Florence Cocktail Week 2016
The first ever Florence Cocktail Week was a resounding success. We found the week long event to be a perfect excuse to sample and resample the best of Florence’s bars. In doing so we made a couple of great discoveries. Most notably the excellent Il Locale bar on Via delle Seggiole and the wonderful Gurdulù Restaurant in Santo Spirito. We also rediscovered some of our old favourites, in particular the beautiful Winter Garden Bar in the St. Regis Hotel and Caffè Florian’s experimental cocktails and stunning decor.
These are our favourite cocktails of Florence Cocktail Week, 2016.
SHORT ISLAND AT IL LOCALE BAR
Our Pick For Best Cocktail (& great location)
This cocktail tastes of fizzy cola bottles. It’s a fun carbonated concoction of vodka, gin, rum, triple sec, cola syrup, kola bitters and lemon, and it’s delicious . We also love the bar, which is modern with a huge centrepiece glass roof, which means you can look up at the stars as you drink inside, and, as this is Italy, smoking is allowed too. Matteo, who created the cocktail, tells us that the carbonisation helps with the inebriation.
P CRYSTAL MARY AT THE WINTER GARDEN BAR | ST. REGIS HOTEL
St Regis hotels have claimed the Bloody Mary as their signature cocktail, so it’s only right that their Florence Cocktail Week entry should be a take on the classic. However, creator, Christian Pampo told me that he wanted to create something a little more complex than a Bloody Mary, so he based this new take on the Bloody Mary on the classic Tuscan bread salad Panzanella.
Christian’s process involved experimenting with green tomatoes and different bases in an attempt to subvert the usual red colour of a “bloody” Mary. The P Crystal Mary is created with Diamond Ice Vodka, tomato water, lemon and a few intriguing extras. At the bottom of the glass is a pile of agar agar pearls filled with caramelised red onions, and the round ice cubes are filled with basil, which infuses with the drink as they begin to melt. The glass is then topped with a cracker itself topped with olive oil dust. The flavours on offer are strong and bold, and intriguingly, not so far off from the promised Panzanella. We found that the cocktail worked best when paired with the excellent selection of parmesan and parma ham which is paired with the in-house Bloody Mary selection as part of St. Regis’ Bloody Mary Ritual.
IL CONTE IN ORIENTE AT THE FUSION BAR | GALLERY ART HOTEL
Best Food Pairing
A modern take on a Campari Spritz with Gin and House Vermouth infused with lemongrass and cardamon which blends together well. One of the most eye-catching of the bunch, served in a bag atop a reflecting cube. But the star of this one was the side pairing of octopus and coconut milk served inside the shell of a coconut on a bed of ice.
Le Monsieur at Atrium Bar | Four Seasons Hotel
Best For Presentation
This was hard to call as the above Il Conte in Oriente was striking in its presentation, but I like that ‘Le Monsieur’ was served in a flask on ice, waiting to be poured when ready rather than diluting with time. The drink was a strong concoction of two different gins, Vermouth and Mirto Bresca Dorada and though it was flavoursome, I found it a tad too bitter.
BRIT SEVENTEENTWENTY AT CAFFÈ FLORIAN
Winner of best cocktail at Florence Cocktail Week 2016.
Caffè Florian is one of my favourite cocktail bars in Florence, mainly because barman Julian Bondi gets behind the events in Florence more so than anyone else. His creation for Florence Cocktail Week was one of the most drinkable of the bunch and was reminiscent of a Bellini, only created with two types of gin, thyme, blueberry, lime, lemon and egg whites. The cocktail was paired with a liver and blueberry reduction, which though interesting, was one of my least favourite pairings.
Best of Everything Else.
MILLE E UNA NOTTE AT HARRY’S BAR
This was easily one of my favourite cocktails to drink but came in just behind the great Short Island at Il Locale.
This one fuses tequila, crema di cacao, Galliano, cream, cane sugar, tabasco, salt and honey perfectly. The glass was topped with caramel, a cinnamon stick, and a small smattering of Korean chilli threads. The fusion of milk and the spiciness of the Korean Chilli Flakes and tabasco worked perfectly together.
The Rest of the Cocktails
In order: BIBERE Fizz at Gurdulu, Bunea Vista Social Cocktail at Rivalta Cafe, Hasu Orenji at O’ Cafe, Le Duc at Le Ménagère, Mediterranean Leaf at Le Pool Bar (Villa Cora), Bonnie & Clyde at Viktoria Lounge Bar,Negroni Pallido at Rivoire and finally a delicous Mezcal cocktail at The Fusion Bar made just for Florence Cocktail Week.