We were in London last week and caught up with the talented cocktail maker Brian Silva at the Balthazar. Which reminded us that we need to share our favorite recipes from his book, Brian Silva: Mixing in the Right Circles at Balthazar with you.
Brian Silva is from DIA’s hometown of Boston, Massachusetts. His bartending career started at the Colonnade Hotel in Boston. Soon after, he moved to London and started at the Institute of Directors. Ten years later, he became involved in the opening of Home House in 1999.
And Brian’s career did everything but slow down after that. In 2004, he was approached by Chef Angela Hartnett and was soon in situ at The Connaught. This is where Brain’s philosophy on cocktails drastically changed. He began to combine classic and modern cocktails, focusing on balance and dilution. In 2008, he was approached by London’s oldest restaurant, Rules, and thus Rules Bar was born. Brain’s reputation for simple, straightforward and inventive cocktails made him a great fit.
More recently, in 2012, Brain was introduced to Keith McNally, founder of Balthazar. And that’s where you can find him today; behind the bar, balancing classic, traditional cocktails, while catering to a modern, ever-changing crowd.
“I believe all cocktails should be about balance and booze. Doing right by the ingredients, by the recipe and – not least – right by the drinker.”
His book is overflowing with cocktail recipes. It was hard to pick our favorites, so we broke it down by section. Check them out:
Martini & Straight Up: The Charles
- Brain first made this style of drink while at The Connaught. A guest named Charles asked him for a dry, complex gin cocktail. Brian continued to make this drink multiple times and decided to name it after him. He has since created seven version of this drink, but picked his top five to include in his book.
Whisky Rum & On the Rocks: Negroni
- We know; this is a pretty common cocktail. But it’s one of Brian’s favorite cocktails. His version is more gin-lead rather then equal parts. It has become the standard recipe at Balthazar. And if Negronis are your thing, he included nine additional delicious variations on the cocktail in his book.
Long: Floral Street Cocktail
- This sweet and fruity drink combines Pinky Vodka, Cariel Vanilla Vodka, gomme, grenadine, and other sweet flavors. It was named after Balthazar London’s office before they opened.
Margaritas etc.: Screaming Viking
- Concocted by Brian in 2009, it has been on his list from day one, and has since developed a cult status. It was made for Carl Evander, one of the regulars at Rules Bar, who introduced Brian to Swedish Punsch.
Long Drinks & Balthazar Specials: Milano Mule
- You know the Moscow Mule. The Milano Mule is “more like a donkey than a mule.” Made with Aperol, gin and ginger ale this drink is definitely a unique spin off from its Moscow cousin.
Collins, Sours & Fizzes: Two to Four
- This cocktail was originally the Rules 98 and morphed into the Two to Four. When Brian first got to Balthazar, it had bare walls and floors. There was a plywood board with the address as 2-4 Russell Street, giving the cocktail its name. When they finally opened Brian found out the address was actually 4-6 Russell Street.
After Dinner: Myrish Koffee
- Like an Irish Coffee. But no coffee. And not served hot. But it looks like an Irish Coffee.
Disco & Retro: Lesbian Fizz
- This fizz includes vodka, Crème de Cassis, fruit juices and champagne. It was created right here in Boston by a bartender Brian knew. “She was over the top and this was her trademark.”
Morning After: Savoy Corpse Reviver
- A morning after cocktail indeed. Joe Gilmore created this variation at The Savoy in 1954. He created tons of new cocktails to mark memorable events and honor both the great and not so great who went to The American Bar. Including big names like Churchill and Sinatra. Brian also included his own take on the cocktail, called the Corpse Reviver No. 2.
Brunch & No Booze: Mimosa
- This isn’t your mother’s mimosa. “With the addition of Cointreau, this mimosa is a stronger drink than you might find under the same name elsewhere.” A more traditional mimosa is called “Buck’s Fizz” at Balthazar.
As you can see, Brian’s recipes are versatile and timeless. He continues to create legendary cocktails by following rules he’s set up for himself. Here are a few:
- “Most of the drinks have three to four ingredients, simple garinishing – there’s no fancy garnishing.
- Anything straight up doesn’t get a garnish. I don’t like things floating in drinks.
- No homemade ingredients. Everything I use I buy.
- I find I’m using more lemon peels than lemon juice these days, because the gins and other spirits are so good.”
Source: Brian Silva: Mixing in the Right Circles at Balthazar by Brian Silva
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