Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Royal Ascot

A BIG Happy Birthday to Joe the Bartender this week! As is the custom here at Greatest Drink In The World... This Week, a special celebratory beverage was in order. For his own special day, Joe decided to go with the The Royal Ascot.

The Recipe:
Into a champagne flute, add:

- one ounce (or to taste,) of St. Germain,
- five ounces of Pink Champagne,

- Garnish with a fresh strawberry and a small slice of orange

Joe's notes: The Royal Ascot cocktail is named after a drink I was asked to make for the actual Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot. For those of you unfamiliar with Royal Ascot, it is a five-day horse racing event, held at Ascot, which is about an hour outside of London. The first Royal Ascot race was started by Queen Anne in 1711. The race is held on land owned by the Crown, (that is what we in England call the reigning Monarch). Ladies' Day is the pinnacle of the five-day racing event. All the women wear elaborate dresses and even more elaborate hats. The gentlemen wear top hat and tails . This way of dressing started as a spill over from the Royal enclosure and over the years has grown into as much of the day as the racing itself. If you are going to attend the same horse race as the Queen of England you need to be properly attired, and who knows, you may even be mistaken for royalty yourself.

At the time I was asked to make a drink for Ladies day, I was employed by or a rather prestigious London hotel group. To be presented with such a request was quite an honor. I was given an unlimited budget, so I ordered a shipment of Moet & Chandon Champagne and some fresh frais du bois from France. I then steeped the frais du bois with some demerara sugar and top quality Kirsch. This I stored in huge airtight glass jars in the wine cellar for a couple of weeks. A day or two before the big event I strained the strawberries and handed the pulp over to our head chef to make some little tartlets with.

On the day of the event I travelled with my entourage and set up under the billowing white tent that I had been allotted, (not to far from the Royal enclosure itself!) The day started very well. I put an ounce or two in each champagne flute and topped it of with the Moet. As I handed them out I received many "Yummies!" and "Delicious, Darlings" from the elaborately dressed ladies of Ascot. After about an hour I noticed that the noise level in my tent had increased dramatically. The ladies where getting a bit tipsy, some of the "posh" accents were slipping and their true East London accents where coming out. I was getting a little concerned but still not too worried until I spotted one Ascot Lady standing on a chair holding court. Her hat had slipped, thankfully covering most of her makeup smeared face, she had one shoe off, and was waving the other rather threateningly at a group of sniggering women! I unfortunately was unable to reach her in time before she fell and landed on the table of our strawberry tartlets.

I was advised by the Ascot authorities to close my tent for the day. Looking back now, I realise that I left the fruit fermenting for a little too long and had managed to produce a rather potent drink. I was never again invited back to Ascot, but thankfully the whole incident was quietly swept under the table, as is the British way.

Chris's notes: Incidentally, Joe insisted on this being the drink of the week this week as this Sunday marks his, (oh, let's say 39th,) birthday, and of course, no one could argue. The Royal Ascot, (which, in fairness, I thought was either that scarf-y necktie worn by foreigners, or a donkey's bed ,) was apparently named after someplace in Britain, (see Joe's notes!) and I suspect Joe was feeling a tad homesick.

However, after it was made up and served, research partner, Kerry, declared, with her first taste of it, that it was like, (and I am quoting, minding you!) the "most deliciousest strawberry soda in the world!" (She does have a way with words!)

This evening we were joined by guest researcher, Jill, who hearing it to be for Joe's birthday, decided to order one of her own. After her first taste of Joe's drink du jour, (or "de la semaine," as the case may be!) she commented on how she found The Royal Ascot to be "fresh, and sparkling, yet not pretentious."

Much like Joe himself.

(Only vaguely-related video here: "Ladies' Night ")

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