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Evgeny Shashin: I need to take a soul out of a cocktail

The best bartender of Russia according to Diageo Reserve World Class and the main one behind the bar in the new gastronomic Korobok bar, Yevgeny Shashin told that modern bar trends are taken from the past, why does the lilac aroma in cocktails and why it is “lit” in his bar fuss.

The name “Boxes” is about a spark from which the flame of bar trends will ignite?

Here are the lit matches on the logo.

It began with the fact that I wanted to give the bar a simple name, without any intellectual quests, points after each letter and unreadable English abbreviations.

In the end, the bar is the place where people come to when they want to drink, and the name on the sign should be simple enough so that a slightly tipsy person can easily call him a taxi driver. Well, the word is so multivalued — here and the desire to «light», and some kind of isolation from the outside world with all its problems.

Someone will remember how in childhood he caught and planted butterflies and ladybirds in boxes.

So we catch the visitor in our “Boxes” and set experiments on it, just kidding.

Well, in this joke there is some truth — here and the music is kind of somnambulistic, and the bartenders in black robes, at the front is a sink with test tubes, just like in a chemical laboratory.

So we are as chemical.

Briefly and very schematically, then we take the good old classics — like Negroni, remove the “soul” from the cocktail, in other words — a bouquet of flavors using a rotary evaporator, and turn what is left into a solid fraction, marmalade, adding campari and gin. And as a result we get “two in one”: the “soul” of the cocktail in the form of a clear liquid in a glass, and the “body” — the same “Negroni” but already in the form of a jelly candy.

As a result, those who drink “Negroni” once in a hundredth may experience new sensations from seemingly familiar ingredients.

That is, the rotary evaporator has now become a bartender’s tool?

For me — yes, this is a full-fledged bar gadget.

I’m not completely satisfied with the direction that has happened to the cocktail culture lately: more and more color, more and more ingredients, cocktails are becoming like a flower bed. I wanted clarity and rigor that was inherent in cocktails from the 1920s.

Then the cocktail was a symbol of success, as dry as possible, transparent, crystal in taste, nothing superfluous, like a bunch of currants, clinging to the edge of the glass.

We generally do not use berries, tartlets and other lush decor — the whole taste should be inside the glass, not outside.

Shaker you rarely use?

No need — everything that needs to be mixed, we combine in advance, in the right proportions.

In each cocktail we have a rather complicated preparatory stage, which takes place in the laboratory and is not taken out in the hall. And behind the counter in most cases I just pour a cocktail from the bottle, put the final note out of the spray — that’s all.

We are generally talking about silence — quiet conversations, a minimum of noise behind the counter.

We have calm drinks that are not worth drinking, tipping a glass in one fell swoop.

We don’t juggle with anything, perhaps with meanings.

We don’t smoke, we don’t knock, we don’t beat the bat on the head … Those who want to make some noise, are calmly sent to neighboring friendly bars, they will definitely like it there. We are about to sit, meditate, feel the drink, forget about the thoughts that were pursued at the top.

Maybe something good will be remembered.

Behind a bar counter now also distribute good memories?

But how! It’s not just that we put on our robes like a Jedi on a mission.

But in fact, there are tastes and aromas that act as triggers and start the clock back.

For example, the taste of a rooster on a stick — remember, caramel from burnt sugar?

I use it in the form of syrup, preparing a cocktail with bourbon — everything seems to be an adult, but the children’s “lollipop” taste is still involved in the impression of the mix recorded on the subcortex. Or lilac flower distillate. Somehow I was walking down the street, and suddenly I realized that the mood had suddenly become kind of elated, festive.

And this is just a lilac bloomed!

I will definitely include this “note of happiness” in my next cocktail collection, which is supposed to be called Botanical.

Cocktails card, which opened the «Box», consists of only 7 positions, is not it enough?

Or, if you ask, for example, «Cosmo», it is also mixed for a regular guest?

Do you want «Cosmo» — then, please, not to us. If such an idea arose, it means that for you a cocktail is the “fuel” for warming up before a party.

And we are not in order to accelerate, we are — to sit down and calm down.

Although in the future the palette will increase, as if by branches diverging from the tastes of classic cocktails. But not much.

A dozen positions, hardly more.

«Boxes» do not speak-easy bar?

Can you just come in from the street here?

We do not require recommendations from the five members of the club and do not hide in the back room behind the door with the words «Do not enter, kill!».

Although we especially do not advertise ourselves. Anyone can enter — but not all remain. Someone does not have enough food, someone just is not ready to think and talk all evening about what is in his glass.

But such selectivity does not bother us much: there are few seats in the Korobka, so that “our” guest will remain anyway, but “not ours” will find himself somewhere else.

This is what I would not want, so it beat attendance records.

«Cosmo» and «Long Island» — never under any circumstances?

You know, I somehow had a crazy idea to collect all the trash and make a separate series of author cocktails based on it.

So that a person would try something “pink” and “green”, and startled with surprise.

But this is still hypothetical, no more than an idea.

How many cocktails do you recommend to drink in the evening?

For myself, I derived the rule of «three drinks», the fourth one is always superfluous.

Rule tested on personal experience after bar-hopping in the heavy hangover mornings.

And if the guest still requires the fourth?

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