Meet the Mixologist: Kyra Elton and wine cocktail
Cocktails are often associated with spirits and mixers, but wine as an ingredient adds a nuanced taste without increasing the ABV too much. We've asked the rising mixology star Kyra Elton to create three wine-inspired cocktails for eto. A light elderflower wine spritz, for a dryer palette Kyra's take on a negroni, or for something more refreshing our garibaldi with a twist.
Kyra Elton describes herself as a bartender by night - at one of the world's top 50 cocktail bars - and a distiller by day. Kyra travels the world for cocktail inspiration, and to the East of London to learn the secrets of spirit making. Read more about Kyra's love of mixology and what inspires her below.
How did you find yourself in the world of mixology?
I started in hospitality as soon as I was old enough to work in the industry. Then I discovered Epernay, a popular champagne bar in Manchester - and I was in awe of their style and creativity behind the bar. I got myself a job there and developed a newfound appreciation for creating delicious flavours, and using my imagination in the art of building a cocktail.
Tell us more about how you first come up with a cocktail creation.
I like to think of a meaningful story or interaction first, then consider how it makes me feel and whether it can be replicated in the form of flavour and texture. Otherwise, choosing a spirit or brand I'm enjoying is also a great place to start. The flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit can help me pair flavours at a molecular level.
If we wanted to start a cocktail trolley can you tell us the essentials we would need? What would we need to take us to the next level? Finally, what would be a must to take us to apothecary standards?
I would say, dry vermouth and/or sweet vermouth depending on your style, as they add another level of flavour that is not easily replicated with other spirits. And bitters such as Angostura and Orange can really elevate a cocktail due to their concentrated flavours. Lastly, I think 5ml of Sherry, Eau de vie or Calvados can go a long way to balancing a drink.
What is your favourite cocktail?
It's impossible to choose one favourite - partly because the weather is a big factor for me. However, I don't think my day could ever go wrong after a dry gin martini with lemon zest.
What is the most popular cocktail you make?
At my previous bar role, I learned to recreate a lot of Manhattan variants which are always popular. Otherwise, the Tokyo Collins there has been popular for more than 10 years: Gin, Yuzu Sake, Grapefruit, Lemon, Soda - simple and effective.
We know you're a guru of spirits and know your wines. Do you have any favourite wine regions?
My favourites for white wine are Rhine for Riesling and Minho province in North Portugal for Vinho Verde. For red wine, it would be Rhone in France, or the Abruzzo region for their Montepulciano.
What does adding wine to a cocktail give to the drink?
Wine and Fortified Wines are wonderful additions as they don't necessarily add a lot of ABV to a cocktail but can provide either richness or a drying nature while being packed with lots of flavour and fruitiness.
Wine Cocktail Recipes
White Wine Spritzer
A wine spritzer is typically a light cocktail. Wine is mixed with club soda and served over ice, to lighten up the wine and add effervescence. To enhance the flavours of the cocktail, Kyra adds Elderflower Liquor to the mix for a uniquely fresh, fruity and slightly floral taste.
At its core, the Negroni is comprised of three ingredients: gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. A simple but classic cocktail. The recipe swaps out sweet vermouth for a dry red wine, to capture its fruitiness and bitter notes.
The classic two-ingredient Garibaldi is a simple and delicious Italian cocktail. For a twist, the red wine adds a fruity acidity to the sweet and sour flavour profile.