This post is sponsored by Stockton

From the Stone Age to the ancient Romans, Stockton’s new menu Origin of the Species draws from unusual inspirations. 

Hong Kong stalwart Stockton is known for its innovative menus, and the bar’s new “Origin of the Species” series is no exception – and something even Darwin himself would be proud of. This culmination of over six months conceptualisation is based on the evolution of mankind and an ode to the cultural significance of alcohol throughout its 9,000 plus year history. Led by Maximal Concepts’ group managing director Malcolm Wood, group mixologist Suraj Gurung and the Stockton team, the menu is divided into twelve significant civilisations, each with its own cocktail.

Each civilisation and cocktail is accompanied with detailed illustrations and uniquely, the ingredients are listed before the alcohol. On why this decision was made, Suraj says, “We wanted to emphasise the unique characteristics of each era that inspired this menu.” Each drink was devised by focusing on the kinds of ingredients that would’ve been found in the ecosystems and diets of each time period. “But if these were impossible to source,” Suraj says, “then we used a modern interpretation of the ingredient. Thus alcohol is merely used as a vehicle for each cocktail’s story, and in some cases a tool to help bring out these specific flavours, rather than the focal point of the drink.”

One Thousand

During research and development, the team discovered an alcoholic ritual drink called soma, from ancient Hindu culture. The potion was said to prevent ageing, and make the drinker impervious to fire, poison and weapons, giving them the strength of a thousand elephants – this is the inspiration behind the One Thousand cocktail. Using ginger, honey, lemon, yellow Chartreuse, tropical Ardbeg, curry leaves, Angostura bitters and rosemary-infused bourbon, Suraj considered ingredients known for their health properties – hence the ginger, honey and lemon – to create a modern day soma. The tropical Ardberg is simply Ardbeg whisky infused with fresh pineapple for 24 hours to create a spirit that’s fruity on the nose but smoky on the palate. To extract the flavours of the curry leaves, they’re vacuum sealed with the spirits, and cooked sous vide for one hour at 45 degrees. Of the elixir, Suraj says: “Though One Thousand is very pineapple-forward on the nose, its actual flavour profile also includes a hint of savouriness with some lingering curry spice.”

The Daisy Chain – champagne vinegar, dry vermouth, liquid amino, hon dashi bianco, Wakamomo peach and vodka – is an homage to the Romans. “The Ancient Romans were known for their hedonism and heavy drinking,” explains Suraj, “so ingredients such as champagne vinegar and Wakamomo peach reflect these indulgences and gluttony.” The Wakamomo peach – an unripened baby Japanese mountain peach – is used as a garnish to reflect the Roman’s love for extravagant ingredients. As Suraj points out, you can only get Wakamomo peaches three months of the year, making them a rare luxury. The cocktail is to be held in one hand and the peach in the other, consumed in what Suraj calls “a true Roman experience, as there’s also something quite sensual about the whole act – especially if you are enjoying the cocktail with somebody else. One of the most powerful images of seduction is that of hand-feeding grapes to another’s mouth, as depicted in both ancient Greek and ancient Roman art.”

The cocktail’s name also plays off the Roman’s love for extravagant lifestyles and seeking of pleasure in everything. “Daisy Chain – how do I put this delicately? – is an erotic position performed during sexual intercourse with three or more people,” says Suraj. “Romans were known for being very experimental and outgoing in their sexual lives. As the cocktail is all about the reflection of this lifestyle, we felt it appropriate to give a nod to one of the ancient Romans’ favourite taboo acts.”