This article contributed by: Vernon Loker
To the layman, a cocktail is little more than a tasty drink found in up-market restaurants, at plush bars or at other elite gatherings, in which patrons consume liquids fit for a very special occasion.
However, to the connoisseur, cocktails are hand-crafted brews requiring a delicate touch of blending various flavours of beverages, both natural and alcoholic together with, if called for, exotic spices to round off nothing short of a sensation to the palette. Granted, these drinks are commonly found at special celebrations, but interestingly for me, they also feature when conversations are light and topical at the end of a business day or the gathering of friends and family during a meal at a favourite eating or drinking establishment over the weekend. Fairmont Zimbali’s launch into this dimension of socializing at their Resort on the North Coast of Kwa-Zulu-Natal nearby Ballito has introduced me to this previously unknown world.
I was recently introduced to this form of social drinking when accompanying my wife to Fairmont Zimbali Resort launch of their exclusive cocktail menu called Classics Perfected.
Little was I aware of firstly the training that Mixologists (the title for a master of his/her trade) undergo, together with the painstaking experimentation and recording of cocktail recipes prior to the final product passing the lips of the discerning tippler. Fairmont Hotel’s South African Mixologists have attended specialist training courses with a fortunate few having gained overseas experience to fine-tune their craft.
I was further intrigued, when given insight, into the flavours that Mixologists are able to produce when blending a cocktail. To successfully combine mint, pomegranate, cucumber, fresh lemon, coconut, plus a variety of other fruits, along with herbs and spices with recognized drinks such as Champagne, Tequila, Vodka, Gin, Cointreau and the likes was the equivalent to introducing me to another universe of drinking pleasure.
Cocktail names such as “Right Word”, “VSOP Boulevardier”, “Veuve Clicqot” had me spell bound.
Of particular interest to me were the demonstrations of the Hotel’s resident Mixologists in the preparation of a cocktail. This at a specially prepared glass counter with colourful lighting, a crystal clear sound system and big screen, all combining to optimize patrons viewing the coming together of the final product.
My attention was gripped by one of the evening’s Mixologists, Patrick, as he produced his personal creation, Pomegranate Paloma . A cocktail of Patrick’s own engineering and one that hitherto had no equal in the cocktail world. I sat enthralled as he combined pomegranate juice, grapefruit juice, and fresh lemon juice with Angostura bitters. He then added Casamigos Reposado Tequila to Cointreau plus Half kosher salt to the juices and rounded off with a rim of lemon.
In short – a refreshing cocktail and one to warm conversations.
All-in-all, an evening well spent in the company of Fairmont Zimbali’s staff and guests.