First things first, I should never have worried about the food or drink.We were in the good hands of Nieuw Amsterdam’s Head Chef Nick Stanton and Head Bartender Sean McGuire – the two go together like finger limes and salmon roe. Ahead of us was a carefully crafted five course cocktail degustation where each dish was designed to pair perfectly with each cocktail. The evening started with a crisp, clean and approachable Tanqueray No. 10, grapefruit and coriander shrub, prosecco, fingerlimes cocktail matched with black kingfish ceviche daikon, dashi dressing, crunchy quinoa, fingerlike.
The next sure-to-put-hair-on-your-chest cocktail of Talisker 10 Year Old Single Malt Whisky, sweet vermouth, cherry herring, pomegranate was paired with it jerusalem artichoke curried cauliflower, truffled sour cream. It was clear very early on in the evening that Sean knows a thing or two when it comes to mixing and shaking. As for Nick’s skills…course after course presented flavours so good that at one point we even needed a plate licking intervention. One over zealous guest was unable to contain himself (and we couldn’t blame him).
The cocktail of Don Julion Resposado, Cynar, truffle, black walnut bitters, merlot fog caused significant debate amongst our foodies. Was it genius or madness? This one drink alone seemed to divide the masses but even those who found it a little too strong were unable to stop sipping. It was matched with pigeon and bacon skewers burnt onion, pomegranate, smokey scotch jus gras – delicious! Next up was a Bulliet Rye Whiskey cocktail made with sweet & dry vermouth, ginger and carrot foam. This came with a wholesome smokey beef brisket with carrot remoulade.
With the lovely Laura co-ordinating it was a cheerful well-oiled machine. So well oiled in fact that it didn’t seem to matter so much when guests became a little well oiled with libation too. The evening was blessed with the most cheerful, cheeky, interesting bunch of people a dinner host could ever ask for. Eternally curious, appreciative and chatty, it was no surprise to anyone, when several new friendship were formed. If anyone needed winning over at this point in the evening it was safe to say the dessert match formed some serious connections!
A Chocolate Delice Honeycomb was matched with a Ron Zacapa Negroni with Black Chocolate Tea (feel free to drool away). Nick and Sean took the time to chat with us about their well considered pairings, the complications of making quinoa taste so damn good and the keys to a clever food and drink match. It was obvious that for some attending, this was not the end of an evening, but simply beginning to many more. As food and drink crushes go, one thing was agreed, we all fancied Nieuw Amsterdam.