Friday, 5 October 2012

Smooth and sophisticated: Grey Goose's Taste by Appointment

On Monday night I was lucky enough to be invited to Grey Goose Vodka’s Taste by Appointment at Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen in order to participate in a journey through taste culminating in a bespoke cocktail created by the highly accomplished mixologist Joe McCanta, here is my take on the evening.

On arrival I was invited by the glamorous Grey Goose staff to take a seat in front of a tray containing a range of bottles, pipets and containers and a Q&A card. A flute of Grey Goose's signature cocktail, Grey Goose Le Fizz, was brought (containing Grey Goose standard, bottle green elderflower, lime juice and soda) and I was prompted to undertake the first experiment, designed to qualify whether each one of the participants was a ‘super taster’ (those who have a higher concentration of papillae) or merely a ‘taster’ - all for the love of sensory difference. Sadly it was to turn out that I was the latter, the dull palate that I have!

Whilst this first stage of the experiment was taking place all manner of delicious canapes were being presented by the excellent chefs andstaff at Bread Street Kitchen. These included such delicacies as grilled steak with garlic purée; fondant potatoes and sour cream; salt & pepper cuttlefish with tartare sauce; mini mushroom and parmesan pizza and a wonderfully rare mini-burger to die for. Each of these, we were later to find out, was designed to appeal to the different taste senses we experience: salt, sweet, bitter, sour and umami (savoury).

Following this very promising preamble, Joe McCanta (Brand Ambassador for Grey Goose) and Mario Neziri (who runs the bar at Bread Street Kitchen) took to the stage to guide the assembled guests through an exploration into our individual tastes. A further series of experiments took place, each designed to isolate what tastes we each preferred in order to influence ourbespoke cocktail each to be made during the evening. These tests  also sought to both inform us of the importance of the olfactory senses and if we could successfully isolate salt, sweet, bitter, sour and umami in a blind tasting. Through all this McCanta spoke with authority about the science of taste and why we appreciate certain flavours more than others in terms that even a science dunce like me could understand.

As a culmination of our hard work we were rewarded with a chance to make our own basic cocktails using a moving bar choc-full of Grey Goose vodka (standard, orange, lemon, pear) and different ingredients which emphasised the sensations we had explored over the evening. Mine was a saucy mix of Grey Goose Orange, stock syrup, white grapefruit juice and ice of which one of the plucky barman claimed appealed to my ‘obvious’ sweet tooth. Being the cheeky fellow that I am, I also managed to procure a good shot of the orange vodka neat over the rocks, a real treat on its own.

Whilst this wonderful trolley of drinks was making its way around the room people were being called up in pairs to receive their bespoke cocktail from Joe McCanta and leaving with glasses filled containing all manner of vividly coloured concoctions. Then my turn came up at the bar.Joe and I had already had a brief chat over the evening, and he had established that I was keen on the bitter flavours of Campari and similar drinks. I was initially offered the classic Negroni, but after the preceding events of the evening I felt it would be churlish to have something I had slurped so many times previously. Keeping bitter-sweet feelings in mind, I asked for something new, different but encapsulated all that made the Negroni a classic cocktail.

The enthusiastic mixologist plucked a few bottles from a myriad of ingredients, including: Aperol, Kamm & Sons Ginseng Spirit, Grey Goose Orange and another sherry-like bitters (the name of whicht escapes me now).This was then stirred with ice, poured over the rocks and finished with white grapefruit peel. It was a delicious drink, combining all the things I like about the Negroni whilst adding a new dimension and - as all great cocktails should be - it was wonderfully alcoholic!

Soon after this, and when the last person had been given their bespoke cocktail experience, it was time to call it a night with Joe thanking us all for coming and taking part but importantly thanking the fantastic staff at Grey Goose and the Bread Street Kitchen who had made the evening so special. Please let me take this opportunity to echo his praise myself.

All I am left to say is that this was a fantastic event, full of interesting information, innovative approaches to cocktail construction and a little bit of self-discovery. Grey Goose did a fantastic job and I hope they do more similar events in the future. 10/10 all round from the Bloody Good Chap. 

The next events are being held at Hakkasan on the 6 October and Dabbous on 13 October.  Tickets are £75 and available from

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