Cocktail stories: V&T, Baccarat Bar
The alcohol-free V&T at Harrods’ Baccarat Bar makes a hero out of Sherry vinegar.
*This feature was originally published in the August 2023 issue of The Spirits Business magazine.
In a time where moderation is the drinks industry’s buzzword, a bar’s non-alcoholic offering has become as important as its booze-led counterpart, something Michal Janusz Maziarz, head bartender of Baccarat Bar, in London department store Harrods, has focused on in his latest menu, Metamorphosis.
“All non-alcoholic drinks on our list were created with the same mindset as when we create alcoholic cocktails, as far as flavours are concerned,” he says.
“We aimed for complexity and intrigue, keeping sugar as low as possible, while also ensuring we capture the breadth and diversity of their alcoholic counterparts.”
The menu, which explores 12 production techniques, including fermentation, caramelisation, and oxidation, comprises a dozen alcoholic drinks, and four non-alcoholic serves, including Maziarz’s take on a Sherry and tonic.
“I am a big fan of dry oloroso Sherry and tonic, which is already a nice low-ABV option, and the idea of taking it all the way to a ‘dry’ drink came when I was off work, doing something completely different.”
A culinary-knife maker in his spare time, Maziarz was etching some Damascus steel for one of his knives in hydrochloric acid and neutralising it in bicarbonate of soda when he had a lightbulb moment: “I realised I could use the same acid-buffering technique with strong vinegar and kill the acid while creating minerality. I sourced some high-end Sherry vinegar from my favourite oloroso producer, buffered 90% of the acidity, and added tonic. The effect was great. We added pineapple soda and verjus for balance and complexity.”
The resulting serve is sharp while boasting richness, and lacks the saccharine sweetness that can so often be associated with non-alcoholic cocktails, instead making it a long drink that is a pleasure to savour.
Naturally, Baccarat Bar doesn’t serve its cocktails in any old glassware. Each serve has been meticulously paired with a crystal vessel that has been handcrafted via a centuries-old technique. In the case of the V&T, it is presented in a Baccarat Nancy Highball, characterised by delicate crosshatching etched into the base of the crystal glass.