The art of mixing a cocktail at The J&B Union Pop-Up Bar
J&B Scotch Whiskey and The Union Pop-Up bar in Illovo have collaborated to create a match made in heaven. Phuza Thursday was given a classy twist when we were offered an exclusive opportunity to create our very own cocktails.
I recall having visited the bar two years ago when a rather comical photograph was taken of me. So my return to The Union Pop-Up Bar was very different this time around. We were treated like royalty which is just the type of life I could get used to.
Not knowing what was in store, we were ushered behind the bar where several drink stations had been set up. Each person was designated their very own professional mixologist – the cream of South Africa’s crop we were told, and then we were set the task of creating our very own cocktails.
Me & my personal mixologist
With only one requirement, that the alcoholic base be J&B whiskey, we began. Now I am a gin girl at heart but I love me a good whiskey. Mixers, aperitifs, liqueurs and garnishes all lain out for us to choose from, the bar was our oyster for that hour. We weren’t thrown entirely in the deep end though as we were given a crash course on the science behind creating cocktails which taught me a lot.
A well stocked bar at my disposal
Every cocktail needs to start out with two crossed lines, one between sweet and sour and another between weak and strong. The balance lies in between and it was up to us to find it.
The perfect cocktail relies on the golden ratio between its ingredients.
Begin with the alcoholic base. Second a simple syrup and finally something sour such as lemon or lime to balance it out. The ratio should ideally be 2:1:1 but I may have experimented otherwise.
I opted for Aprol, an orange liqueur that is slightly bitter and for a sweet flavour I selected blueberry syrup because it is the taste of home for me.
My personal mixologist taught me how to shake my drink; gave me advice on flavours and showed me how to pour through a strainer into my serving glass. We topped it off with a dash of lime, soda water and an orange for garnish. I loved it but was told that it needed a little work. Not to be deterred, (and fuelled by the drinking of my first cocktail) we moved onto a second to which we then added cellulose.
Extracted from red seaweed apparently but in its more basic form, it can be derived from egg whites. It’s added to cocktails to help them get that lovely foam and thickness. So we poured a little from the little squeezy bottle and I shook it until it was pink and frothy. It looked gorgeous but unfortunately the taste was flat.
My beautiful pink drink
So once more we set out, this time using elder flower cordial instead. It wasn’t the best but I had great fun making it. Perhaps I should have been a little more adventurous because unfortunately we were not crowned the winning team. Their drink was placed on the menu for the week.
My three non-winning drinks
The pop-up bar idea is a unique one which works in the favour of The Union Bar because it keeps them fresh, constantly changing and revamping their menu so that visitors can experience a variety of flavours and tastes.
We all walked away with a wealth of knowledge, the desire to begin creating our own cocktails and of course a bottle of J&B Scotch Whiskey.
Thank you Union Bar for an incredible evening, I will be working on my cocktail mixing and next time around that prize will be mine.