A few months ago I paid a visit to Hamburg in Germany, a trip motivated in no small part by the chance to visit a small bar called Le Lion. I had heard much about Le Lion over the past year and a half since it opened, so to say my expectations were high is something of an understatement. I’ll resist providing a full review because words don’t really do it justice (video, however, gets close), and I’m friends with the team behind the bar so it’s hard to be truly objective. Suffice to say though, it is easily one of the best bars I’ve ever visited.
On my first night at Le Lion Jörg Meyer (owner), Mario Kappes (head bartender) and I were discussing my next drink choice, and Jörg suggested the Padovani, named after Xavier Padovani, Traveling Mixologist and brand ambassador for Hendrick’s gin. They learned of the drink from a regular who had found it in the latest edition of Difford’s Guide to Cocktails. The original recipe calls for equal parts Scotch whisky and St. Germain elderflower liqueur which results in a rather sweet drink, so the recipe was adjusted to allow the Scotch to show through more.
However while the Padovani is a very nice drink using a blended Scotch, the Le Lion team found that for a really superlative cocktail, Glenmorangie Signet is the whisky of choice. Signet is Glenmorangie’s top-shelf product, made using whiskies up to 35 years old including rare “chocolate malt” (which is roasted longer than other malts). Coming in at £110 ($200), this is not a whisky for every occasion! I’m still something of a whisky neophyte, only recently beginning to really appreciate and enjoy Scotch, but just the nose on the Signet tells you it’s something special.
- 1.5 shot / 45 ml / 1.5 oz Glenmorangie Signet
- ½ shot / 15 ml / ½ oz St. Germain
- Stir over ice then strain in to an ice filled old-fashioned glass.
Glenmorangie Signet is delicious on its own, but the light, floral St. Germain beautifully complements the heavier coffee, plum and tobacco tones in the whisky creating an incredible mixture that is remarkably simple in recipe, yet so deep and complex in flavour. Some might consider mixing such a fine whisky with anything blasphemy, but I’ve never been one to shy away from mixing with quality spirits if it is worth it. And my – the Signet Padovani is worth it.
Le Lion serve the drink in a frozen glass using a large ice ball that keeps the drink nice and cold without over-dilution. I’ve taken to using a less attractive, but equally effective, large chunk of ice that I create by freezing an ice cream tub of water then chipping away in to smaller blocks.
Of course drinking Signet Padovanis is an expensive hobby but thankfully the drink also works perfectly nicely with other Scotch whiskies, which is definitely the way I’ll be enjoying my Padovanis most of the time. However if you ever find yourself in Hamburg with a spare €50 note in your pocket, enjoying a Signet Padovani in the beautiful surroundings of Le Lion certainly isn’t a bad way to spend it…
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