Classic cocktails are basis of great mixology

By Jon Massey on August 3, 2012 12:39 PM |

HannahWEBBBY.jpgCocktails are easy right? You just pluck the ingredients from the bar, chuck 'em in, give it a good old shake and strain the contents into a fancy glass. Then maybe an olive or a chunk of peel.

That's why, if you come round my gaff, the best you're likely to get is something that tastes, at best, reasonable, at worst, lamentable.

If you pop over to Hannah Lanfear's though, or stalk her in her native territory at Boisdale of Canary Wharf, it will be gold medal-grade.

She has, for the second year running, seen one of her cocktails (the Grapefruit Whistle-stop) included in Gaz Regan's internationally recognised annual manual for bartenders - only one of eight London mixologists to feature.

Hannah has been behind the bar and the bar staff at the venue since it opened and has instilled in her underlings what she sees as the vital skills necessary for them to deliver a service above and beyond that found in other Wharf bars.

"You can't make drinks unless you know how to make your classics - it's the only way to learn structure and balance," said Hannah who learnt her craft at Milk and Honey in Soho.

"The level of training the bartenders here get means they are capable of making their classics very, very well.


"The training when I had at Milk and Honey was very strict. My drinks would get thrown in the sink.

"My head bartender would stand next to me and taste every single drink and would toss them away, which was heartbreaking as you had to make the next one even quicker.

"I went home in tears on many an occasion but it's like any sort of discipline, it makes you a stronger individual and a stronger finished product."

Hannah rose to head bartender before leaving to manage The Hyde in Bermondsey Street and was then headhunted to join the team at celeb hangout Bungalow Eight.

However a phone call from a former colleague after a period consulting in Copenhagen and a flirtation with music journalism saw her drawn into the Boisdale fold.

She said "I knew Boisdale but it didn't have a reputation for having fantastic cocktails at that point, more the charm of its Scottish heritage, the fantastic food, wine and whisky. But in this new flagship site they wanted to have a cocktail offering.

"I thought the building had a great vibe, it's magnificent in size, and I decided to stay and to do the job.

"I'd always moved around before, but I feel like I've found my roots here. I love my team, I love the bar."

So what can people new to the Canary Wharf venue expect?

She said: "Our list is a really nice mixture of vintage cocktails, lost cocktails and some super tasty ones. You have the history of the cocktail.

"Within 30 drinks we've managed to encompass a wealth of flavours.

"There's no one drink that's more popular than the others here.

"If you're a Wharfer you should walk in and let your bartender guide you to the right drink to suit your mood.

"If you're a banker it's got to be a martini, perhaps a Gin and It. I love a great gin martini, the wetter the better and a bit dirty.

"My favourite drink on the list is the Roosevelt (£9), which has two parts Tanqueray gin to one part Dolin and a dash of Fee Brothers Orange Bitters."

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Anonymous said:

Cool story, thanks for highlighting Hannah's mixology skills and some great info for cocktail aficionados - definitely going to have to stop by and sample a few the next time I am in London.