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Cheers
- Mixologist Gegam Kazarian stirs up his fave tipples — Molinari Sambuca & Limoncello Di Capri

Ordering the same-old poison at the bar is dreary. Innit? So, head for the man with a cocktail shaker and a mischievous grin to stir up a sexy drink. Armenia-born Spanish mixologist Gegam Kazarian taught t2 a trick or two during his food and cocktail pairing session at The Park. And no, it wasn’t about that… yawn… Sex on the Beach. Molinari Sambuca and Limoncello Di Capri were our poison!

Balsamoli

What do you keep in mind while pairing food and cocktails?

At a food pairing programme in Belgium with other chefs and mixologists, we looked at food and liquor at a molecular level and realised that cucumber goes with berries or with Marsala wine (produced in the city of Marsala in Sicily). One needs to look at interesting ways to pair wines and food (appetisers to desserts) that apparently have no connection. You are also required to come up with some basic ideas. For example, with Limoncello (Italian lemon liqueur), I’d go for Mediterranean herbs that go well with chicken or other meats… even cucumber. There’s another cocktail called Balsamoli, which I’ve created with Sambuca Molinari Extra (‘extra’ signifies adherence to quality), balsamic vinegar, olive oil and Molinari Café (a star anise and coffee liqueur).

What is your philosophy in bartending?

I think it’s necessary to have some training in all aspects of gastronomy. I did my time in the kitchen, in the patisserie and now I concentrate on two aspects — cuisines and cocktails. The other thing is not to complicate matters. Keep it simple and play with fresh ingredients.

Why are most liqueurs enjoyed after a meal?

Well, because most are too sweet. Something too sweet suppresses your appetite. That’s why it’s had more after desserts. Another reason could be that Sambuca is known to have digestive properties. Star anise is said to have digestive properties and Sambuca is made from aniseed.

How did you get into mixology?

I grew up in Armenia where I studied biochemistry. That’s how I got into cocktails and gastronomy. After that I moved to Spain and continued in this line…. I actually began my career under an Indian. My first bar manager was, in fact, from Kerala.... Making cocktails has been my profession for 15 years!


Sambuca-infused lamb kofta and paella cups and fresh crop tagine

Decoding Sambuca and Limoncello

What is Sambuca?

It’s a liqueur. Molinari, in particular, is made from the best quality star anise and it goes through a process of triple distillation. The primary flavours are of sugar and star anise. For balance, I like to use fresh ingredients, fresh herbs and fruits. Ginger, basil... green apple, with their acidity, can also be used for balance.

 

How and when to have it?

It depends on your mood. You can use it as a cocktail, a starter or after-dinner digestivo (a drink that’s taken before or after a meal to aid digestion). You can also have it as Café Correto (an Italian beverage), which is usually 80 per cent espresso and 20 per cent Sambuca.

 

Why is it served with coffee beans?

It started in 1945 when Angelo Molinari served it with three coffee beans. He said it was “a la mosca”, meaning “with flies”. Sambuca a la mosca caught on in the 1960s after La Dolce Vita released (in 1960). Angelo served it to the film’s star Marcello Mastroianni and some other famous actors and they loved it. That’s how it became so popular. The three beans also signify the Holy Trinity.


Limoncello-flambed orange popsicle was served as a palate-cleansing sorbet

 

What is Limoncello Di Capri?

It’s a liqueur from the island of Capri. South Italy is famous for lemons and that is what this is made from. But 80 per cent of Limoncello available across the world is actually not made with lemons! Limoncello di Capri uses lemons from the Sorrento region.

 

The Limoncello-infused seafood ceviche (top) was paired with fresh Angelo Fizz

How and when to have it?

It’s an aperitif as well as a digestive. But it’s also beautiful on the rocks… cold Limoncello is beautiful. You can also use it in desserts. Limoncello gelato is delicious. It’s very popular in Italy as an after-lunch drink.

 

What flavours do you combine in a cocktail?

The flavours of Angelo Fizz, the cocktail that I’ve created, are great. I used thyme, rosemary, lemon juice, egg white and soda. Rosemary and thyme give it a Mediterranean feel.