As London’s buildings have got taller, so have its bars. It’s got to the point where drinking at high altitude is positively encouraged and nowhere is this more the case than at The Shard.
Renzo Piano’s pointy masterpiece has been piercing the sky above London Bridge since 2013, yet it’s a new addition to the drinks menu at Oblix – one of three restaurants spread across the skyscraper’s mid-section – that’s giving regulars wings.
Quetzal, meaning Little Bird, is the result of a cocktail collaboration between Oblix’s bar manager Aaron Masonde and Dennis Zoppi, an internationally renowned mixologist who won the Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year title in Italy in 2012.
“I was very excited,” Masonde confesses. “Oblix is a culinary-led bar and we take inspiration from flavours used in the kitchen. Dennis and I wanted to highlight tastes within cocktails we created and our desire to do it justice led us to choose Zacapa 23-Year-Old rum as the base.”
“This cocktail stimulates all the human senses and transports you above the clouds.”
Hailing from Guatemala, the spirit is aged high up in the cool air of the country’s highlands, 2,300m above sea level in a place called the House Above the Clouds. It seemed perfect for a bar residing atop London’s skyline. Served in “Little Bird” glassware (pictured), the quetzal is also the national bird of Guatemala and the country’s currency is named after it, too.
To complement the rum, Masonde searched for a liquid that would add a lightness and a freshness to the recipe, “without an added syrupy texture” and alighted on Seedlip, a series of non-alcoholic spirits that burst with clean, herbal flavours.
Then he added pandan leaf, which is more traditionally used in Thai cuisine. “It reminds me a lot of caraway seeds with a hint of citrus. We take the leaves and lightly cook them with equal parts sugar and water to form a syrup.”
To make the Quetzal at home, he says, all you need is good quality ingredients, persistence and a sense of adventure. “This cocktail stimulates all the human senses and transports you above the clouds.”