The Journey – Drake

Cocktails

The Journey – Drake

Welcome back, wayfarers!
Here we are, to the final chapter of the chronicle we dedicated to the greatest merchants and explorers of all times! After having followed Marco Polo right up to the palace of the Great Khan, and having sailed with Ferdinand Magellan throughout the world, this year we will celebrate the great deeds of a lifetime. A life that, just as this third cocktail list, can definitely be defined as ‘audacious’!
We will walk in the footsteps of Captain Sir Francis Drake, an Englishman with a strong will and an even greater bravery, uniquely prepared to sail anywhere and in any weather: a man who, all by himself, changed the course of history.
We will relive Drake’s life with you, going through the vital steps that turned him into a hero in his homeland and a scoundrel in the rest of the world; we will meet the men who helped him and those who tried to defeat him; we will sail with him to the other end of the world and, who knows, maybe you will have the chance to conquer a ship filled with gold… But it is only up to you to determine if you are brave enough to undertake this enterprise!
In this journey, we chose to follow two crucial guidelines:

  • SIMPLICITY in the raw materials, firstly for a purpose of eco-sustainability, but also because Drake, with humble beginnins, managed to make the best out of his capabilities and eventually made his life exceptional. In the same way, we chose to emphatise ordinary ingredients, often underrated, enhancing their aromatic qualities to create something spectacular and out of the ordinary!
  • SAPIDITY, since the English captain spent most of his life (even his death) at sea. We have therefore explored this element in all its forms, so that we could use it in our cocktails in order to enhance, by contrast or by affinity, the other ingredients.
    In addition, we chose to ‘play’ with your palate, creating for this new journey a pairing of each drink with a little bite as accompaniment, in order to alter the gustatory perception of the cocktail of your choice, and to enhance its primary or secondary aromas.

Get ready to the journey of a lifetime! But don’t worry, the hold is already filled with food and drinks – we took care of that!

firma

01 – LETTERA DI CORSA

A tea with the queen

MAP: Londra

None of this EVER happened. Or at least according to official sources… We only know that during a meeting between the young promising captain Francis Drake (yet to become Sir) and Queen Elizabeth I, she entrusted the Devonian captain with the task of leading an expedition from the harbour of Plymouth, aiming to sabotage the dealings of gold coming from the New World that enriched the treasury of the Spanish government and encouraged its growth, alarming both London and the whole Europe. The letter of marque licenced its owner to carry out acts of piracy on behalf of a King or Queen – clearly, unofficially. If such a letter had ever been found in Drake’s possession, it would have ensured a clash between the two countries. Imagine you are at the table with the Queen and the pirate, relishing a nice cup of tea (do you have it with milk or lemon?). The ink draws the fate of England on the watermark, and there might still be a stain left somewhere…
.

INGREDIENTS
Milk washed Plymouth gin, squid ink, lemon and pink peppercorn cordial, akvavit aged in ex-port barrels, Nomandy seaweed.

STRENGHT
3

SWEETNESS
2

ADVENTURE
4

Smooth, distinctive and savoury, with a dry aftertaste, flavour of black tea with lemon and smokey – toasted notes.

02 – FLOWERS & THORNS

EVERY ROSE HAS ITS THORNS

MAP: Londra

Between tales, legends and rumours, it is far too easy to misunderstand… especially if you are Francis Drake and she is the Queen of England, let alone if furthermore you’re her favourite! If in addition you are quite detested at court because of your humble beginnings, well, the matter gets even thornier. Some say that between Francis Drake and the Queen there was a very intimate relationship, although it has never been proven. What is certain, however, is that at every meeting, official or not, the ‘pirate’ gentleman would gift to his queen a magnificent rose. But, as everyone knows, every rose has its thorns, and a woman in charge of a whole nation, and as fickle as Elizabeth I of England, must have had many thorns…

img_3649

INGREDIENTS
Gin, artichoke sprouts, elderflower, clarified pink grapefruit, musk rose, Maldon Salt saline solution, black pepper.

STRENGHT
2

SWEETNESS
3

ADVENTURE
1

Elegant, delicate and fragrant, like a proper rose! Floral and refreshing.

03 – THE NEW WORLD

THE FIRST IN ALL OF ENGLAND

MAP: Americhe

Francis Drake was the first Englishman who managed to reach the Pacific Ocean, carrying out the circumnavigation of the world. He spent most of his life, however, looking high and low for the Spanish gold throughout the American continent, getting to the southernmost tip, Cape Horn (a passage which would later be named after him), until almost reaching the legendary Northwest Passage, north of the Canadian mainland. He sailed to the Caribbean, the coasts of Peru and Chile, explored the deepest coves in Panama and Colombia, until he stopped off the coast of today’s San Francisco. It is thanks to him, who brought back to his homeland the local products, that many of those became the grounds of English cooking of today. Go on, take a sip! It will carry you with dauntless Drake in the New World, anywhere you would want to go!

img_3651

INGREDIENTS
Korn puree, Peruvian Pisco, cachaca, cocoa, pineapple, lime, tomato.

STRENGHT
3

SWEETNESS
3

ADVENTURE
4

Creamy, compact. Sweet and savoury corn notes, with a toasted and fresh aftertaste.

04 – LE CORSARIE

A “BROTHER” IN ADVENTURE

MAP: Panama

In life, if we are lucky enough, we meet people who become companions, friends, even brothers! Drake, thanks to his kind and respectful attitude, even towards his own hostages, met in his life more than one of these people. Let us introduce to you French corsair Guillaume Le Testu, sworn enemy of the Catholics and even more so of the Spanish crown; he assisted Drake in an ambush destined to a convoy close to Nombre de Dios, capital of Panama, crossing point of all the gold from the Spanish colonies on its way to the motherland. Unfortunately, the corsair lost his life to a musket wound in his abdomen. Elegant, distinctive, but with a mischievious smile, typical of a French corsair.

img_3650

INGREDIENTS
Cognac, applejack, Dijon mustard, celery leaves, spirulina seaweed, lemon, absinth, pêche de vigne.

STRENGHT
3

SWEETNESS
3

ADVENTURE
3

Intense and vigorous. Liquorice and vanilla pave the way for a fruity and spiced aftertaste.

05 – HISPANIOLA

AN ISLAND FOR EVERYONE

MAP: Santo Domingo / Haiti

In a period such as that of colonialism, where every bit of land was considered as a landmark by a nation or another, Hispaniola was the island where all the seafarers, from privateers to the Navy, could stop to mend any damage suffered by their ships. Francis Drake also used the harbours and secret coves of this island to mend his ship and, while he was at it, to rest with his companions from the labours of such a long journey, maybe drinking some local liquors or smoking tobacco leaves. Today, Hispaniola is divided into two parts, Haiti and Santo Domingo, but with this magnificent cocktail we would like to take you back in time, mixing an entirely Haitian rum to a blend of herbs, bark and roots that is often used in Santo Domingo as a digestive and stimulant tonic. Imagine you’re on the seashore with Drake, by the sea, savouring this drink, with a tobacco that has never tasted better…

img_3656

INGREDIENTS
Mama Juana made with sweet sherry wine and Clairin rum, Muscovado and hibiscus cordial, Peychaud bitter, Capovilla tobacco-flavoured grappa

STRENGHT
4

SWEETNESS
2

ADVENTURE
4

Fresh, floral but distinctive. The freshness from the hibiscus leaves room to the redberries, to end on the warm notes of liquorice, cocoa and tabacco.

06 – CACAFUEGO

THE GOAL OF A LIFETIME

MAP: Ecuador / Panama

A legendary ship, the crown jewel of the Spanish navy, the golden vessel: Nuestra Señora de la Concepcion, also known as “Cacafuego” by the Spanish because of its fiery power. The conquering of this vessel was the enterprise that, together with the creation of British colonies in the spice islands and the circumnavigation of the world, earned Drake the title of ‘Sir’ once he got back. On that day, the 1st of March 1579, no Spaniard would have ever thought they would find an English vessel off the Pacific coasts of Southern America; in fact, the ‘Cacafuego’, after sighting Drake’s ship, moved towards it, thinking it would be an allied ship. But when they realised it was an English galleon, it was already too late, and the cannons were not ready to fire against the enemy… Enjoy your victory and the conquest of an immense treasure, the hold is filled with gold and precious stones even if, for the corsair’s standards, it was too easy an enterprise…

img_3655

INGREDIENTS
Tequila, roasted olives, grapefruit, dry vermouth, Lapsang Souchong, camomile, lime, celery bitter.

STRENGHT
4

SWEETNESS
4

ADVENTURE
3

Savoury and fruity, fresh start with roasted and citrusy notes, smoother and fruity aftertaste with camomile and peach.

07 – THE REEF

SaVED BY A MIRACLE

MAP: Mare delle Molucche

When you’re properly rested, and you’re gloating after filling the hold with gold, precious stones and spices, that you will sell for more gold, it is far too easy for the level of attention to decline, and for something to go wrong… Then, right in the moment of greatest calm, something dreadful takes place. Imagine: a cliff halts the ship and the stream shows no mercy, while it keeps pushing you against the cliffs, threatening to sink the ship. The only possible solution is to throw into the sea some ballast to lighten the weight, hoping the stream will change direction as soon as possible! What are the options? Gold? Precious stones? Men? Maybe the spices best! The choice seems obvious, and after hours of prayers it is repayed. You’re free, it’s finally time to go home! But your mind is still filled with the sharp and inebriating scent of cloves – and, actually, even a bit dazed!

img_3658

INGREDIENTS
“Flowers of Passion” pepper infused Nikka Coffey Grain whisky, clarified mango, homemade pimiento dram, lavender.

STRENGHT
5

SWEETNESS
3

ADVENTURE
2

Fruity, warm, intense and spiced. The warmth of mango and whisky pave the way for a sharp aftertaste of cloves and cinnamon.

08 – DRAKE’S TREASURE

THE GREATEST REWARD

MAP: Plymouth

Here you are, you’re finally home, back in England, and the homecoming could not have been more glorious! You brought back with you a luxurious treasure, so impressive that your Queen manage to pay off the debts that the entire country had with the European nations. On top of that, you built fundamental relationships with the rulers of the Moluccan Islands, securing England a direct market for those precious spices, striking a hard blow for Philip II’s kingdom in Spain. It is time to relax now, and enjoy the glory and the wealth you earned: savour a good glass of top quality Scotch whisky, just as legendary as your deeds. But, still, it is not enough: you want more, something that reminds you of the World you’ve passed through, the spices you have brought back, maybe even that sweet wine you stole the Spanish during those loots! Enjoy this moment: you never know when it will happen again…

img_3652

INGREDIENTS
Johnnie Walker Blue Label, 30 years solera-aged Pedro Ximenez sherry, saffron, spiced cocoa, absinth scent.

STRENGHT
3

SWEETNESS
2

ADVENTURE
3

Intense, enveloping, the aroma of whisky paves the way to a warm aftertaste, of saffron, dates and liquorice.

09 – INVINCIBILE ARMADA

THE FINAL BATTLE

MAP: Canale della Manica

If you still think that a life such as Sir Drake’s is not to be deemed glorious, then let’s talk about what is most certainly the cherry on top of his triumphal career. After the umpteenth attack to Philip II’s Spanish empire, this time right under his nose, that allowed him to conquer Tenerife’s harbour to halt and loot all the ships that were on their way back from the New World, the King of Spain could not stay still. This is the moment when the most powerful fleet ever built is finally deployed, the fearful Invincible Armada, whose purpose was to reach the English shore and to conquer London, in order to end the empire of hose heretics Protestants! But, alas, he had underestimated Drake, Hawkings and the English captains who, despite the small number, had the home court advantage of knowing the English Channel and the Northern Sea by heart. Things could not go any other way. The Armada is stricken over and over again, until it is pushed towards the Dutch shore and has no choice. Their fleet is destroyed, divided, defeated! You can now return to your beloved island, that, thanks to you, can sleep soundly at night; meanwhile, that famous cherry is waiting for you to savour it…

img_3653

INGREDIENTS
Spanish brandy, Hven summer spirit, pear&brine syrup, grapefruit, acid raspberry beer, cumin, wood.

STRENGHT
4

SWEETNESS
3

ADVENTURE
2

Fresh and fruity, with notes of redberries, pear and spices.

10 – EL DRAQUE

Most people might not be aware of this, but Sir Francis Drake, besides being a resourceful captain at sea, and having been through all the adventures you have just now witnessed, was also the inventor of what could be considered the ancestor of the Mojito! In this alcoholic mixture were a strange aguardiente infused with the bark of a Peruvian tree, Chuchuasi, to stimulate digestion, mint to ease the stomach ache, lime juice to prevent scurvy, and water to dilute it all. Here is Il Mercante’s version of this historic drink, where we blended spirits from different places in South America, trying to reproduce the aroma of the aguardiente Drake originally used, and enhancing it with a peppercorn that echoes the balsamic aroma of the mint. Il Mercante even found that mythical bark, in order to be able to offer you the closest drink possible to the original! Sir Francis would be thrilled… or at least, that’s what we hope!

img_3654

INGREDIENTS
House aguardiente mix infused with bark of Chuchuasi, Cubebe peppercorn, lime, mint.

STRENGHT
5

SWEETNESS
2

ADVENTURE
3

Fresh and balsamic, pungent and spiced, with a fresh and aromatic aftertaste.

map_ilmercante