We’ve all marvelled at some great cocktail menus in recent years. The industry’s come along way and Mixologists now conjure up amazing combinations that are as much science as art. How do they do it? The team at Lab 22 start with a mind-map. They, as a team, come together to combine their thoughts and experiments from the last couple of years to create a huge mind-map covered in intense handwritten scribbles. They then move on to the difficult, lengthy but fun process of whittling it down to the final winning cocktails for the menu. The end result is a menu that has some great new and interesting serves with a strong emphasis on flavours and aromas. And it’s organised so, regardless of some of the more obscure ingredients, it should be easy for anyone, even the less educated drinker, to choose the correct drink to suit their taste and mood. At Lab22 they love a good chin-wag about what they’ve have concocted - and why. So it’s not a problem if a customer is torn between a few cocktails as it gives them a chance to explain the logic behind them and find out what the customer enjoys in order to point them in the right direction.
They have four sections of fixed completed cocktails that they are very happy with and form the core of the menu. Additionally, there’s another section that will roll over every month. For almost two years Lab 22 have held a tasting and competition every month and for whichever brand we are showcasing create a Bartender Specials section in light of it. These specials will be put into the main menu as an added fifth section at the beginning of every month.
It’s a great way of helping new and growing products that they believe are worth trying. And since it’s run as an in house competition you will usually find some pretty ‘out-there’ creations!
One of those competition-winning cocktails is the Velvet Choco Chill. This is a very unusual rum cocktail that combines the flavours of orange, honey, chocolate and dark sugar and is then smoked and served on welsh slate with 85% dark chocolate as a garnish. This drink is what they like to call a ‘cameraready’ cocktail as it’s served under a glass cloche and the smoke surrounds the drink (and usually the table). The new menu also has a whiskey and lapsang souchong tea drink, a deconstructed Bloody Maria served with a spicy tomato jelly and a cumin and caraway infused gin with herbal tonic cocktail, to name but a few. Lab 22 aren’t entirely hung up on their own creations and encourage customers to try some of the classics as this is where it all started for all their Mixologists, albeit many moons ago. If you know a classic cocktail then so should they and they’ll do their utmost to serve you your favourite drinks! Or, on the other hand, they will also endeavour to create new cocktails upon request using all of their knowledge and vast selection of ingredients.
It’s taken some time but Lab 22 reckon they’ve devised their best menu yet combining not only great tasting cocktails but exciting serves that create more of an experience for the discerning drinker. So if you find yourself wanting a special cocktail or your favourite classic then please stop by.
Lab 22, Caroline Street, Cardiff, 02920 399997.