We often get asked for distillery news and what day to day life is like at the distillery and what our staff get up to. With that in mind, we have decided to bring you behind the scenes monthly updates from our Distillery, Apothecary and Brand Ambassador Teams.
They will keep us up to date with what they are up to, and what they have planned for the months ahead. Distilleries are very busy places, even when they seem to be quiet – the whisky is always being worked on!
THIS MONTH IS OUR BRAND AMBASSADOR – ANDREW LENNIE.
As a Brand Ambassador for Lindores Abbey my job is to introduce our Aqua Vitae to some of the amazing characters within our industry and welcome them to our beautiful distillery and share our unique history. After all, the best people to spread the word about Aqua Vitae are often armed with a mixing glass, a bar spoon, a head full of ideas and a passion for mixing extraordinary drinks
This month we have been revisiting all the amazing cocktails which have been created by bartenders around the UK using our Scottish Aqua Vitae. We are also looking ahead to Spring and Summer which will see the launch of our next cocktail collection.
As part of this process I thought I would interview bartending hero and one of my favourite people, Sarah Kathryn Berardi of Draffens in Dundee and who will also be looking after The Blue Room which is soon to be a unique new addition to the city’s cocktail scene. We met at Bird and Bear for a quick coffee and then I interviewed her as we headed to the distillery to fill some casks and have a chat!
Hi, Sarah. How are you doing?
Firstly, for anyone reading who hasn’t had the pleasure of your hospitality why don’t you tell us a bit about your career so far?
I am Sarah and I am the Head Bartender of Draffens and will also be looking after The Blue Room when it opens soon. I am originally from New Orleans, Louisiana and I’m just really grateful that I’ve made it here alive today *Laughs. I’ve been working at Draffens with the Macmerry company for a little over two years now, and the opportunities and adventures I have had because of them have been absolutely unreal. Who knew moving to Dundee would be the best career choice I have ever made?
So tell me about being apart of the growing bar scene in Dundee and how is it changing?
I feel really honoured to be a part of what Is happening in Dundee right now. When I first moved here I don’t think anybody really knew what a Sazerac was or what a Corpse Reviver was. (*They are delicious cocktails – please see recipes below!)
It’s been really cool to be a part of the city as it is having its own renaissance without really realising it. When Phil Donaldson, AJ McMenemy and the team first open Draffens, there wasn’t really anything like it in Dundee. To be at the forefront of such a positive change in the city was incredible to be a part of. The success of Draffens’- we have no social media, we have no phone, we don’t even take card – just shows you that people in Dundee are really embracing the direction that the city’s bartending scene has taken. To be at a point now where we have niche bars like The King of Islington which is a sugar cane Bar, or Abandon Ship which is an American style dive bar, just shows you how much the city has changed. I don’t think these could have existed a few years ago. The team we have in the Macmerry company is unreal. I couldn’t have dreamt of better people to work with or for.
How do you see drinks trends going?
Definitely lighter crisper cocktails. As we get closer to summertime and those longer days, people really start leaning towards more refreshing drinks. That’s why I am so excited for the Blue Room, the drinks there will be very much in that style. As a whole industry, we are all seeing our consumers become more and more educated on types of spirit, quality of, and cocktails to create at home. This makes it a really interesting time to be a bartender because we now have guests that are more adventurous. I think because of this, that is why you are seeing amaros and aperetivos really kicking off. Guests like to learn just as much as we do, and I think bitter is here to stay. Ha.
With a new venture about to open in Dundee you and some of the team went to Italy. How did that go and what did you see as the differences between Scottish and Italian drinking cultures?
It was an amazing trip. We went to Turin, which is actually the amaro and aperetivo capital of the world. It was amazing to be able to see and experience the Italian café lifestyle first hand. Aperitvo hour is a magical time. It is really all about the communal experience of sitting down with friends, sharing some food and talking about the day. I definitely find that the more leisurely approach to things is missing here. The quality of wine and vermouths available were just absolutely unreal. Time in Turin just seemed to pass by slower. It was lovely.
The thing I think I admired the most was just the style of service. In Italy it was all about the atmosphere around what you were eating and what you were drinking and not about the theatre of the bartender. It was about who you were with, who you were spending time chatting to. It’s sometimes really easy to get caught up in feeling like a celebrity behind the bar but when the focus becomes all about the guests, that is really magical for me. That’s what I want to do with The Blue Room – we can create an atmosphere where people can just sit back and relax.
Since you helped launch our Aqua Vitae to trade in Draffens of Dundee you have made some incredible serves using our spirit. Which has been your favourite Lindores Aqua Vitae Cocktail?
The drink we created for you at Edinburgh Cocktail Week was one of my favourites. It was called “The Tall Tale” and we used Dundee Cake in it, which was something I had never had before. I made an orgeat syrup out of that, we used a little bit of citrus, the Aqua Vitae and a bit of soda. I really, really like Highball serves. A nice, long and refreshing drink. A whisky Highball is one of my favourite drinks and with the Aqua Vitae it was really easy to make it work. The Dundee Cake Orgeat wasn’t overly sweet but brought out the nice pear flavour notes I get from the Aqua Vitae.
For our collection of Spring Summer cocktails we have been looking into Aqua Vitae Spritz style serves. How would you see our Aqua Vitae being utilised in this Aperitivo style of drinking?
A drink I have been playing around with lately is using Aqua Vitae with a Bianco vermouth and an orange cream citrate. I just stirred it with a couple of olives in it and it was absolutely unreal. I never thought I’d be that bartender that would be ordering a vermouth on the rocks but after our trip to Italy I just want to put vermouth in everything! We tried this drink out before with bourbon in it rather than Aqua Vitae but I found that no matter which bourbon I used, the drink ended up tasting the same. The Aqua Vitae stood up so well in this drink and it is incredible to see how easy it is to make a great drink with only a few unique ingredients.
Other than our trade launch in Draffens when I destroyed about 1 million eggs behind your bar making sours for everyone… What has been your favourite memory of your career so far?
Getting to go to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail with Southern Comfort was amazing. Winning that cocktail competition and getting to go to Tales and visit home was a real full circle moment for me. That’s all the inspiration you need to win a cocktail competition. I miss my mom, I want to go home and eat food with loads of hot sauce, please.
I’ve been very lucky with all the opportunities I’ve had so far. It might be the Class Bar Awards actually…I was recently nominated as Upcoming bartender of the year at Class Bar Awards 2019. To be in a room of so many peers and people that I really admire was amazing. I’m really fortunate that I have amazing bosses who support me in all the endeavours I want to do and have a great support network around me, Phil, AJ, Turtle and Dimi. All these people around me make me feel like this is where I should be in this exact moment.
One last shout out?!
Just again a huge thank you to you Lennie and the whole team at Lindores Abbey. I always have the best time when I am with you guys. (seriously this distillery is beautiful, check it out)
And as always, Thanks to Phil and AJ for just creating the venues and avenues to have amazing opportunities like this.
Thank you so much for spending your time with us today Sarah. It was an absolute pleasure. Keep your eyes peeled for a new collection of cocktails coming out of Lindores Abbey Legacy bar later this month.
Andrew Lennie – Lindores Abbey Distillery Brand Ambassador
1 white sugar cube
3 dashes of La Fee Absinthe
30ml Rye Whiskey
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Peychaud Bitters
Firstly take an Old Fashioned glass and rinse with 3 dashes of Absinthe then discard, Into a mixing glass add the white sugar cube and the bitters. Crush and dissolve the sugar cube with a bar spoon. Add the Rye and the Brandy and fill the Mixing Glass with cubed Ice. Stir all ingredients until the drink is suitably diluted and chilled and strain into your absinthe rinsed old fashioned glass. Garnish with a Lemon twist. For a Lindores Abbey twist, sub in our Aqua Vitae for the Brandy
Corpse Reviver No. 2 Recipe
20ml Triple Sec
20ml Lillet Blanc
20ml Lemon Juice
2 dashes of La Fee Absinthe
Add all ingredients into a shaker, Shake well with cubed ice, Fine strain into a chilled Martini Glass and garnish with a lemon twist. **For a unique twist sub in Lindores Abbey Distillery Aqua Vitae for gin
TRY AQUA VITAE FOR YOURSELF