The Booking Office at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in King’s Cross has taken patrons to the continent throughout its history.
While anyone traveling down Euston Road can’t fail to see the stunning red-brick hotel, the Booking Office can actually still be accessed from King’s Cross St Pancras station.
As the famous station’s original ticket hall on opening in 1869, the bar continues the travel-themed legacy with its new ‘tails of Discovery cocktail menu.
Curated through the mixologists’ travels from Provence through to Amsterdam, the pioneering cocktail menu takes inspiration from events, characters and places from across Europe, while aiming to also introduce innovative tastes and techniques.
Expert bar manager Terence Sestili was key in developing pioneering ‘tails Of Discovery and has even sourced peaches straight from Sebastopol Market in Lille, France – a brief train journey away – for the Peach Bellini cocktail. Sestili says that during the development of the new menu, it was essential to create a theme.
“It is very important for us and central to the ‘tails of Discovery menu and its creation,” he says. “Not only is one of our Renaissance core values ‘discovery’, but the hotel is also uniquely positioned in St. Pancras Station, where many great journeys start. The menu’s theme and hotel are inextricably linked.”
Sestili joined the St Pancras Renaissance in 2017, bringing with him more than 15 years of experience. Most recently, he led the bar team at iconic Sheraton Grand London Park Lane in Mayfair following an extensive refurbishment, before which he was a key part of the sommelier and bar team at exclusive private members club Home House. He knows that standing out from the competition in London is imperative.
“There are a few key factors involved in the success of ‘tails of Discovery,” he explains. “The different and pioneering mixology techniques used, such as Milk Clarification, Roto-Evaporation and Nitrogen Cavitation Cold Infusion, really help the menu stand out.
“We also use seasonal ingredients and are dedicated to sourcing the best possible ingredients. Additionally, more than 80% of the ingredients used are made fresh daily to ensure the best flavour.”
The menu is a mix of cocktails for all day parts. The Noir Mary breakfast special adds depth to the classic Bloody Mary with Boudin Noir, French blood sausage, whilst the savoury Mushroom Martini, inspired by the ‘Toqués du Cèpe’ mushroom festival in the South of France, pairs morel’s umami notes with oak rested gin, in an innovative take on the Martini.
Housemade blends and syrups feature heavily, incorporating intriguing flavours into classic cocktails, from the homemade salted syrup adding a kick to the Mare Britannicum, inspired by the heroic journeys of Alison Streeter MBE, who swam the English Channel 43 times, to sweetcorn syrup marrying with butter infused whiskey in The Gael.
Drinkers can discover innovative mixology techniques; the Cherry Blossom Swirl uses the age-old clarifying technique of mixing milk with citrus to create a silky clear tipple (see page 46), while a RotoEvaporator is used in the non-alcoholic Coffee No-Groni to extract alcohol without affecting the drink’s viscosity or flavour.
Sestili says: “We love trying new techniques in our ‘lab’ and introducing these to our customers, adding an extra experiential element to their visit. With fantastic access to Europe, we have the luxury of gaining international inspiration, and we wanted to show our clients a few of our favourite European farmers markets and ingredients through the menu.”
So, who is trying the new cocktail menu so far?
“The clientele is very mixed; most hotel guests will come to Booking Office during their visit, but we also have a great number of regular local guests who know the menu and staff very well,” says Sestili.
“Guests are charmingly different depending on the time of the day; we have many guests here for business and lunch meetings during the day, but come the late afternoon The Booking Office transforms into a destination bar and the magic starts.”
A small plate menu has also been devised with a recommendation of which cocktail to pair a dish with. Treats range from Confit Gressingham Duck Nuggets, complementing the tangy orange Coffee No-Groni, through to the Morel and Smoked Ham Hock Pizza boasting earthy notes is recommended for the savoury Mushroom Martini.
“The most popular cocktail so far has been the Courante Affair, a twist on the famous Clover Club, which we’ve boosted with our home blend vermouth, ginger lemongrass and saffron syrup,” says Sestili.
“The cocktail is served in a coupe glass and garnished with the Fleur De Lis, the emblem of the hotel which you can spot on our Grand Staircase, made from raspberry powder. Not only is it perfectly balanced, it also looks stunning!”
h4.‘TAILS OF DISCOVERY SAMPLE MENU
ST PANCRAS SORBET
France produces around 41,000 tonnes of Clementine’s a year. This is the Booking Office
take on a European classic, the Sgroppino. Here the clementines are transformed into a sorbet and topped with Champagne and house blended vermouth.
A long refreshing cooler inspired by the heroic journeys across the channel to mainland Europe of Alison Streeter MBE. Northern Italian bergamot shebert, Havana Club 7 year old rum, Camden Hells lager, house-made salted falernum.
A COURANTE AFFAIR
Saffron-infused Kent raspberries mingle with Silent Pool Gin celebrating the Dutch influence on news distribution – Silent Pool Gin, raspberry & saffron syrup, fresh raspberries, lemongrass & ginger syrup, house blended sweet vermouth, egg white, lemon juice.
In 1984 Irishman Sean Kelly conquered Europe’s toughest one day cycling race, Paris― Roubaux. We found another Irishman who blended spirits and also invented a bicycle ― Butter-infused JJ Corry The Gael Irish Whiskey, corn syrup and lactic acid.
PERSON OF STEEL
Henry Bessemer ― engineer and inventor ― epitomized the 18th century, revolutionising the British steel industryand developed a new way of extracting sugar cane, used in the production of rum. Havana Club Selección de Maestros rum, Cointreau Blood Orange liqueur, lime juice and closed-loop almond syrup.
PAIRING PLATES SAMPLE MENU
TANDOORI BRESSE 10 CHICKEN, POPPADUM, TAMARIND, CORIANDER SAUCE
Pairs with CHERRY BLOSSOM SWIRL – Exotic blends and flavours ― tandoori spices, a heritage of colonial Britain are all matched with the depth of character of whiskey and sherry, the blood orange and citrus
CURED BRITISH MEAT BOARD, PICCALILLI, GRILLED CIABATTA
Pairs with MARE BRITANNICUM – Paired through the classic combination found in bars and gastro-pubs through the UK. This has also been a classic combination for many years of packing and serving of cured meats and a cool drink of beer for long journeys and again highlights the connection of food and beverage.
INDIVIDUAL MOREL 10 & SMOKED HAM HOCK PIZZA
Pairs with MUSHROOM MARTINI – The earthy notes of the morels in the pizza and savoury aspect of the ceps in the cocktail are then enhanced by the continued earthy notes of the smoked ham hock. This classic combination of ham and mushroom also combines well to stand up against the alcohol strength of a martini.
SAFFRON PAKORA, SCOTCH EGGS, MANGO SAUCE
Pairs with A COURANTE AFFAIR – The pairing of the Indian/ sub–continent spice and fruit flavours with a British classic ― Scotch eggs ― works to marry the flavours of the cocktail ― saffron and lemongrass ― and the classic British beverage Gin.
ST PANCRAS SALT BEEF AND OGLESHIELD TOASTIE BITES, SWEET MUSTARD DIP
Pairs with SWEET GAEL – Salt beef or corned beef has long been associated with Ireland and was for many years during the industrialisation period a traditional Irish snack.