Brunching with Belvedere
Disclaimer: I did not pay for my breakfast, Belvedere hosted both media and industry folk to launch their new vodka range. The opinions reported below are based solely on my thoughts at the time of my visit.
Surely there are few better jobs than creating new flavours of vodka, inventing cocktails and traveling the world and appearing on television on the side. Welcome to Claire Smith’s life. She’s Head of Spirit Creation and Mixology for Belvedere Vodka and if you ask me, she’s living the dream. She’s the brains behind Belvedere’s Black Raspberry, Pink Grapefruit, and most recently Belvedere Bloody Mary (apparently there is a Lemon Tea variety in the making, as well as another top secret flavour).
But it was the launch of Belvedere Bloody Mary that saw a group of Melburnians gather for brunch at the Botanical earlier this week. I attended as a guest of the launch on an empty stomach. Perhaps not the best decision in hindsight—how was I to know that a Bloody French 74 cocktail made from the new Belvedere flavour, peach liqueur, sparkling wine and lemon would be thrust in my hand and forced down my throat? (I suppose it wasn’t really forced down my throat, I actually tripped and the whole thing spilt in my mouth. By accident).
We eventually sat down at a long table in the Botanical’s rear ‘conservatory’ room. The table was beautifully set—scattered with moss, limes, branches and bottles of vodka. It reminded me of a naughty adult picnic I’m yet to experience.
We started with the Botanical’s own bircher muesli with poached fruit, blueberries and a smattering of shaved coconut. But the focus that morning was on the drink, not the food. A Pineapple Mary with Belvedere Bloody Mary, pineapple and lime juice, simple syrup, a dash of orange bitters and a pinch of paprika was served with a candy-striped straw. The spicy paprika was an especially nice touch.
But it didn’t stop there. The Belvedere Cucumber Fix arrived soon after in a martini glass. It featured cucumber juice, a dash of lemon, elderflower cordial, a baton of cucumber and Belvedere Bloody Mary. It washed down a selection of toast, pastries and muffins.
Claire, despite her charm, was obviously working. She was at the bar instructing the bartender to add a little more of this and a little less of that throughout the morning.
The third course was a choice between scrambled eggs in a giant confit tomato nest with goat cheese, basil and pesto, or potato rosti with a poached egg, bacon, guacamole and sour cream. I’m a sucker for a good rosti, and luckily, the Botanical produced one worthy of praise.
To conclude the brunch, the star drink was presented: a Belvedere Classic Bloody Mary (vodka, tomato juice, lemon and Tabasco). The rim of the glass was dipped in both salt and pepper and a fresh stick of celery made an appearance as well.
Belvedere has always appealed to me because of the natural process employed to create their spirits, as opposed to that sickly, artificial rubbish that commands the majority of the flavoured vodka market. This is also true of Belvedere Bloody Mary, which is made using a completely natural process and real ingredients. Tomatoes, black pepper, horseradish, bell peppers, chilli peppers and lemon are the main elements. The idea is that you can “just add tomato juice” and have a commendable Bloody Mary. It’s also the first vodka to be created for a single drink, but as the degustation of cocktails cleverly showed the guests, Belvedere Bloody Mary is by no means limited to a single drink. If nothing else, the new Belvedere Bloody Mary vodka is quite possibly the ultimate hangover cure, and I’ll drink to that.
In case you’re after a Bloody Mary recipe, here is the one Belvedere recommended, but with a few personal twists:
- 30ml Belvedere Bloody Mary
- 90ml tomato juice (I recommend squeezing your own for a lighter version)
- Dash lemon juice
- As much or as little Tabasco sauce as your heart desires
- Stick of celery and lemon wedge to garnish
Combine all ingredients in a glass over cubed ice, then garnish with a wedge of lemon and a stick of celery. Bottoms up.
Disclaimer: In case you missed it, I was a guest at the Belvedere Bloody Mary brunch launch. The opinions reported above are based solely on my personal experience of the product and thoughts at the time of my visit to the Botanical.