With the summer sun heating up our evenings, now is the perfect time to grab a few post-work cocktails, and this week we did just that. We ventured down to the SoHe cocktail bar and restaurant in Newcastle to chat to expert cocktail mixologist Ami St. Claire about her amazing job. Ami is known for her experimental, creative take on cocktails, and has competed in national mixology competitions. After seeing some of her work, which always looks incredible, we couldn’t wait to taste it for ourselves!
Needless to say, Ami’s cocktails were amazing. The flavour ideas and overall presentation was like nothing we’d ever experienced, and we have been to a lot of cocktail bars. After sampling the delicious drinks, we asked Ami about her creative attitude to cocktails and got a few tips on how to serve up the perfect drink.
So how did you end up making such delicious cocktails for a living?
I used to be graphic designer and have a long history of working in hospitality- usually on the floor -so when started to work behind cocktail bars I found it a great avenue to be experimental with exotic flavours and creative with extravagant serves.
What are your favourite ingredients to work with?
I’m a massive gin lover- especially with the range of options on the market at the moment. I also very much believe in the use of fresh produce. Spirit-only based drinks are great, I really love to incorporate some type of muddle fruit or fresh herbs. At the moment I’m in love with basil, thyme, schezuan pepper, kalamansi, berries, grapefruit, papaya… the list goes on!
Why is SoHe such a special venue for these exotic drinks?
From the start we have tried to source the most random fruits, herbs, juices, spices and spirits- then I tried to see what would work best with what and come up with some crazy concoctions that have never been tried before. I also try to rework some classics with an Asian twist. A lot of our ingredients are homemade, as what we want ends up needing to be made from scratch!
What’s your personal poison?
One of my favourites was a drink on the last winter menu (which was reworked for summer) called the Sloe Siam and it was Haymans Sloe gin, Kalamansi, sparkling sake and muddled blackberries – a twist on a classic sloe gin fizz but a lot yummier!
What’s the best thing about your job?
Getting a chance to be as outlandish as possible with what we serve and provide the ‘wow’ factor to customers when they get presented with cocktails that look great and taste even better. We have served drinks with loads of homemade candy floss and even smoking antique Aladdin lamps. Currently we have a drink served with transparent chocolate ravioli and a cocktail in an ice sphere that you have to break into.
What’s your favourite summer vacation spot?
In Europe it has to be Nice, France. I also love Capetown, South Africa and Koh Samui, Thailand.
Which pair of sunglasses from the B Sunglasses site would you take away with you?
I always need a large pair of round black sunnies to hide behind – the Prada Super Rounds would be perfect!
Make Your Own!
This recipe for a Black Cherry Bite cocktail is perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon, and will add a touch of fruity fun to any party! All you need to do is put the ingredients into the fanciest glass you own – or a mason jar if you’re feeling hipster – and stir. Easy!
• 1.5 oz good gin or vodka, whichever you fancy
• 1 oz tart Black Cherry Juice
• 1/2 oz Juniper Rose Syrup
• Sparkling water
• A few wedges of fresh lemon or orange
• Black Bitters or Hair of The Dog Bitters