Free Trade Cocktails at Plateau:
Guest Post by Natalie York
I was stunned to find out that there is only one company currently making Fairtrade spirits, you’d think with the explosion of interest in properly produced alcohol more people would take a real interest in where it comes from but Free, a French company started in 2009, is currently flying the flag single handed with its range of Fairtrade spirits.
I headed out to Plateau in Canary Wharf to sample a few of their new cocktails made with Fair’s range, standing in their beautiful garden room we were met by their spokesman who explained a little bit about the process of producing ethical spirits. The company itself has to follow over 200 rules set down by the fair trade foundation to ensure that the farmers they work with are getting a good deal that enables them to make a decent living and invest back in their communities. Fair also really focuses on quality using only organic sugar cane as well as quinoa grown in volcanic soil on the 3000m high Altiplano plateau (making their line gluten free!) which is shipped back to their headquarters in the Cognac region of France to be blended and distilled.
We sat down to try a few of the Fair spirits on their own, the Quinoa Vodka was probably my favourite as I’ve never tasted a vodka that I think I would be happy to drink straight before, extremely smooth with a fruity complexity that made it genuinely enjoyable to drink (not a note I would give to most normal vodkas…). The rum, made from Belizian sugar cane, was also pretty great with a real undertone of caramel and a smoky finish. We finished off with a coffee liquor, made of course with Freetrade coffee, this was a little sweet for my taste but I could imagine it working well after a big meal instead of a dessert wine.
Then came the cocktails themselves! My favourite was probably a Bloody Mary made with incredibly fresh tomatoes and just the right balance of spices, the whole thing actually ended up tasting more like a gazpacho or even just a salad than any other Bloody Mary I’ve ever tasted, I can see how this might not necessarily be to everyone’s taste but I thought it was pretty delicious and incredibly refreshing. Another one I’d definitely order again was a kiwi and cucumber number again with Fair’s vodka, what I loved about this was that it wasn’t too sweet, allowing the vegetable taste of the cucumber to really come to the fore.
I would say that a few more trips up to Plateau for cocktails are definitely of the cards for me. The Fairtrade spirits are more than just a gimmick, they are a genuinely gorgeous ingredient, made with care and skill and doing some real good in the communities that produce them. In the moneyed halls of Canary Wharf it is refreshing and rare to see that!