We headed to Amazónico, a recently opened Brazilian-fusion restaurant and bar in Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London, to check out its first cocktail menu.
Even among the relentless raft of new bars opening in London, Amazónico stands out. Maybe it’s the pedigree. Its Madrid restaurant is phenomenally popular and well-regarded, playing host to its fair share of celebrity guests, from Cristiano Ronaldo to the Beckhams. Or maybe it’s the fact that it’s basically an indoor rainforest where lush foliage hangs from the ceiling and model peacocks make their home. This is one you’ll see on Instagram again and again and again…
At Amazónico, the spotlight is on the tropical and theatrical. Meat is carved, fish is deboned and guacamole is made at the table (not all in one move, obviously). In one corner there’s a sushi bar, in another, slow-roasted caramelised pineapples hang from skewers. The menu blends Asian, Mediterranean and Brazilian and in the background “Electropical” music (I don’t know either, but I’m intrigued) plays. The striking bar is housed at the entrance of Amazónico so customers know what to expect as soon as they step through the door.
Often they’ll be greeted by Edoardo Casarotto, head of bars at Amazónico. His career began in Venice and Milan, before he moved to London in 2013 where he worked for Aqua Shard and Hutong, as well as The Ned Hotel. When Vincent Pastorello, the global beverage manager for the Doğuş Group (owners of Amazónico), came calling it was a no-brainer for him. “Straight away I loved this project, to open a jungle in the middle of Mayfair!” says Casarotto. But if you’re expecting indulgent and ostentatious cocktails from him, think again. Casarotto’s style is to create drinks that are simple but sublime. “I love to see crazy creation in drinks, but sometimes all you need is a great product and a simple recipe that you can twist a little bit. That’s how I feel you get the best results,” says Casarotto.
His brand of rainforest refinement was on show as we sampled and explored the bar’s first menu, including one non-alcoholic serve.
Ingredients: Tanqueray No. Ten, watermelon & guava shrub, cardamom, lemon, pomegranate, jasmine and soda water.
Casarotto says: “This cocktail has been very popular already. It’s a drink made with Tanqueray gin, with a little watermelon and guava schnapps. The inspiration behind this drink comes from the rainforest. There are more than 40,000 different species of plants and flowers there, so I want to make a drink with a very tropical flavour and that looks like a flower. The flower blossom means you get floral notes in your nose when you sip it. I like to make sure the garnish brings something to the drink so it’s not just a decoration. It’s very refreshing, and perfect if you like a long drink that’s a little bit more interesting than a classic gin and tonic. When I designed the menu I tried to make different drinks for different people, so the Gauivo is super refreshing, whereas something like our Old Fashioned is more of an after-dinner serve.
Cocktail: Rainforest Old Fashioned
Casarotto says: The Old Fashioned is one of the most iconic drinks ever, so I obviously wanted to create a drink that was a twist on it with flavours from the rainforest. Ours is made with Zacapa rum. The rum industry in South America is huge so we wanted to use a South American rum rather than the classic bourbon or Scotch. It also features acai berry which is native to the Brazilian rainforest, they look like cherries and have a slight dark chocolate bitterness. The sweet part is made with panela sugar, which is a type of brown sugar that’s also from South America as well. We then do a reduction of fermented bacuri, a kind of citrus fruit that grows in the rainforest. What you get is the rum in the beginning and then the berries, followed by a little bit of liquorice from the panela sugar. As a garnish, we decided to use a banana leaf to match the decorations of the restaurant.
Cocktail: Welcome To The Jungle
Ingredients: Seedlip Grove, lime, tamarillo and anise.
Casarotto says: Welcome to the Jungle is a twist on a Caipirinha, which is Brazil’s national cocktail and is usually made with cachaça, sugar, and lime. Our version features a tamarillo, which is a fascinating fruit from the Brazilian rainforest that’s almost a cross between a passion fruit and a tomato. It’s very tropical and sweet, but at the same time, you get the savoury tomato notes as well. It’s served in a glass that was handmade in Italy. They are all different sizes and with a little different shape and design. The one that you have is the non-alcoholic version, which we made with Seedlip Grove instead of cachaça. The rest of the recipe is exactly the same. We have a few serves that are low ABV and no ABV. It’s amazing to see the growth of the low-no-ABV market. When I first arrived in London, I wanted to open a non-alcoholic bar but I’m amazed to see it become such a popular movement and I think it’s only going to become bigger and bigger.
Amazónico is sure to be popular. It’s exotic, eye-poppingly beautiful and culturally diverse in a manner that isn’t tacky or confusing. The menus, both bar and restaurant, aren’t intimidating. In fact, both are quite minimalist and prefer to champion good ingredients above all. Across the cocktails I sampled, the thing that stood out for me was Casarotto’s ability to not prioritise theme over taste or features over flavour. Plus, he makes a mean Old Fashioned. I’d heartily recommend it. Don’t forget to tip your peacock.