Danico unveils Xplorer cocktail menuBy Alice Brooker
Paris-based bar Danico has kicked off its new cocktail menu series, Xplorer, with an Indonesian-themed drinks list.
Acclaimed bartender Nico de Soto has created the menu, inspired by his travels around the world.
The debut menu of the series boasts a list of 12 cocktails, inspired by Indonesia’s ‘unfamiliar and often misunderstood’ spices and ingredients. The menu aims to transport guests to the tropics through its drinks.
Speaking exclusively to The Spirits Business, de Soto said: “Xplorer was a good name for it, because its kind of like exploring the world for flavours. And to us actually, this is what Danico’s story is: [our] logo is a boat and a [hot air] balloon. But we really wanted to change [the menu] to be specific to one country.”
The menu is inspired by food – “street food or food in restaurants”, said de Soto.
“We didn’t want to start with the countries that are too obvious, like Thailand, for example,” explained de Soto, when asked why he picked Indonesia as the first spot for the menu’s inspiration, “but I’m personally in love with the country of Indonesia.”
De Soto has taken trips on the remote islands of Indonesia, discovering more about the country’s food and people. He has also found a lot of his favourite flavours were from there, such as pandan and coconut.
“So, that was for me like it has to be had to be Indonesia for so many reasons. A lot of people don’t know about the spices, the flavours and how rich it is [in this],” he added.
Guests can expect a variety of serves on Xplorer, including Tipsy Luwak, which is inspired by the ‘classic flavours’ of Indonesian cuisine, and combines Japanese whisky Nikka with coconut milk, avocado, pandan syrup and espresso; and the Nasi Goreng, based on the Indonesian stir-fry dish, and made up of Shōchū 3S infused with nasi goreng syrup spice, tofu and a whole egg.
Plus, the Spicy Soto comprises Mount Gay Black Barrel rum infused with spices, lime, soursop (the broadleaf) and ghost pepper.
Despite the impressive list of exotic ingredients included in the cocktails, de Soto revealed that there were challenges in sourcing ingredients at times.
“There’s a lot of ingredients that you can find in Indonesia that you cannot find in France,” he explained. “And even if you find some of them, they are just either too expensive or the taste is not great. For example, mangosteen – I love mangosteen, but the price in France is insane. So it’s impossible to put it on a menu.”
De Soto found that spices and dry ingredients could be transported from Indonesia, and the team could take back a “kilo or two” which can last for six months. However, liquids and fresh fruits caused more concern.
“We had to make do with what we had. So that was a major problem,” he said.
De Soto’s favourite serve on Xplorer is Krakatoa, based on a salad dish commonly found in Indonesia called rojak.
The serve is named after the large volcanic crater Krakatoa, which erupted in 1883, and comprises peanut butter distillate, Plantation OFTD Rum, Plantation 3 Stars Rum, rojak spices mix, palm sugar, mango, pineapple, cucumber, sweet potato, lime, and soy milk.
“It gives a very clean and fruity flavour,” he said. “That’s actually not my drink, it’s one of our bartender’s, but that’s my favourite on the menu.”
“I picked up knowledge of more ingredients when I started researching them in Indonesia, I discovered a lot that I didn’t know, like of leaves and some type of roots,” explained de Soto, when asked what he learned on his travels to source ingredients for Xplorer.
“We started visiting distilleries and trying some local stuff that I never tried before. Going deeper and deeper into the research, we discovered more. The goal was also to have the team discover more about the country.”
De Soto had two bartenders visit Indonesia with him to help develop the menu.
The team at Danico hasn’t decided which country the next cocktail menu will be inspired by.
“Although I love Asia, I want to give a try to other continents, South America, I’m talking about Peru, Mexico. We also have India, Japan, or Thailand.
“So, the next one won’t be in Asia for sure. We have to decide where in America, the Caribbean or South America we would go. Probably aiming for it be Mexico to be honest, but we’re not 100% sure yet.”
The menu has been active for two weeks so far.
“I’ve never had such a good reception from all the menus we have launched. People love the new format. We have drawings, with explanations and deeper stories. So it’s really nice to hear, because it was a lot of work to put in, and a lot of research, and a lot of stuff to bring from Indonesia.”