Something people can't deny is that the Central Station's concept is avant-gardist in Lebanon. A cocktail bar proposing an outstanding selection when the finest drink in Lebanon we were used to few years back was vodka RedBull.
Today, I'm not here for a review of the place but to meet a man, a special talent in his field, a bartender I've previously met at the Diageo Bartender Awards with some of his colleagues. Back then, I remember to have met creative bartenders, drink stylist, food pairing junkies and people who know much more than mixing vodka with Redbull.
Let me introduce you to Jad, Jad Ballout who won last year's edition of The World Class representing Lebanon in an international event competing against 50 bartenders from around the world.
Jad's challenge this year is to win The Bacardi Legacy competition which will take him to Sydney to represent Lebanon with the same cocktail we will be tasting tonight.
I've heard that Jad is preparing a unique drink, a classic his way, including BACARDI for sure. What's meant by a classic is that the drink should have easy to find ingredients, anyone can do it at home or drink it at a bar. And the drink should have a story…
I've always admired Jad's work so the excitement started to build.
"Before we start, please taste my drink, we'll talk later", Jad tells me. And believe me it was worth it.
Which the utmost passion, Jad tells me the story of his drink... “El Mediterráneo”
Jad’s main inspiration came from these 2 famous and popular cocktails, the “mint julep” and “gin basil” with one aim to create a new twist on the smash easy to make with ingredients easy to find around the world giving it a Mediterranean touch. Since we are a Mediterranean country and Don Facundo Masso (Bacardi founder) was born in Catalonia Spain also in the Mediterranean, the cocktail is sweet and sour and represents the sourness in Don Facundo’s life when the earthquake hit Santiago and he lost his business as a merchant in 1855. The sweetness of the cocktail represents the sweet side in Don Facundo’s life when he founded Bacardi in 1862, and started to distill the first light bodied rum with unique quality and unmatched smoothness.
The cocktail is inspired from the smash and the base of most smashes is herbs so Jad chose the basil my herb. Lemon and sugar give the cocktail a sweet and sour taste. The main spirit is Bacardi Superior which has vanilla and almond notes and is paired with skinos the mastika liqueur that will add also a Mediterranean spirit and soul to the cocktail.
Don Facundo used to sell his first homemade rum in recycled olive oil tins. In the Mediterranean, and especially Lebanon we use olive oil to top our food so imagine few drops of olive oil floating on top of the cocktail that will add also more complexity in term of flavors.
Preparing the drink:
- 5cl Bacardi superior rum
- 1cl Skinos Mastiha Liqueur
- 2cl Lemon Juice
- 3 leaves of fresh basil
- Olive oil on top
Add lemon juice, sugar syrup, Bacardi Superior, and Skinos Mastiha, and gently muddle all together with basil leaves. Shake with ice cubes, double strain and serve in a chilled glass with no ice
Tasting the drink:
What's amazing about it is its strong component which all stay around your mouth for long. The journey stars while the Bacardi flows around your mouth while a hint of mastics starts building around your palate. Shiny of lemon, an aroma of basil, sweetness... Until amazement hits; the olive oil. Never ever imagined that one single ingredient can make such a big difference. Sliding around the tongue, caressing your lips in style. Smooth and light, that's a drink served without ice in a wine glass, cold and enjoyable to the last sip.
Share your version of the drink on #el_mediterraneo