Our very first drinks menu has been entirely designed by bar manager Gemma Terry, here she tells us how she developed menu number one.
There’s nothing more enjoyable than working on a project from the small beginnings, particularly in my opinion, designing the drinks menu.
I was pretty much given free reign of the content for Ojo Rojo’s menu, with only one stipulation; it must coincide with the ethos both JJ and Trevor had been working on for their bar/restaurant; inspired by Mexico, offering something different from the norm while still being approachable and welcoming.
Having designed menus for EAUdeVIE in the past I knew what the content needed to include; wine, beer, cocktails, soft drinks and a selection of the spirits we would stock.
Having a clear theme to base my menu around was a lot of fun but also required a lot of research, there is still so much more to learn, this is just the start of the journey…
Spanish speaking wines
By reducing our selection of wines to those of Spanish speaking countries, we discovered flavours and styles of wine that might normally be overlooked for more on-trend, or well-known names.
The opportunity to delve into indigenous grape varietals and unusual blends has created a diverse and colourful list that covers all taste preferences and compliments our cuisine perfectly.
With a relatively small list of just six white wines, two rosé and six red wines, and the help of a Verre de Vin, our world-class wine preservation system, Rojo are able to offer all our wines by the glass!
Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Spain.
Pinot Grigio, Torrontes, Viura, Malvasia, Albarino, Chardonnay, Xarello, Verdejo, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Garnacha, Grenache, Petit Sirah, Syrah, Monastrell, Malbec. Parellada, Macabeo.
The same idea lies with Cava as our sparkling wine option, choosing just three varied styles fit for any occasion.
With a traditional expression of tropical lushness opening the list followed by a dry Pinot Noir rosé with underlying summer-fruit flavours. The top boasts a Cava fit for Champagne, dry and fresh with good acidity and made from the more familiar Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grape varietals.
Unlike the other areas of the menu, this one allows for more creativity and personal style. All the cocktails are agave based to show just how versatile this misinformed spirit can be. The aim is to read the drinks for their flavour profile rather than their spirit base. Like the majority of spirits on any backbar, flavour can be manipulated within a cocktail to suit various taste preferences.
I chose to create a small list of well thought out drinks, from their name meanings to each ingredient that goes into them. I like to take influences from the classics and each description is written to entice the senses and allude to where the inspiration has been drawn from.
There are also a number of home-made ingredients and infusions which not only adds our own unique flair but helps keep the drinks flavour consistent. For example, where some fruits can vary in quality or water content; such as watermelon, I’ve turned them into cordials which not only adds sweetness and viscosity to the drink but enhances the flavour too.
Simple serves, adventurous drinks.
The menu suggestions are small with 14 unique and characterful concoctions allowing room for specials and seasonal drinks which showcase the individual style and skills of the bar team.
We will be fully equipped to create anything off menu, be it classic or bespoke. Because as much as we love Mezcal we know that sometimes only a Gin or Rum will hit the spot. Myself and the bar team are looking forward to sharing more information on recipes and bar tips over the coming months.
Beer – it’s all in the bottle!
Although I wanted to keep the Mexican theme running, I’ve been a lot more open to various brands in this genre. Covering a whole host of palates in this list, with craft and session beers available.
Our beer selection, like our Mezcals is something that will only evolve. With seasonal and guest bottlings being introduced in the future.
Rojo will also offer up Mexican inspired Boiler Makers.
Originally a beer served with a shot of whisky we suggest a Tequila Anejo as a chaser, or if you are feeling a little more adventurous then a measure of Ancho Reyes chile liqueur!
You big softy
Apart from the obvious mixers and juices that we all know and love, we’ll be offering freshly-pressed juice, also known as Agua Frescas.
Just like a little cocktail they have been designed to use complimenting flavours for a fresh, healthy beverage. Each ‘Agua Fresca’ will also be turned into a ‘Paleta’ (Mexican ice pop), the perfect thirst quencher in the summer months or if you’ve tucked into a few too many chillies! We are also proud to be able to source Mexican coffee from the chaps at Clifton Coffee. Grown in the area of Oaxaca which is also home to the majority of Mezcals on our list.
Feed your spirit
“Mezcal is one of the world’s great spirits: complex, gorgeous and endlessly intriguing, distinguished like great wines by a strong sense of place”.
Eric Asimov, Food & Wine Writer, New York Times 2010.
From what I have learnt and tasted of Mezcal so far I am hooked. It truly is the wine of the spirit world.
Rojo are looking to stock the largest selection in the south west, starting with around 74 Mezcals that will only grow and grow as we learn more about this captivating spirit genre. From smoky, pungent and earthy expressions to light and floral or sweet and salty, there is an abundance of flavours to indulge in.
Price wise, well Mezcal is not cheap, and for good reason. The blue agave for example, is one of the quickest growing but still takes a whopping eight years to reach maturity, while others can take up to 30 years. We feel the drinks are priced fairly against the quality of our ingredients. Like the old saying goes; ‘you get what you pay for’.
Not forgetting the other spirit genres, I have selected varying styles of boutique and some of the more familiar brands to savour. This area will also expand and like the other sections of the menu it’s all about trying something a little different.
The Rojo bar specials board will play host to all spirits, along with guest beers and wines, bespoke cocktails, new techniques and quirky serves, basically anything and everything we love! Sharing is caring right.
A menu to explore and embrace, try something new with us.