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Sustainable Cocktails at The Churchill

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Hand-crafted, luxury experiences curated by our team—speak to our concierge to learn more

By Niamh Walsh on 6th December 2022

Have you ever wondered what cocktails inspired by forest protection, renewable energy or wildlife conservation would taste like?

In a recent interview, we had the pleasure of speaking with Gaston Fusco, the fresh face at the helm of The Churchill's bar management. Alongside his dedicated team, they have produced an innovative and conscious cocktail menu designed to shed light on pressing environmental issues. Each cocktail within this thoughtfully curated collection serves as a source of inspiration and education. With twelve unique concoctions at its core, the menu revolves around ten distinct themes of environmental significance. This endeavor delves deep into the ways the bar industry can embrace eco-friendliness. Not only are the cocktails themselves a testament to sustainability, but also the vessels, garnishes, and the choice of partnering organizations that align with pertinent causes.

Have you always worked in luxury hospitality? What drew you to this position?

Moving to Dubai back in 2013 kickstarted my career in luxury hospitality, with my first position at InterContinental Festival City. During my time in Dubai I worked in some incredible establishments that taught me a lot about the industry, and the excellent standards that we provide. I worked in notable luxury hospitality outposts including the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, CLAW Restaurant and La Casa del Tango, and most recently at the Hilton Habtoor. Prior to that, I gained my experience in my native Argentina, where a friend introduced me to mixology. It was in Argentina where I learnt the ropes, trained hard, experimented with new creations and explored new horizons. I immediately fell in love with the drinks industry, because it presented the opportunity for me to connect with people. From working in the Churchill Bar & Terrace, you have the chance to be with guests everyday; meeting new people; exposing oneself to different influences; putting a smile on peoples’ faces – this is what is important for me.

As a bar manager working in a luxury environment, how do you uphold elite expectations and maintain quality and consistency?

This question requires an expansive answer so I will try to be brief!

Quality and consistency need to be looked at daily. Truly, the most important thing is hospitality that we as a bar team share with our guests. This is what leads the human experience. Quality and consistency comes from the human touch and the approach we have for our guests – it is why someone would come back time and time again. At The Churchill Bar & Terrace, we pride ourselves on delivering a service that is to the highest standard, directly addressing any guests’ needs. Small details make a difference! We train our teams to deliver this hospitality which is vital in the guest experience.

Then one must look into the other factors that create an excellent experience. A very good, high quality supply chain is of utmost importance as this is the product of what will be served to the guest. We need to taste the products, and to be able to maintain the product through solid supply chains and trusted suppliers. The equipment we use to deliver and present the final product is also important, as it ensures it is up to standard. In addition, furnishings across the bar and entire building need to be maintained too. It helps to create standards of practice that can be easily communicated to the team, and these need to be honoured. However, delivering a luxury service is more than this. It is really the human touch.

Do you have a favourite cocktail from the new menu? Why?

My favourite if I had to choose would be the Wasteless Martini. It is a super interesting drink. A gin based martini style cocktail, with vermouth, fortified fennel sorbet, banana and lemon bitters. The Wasteless Martini is aromatic and complex with citrus and floral notes, which makes it very refreshing. It is the best selling cocktail in the Churchill Bar. We use the external fennel leaf here that would otherwise have been discarded in the kitchen, showing the possibilities of using the whole vegetable. The mix of ingredients is something quite unique and on a personal level, the flavours remind me of a recipe my grandmother used to make back in Argentina.

Do you have a passion for mixology? What are some of your favourite ingredients to use when creating new drinks?

Yes, I have a real passion for mixology. The ability for innovation and exploration of ingredients is one of the reasons I enjoy my role so much. Mixing cocktails to make people happy as the final result is something wonderful and the best feeling – it is a gift of sorts to be able to create something for guests!

It would be impossible for me to have one favourite ingredient - more like 5 or 10 and they really change depending on what is inspiring me at that moment. When working to create a menu you need to be inspired by something – this could be nature, a river for example. From there, you think of aromas, scents and textures that come to mind and it is from that you then choose the ingredient.  It can be intricate and difficult to develop drinks sometimes. I constantly have a personal notebook with me, and when I feel inspired or ingredients come to mind I jot them down. If I had to choose - I do love vermouth and Italian products.

Not many people would think of sustainability when drinking a cocktail? Can you explain how cocktail creation and sustainability integrate at Churchills, and why? 

Nowadays, for humans in all walks of life, it is crucial for all of us to have an awareness of sustainably. It is something the world is placing a focus on and therefore at the Churchill Bar & Terrace we wanted to shine a light on it too, and show care for the world we live in. This positively impacts the guest experience too, who can enjoy their cocktail in the knowledge that its creation has been thoroughly considered.

We have been inventive in our cocktails whilst paying homage to sustainability. We do this through a variety of ways but one of the more creative is waste reduction. We collaborate with the kitchen and use elements of ingredients the chefs may not need, repurposing them for a different use. With the help of our custom-made lab, we spend many hours on preparing ingredients, such as vacuum fermenting, which assists in transforming discarded fruits or vegetables into delicate cordials or garnishes. The Second Life cocktail, for example, uses vegetable products that have been fermented; their deep flavour profiles when shaken with brandy and other ingredients make an entirely unique drink.

It is not only through ingredients, but also the vessels. We have inventive ways of reusing the glassware across the outlets in each of the hotels so that there is something different. For our ‘Bee Hive’ cocktail we reuse the wax cup each time by melting down the bee’s wax for example.

Click here to view the new sustainable menu at The Churchill Bar & Terrace.

The Churchill Bar & Terrace

30 Portman Square
London, England, W1H 7BH
United Kingdom

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