Back for its third edition, the Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu Award is an opportunity for any bar, anywhere in the world to receive a global accolade. Bars are invited to submit their menu for assessment alongside supporting information to be assessed by 50 Best’s 28 international Academy Chairs. The winner of the award in 2023 – whittled down from almost 300 entries – is The American Bar at Gleneagles, a venue that has never featured on a 50 Best list to date.
Set in the rolling Perthshire hills in Scotland’s landmark Gleneagles hotel, The American Bar at Gleneagles bears all the hallmarks of a grand hotel bar – plush materials, warm lighting and immaculately presented staff – but dig a little deeper and guests find far-reaching technique and modern ideas at play.
Its winning menu is entitled Book of Berries and pays homage to 20th-century pocket-sized encyclopaedias, known as ‘observer books’. Essentially the Google of yesteryear, these diminutive texts marked a deep dive into a singular subject matter – and The American Bar at Gleneagles chooses berries for its study.
The fabric-covered tome sits aptly in the bar’s mahogany bookshelf, ready to be plucked and dissected. Each page marks a descriptive ode to a selected berry, accompanied by a hand-drawn illustration, extremely clear notes on flavour profile and details of the techniques applied to the drink.
For the Blueberry cocktail, leftover blueberry muffins from the hotel’s in-house bakery are blended with vodka before being fat-washed to distil a unique spirit. It is then applied to a milk punch to create a cocktail with sweet and savoury notes. For Avocado, it is not the flesh that’s used, rather the oft-discarded stone, which is roasted and milled into an orgeat, then put into a tropical Mai Tai-style serve.
Other unique elements in the menu include a simple flavour-profile map which allows guests to select their serve instantly based on whether they fancy a short, long, light or rich drink, and an extensive footnotes section, which describes the more outré techniques at play in impressive detail, providing an opportunity to linger over the text for longer.
With a drinks list packed with innovation that is delivered in a highly artistic and user-friendly manner, The American Bar at Gleneagles is a deserving winner of the Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu Award 2023 for its Book of Berries.