Forest Side’s Bar Manager Wins Top UK Cocktail Award

Bruno Vilas, Forest Side, Grasmere’s master mixologist rubbed shoulders with members of the global spirits industry earlier this month, at a glitzy industry luncheon, held at the prestigious Kensington Roof Gardens, in the heart of London.

Bruno made the journey down to the capital for the inaugural UK Bar Menu of the Year Awards. These new industry awards hosted by the Spirits Business, are designed to recognise the best bar and cocktail menus from across the country. Each menu submitted was judged by a panel of leading industry experts and the winning menu crowned Master of their category.

Vilas’s foraged and grown seasonal cocktail menu won through for Grasmere’s Forest Side, claiming the title of Seasonal Serve of The Year 2016.

But when you delve a little deeper it’s no surprise as Forest Side’s cocktail list is literally brim full of ingredients, indeed 100% of Bruno’s cocktail creations contain either foraged, grown or homemade ingredients.

We have the ability to harvest foraged ingredients from within our 43 acres of grounds and from the wider Cumbrian landscape, which is bursting with produce, including key ingredients such as woodruff, sea buckthorn, spruce needles, birch sap, meadowsweet, sloe berries and lovage.

Not only that we also have a walled kitchen garden, where key grown ingredients are nurtured, including apple marigold, pineapple sage, pineapple weed, elderberries, blackberries, lovage cress, green apples, fennel, thyme, pink lady apples, dwarf onions and strawberries to high light a few.

Using a diverse range of fresh seasonal ingredients affords Bruno the opportunity to focus on preparation and presentation. As a result he is able to display a wide range of skills and techniques in presenting ingredients as part of the cocktails he creates.

For example, our Woodruff Negroni made with woodruff infused gin, Aperol, Amontillado and Pedro Ximenez, our Sea Buckthorn Kir Royal made with sparkling wine, sea buckthorn and vanilla, the ‘Cumbrian Express’ made with meadow sweet infused vodka, coffee liqueur and local coffee from Carvetti or there is the aptly named ‘Forager’ made with pineapple weed infused vodka, homemade ginger beer and lime.

As Vilas, himself says: ‘’The cocktails in our list are a true reflection of the local environment, its produce and landscapes. We present them in many cases as classic cocktails but with markedly different interpretations to enable the guest to make the link between both the cocktail and the raw ingredients.’’

Kristiane Sherry, editor of The Spirits Business, explains: “We at The Spirits Business are delighted to award Bruno Vilas’ ‘Garden & Forager’s Selection’ the accolade of Seasonal Serve of The Year 2016. The menu reflects an innovative array of drinks which combine woodland foraging with modern mixology. The resulting serves offer unique twists on classic serves and represent new flavours and textures that reflect the Forest Side’s location in the heart of the Cumbrian countryside.”