Did somebody say heatwave? At this happy time of summer celebration and sun worshiping, we rejoice in the new and somewhat genius paring of cocktails and gelato. Black Vanilla Gelateria in Greenwich has teamed up with World of Zing to launch Grown-Ups @ Black Vanilla – London’s first Cocktail and Gelato bar.
Cocktails and gelato? I hear you cry. As in ice-cream? Cocktails and ice-cream? What madness is this? The best kind of madness, let me tell you! Might I remind you that gelato is Italian ice-cream, and their approach to the whole frozen affair is somewhat more sophisticated that ours – there’s no My Whippy with a 99 Flake here, but instead Black Vanilla’s award-winning (9 Great Taste Awards, no less), traditionally made, artisan gelato and sorbetto (a type of gelato that is dairy-free, often lighter and made with fruit juices), created using only use the freshest fruit and finest ingredients by Italian gelato chefs.
Oh, and gelato, usually flavored with fresh fruit and nut purees, is generally lower in calories, fat and sugar than other styles of ice cream.
Grown-Ups @ Black Vanilla is set in an intimate new bar above Black Vanilla in Greenwich, created in partnership with World of Zing’s award-winning cocktail programme to provide south London’s ‘coolest’ hangout this summer. World of Zing’s cocktails are crafted in small batches in East London using the finest spirits, bespoke bitters and handmade liqueurs.
• Bordeaux Barrel Aged Negroni with Tanqueray Gin, Campari, Martini Rosso and Zing Serenity Bitters paired with Sicilian Lemon Sorbetto
• Steel Aged Manhattan with Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Martini Rosso, Zing Anaesthetic Brandy and Zing Euphoric Bitters paired with Black Cherry Sorbetto
• Blackberry & Tamarind Rum Punch with Pink Pigeon Vanilla Spiced Rum, Honey & Chamomile Water paired with Mango Sorbetto
• Persian Lime & Nori Seaweed Margarita with Ocho Tequila paired with Kiwi Sorbetto
Pick and choose between them or work your way through them – as a friend and I did on a glorious, sunny Friday evening. Our palettes were much more ‘en pointe’ at the beginning of the evening, sipping tentatively at the Persian lime and nori margarita (we worked our way from the bottom to the top, for no other reason than I’d never seen the word ‘seaweed’ appear on a cocktail list before… intriguing! That and the fact that I love a margarita.
There was no salt around the rim of this one, but there was a saltiness that I can only assume was infused into the cocktail courtesy of the seaweed. It packs a punch. Then we just had to figure out whether it was better to go cocktail first, gelato second or vice versa. Personally, I think a sip of cocktail followed by a spoonful of sorbetto works best – the sweet/sour notes of the kiwi cutting through the sharpness of the margarita.
The Negroni and lemon sorbetto pairing is another summer winner – the slight bitterness of the Negroni made even more punchy and refreshing when followed by a sharp burst of lemon. The rum punch is fun too, the hit of rum smoothed out with the blackberry and tamarind. I couldn’t quite fathom how the mango sorbetto worked with this one, but by this point I was starting to feel the effects of the cocktails, so do approach this pairing endeavour with a less-is-more philosophy!
The Manhattan and black cherry sorbetto was last on our list – me not being much of a whiskey fan. But it’s a good, richly flavoured drink that made sink back into that cosy armchair and almost wish for a cigar. Wait for sunset for this one. The black cheery sorbetto, slightly weightier in flavour than the previous three, works well with the richness of the drink. And then we were drunk…
Grown-Ups @ Black Vanilla is open Friday to Sunday, from 12pm to 12am throughout summer.
5 College Approach, Greenwich SE10 9HY; 020 8858 3283; black-vanilla.com
The World of Zing’s cocktails are available by the bottle from leading food and drink stores and online at worldofzing.com