Cocktail hour: Lee Hyde from Bar Américain shares his tipple tips

Posted at 4:00 pm, August 17, 2012 in Food & Drink
Bar Americain at Brasserie Zedel bartender Lee Hyde © Rob Greig

1950s glamour or just a nice relaxing drink on a Friday evening, we all like to savor the sweet, bitter glory found in the capable hands of one of London’s best mixologists. We met up with Lee Hyde from Bar Americain to find out a little bit more about what he does and he even treated us to a cheeky recipe too…

Favourite spirit?
‘Scotch whisky. I really enjoy the punchy, cask-strength whiskies, particularly the styles of Islay or the sherried Speysides.’

Cocktails: classic or innovative?
‘I love preparing classic cocktails – they’ve stood the test of time with their wonderful tastes and minimalistic recipes. It’s a joy to recreate them.’

What do you like drinking?
‘Dinner drink? Negroni. Something citrussy and refreshing on a summer’s day? Daiquiri. A nice cocktail to finish off a wonderful meal? Sazerac.’

Favourite cocktail?
‘My favourite classic cocktail of the moment is the Martinez, which is widely considered the drink that gave birth to the martini: gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur and orange bitters. A great variation I sometimes make is to replace the gin with scotch and throw in some Campari too.’

Next trend in cocktails?
‘I’ve seen a trend lately of using beer in cocktails. As we roll into autumn, hot drinks will make a big comeback. And I think that French aperitif-style drinks are going to have their time in the limelight again. Aperitif wines, such as Lillet and Byrrh, were hugely popular in the 1920s and 1930s and I really think that their resurgence has begun.’

Leave it to the pros

Lee Hyde’s favourite classic drink at Bar Américain is The Chrysler Cocktail, named after art deco’s most famous expression in architecture.
30ml cognac,
20ml port,
20ml Chambord,
10ml Campari,
5ml Orange Curaçao (or any orange liqueur such as Cointreau),
three dashes orange bitters.
Stir all the ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

One to try at home

Don Draper’s poison, the Old Fashioned. This recipe comes from legendary London bartender Dick Bradsell.
10ml sugar syrup (1:1 ratio)
Two dashes Angostura bitters
50ml bourbon,
twist orange peel

In a tumbler, muddle the syrup and bitters.
Add an ice cube and stir 20 times.
Add half the bourbon and stir 20 times.
Add more ice cubes and stir 20 times.
Add the remaining bourbon and stir 20 times.
Top up with ice.
Snap the lemon peel to release a spray of lemon oil and drop in the zest.

To view the 50 best cocktail bars in London, see timeout.com.

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