Aspall Cyder - Cider and Vinegar

#ShrubItUp - the final at Imbibe Live

21st July 2016


So we finally made it to the biggest day of the competition; live at Imbibe on Tuesday 5th July, our 4 heat winners – complete with the Wild Card entry of Fitz from the Bristol Heat – were waiting nervously in the wings to step out and in front of a full auditorium to give it their best shot at winning the competition and heading to New York. Oh, and receiving the praise and adulation of their friends, family and possibly most importantly – their peers.

It’s not easy standing up and presenting at the best of times; but here, in the spotlight, with not an insignificant opportunity at stake and an expectant audience, the pressure was really on. And do you know, none of them really put a foot wrong; it’s a bit of a cliché to say it but I will – they were all winners to have got this far, and they each gave a fantastic account of themselves. Ultimately, the winner maxxed out on every detail of their presentation and most critically the drink they made. It could have been any of them, but ultimately, our consensus as judges, was that Zoe Van der Grinten from the White Lyan in Hoxton, and winner of the London heat had her nose in front.  There’s no way to do justice to the show that was put on by each, but nonetheless, here’s the breakdown of what they each made:

  • Queen Anne's Lassi

    by Zoe Van der Grinten – The White Lyan, London

    Shrub - Carrott and Curry leaf – had a soft curry nose blended with the sweetness of the carrot and a great balance with the acidity of vinegar
    Cocktail - 20ml shrub, 30ml Colombia Gin (curry leaf botanical); soda water and topped with 30ml Premier Cru, finished with an orange spray. It had a fabulously enticing colour. Served in Champagne tulip glass with a lovage garnish, which looked remarkably like a carrot top. 

    There was a gorgeous aroma of rich spice; an orange bitterness came forward on the palate; the sweetness balanced beautifully with the acidity of the shrub. It had a wonderful mouthfeel and a long lingering finish.
  • The Summer of 1728

    Ashley Briggs – The Northgate, Bury St Edmunds

    Shrub – Beetroot and Suffolk honey infused with juniper, fennel and caraway. There was a fabulous aroma, a good root flavour throughout though it slightly lacked acidity compared to the heat; great mouthfeel from the beetroot.
    Cocktail – "The Summer of 1728"; 30ml shrub, 35ml Kamm & Sons (grapefruit), 50ml Aspall Organic Cyder, 4 spoons of homemade apple & ginger sauce. The served was in a beer can with an Aspall Organic Cyder Vinegar label applied; shaken and poured over crushed ice, with a mint garnish and a beetroot crisp. 

    The aroma was earthy, rich and intense; a good balance of bitterness and sourness integrated with some sweetness and acidity. A velvety texture which was super smooth and with a texture with a long and lingering finish. 
  • Oh my darling Clement Thyme

    Jenny Griffiths – Ten Mill Lane, Cardiff

    Shrub – Beetroot & Thyme; the beetroot was macerated with thyme, sugar & Aspall organic cyder vinegar. It had a strong yet sweet beetroot aroma and flavour, if a touch sweet on the palate.
    Cocktail – "Oh my darling Clement Thyme" - Ocho Tequila, shrub, fresh lemon, chocolate bitters, green chartreuse, muddled fresh thyme, and then shaken Shaken. Served up in a gold decorated Champagne flute, with a dehydrated beetroot slice and a sprig of thyme. 

    Super, sweet, rooty aroma of beetroot and thyme strokes the nose; the mouthfeel was all velvety creaminess from the beetroot. There was a perfect blend of the shrub and green chartreuse herb flavour – a wonderful balance complimented by the smokiness of the tequila. 
  • The green green grass of home

    “Fitz” – The Dead Canary, Cardiff

    Shrub – Asparagus and pea; sugar snap peas and shaved asparagus. Macerated in sugar for 2 days and then in to organic cyder vinegar. Great pea and asparagus aroma, with good balance.
    Cocktail – "The green green grass of home". Shrub, Pisco, Chase gin, Brandy botanicals, lime juice, celery bitters, shaken over cubed ice. Served in a frozen glass with block ice; the cocktail poured very green, garnished with shaved asparagus. Served on an afro-turf grass coaster – nice touch. 

    The pea came through strongly on the aroma, and tasted as green as I imagine something so green would taste with super flavour of the asparagus coming through up front whilst the central palate was all sweet pea. There was some good heat from the alcohol without being over-powering; slightly sweet on the finish. 
  • The Karansa Clement Revival

    Ciaran Russell – The Tippling House, Aberdeen

    Shrub – Guacamole; rich, full mouthfeel with good sweet and sour balance.
    Cocktail – "The Karansa Clement Revival"; 40ml tequila; 15ml Yellow Chartreuse; 25ml shrub; 5ml "Vyle" liqueur; 40ml Pink Grapefruit; 1 egg white – and then a dry and wet shake. Served in a stemmed crystal glass which had been iced; the cocktail was then placed in a mini treasure chest with dry ice smoke; served on a board with mini day of the dead skulls and flowers. 

    Up front, full and rich 'green' aroma; sweet on the lips which then lead in to a great balance mid palate; creamy, full bodied with super long and moreish finish. 

Photos by Miles Willis Photography