MARKETING/DESIGN/CONSUMER TRENDS/INSPIRATIONS Cognac & Brandy News for Consumers & Industry Experts
They ask Colin to prepare an iced flute and shake a mix of cognac, amaretto and lime juice. He is suitably impressed. “VSOP or XO for the cognac?” he asks, and before anyone can reply, he says, “Oh, let’s go for the expensive one – XO it is. Just a drop though,” as he pours what looks like half the bottle into the shaker. Their name for the concoction – a Firenzetto Triple – equally impresses, and now it is our turn to surprise.
“Simplicity is the secret – the best recipes stretch to only three elements,” Field confides, holding court behind his bar as we sit before it in hushed silence. “First, there is the alcohol – the star of the show. Never put two alcohols in one cocktail, it will just be like Muhammad Ali fighting Joe Frazier, a brawl that never ends till they cancel each other out.”
What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon in Paris than by learning the secret of the perfect cocktail from one of the world’s greatest barmen? So I jump in a cab to that most exclusive of addresses, the Ritz, and almost get lost in its labyrinth of gilded corridors before arriving at the mythical Hemingway Bar, hidden away right at the back of the hotel. This is the domain of Colin Peter Field, whose accolades run from being voted world’s best barman by Forbes magazine, to becoming the first bartender to make it into the French Who’s Who. He is even recognised by the Guinness World Records for preparing the world’s most expensive cocktail, the Ritz Sidecar, costing a quite frightening €1,250 (it features a rare fine Champagne cognac that dates from the 1850s.
“All the great, classic cocktails have balance between the three elements, such as the classic Sidecar, created in 1922 at Buck’s Club, combining cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice,” he explains. “It soon became the inspiration for the White Lady, where the cognac was replaced by gin, and then another bartender switched gin for tequila, replaced lemon with lime, and the margarita was born.”
Field is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to cocktails, and this month published an authoritative book on the subject, with a preface by Kate Moss. He insists that this isn’t just a typical celeb puff-piece to boost sales, but that she really is a regular habitué at the Hemingway and a personal friend.