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Italian cocktail fun at Brunello.
I was recently invited with fellow blogger A Lady in London to sample the signature cocktails and gourmet bites at the Brunello Bar & Lounge in the Baglioni London – a hotel well-known for its striking Italian design just a stone’s throw from Kensington Gardens and the Royal Albert Hall.
We were hosted by the inimitable Marcello – a friendly and skilled mixologist who showed great natural flair in continuously serenading us with treats.
The first of the Baglioni signature drinks I tasted - the bitingly crisp and refreshing Moresca cocktail (Mirto di Sardegna, egg white, angostura bitter, cranberry juice, lime juice) – is inspired by his native Sardinia, since the myrtle berries which are its star ingredient grow in abundance in the area where he grew up. I’d never tasted a cocktail quite as distinctively fruity as this despite various trips to some of the best hotel bars in London.
The cocktails kept on coming as the review by Lady in London of the same evening also confirms – the only dilemma we had was deciding whether to repeat one we already loved or to try something entirely new!
To help us decide and like a true artist, Marcello gave us a teasing taster of the next drink by creating the spectacular ice and strawberry structure you see below before I decided to take the plunge into the full cocktail.
And when the final version of the Balsamic Touch drink arrived (pic below) I was blown away…as the name suggests, this was a blend of strawberries and Bacardi Gold laced with a hint of balsamic reduction. The precise flavour and delicate balance crafted by our mixologist was tantalising.
My companion was equally happy with her Sun Surprise (St.Germain elderflower, lime juice, cranberry juice, Moët & Chandon) – so appropriately and wittily named in this unpredictable British summer! It came crowned with a spectacular setting sun - yet another example of Marcello’s flair.
Then with perfect timing we were offered some tasty bites as our appetites had definitely been whetted by that stage and we were initially presented with some authentic Italian breads, including a special variety from Sardinia which Marcello (ever keen to promote his home island!) had slipped into our basket – a satisfyingly crisp Sardinian flatbread.
After these had served the purpose of absorbing our earlier drinks, we were given a platter of “stuzzichini” bites including Parma ham, fried aubergine, bresaola with parmesan and my personal favourite of mozzarella di bufala with cherry tomatoes, bringing memories of happy holidays in Emilia Romagna flooding back. The entire platter was light and satisfying in the way that Italians seem to instinctively know how to do.
Next up was a warm pasta tasting platter which had us truly salivating….
By this time our stomachs were full and we were ready to make tracks, but with true Italian Mamma-style hospitality, we were kept chained to our bar stools in order to experience a trio of homemade desserts: passionfruit delice, vanilla cheesecake and Baglioni tiramisu. All three were utterly delicious and the perfect way to round off a spectacular evening.
Finally, our personal showman/barman/magician Marcello had one final twist for us: iced “shakerato” coffees served on a bed of multicoloured ice in the colours of the Italian flag. A fitting conclusion to an evening during which we felt as though we’d been transported back to Italy!
Photo credits: London Hotels Insight, Baglioni Hotel.