Friday, May 18, 2007

In The Mix

Fever Tree All Natural Mixers Go Back to Basics

Would you marinate a beautiful filet of beef or fish in Crisco? Or, present organic veggies fresh from the Farmer's Market alongside Spam-in-a-can? Probably not.

So, when choosing mixers for a well-crafted cocktail, why would you blend a premium spirit with a second-rate tonic or ginger ale?

All-natural Fever Tree premium mixers appear to be the only product on the market addressing this very dilemma. And, the world is taking notice.

Shortly after winning first prize at the World Gastronomic Festival in Spain, Uber Celebrity Chef Ferran Adria of El Bulli invited Fever Tree co-founders Tim Warrillow and Charles Rolls for a 36-course meal at his acclaimed restaurant ("acclaimed" as in the BEST restaurant in the world, second year running)! Chef Adria even incorporated the Fever Tree tonic into a chilled palate-cleansing soup. (Need I say more?)

Warrillow, a resident of London, was in Los Angeles, recently, and I had the opportunity to sit down with him (at the gorgeous Beverly Hills Luxury Hotel - also known as the "Pretty Woman" hotel to movie buffs) and taste his product alongside competitors, such as Schwepps. There is no denying that the subtle flavors of Fever Tree mixers lack the unpleasant and sickly sweet, mouth-coating that corn syrup and preservatives leave behind.

Leading up to the first sip of his celebrated tonic water, Tim whipped out four vials of essential oils (African marigold, Tanzanian bitter orange, lime oil and coriander) and suggested I take a whiff of each. (btw - There are 8 botanicals total in their tonic but as Tim beguilingly pointed out, “We must keep some secrets.”)

After running down a brief history of quinine as medicinal remedy for British officers staving off Malaria in India during the early 19th Century, Warrillow went even further back in history to the root (or shall I say “bark”) of quinine’s origins…

He explained that around 1620, European explorers in Peru took note of the Chinchona, or “Fever Tree.” Native people chewed on the bark of the tree (high in quinine) to help cure gastro-intestinal problems. Warrillow points out, “Quinine is as important to medicine as gunpowder is to war.”

Tim and his business partner, Charles (former owner of Plymouth Gin) spent several weeks in Peru, exploring quinine’s history. They discovered that, in fact, Chinchona trees are essentially extinct in Peru, from over-harvesting of the tree. The quinine in Fever Tree mixers comes from Africa, where European colonialists planted Chinchonas along the Rwanda - Congo border.

Fever Tree’s ginger ale is equally exotic, and features four kinds of ginger: Nigerian, Indian and Ecuadorian, which each have a highly distinct smell. (Tim brought those essential oils, too!) Blended together, the spice and aroma complements darker spirits such as whiskey or rum.

Personally, I am most excited about Fever Tree’s Bitter Lemon. Commonly found in Europe (so refreshing on a hot Meditrranean afternoon! I like to add a dash of my other bitter favorite Campari to it), Bitter Lemon is not as known in the US, though I wouldn’t be surprised if that changed soon…

So, just as you pay attention to the ingredients in a dish, consider what goes into your cocktails. A quality drink is only as good as what goes in the mix!

1 comment:

Alison Santighian said... find them here...ginger ale that tastes like ginger...that's a BeanMommy's dream come true!