This evening we had the pleasure of attending a Sip and Scent Masterclass in the new Canberra Centre beauty precinct. The class, the first of it’s kind we were told, brought together the art of crafting a martini and building a fragrance around the hero ingredients of our bespoke cocktail.
After taking our seat in the new dedicated event space, Canberra’s ‘Martini Whisperer’ Phillip Jones prepared each of us a very special drink created especially for the event. ‘When I was asked to create a bespoke martini for the Canberra Centre I knew it had to be beautiful,’ Phillip explained. With a deep burgundy colour resting on the bed of our clear drink and piece of gold leaf floating on top, it certainly was beautiful.
While a traditional Martini is made up of gin (or vodka) and vermouth, our martini, La Martini Deluxe, was a layered affair consisting of Generous Gin (a healthy dash), Dolin Vermouth (5mL), St Germain Liqueur (10mL), Crème de Cassis (a small dash) and a gold leaf garnish (just a little). As it was Bastille Day, all of the products Phillip chose were French in origin.
After Phillip’s engaging martini-making demonstration, fragrance expert Dimitri Weber explained that every ingredient that made up our martini could also be used in fragrance. ‘The way we create a martini is the same as creating a fragrance. To create a perfume [like a spirit or liqueur] we need a maker, alcohol and essences.‘
Dimitri took us through some of the key fragrance notes in each of the liquors making up our bespoke martini, passing around fragrance cards to smell as we sipped our delicious drinks.
At the heart of the martini is Generous Gin, which contains juniper berries, lemon, lime, peppercorn berries and orange blossom, all ingredients that are used in the art of perfumery. For example, fragrance connoisseurs might recognise peppercorns at the heart of the iconic Chanel Chance fragrance.
The second layer of our martini was Dolin Vermouth. ‘The Dolin is the most interesting liqueur here tonight because it contains 54 ingredients,’ Dimitri told us. ‘We use all of those ingredients in fragrance. Pepper and rose are two standouts within the Dolin.’ You certainly don’t have to look hard to find either of those ingredients in a fragrance.
The St Germain Phillip used in his Martini is an elderflower liqueur, which according to Dimitri yields ‘a very complex scent with a little bit of jasmine, rose and citrus.’
The final note of our martini came from the Crème de Cassis. ‘Cassis comes from Burgundy,’ Dimitri explained. ‘In perfumery we use the fruit and the bud of the blackcurrant. Cassis is the hero of the La Vie en Belle fragrance from Lancôme. 40% of the ingredients in this perfume are based as on cassis.’ Talk about a hero ingredient.
Over the course of our masterclass, we drank, we smelled and we learned. But most importantly, we and a whole lot fun.