Precious Cargo: Meimi and I were responsible for the running of the Havana Club Pod, the concept of which had been created by Drinks Factory; the idea being to construct a massive wooden crate that looked like it had been shipped over from Cuba, but big enough to house a quintessential Cuban bar inside! On a conceptual level, it meant that when people entered the pod they were completely cut off from the exterior world and immersed into Cuban surroundings! The mise en scene was aided by authentic Cuban sounds, music (including a barking dog), smells and Meimi Sanchez! Oh and the drinks...
On the menu was a clear mojito which required us to first clarify a batch of lime juice (with instructions provided by Dave Arnold). Overall it was quite a complex process which involved dissolving agar agar into the lime juice, without over heating/cooking the lime juice, then freezing the lime juice.
The end result being that when the mixture defrosted the agar agar had absorbed all the colour from the lime but without removing the flavour. Tony had previously created a mint hydrosol, which was then combined with some Havana Club Blanco, the clear lime juice and of course of touch of sugar, all stirred down over ice, et voila: a clear mojito!
The second drink was a super cold blended Daiquiri, the super cold element achieved by blending dry ice with the rum, lime, water and sugar. Easy you may think, but it actually took Meimi and I a few attempts to get the right proportions of dry ice/water etc... too much dry ice and the mixture wouldn’t blend, not enough dry ice or too much water and the drink was too slushy... Anyway, the end result was a show stopper, with mist and smoke bellowing from the blender making it look like something out of a mad professor’s laboratory and leaving everyone enthused.
The two other drinks were a vintage Presidente, which is a superb drink. Tony has blended Havana 7yr, curacao and sweet vermouth, bottled and aged the result. Consequently the drink require only the addition of some homemade grenadine and to be stirred down over ice. The idea behind ageing is for the flavours to marry and integrate on a much more complex level than they would otherwise if mixed a la minute.
The third drinks was a Cuban apricot, essentially Havana Club 3yr infused with cardamom, Creme d’abricot, and lime juice, very refreshing with the cardamom adding a citric element of complexity to the drink!
So there you go! Those were the drinks, I’m pleased to say that the pod (or isolation chamber) was actually rather pleasant to work in, it was nice to cut off from all the madness of the bar show and be immersed in your own little world and everyone who came in seem to agree that it was a great success so hopefully we might see it in action again at some point... if we can remember how to put it back together.