Drawing inspiration from Europe’s best-loved wine regions, The K Bar at The Kensington Hotel has captured terroir in cocktail form with a 16-strong menu unlike any other. Here, bar manager Salvatore Maggio divulges the recipe for 45th Parallel – a brooding, tannic, fruity number reminiscent of Bordeaux…

Do I fancy a glass of wine or would I rather have a cocktail? It’s a complex decision you’ll frequently find us pondering come aperitivo hour. Ordering both is extreme – not to mention a chaotic mix of flavours  – so ultimately there’s only ever going to be one solution. But now, thanks to bar manager Salvatore Maggio in collaboration with Master of Wine Anne McHale, we can have both at the same time (and without raising any eyebrows).

Their menu – aptly named Terroir – explores Europe’s most illustrious regions, including Jerez, Rioja, and Rias Baixas in Spain; Bordeaux, Chablis, Provence, Beaujolais, Alsace, Bordeaux, and Champagne in France; Piedmont in Italy; Porto in Portugal; and Mosel in Germany.

“People often order a glass of wine in a bar,” Maggio explains. “Our idea was to create a concept based on the regions of those wines. If you go into the bar and ask for a glass of Chablis, we can introduce to you a cocktail based on the Chablis region. It has the complexity and taste of the wine, but it’s a cocktail.”

Ah, le terroir! That’s Chateau d’Yquem in Sauternes

Terroir, the menu explains, refers to “the complete set of environmental factors which create an unparalleled sense of character and place in wine from unique and different regions” such as the soil, weather, and local micro-climate. First, Maggio and McHale delved into the intricacies of each region and identified the key flavours and textures. 

Then, the team set about recreating their findings in cocktail form, often using local ingredients to achieve the desired effect – for example, Piedmont-inspired Foot of the Mountain, which combines Amaro di Angostura, hazelnut-infused Ketel One vodka, La Penca mezcal and rose. The Italian region has been cultivating its fine Nocciola del Piemonte (Piedmonte hazelnuts to you and I) for centuries, and is renowned for its vermouth and amaro.

On occasion, a small amount of wine has even been incorporated into the recipe. In Rioja-inspired Float On, for example, Bulleit Bourbon, Carpano Antica Formula, grapefruit, cranberry, blackberry and almond are combined to make a long golden cocktail that features a measure of Rioja wine floated on top.

“People [in London] are more familiar with French, Italian, Spanish and German wines, so we looked at each region and created something unique with the European style,” Maggio explains. “Let’s say, a glass of Champagne – we identified the taste of the Champagne, and we create a cocktail with similar flavours and complexity.”

Each cocktail on the menu has an accompanying fact box that explores the fundamentals of the associated terroir in detail, from the characteristics and composition of the region to the tasting notes and prominent flavours of the wines produced there, along with key grape varietals and surrounding production.

Our Cocktail of the Week is inspired by Bordeaux, which is positioned halfway between the Equator and North Pole on the ‘45th parallel’, hence the name. The combination of a ‘humid maritime climate’, ‘extraction of tannins during fermentation’ and ‘extended cellaring in new French oak barrels’ imparts tannic, oak-aged, savoury notes to the region’s wines.

The 45th Parallel

The 45th Parallel

Bordeaux’s main grape varieties are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, and noted for dry reds known as claret, whites and heavenly sweet wines like Sauternes – but as the foodies among you will know all too well, the region is also renowned for its ceps (wild mushrooms), oysters and fois gras. 

Presented in a rocks glass with a mint sprig garnish, 45th Parallel combines Remy Martin VSOP, Evangelista Ratafia, Syrah juice, blackberry, and citrus. “Like having a glass of Merlot, there’s a natural fruity flavour – blueberry, blackcurrant, those sorts of tastes – a bit of light citrus coming through, with length and complexity from the Syrah jus,” says Maggio. It might seem off to use a variety not planted in Bordeaux but apparently that’s what tasted the best. 

Fancy whipping up this delightful tipple from the comfort of your own home? MoM has you covered – keep scrolling for the ingredients and methodology…

35ml Remy Martin VSOP
10ml Evangelista Ratafia liqueur
20ml Syrah juice (good quality juice from European grape varieties would work in place like this Merlot version)
3 blackberries
10ml lime juice
10ml sugar syrup

Muddle the blackberries in a Boston shaker before adding the rest of the ingredients. Shake and double strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with a mint sprig.