Five unexpected serves from the world's best cocktail menu

Josh Ong - 13/12/2023

The American Bar at Gleneagles took home the Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu Award as part of The World's 50 Best Bars 2023 for its winning entry, Book of Berries. From leftover blueberry muffins to aubergine skins, discover the unique creations from this innovative menu

Gleneagles is no stranger to a 50 Best list, ranking No.32 in The World’s 50 Best Hotels 2023, and within the property you’ll find one of its gems: The American Bar.

The American Bar has long been lauded for delivering a taste of luxury, inspired by the gilded era of 1920s cocktail culture. At this year’s edition of The World’s 50 Best Bars, sponsored by Perrier, its winning drinks list, Book of Berries, took home the Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu Award 2023, edging out the two other finalists’ entries, Artesian in London with Ingredients of the Future and Gold Bar in Tokyo with Two Faces.

Inspired by Gleneagles’ bucolic surrounds in Perthshire, an area considered the home of berries in Scotland, Book of Berries was created by Michele Mariotti, head of bars at Gleneagles, reflecting his passion for showcasing the region’s sensational seasonal larder. After going down a rabbit-hole of berry-focused research, he stumbled upon the botanical definition of a berry – where one flower produces one fruit – and his knowledge of the field was turned on its head. Despite their names, he discovered that strawberries and raspberries are not technically berries, yet papayas and bell peppers are. Mariotti and The American Bar team quickly realised the opportunity to create a unique menu from a range of ingredients previously overlooked by the bar sector.
The American Bar team members, River Wood and Michele Mariotti (from left), collected their award on stage in Singapore

Book of Berries was an immediate hit: on offer were 18 memorable serves, each named and centred around a different botanical berry, grounded in sustainable practices and utilising the byproducts and otherwise-wasted produce from the Gleneagles estate. From avocado pit orgeats to melon skin infusions, here are five of the most interesting concoctions from The American Bar’s Book of Berries

1. Aubergine

One of the first elements that catches guests’ attention on the drinks list comes from this purple-hued product, commonly identified as a vegetable. However, as individual aubergines are grown from a singular flower, they’re botanically defined as a berry.

As one of the hotel’s restaurants uses aubergine flesh within one of its dishes, The American Bar team started to use the otherwise-wasted skin in its cocktails. First dehydrated, the skin is ground into a powder with a rich, earthy aroma before being infused into a vodka base. It’s paired with absinthe to craft a unique flavour profile bearing the hallmarks of a Morning Glory Fizz crossed with a Trinidad Sour.

2. Juniper
The Juniper's glass was specially designed to hold an olive in place until the last sip

This simple creation, comprising gin, sherry and distilled water, is The American Bar’s answer to the Martini. For arguably the world’s most famous cocktail, Mariotti and team knew they had to hone each of the very few ingredients. The trio of gins used are creations of The American Bar team, utilising just a singular botanical: juniper. All of the ingredients are stored at -22°C to ensure every sip is desirably ice cold.

The vessel in which the Juniper is served is the final piece of the puzzle: a custom creation from renowned glassmaker Richard Brendon. “What’s always frustrated me about Martinis is the olive that hits your nose when tilting the glass,” says Mariotti. “So, the bottom of our Martini glass is exactly 19mm wide, designed to perfectly fit a Nocellara olive and hold it in place until the very last sip for the ultimate experience.”

Pulling further inspiration from the 1920s, the Juniper draws from the prevalence of encyclopaedias of the era, which were frequently filled with information that has since proven to be incorrect. Fittingly, the Juniper aligns with this, insofar as that juniper berries aren’t actually berries.

3. Blueberry

Where the 1990s fielded a technicolour of fruit-forward drinks in their every varietal, The American Bar’s Blueberry defies expectation once more. It works in symbiosis with the other hospitality outlets at Gleneagles to reduce waste, this time using leftover blueberry muffins from the hotel. The sweet treats are blended and fat-washed with vodka, before chamomile, citrus and wine aperitif are added to the mixture, resulting in a balanced cocktail with a floral finish.

“Guests might expect a blue or purple cocktail when ordering a Blueberry. So, to bring the colour back to the liquid, Blueberry is served in a custom glass decorated with blue paint splashes,” says Mariotti.

4. Avocado
Appearances deceive: the Avocado is actually a pink drink

The Avocado brings the classic Mai Tai into the 21st century using the favoured breakfast item of the millennial. The bar team transforms the otherwise discarded pit and skin by roasting and grinding it into a pulp to create an orgeat, before white rum and amaro are added to the mix. While anything avocado-based may conjure up images of vibrant green, the Book of Berries serve takes on a pink hue, thanks in part to the brown seeds used, according to Mariotti.

5. Melon

Sustainable practices again guide this concoction that makes good use of the whole cantaloupe served up at the hotel’s breakfast. The melons are stripped of their skin and blended at room temperature with sorrel leaf to create an aromatic, sweet and sour foundation for the cocktail. Vodka and marzipan milk made in-house are then added to the mix to finish the blend, resulting in a creamy sip that challenges the taste buds.

Watch the video with The American Bar at Gleneagles here:
The 15th edition of The World’s 50 Best Bars, sponsored by Perrier, was announced on Tuesday, 17th October 2023 in Singapore. To stay up to date with the latest news and announcements, browse the website, follow us on Instagram, find us on Facebook, visit us on X and subscribe to our YouTube channel.