serve barshow-senna meloni - cocktail - edible flavoursOn the 28th of May the Perfect Serve Barshow took place in WesterLiefde in Amsterdam. The place to be for all mixologists, bartenders, hospitality professionals and drink-lovers. It is the ideal location to discover new spirits and juices produced by both large enterprises and small – start-up – companies. Together with Eric Miete, culinary advisor at Koppert Cress, I went to this year’s edition of this amazing event as an exhibitor. Koppert Cress produces and distributes cresses, which is quite a rare phenomenon to spot at an event as Perfect Serve. That is exactly the reason we decided to go all out with our stand and presentation. It was awesome, we took the word “cocktail” very broadly, and aspired to take it to a next level. By making use of the seedlings and micro vegetables and their intense scents and flavours, a new dimension was added to the cocktails. Normally you would eat the cresses, which is why we decided to create edible cocktails; a small bite in which you can taste a realty measure of a spirit. Amongst our creation we created a jelly-cocktail, based on gelatine or agar-agar (in case you want to keep it vegetarian). We also made infusion-watermelon, where we created a drink based on watermelon, red beetroot, purple shiso vinegar, Zallotti Blossom, vodka and a few sechuan buttons. These sechuan buttons are special; they give an electic mouthfeel, which is really interesting!

No food waste

Since we are no fans of food waste, we decided to explore the possibilities of what to do with the leftovers. We served the juices, and it turned out that from products such as wheatgrass, cardamom and kaffir lime leaves, we could create strong scented and flavoured powders, which on their turn were usable for garnishing of the cocktails. Next to powders, we used the cocktails to vacuum fruits to infuse these with the drink. We also used the vacuumed product in its entirety to ‘shake it up’ and serve it like that.

Cooperation between chef and bartender at BCB in Berlin

cocktail-perfect-serve-barshow-senna-meloni-eric-miete-koppert-cress-flavoursA chef and a bartender working together resulted in a great cooperation, kitchen techniques can be applied behind the bar as well namely! This made the experience of working together at our stand extremely fun and enriching. Because this was such a success, we are continuing to show the world what we create, and our next stop will be the Bar Convent Berlin! The BCB is in essence comparable to the Perfect Serve Barshow, but lasts for three whole days. Famous hospitality professionals will give presentations about new trends and developments in the industry, which is very interesting for bartenders and hospitality enthusiasts. This event is expected to be a notable one as well, since large brands as Thomas Henry, Campari and Bacardi are hosting some – probably spicy – afterparties…

Matching autumn flavours

Senna_Meloni_kaviaar_cocktail-bartendingI love working with seasonality products, and since the BCB will be held in October I had to take the time of the year into account for the preparation. So, I started my research about some typical seasonal products. First thing in my mind were the beautiful colours that appear during the autumn, but also the exotic fruit is marvelous during that time of the year. Locally we boast products such as pumpkins and turnips… Immediately I created a list of different fruits and vegetables that were appealing to me and started tracking which cresses I could combine. I am looking for matching flavours, as everybody knows, strawberry and banana are best buddies, but it is way more exciting to find some completely new and innovative ingredients that match perfectly together. Then you know you are creating something special, something that people will come back for, want to know more about and derive inspiration from. After the researching and selection phase, the experimenting begins (happy face!). To give you an example; In my mind I have the concept “Merry Pumpkins”, including flavours from granny smith apples, ginger, cinnamon, cognac, aged grappa, Jeere cress (with hints of cumin), purple & green shiso. In my mind, these flavours would work out awesomely together, while experimenting with the products I try to figure out the amounts for creating the perfect combination. I want to create a little flavour-bomb with a healthy measure of alcohol.  ; )

Berlin is the next project I will be joining with the products of Koppert Cress. I am really looking forward to my trip, and I would recommend you to keep in touch, because it promises to become an amazing journey!


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