Waste not is the theme of Duck & Waffle’s new cocktail menu for summer. Launched in June, the Origins menu focuses on extracting as much flavour and use out of one ‘single origin’ ingredient as possible, through a variety of innovative fermentation, pickling, distillation, reduction and infusion techniques. In the perfect evening starter, Olive, black olives are infused with Campari; the olive leaf in Martini Rossi, and the branch is used to make a bitters. Topped up with soda water and garnished with a twist of lemon peel, this tall drink is reminiscent of an Aperol spritz, with a lovely lingering taste of olives.
There are eight cocktails on the list, each packed with a complex flavour so true to its core ingredient, it’s a little mind-blowing at times. In addition to Olive, there’s Walnut, Tomato, Red Pepper, Coffee, Coconut, Lime, Strawberry, Avocado and Earth. If I was forced to choose only one, it would be the Tomato. So much taste is packed in to this almost transparent twist on a gimlet, through clever use of the skin, fruit and stalk. The sparkling Earth was another highlight, managing to perfectly capture the scent of a mossy woodland after a heavy rain, to surprisingly delicious effect (head bartender Massimiliano Terrile’s inspiration for this one actually came from a childhood spent helping his father in the garden). But really, each one is as interesting and drinkable as the next.
Coconut is a delicious variation on an Old Fashioned using ‘coconut washed’ Monkey Shoulder whisky, poured over a block of carved ice for simple, but effective presentation. The husk, pith, juice and peel of the fruit is used to create the zesty Lime, with kaffir leaf-infused Bombay Sapphire gin, a fluffy egg white topping and a ‘lime ash’ dust. Avocado was not at all the bright green I expected. This light, slightly sweet Bacardi Carta Blanca rum and prosecco mix has the novel addition of a frozen avocado stone to keep it cool.
The Origins idea follows on from the bar’s previous menu, Urban Foraging vs Urban Decay, which made use of ingredients sourced in London, such as fresh cut grass, and discarded food like burnt toast and banana skins, which would otherwise go to waste. Part of that ethos carries over to Origins, whereby some of the ingredients come from the restaurant kitchen’s end of night surplus, for example the strawberries used to make the ‘discarded strawberry cordial’ which goes into the summer epitomising Strawberry cocktail. It’s an inspiring and innovative concept devised by Rich Woods, Head of Spirit & Cocktail Development at Duck & Waffle, and aided by his talented team.
The 24/7 bar seems to serve as the entry point to the popular restaurant, with diners stopping for an aperitif before heading next door to eat. But, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out to breath-taking views across the city, from 40 floors up; high enough to reach over and almost touch the top of the Gherkin, and comfortable red leather booths to sink into with a few plates from the bar food menu – the bbq-spiced crispy pig ears, bacon wrapped dates and crispy polenta, parmesan and truffle balls are absolute musts! – the Duck & Waffle bar is a destination in itself. I’ll certainly be heading back to catch the sunset and a few more of those cocktails before the summer is out. And keeping my eyes peeled for what the Autumn menu brings.
For more information on Duck & Waffle or to make a reservation, visit www.duckandwaffle.com or call +44 203 640 7310.