Legendary mixologist Pippa Guy first caught our eye whilst mixing superb cocktail classics at The Savoy’s American Bar. We caught up with Pippa fresh from winning Bartender of the Year at the CLASS Bar Awards to get a first look at some of 2020’s biggest cocktail trends, and to find out what goes into the making of a master.
What excites you most about the world of craft cocktails?
At the moment, the potential for innovation. Cocktails have come a long way thanks to the help of some really imaginative, creative and intelligent people in the drinks industry. What I love about the craft is that everyone is super keen to share what they’ve learned and created with their peers, meaning we’ve come forward creatively in leaps and bounds. As bartenders, most of our education is self-motivated and it’s really cool that the people leading the way organise seminars, write books and constantly create accessible content that we can learn and share from. Iain McPherson, from Panda and Sons in Edinburgh, is probably the most current example of this with his new technique called ‘Switching’ (a process that involves freezing a spirit, separating its water content and then replacing the water with another liquid – like clarified juice). I’m excited to watch this grow and see others experiment with this in 2020.
Which cocktail trends do you predict gaining momentum in 2020?
The non-alcoholic category has exploded over the last few years and we’ve seen a big boost in the variety of non-alcoholic products available in bars and supermarkets. I have a feeling this is only the start. Remember when we went through the gin boom a few years ago and it just kept going?
I think we will also see an increase in mindful ingredients – there’s more interest and knowledge of where products have come from, following their footprint from garden to glass. With more people being conscious of their diet and the environment, as bartenders we have to learn to adapt, and knowing what ingredients are in our cocktails is important.
What ingredients do you enjoy being playful with behind the bar?
My phone is filled with photos of perfumes and scented candles! When I come across a new scent, I find it’s my nose that is the most powerful and inspirational sense for crafting cocktails. I’ll take a photo of the moment and later play with the ingredients to see if it’s something I can make work in a liquid. Super fresh herbs and spices are also at the top of the list. I was really into seaweeds last year and I think it’s important to be knowledgeable about what’s available locally so that we’re doing as little damage as possible to our environment. Instead of shipping ingredients from all over the world, why not be fun and creative with items on your doorstep?
What have been your favourite Classic Cocktails over the years?
I love the Sidecar and the Sazerac, but my favourite classic will always be The Moonwalk. It was created in 1969 by Joe Gilmore, head bartender of The American Bar at The Savoy, to mark the first moon landing of Apollo 11. He sent the drink to the astronauts to celebrate their success upon their return to earth. Having just left The American Bar myself to start my adventures in New York, it is a drink that will stay close to my heart. It is probably one of the best stories to engage with a guest I’ve ever come across, and it would be amazing to take them to the Savoy Museum after their drink and show them the letter written by Armstrong to Joe Gilmore, thanking him for the drink. I challenge you to find me a drink out there with a better, more iconic story!
How to Make The Moonwalk
35 ml Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
3 dashes Grapefruit Bitters
3 dashes Orange Blossom water
1 Sugar Cube
Stir Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge in a mixing glass with Orange Blossom and Grapefruit Bitters
Place the sugar cube at the bottom of a chilled Champagne Flute.
Pour mixing glass mixture over the sugar and top-up with Champagne
Main Image: Pippa Guy preparing The Moonwalk at the American Bar, Savoy
CREDIT: Ben Gurr / The Times / News Licensing