The idea behind this drink is to create innovation through legacy, the legacy of those who have gone before. It is awkward to view the legacy of those great innovators that have gone before and decide that one can do better, but it is on the shoulders of those giants where modern innovation occurs. John Walker started the process for Johnnie Walker, but it was his son and grandson that would be the people to innovate Johnnie Walker, making it what it is today. The Johnnie Walker brand is the perfect example of legacy vs. innovation. I drew inspiration from the history of Johnnie Walker and how over the years sine the early 1800s they have released numerous expressions of whisky culminating in some of their limited release bottling’s. One such limited bottling is the Johnnie Walker “Espresso Roast”, the brainchild of blender Aimée Gibson and master blender Jim Beveridge. This whisky has huge coffee and chocolate notes not from the addition of coffee or chocolate, but purely born out of the roasting process. The barley used to make the “Espresso Roast” is roasted specifically to bring out the chocolate and coffee characteristics seen in the whisky. Whilst the legacy of Jonnie Walker is seen clearly in this product, there is also substantial innovation present.
The “Espresso Roast” and the innovation surrounding it led me to think about how bartenders use their ingredients. Are their more interesting or creative ways to use the ingredients we see every day? The method of production used for this whisky inspired me to look at ingredients and products more deeply, to see if I could utilize them differently. An obvious and highly overlooked ingredient is the egg.
What is an egg? The egg contains 4 parts, shell, membrane, whites and yolk. As bartenders we are known to use the white and the yolk regularly, but rarely, if ever, the shell or membrane. As I researched I happened upon the Chaud Froid egg leading me to discover the properties of the various parts. An egg has something that chefs have only just started to utilise for cooking, a semi permeable shell.
Looking through the legacy of classic whisky cocktails that use eggs I found inspiration. Eggs are mostly used as a textural element in a drink, adding creaminess or richness. Some have used the semi-permeable shell to infuse the egg yolk and white with other flavours. None, however, have used the shell as a vessel for a warm cocktail to be cooked in.
The What Came First is the cocktail spawned by the inspiration I had following the legacy of others. The hero of the drink is the Johnnie Walker “Espresso Roast”. Bold notes of coffee, toffee, dark chocolate, and toasted malt are the foundations on which all other flavours are built on.
The “Espresso Roast” is married with Amer Picon and a Golden Beetroot and white chocolate liqueur. The Amer adds a herbal sweet bitterness, complementing the vanilla and chocolate notes of the “Espresso Roast” whilst the Golden beetroot and white chocolate liqueur adds a light vegetal, floral earthiness complementing the floral aroma and earthy palate notes of the coffee tones.
Vino Cotto, black walnut bitters and saline are added to balance. The vino cotto adds a sweet and sour element, rounding out the rich flavours of the drink and sending a sharp bite of acidity down the palate. Black walnut bitters add depth of flavour and nutty flavours complementing the flavours of the “Espresso Roast”. Saline pares back the bitterness of the cocktail and carries some of the sweeter, lighter flavours to the front.
Chocolate tea is added to lengthen the drink, bringing down the alcohol content making the drink palatable, without losing or diluting flavour.
Finally an egg yolk is added, for texture and palate weight.
All these ingredients are added to the hollowed shell of the egg used for its yolk. They are then sat in a Sous-Vide for 2 hours at 48 degrees Celsius, in honey water. The drink is warmed as the honey water permeates the shell and infuses into the drink. This cooking process adds a warm sweetness and a rich velvety texture to the drink.
Served warm in a double walled coffee glass, shaped distinctly like an egg with no lid, the drink is topped with a lemon, white chocolate and beetroot foam, created with the whites of the egg. This foam adds the cold element to this drink giving juxtaposition in both texture and temperature. The lemon and liqueur add acidity, pleasant aroma and carry the flavours of the warm component of the drink.
Finally, as homage to Alain Passard’s Arpège Egg the foam is topped with a chiffonnade of chocolate mint. The green fresh aroma from the mint, along with the aroma of the foam, brightens the deep, rich flavours of the drink. The chocolate mint also adds colour contrast, along with the foam, to make the drink visually appealing. The clear double walled glass allows this to be achieved as well.
This drink pays respect to the legacy of those who have innovated before us. Old techniques are used to create familiar flavours and textures. However, the inspiration garnered from those who gave us these techniques led to new, interesting and innovative techniques to be used to showcase new flavours or flavours used in a manner yet unseen. The Johnnie Walker “Espresso Roast” is the perfect example of innovating with what you have in front of you, using some everyday thing differently for a completely different result. This is what is achieved in the What Came First.
What came first? Inspired by the process of creating “”Johnnie Walker espresso roast””. This drink truly breaks the mould with a technique. Made by utilising every part of an egg in ways not seen before.
*hot part of drink
Johnnie Walker espresso roast
The drink is then infused with honey broth through the semi permeable shell of a duck egg, using a sous-vee that is filled with honey broth sitting at a temp of 48 degrees.
*cold part of drink
Garnished with fried cinnamon sugar brioche soldiers, Johnnie Walker espresso roast maple caramel and a chiffonade of chocolate mint.
Feel free to get in contact with me for a longer explanation, the method and recipe for this drink and it’s ingredients is about 3 pages long. The story gives a good idea about what’s been going on with this cocktail.