“The Orchard List was born from a desire to elevate the restaurant experience for people who choose not to drink alcohol.”
In the constant pursuit for memorable experiences, and as trends in restaurants and bars evolve, people are seeking out drinks that add to or define their dining experience.
People’s changing habits – whether due to a want to omit alcohol from their diet or to simply lead a more balanced lifestyle – has sparked a change in the drinks industry. No longer are people content with swapping their cocktails for sugar-laden fruit juices. In response, the hospitality industry has become much more innovative in their approach to non-alcoholic drinks lists.
Innovation and evolution are at the heart of the Orchard List. Conceived by Christine Parkinson, Group Head of Wine, Eder de Oliveira Fonseca Neto, Head of Bar, and food and drinks consultant James Morgan, the list is diverse and considered, pushing the traditional boundaries of drinks without alcohol.
“We realised that to make a great list we would need people with diverse backgrounds, so we put together a great team. James Morgan has years of experience both front of house and as a chef, whilst Eder Neto has a deft knowledge of cocktails and a fantastic feel for the palate and aroma of a drink,” says Christine Parkinson.
Of course, the team would be incomplete without the illustrious Christine; back in 2001, she joined Hakkasan Group and created the first wine list for Hakkasan, simultaneously developing an entirely new philosophy and approach to pairing wines with food, and she has gone on to both win and judge high profile awards in the drinks industry.
(Cold brewed teas)
The Orchard List is the result of two years of worldwide research and development, with valuable input from the Hakkasan and Yauatcha bar teams in London, Dubai and Shanghai, pastry chefs Daniel Pearse and Linden Ranger, and producers, suppliers and consultants.
This is reflected in the extensive range of drinks that make up the Orchard List; with over twenty different products, sourced from all over the world, the list is one of the most prolific and comprehensive of its nature currently offered in any London restaurant at the moment.
“In many cases, we worked with really small producers, some of whom were inspired to make great drinks but were at an early stage with their businesses,” Christine explains. “We felt that we could support them to create these drinks. We had a clear vision of the quality and style we wanted to include on the list, and that was our guiding principle.”
The Orchard List features several different categories, ranging from cultured and cold brew teas to drinking vinegars, tree waters and salted and bittered juice infusions.
It also includes a completely new type of drinks category, named Mai Shin, created by infusing a unique combination of imported Japanese ingredients.
Christine says, “Eder and I were both lucky enough to spend a week working in the Akashi Tai sake brewery, and the experience was overwhelmingly inspirational. Our visit led directly to the idea for the new Mai Shin drinks. Turning our ideas into reality was a huge challenge, but we really believe it has been worth it.”
On the most standout drink on the list, Christine says, “Most people have experienced the flavours of wood in drinks like wine, spirits, and even some beers and ciders, but wood is the star of Ogam. It’s a real surprise, and definitely not to be missed!”
The list is a product of hard work and collaboration, and a determined resolve to create something completely unique.
“At one point, we had tea cultures fermenting in our test kitchen in Hackney, test brews being developed in a laboratory in Surrey, cold brew tea trials happening in a couple of our London restaurants, infusion trials in Hakkasan Shanghai, verjus trials at an English vineyard in Sussex, test blends with local ingredients in Hakkasan Dubai, and kombucha tastings at our San Diego office,” explains Christine.
“We ran exhaustive trials on the cold brew tea, perfecting every variable from choice of tea onwards. We even investigated whether the tea improved once bottled – and it does, for a few days!”
It is this devoted attention to detail and unwavering curiosity that sets the Orchard List apart from other non-alcoholic drinks lists.