Potato? In a cocktail? Yup

8th January 2024

Potato? In a cocktail? Yup

So El Dorado rum flows from Guyana where food and rum are a big part of family life, full of traditions. With swizzle recipes and also cookery recipes closely guarded secrets passed down the family line.

I want to welcome everybody in with my cocktail the way a Guyanese grandmother might with a big pot of stew at the dinner table after a long hard day. The national dish of Guyana and the dish I have decided to draw inspiration from is called Pepper Pot and consists of local root vegetables, spices, fruit and goat or other meat. To pull all this together, a preserving agent and seasoning sauce called Cassareep is also added bringing great depth to the dish, It is thick, brown in colour and packed full of rich spices.

So how to start tuning this iconic Guyanese dish into a cocktail....

Firstly I need a back bone and I chosen to select the 15yr old Eldorado as it is big and punchy and will stand up to the strong rich flavours I plan to use.

The Pepper Pot is certainly not a sweet dish so it’s important to me to try and get some of the original savoury flavours into the cocktail. Potatoes aren’t most people’s go to cocktail ingredient but I’m not most people...If you slow roast a sweet potato for a few hours you end up with a sticky pulp that once blended makes an incredible purée, rich in flavour with notes of caramel. This would be the second ingredient.

Mango is one of the most abundant fruits and compliments the rich flavour of the sweet potato and is a very good friend of rum in general so this is my next ingredient, but I don’t want to just add juice, I want to concentrate the flavour. For this I created a syrup soaking 500g of sugar with 2 diced mangos and also the peel of two limes for 48 hours. The sugar sucks out all the juice and oils from the fruits and creates the most magnificent sweet scented syrup.

Now as we know it can’t all be sweet sweet sweet or we would lose the complexity of the rum and end up with a drink that tastes like a melted ice lolly, so I will also add a splash of lime juice a dash of my swizzle stick bitters and finally a spoon of our essential pepper pot ingredient Cassareep.

Pardon the interruption

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Now this dish would usually be cooked in a traditional cast iron skillet and heated over a wood burning stove, so I have sourced a small skillet which will be the perfect size to serve my cocktail in and I have also made it as a sharing cocktail for 2. To add a little smokiness to replicate the cooking process I have decided to smoke the inside of the skillet with swizzle stick, this should give the cocktail a great smoky nose and taste.

Lastly for the garnish I wanted to complete the illusion that this drink really was a meal, so I have made some sweet potato crisps and seasoned them with a vanilla salt and a sprinkle of gold flakes.

Well there you go fingers crossed that will be enough to wow the judges and get me through to the finals....

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