Nick Buglione meets the Brixton mixologists at Shrub & Shutter
Quite the rising stars of the cocktail “new wave”, drinks consultants Chris Edwards and Dave Tregenza of The Shrub & Shutter and First Aid Box have written a far from the ordinary cocktail book. Doctor’s Orders ranges from classic concoctions to highly peculiar potions with dramatic theatrical twists. While claiming restorative, soothing qualities. Stocking pressie for the aspiring mixologist?
Cocktails in the traditional “Savoy” sense have been around forever – why this modern surge in popularity?
Going out nowadays, people want more than a simple drink, they want something to talk about. Most cocktails are based on classic combinations. The more theatrical drinks are usually classic twists with unusual garnishes, vessels and more of a play on people’s senses, like using smoke, dry ice, food pairings and edible garnishes to elevate a drink. One of the drinks we recommend the most is a breakfast martini made famous by Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book. It’s delicious!
You say “our ideas are a little out there” – what do you mean?
At the bars we like to play on nostalgia, interaction, fun and excitement to make a drink more playful and modern. We like to come at drinks at a different angle. That could be old recipes, childhood memories, TV shows or films. Our cocktail “You can’t handle Chartreuse” came from handling jelly (hence the jelly mould it’s served in).
Your garnishes become, in some cases, practically a side dish – what is the thinking behind that
We’ve always liked edible garnishes as they add aroma, act as a canapé and are a real talking point. Our menu at the Shrub has a starter, main and dessert section, so you can have a three-course cocktail meal!
I imagine you are constantly experimenting?
Experimenting, yes. Drinking, yes. Thinking, yes. It’s a combination of many things, but an idea can come when travelling, reading, cooking, fishing, anything and anywhere.
How would you describe your cocktails at First Aid Box?
Fresh, innovative and exciting drinks. Half the menu is Doctor’s Orders and the other is against Doctor’s Orders. The former, think superfruit, superfood & shrubs. The latter, stronger, more glutinous and booze-led.
Is your book for a complete beginner or the aficionado?
It caters for all levels with some easy three or four ingredient drinks and some serious prep work in others. All the drinks can be done without fancy equipment and in your own kitchen.
What are the core basics you need as a beginner?
The basics are simple. Start with a sour: one part citrus (lemon, lime, pink grapefruit), one part sweetness (sugar syrup, maple, agave, honey) and two parts spirit of your choice. Depending on how you like your drink, play with the sweetness or citrus and the spirit you use, and once you are happy, you can experiment with ingredients to add depth and complexity.
What are your personal favourites from Doctor’s Orders?
The “Deer hunter” for the memories it brings and how we came up with it and “Jugged peas” a bloody mary twist based on the classic French dish petit pois a la française. It’s also a superb hangover cure or a go-to cocktail if you feel under the weather.
What are your future plans?
2018 is looking exciting as we welcome SCRAN, a brilliant food pop-up, at the Shrub & Shutter and we want to expand to include countryside pop-ups and takeovers. We have some vineyard/cocktail/food takeovers coming up and, hopefully, another book. But we’ll see how this one does. Go buy it!
Doctor’s Orders by Chris Edwards & Dave Tregenza (Hardie Grant, £12.99)