Today we get a masterclass in the dry Champagne cocktail from Joshua Esposito, bar manager at Joyeux Bordel of Curtain Road. It verges on villainously good, and he’s graciously given tips on shaking without ice as well. Feel free to direct your valet to the section on method.
Q: Describe Joyeux Bordel in four words.
A: Unpredictable, mysterious, dark, fun!
Q: What’s the best bit of your role?
A: Conducting the orchestra to the sound of my tune is just amazing. Giving a bit of myself to the service of others in many various ways, offering a different experience for everyone who comes down is, for me, the best part of my job. To surpass everyone’s expectations in both drinks and service is what we are here for, otherwise, why come?
Q: What’s this lovely cocktail we have before us?
A: Today’s cocktail you have here in front of you is the Bric-à-Brac. My inspiration was quite simply the feeling of ‘all things French’.
Every cocktail list should have a Champagne cocktail and it made sense to enhance ours with all-French products as well. We’re highlighting the country’s amazing repertoire of spirits and aperitifs, which marry nicely with a brut Champagne.
I’ve used the sweet, herbal notes of yellow Chartreuse, elderflower cordial and Lillet Blanc [Editor’s note: the original Kina Lillet was bitter due to quinine; Lillet Blanc is sans quinine, but still Semillon- and citrus-based]. Married with the dry vegetal notes of the sage, lemon juice and Champagne, it makes for a wickedly sharp, zingy and wonderfully balanced Champagne cocktail. Great to start the night with!
The ingredients are as follows:
3 sage leaves
3 turns of black and pink peppercorn mix (black will suffice if pink is not available)
20 ml of lemon juice
20 ml of Belvoir elderflower cordial (easily found at good grocery stores)
20 ml of yellow Chartreuse
20 ml of Lillet Blanc
Champagne to top.
Note: only add the Champagne to the cocktail once it’s poured into the glass. Don’t add the Champagne to the shaker!
In a Boston cocktail shaker, add the sage and pepper first, then add the rest of the ingredients. What I generally do now is ‘dry’ shake my ingredients. This essentially means shaking without ice.
This does two important things. First, it emulsifies and aerates the cocktail without dilution, allowing me to taste the cocktail’s balance before we shake, making sure all flavours are balanced and present.
Second, it creates a lovely light texture that softens the more aggressive flavours in the cocktail. Next, you fill the shaker with lots of big, hard ice and shake hard for no longer than 6 seconds, as you don’t want too much dilution in the cocktail.
Double strain into the Champagne flute and top with a ‘splash’ of Champagne but do not ‘drown’ the cocktail in it. Thirty millilitres or thereabouts should be sufficient. Too much Champagne will dry it out and you’ll lose the balance.
Finally, zest a lemon peel over the flute and rub the stem and rim all over, ‘perfuming’ the cocktail, which in turn highlights the aroma, adding more depth to the experience. Et voila, you should have in front of you a delicious Bric-à-Brac.
Interview by Sophie Skarbek-Borowska