A playful new menu at leading bar Coupette in east London delivers delicious new cocktails with savoury flavours, homemade cordials and natural ingredients.
Parmigiano cheese, toasted rye, forced carrot, rhubarb, apricots, toasted coconut, roasted cashews and walnuts feature in the drinks created over the past seven months by the team headed by bar manager Andrei Marcu.
Although they use a strong selection of high-quality drinks brands, the bar team have made many of the liqueurs, cordials and flavoured spirits themselves.
Highlights include the beautifully balanced Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy (pictured top), combining olive oil-washed Maker’s Mark 46 bourbon, a homemade liqueur using parmigiano cheese, mead and a raisin cordial, served straight up in a coupe garnished with an even cheesier Parmesan crisp.
Another excellent cocktail is Cereal Wars (pictured below), based on an Old Fashioned, mixing Highland Park 12-year-old single malt whisky and genever with malt cacao, Aztec chocolate bitters and a cordial of toasted rye, barley and wheat, served in a rocks glass over a solid block of ice – with an ear of wheat as a garnish.
The bar in Bethnal Green Road has looked to the darker side of east London for the concept of the menu itself, dubbed “Urban Legends & Their Uprising Tales”.
Divided into six chapters, it re-tells the story of how the bar team came together as if they were part of a gang using their wits to win against the odds.
QR codes on each chapter of the menu take you to six short videos playfully telling this story, starring Marcu and his team of Tiago Vasconcelos, Svajune Janeliunaite, Arlindo Duarte and Hugues Pollier. You can also watch them on Coupette’s YouTube channel.
The sleek, square menu also features colourful, intricate new illustrations of each of the cocktails, drawn by Molly Rose.
Marcu, whose previous experience includes The Edgaston in Birmingham, took over as bar manager of Coupette last year after the departure of co-founder Chris Moore. Coupette re-opened on 4 July after lockdown and launched the new menu last week.
The first chapter of the menu keeps some of the bar’s favourite signature serves including the luxuriously twisted Champagne Piña Colada, and Board Room made with Hennessy Fine de Cognac, Dubonnet aperitif, Cherry Heering liqueur, Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee liqueur and walnut cordial in a smoked glass.
It also continues to have an extensive selection of calvados alongside its signature drink, Apples – a regularly changing calvados with a homemade carbonated apple juice.
Other new cocktails include the Corny Gimlet, using homemade corn liqueur to add depth to salty buttered gin and a splash of popcorn tea.
Forced carrot is used for a sweet earthy twist on a Negroni, combining it with Bombay Sapphire gin, Lillet Blanc and Campari to create The Bitter Quarter (pictured above).
Beetroot adds colour to the Purple Hopper (pictured above), which also contains Havana Club Añejo rum, chocolate-infused Absinthe Fontaine, crème de menthe, white chocolate, sweet mole, and cream.
The lightly sweet Strawberry Adonis (pictured below) combines Absolut Strawberry vodka, Noilly Prat vermouth, Dolin Chamberyzette wild strawberry vermouth, strawberry-infused Tio Pepe sherry and a clear milk punch instead of cream.
The bar also has a new menu of bar snacks, from truffled nuts and smoked almonds to more substantial small plates such as squid and cuttlefish croquettes, butterfly king prawns and sweet and savoury crepes.
In keeping with the bar’s French inspiration, there are also cheese and charcuterie boards featuring fresh French cheeses and a selection of cured meats.
Coupette is currently open from 5pm every day until midnight Monday to Thursday, until 1am Fridays and Saturdays and 11pm Sundays. Normal Covid-19 rules are in place including social distancing, hand sanitisers, a maximum of six per table, and front-of-house staff in face masks.
Coupette, 423 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 0AN
Photography by Stefan Paiu