All trends start with a whisper, an underground murmuring from those at the epicentre. There's always someone who was doing it first, whether it's ripping holes in a pair of tights or stocking up on super foods. Right now that underground current in the cocktail world involves expensive blenders, crushed ice and extra sugar. Yes, the blended drink is making a comeback.
It's taken its time, seemingly enjoying its banishment to Caribbean islands and Mediterranean booze cruises, but slowly and steadily this motley crew of drinks are making their way back into high-end establishments, led by the Piña Colada and frozen versions of the Daiquiri and Margarita.
The blended cocktail has had a troubled relationship with bars outside of the tropics for sometime, thought of, for nearly a generation of bartenders, as sickly sweet abominations which are far better shaken and strained. It was two years ago that Jeffery Morgenthaler penned the words "Walk into your local craft cocktail bar, ask for a blended Margarita and see what sort of look the bartender gives you. Let’s face it, the blender is the most widely detested tool in the bar world..." for the American publication PUNCH. What has changed, at least on this side of the pond, is that your bartender's reaction could now go one of two ways. They'll either detest your order as per the last 15 years or think you're the coolest kid who's planted their ass on the barstool in front of them because blended drinks are boss and admitting you have a palate for more than straight rye or Fernet is where it's at.
Pisco Sour at Ceviche
Why is ordering a blended Strawberry Daquiri the new cool? Because, as with all categories on the verge of stardom, a few leading lights have been showing us all just how delicious, smooth and balanced a well-made blended cocktail can be. You can actually blend a surprising amount of cocktails too, this style isn't restricted to tiki, a blended Pisco Sour will be enough to convince you of this. Egg white included. It's worth noting though that blended drinks do need an increase in the amount of sugar - possibly why they acquired a bad reputation all those years ago from bartenders being a bit heavy handed. The quantities of other ingredients tend to stay the same but to carry the flavours over the added dilution of ice blended into the drink a bit more sweetner is usually required. Not a lot though. Not enough to put us off.
Despite a few places making genuinely great blended cocktails, the category hasn't pervaded the entirity of London's bar scene just yet, and in our humble opinion it deserves a quicker comeback than it's currently being allowed. Yes a few places have started to whisper about them and the industry is changing its opinion but the battle won't be over until an order for a blended drink is greeted with the same knowing nod of approval as one for a Manhattan, a Gin Fizz or an Airmail. And why not - they are, after all, utterly delicious.
Three Blended Drinks To Try in London
Hawksmoor's Shaky Pete's Ginger Brew - gin, ginger, lemon, London Pride.
Ceviche's Frozen Pisco Sour - Pisco Quebranta, lime, sugar syrup, egg white, Peruvian Chuncho bitters.
Satan's Whiskers' Piña Colada - light rum, pineapple juice, Coco Lopez, cream.