Berlin Craft Cocktails Week 2019
Craft Cocktails Week 2019 kicked off last night with events held across Berlin. I headed over to Kreuzberg to check out the offerings at Bar in a Jar, who specialize in brutally local beverages - that is, they use only products from Berlin & Brandenburg. Sadly I had to miss the presentation from Grote Spirits, who make Spree Gin & Pijokel, but happily I still got to drink two of the cocktails on offer. I also got to meet Izabela, who developed the stellar cocktail menu.
The first cocktail I had was Degrengolada, which translates to either “moral decay” in Polish or “falling head over heels” in French; I was too intrigued by the ingredients to remember to ask the meaning of the drink, whoops. I feel like I should be forgiven though, because look at this: the Degrengolada contains a milk-filtered blend of Pijokel, Butterbird Weissling Rum, and sea buckthorn, which is then shaken with Marmelo Aprikose & Zitronenmelisse and Belsazar Wermut Riesling Edition. Izabela wanted the Degrengolada to be a brutally local version of a Piña Colada, except she ran into the problem of what acidic element she could use. She eventually chose sea buckthorn from Werder as a replacement. However, the sea buckthorn kept leaving an unpleasantly filmy mouthfeel, so Izabela hit upon the idea of milk-filtration to counteract its effects. To milk-filter the drink, she adds the Pijokel, Butterbird rum, and sea buckthorn to warm milk, then lets the mixture cool. The acids present in the sea buckthorn bind to the milk proteins, which curdle and separate. These curds are strained out using either a sieve or coffee filters; the remaining liquid is a softer, smoother essence of its initial flavors. The final result is a brilliant cocktail, well-rounded and certainly Piña Colada-y.
Next, I tried the Flamingo Royal, a shaken blend of rhubarb liqueur and coffee liqueur from Freimeisterkollektiv, elderflower liqueur from Spreewood Distillers, and fresh rhubarb juice, topped off with Spreequell sparkling water. It’s rare that a cocktail makes me think “what is happening”, but that’s absolutely what happened here. I think I zoned out into my own bubble at the bar for about five minutes, trying to figure out what was going on with these flavors and how they all came together so perfectly. The rhubarb and coffee notes matched so well, creating an almost chocolate aroma and flavor, with the elderflower lingering after swallowing. Just such a good cocktail from start to finish. It’s drinks like this that keep me excited for modern cocktails and beverage developers who match their expertise with genuine enthusiasm and appreciation for ingredients.
Bar in a Jar will be hosting Spreewood Distillers tonight, Freytag on Friday (appropriate, haha), and Bar Wieczorny on Saturday with a DJ guest from Warsaw. 19 bars across Berlin are participating in Craft Cocktail Week this year; check out the full list of locations and events at the main site. Prost!