Grey Goose Ambassador: Salt your Espresso Martini
Grey Goose global ambassador Joe McCanta is in Sydney to host the international party Boulangerie Bleue, and while he was here we sat down to chat pre-Prohibition cocktail fatigue, why the rest of the world is finally rediscovering the Espresso Martini, and what made him create his signature Grey Goose cocktail, Le Grand Fizz.
Why the focus on the Le Grand Fizz cocktail?
Previously I had created a cocktail called Le Fizz which is a great drink that really mimics the same effect as a glass of Champagne. However, when you’re out in the beating sunshine of Sydney in 34 degrees Celsius, I realised that there is a need for something super refreshing, that says utterly cold, and so the idea was to take the DNA of Le Fizz, but then put it on the rocks in a beautiful wine glass so that you can enjoy it. So it’s a much more refreshing style of cocktail that can be really geared toward, outdoor, daytime, warm occasions.
So playing into the Aperitif and spritz trend that is spreading in Australia?
Totally. It’s part of this huge trend toward aperitif and that style of drink. I mean, who doesn’t love a Martini? I love them. However, there is only so many you can drink before your palate gets fatigued. So, we’re coming out of a period in cocktails where there was a huge focus on pre-Prohibition cocktails – so really whisky heavy, and really stiff gin drinks – and now I think people’s palates have just gotten a little bit blown away by that, and they want to come back to a more refreshing and ultimately lighter way of enjoying cocktails. And I think that’s exactly what Le Grand Fizz does. Hopefully.
What other major global cocktail trends are you noticing on your travels?
You know what is actually interesting – and you’ll probably all think this isn’t new news for Australia – is the explosion of the Espresso Martini. I know it’s always been a key drink in Australia, because Australians do the best coffee pretty much in the whole world, but it goes hand-in-hand internationally with the trend for late night dining. Whereas guests used to a bar, then go somewhere else and have dinner, then go somewhere else and go dancing, more and more around the world, this is all happening in one venue. And you’ll see that venue transform from a more drinks side, to more food led, then the music comes on and the idea is that you stay and instead of having a meal perse, you have a nibble, then a few drinks, then another nibble later on. And I think that is a great thing because cocktails have become more central to the overall experience. So because of that we have seen a massive explosion of the Espresso Martini and that’s one of the drinks that will be key during the Boulangerie Bleue event – it’s our little twist on the classic. Which, hopefully the Aussies will love as much as I do.
That could be a challenge with Espresso Martini connoisseurs in Australia?
Yes! I’ll have some of the most difficult palates to try to please. But that is always a good thing, I like rising to that occasion. It’s a gorgeous drink when made right. Now, having done some work on taste and how taste works, with chefs, if you ask a chef to make you a drink they always put a pinch of salt in it. And that got me thinking, what does salt do? It amplifies any cocktail and there is beautiful interplay between the bitterness from the espresso, the sweetness from the liqueur, and so we put a pinch of fleur de sel in every one. It’s the simplest trick.
What else can people expect at Boulangerie Bleue?
Well, it’s the first time in a while that we’ve done an event that really spans the globe and spans the cities that are loyal Grey Goose lovers. So there are key cities and we’ve done it in New York, London, Paris, Berlin, LA, Chicago, Toronto and it is so exciting that we’re finally bringing it to Sydney because I’ve been looking forward to this. It is a series of events and the key to the Boulangerie side of the event is the very particular type of French wheat that Grey Goose is made with, and we will be using it to make French bread, and while that was the focus of the previous Boulangerie event in Sydney, this time you’ll be transported – once you’ve arrived at the Boulangerie – to a complete other setting. And that setting is very much inspired by the French Riviera, and what we’re really trying to do is take that setting on tour and bring it to life with the drinks, the food, the ambiance – everything should be like you’ve been transported to the south of France. So throughout the next few days we’ll be doing meals and dining events where everyone can learn about Grey Goose and our key cocktails. And we’re just going to have an epic party.