‘Unexpected Connections’, the Young British Foodie award-winning sensory- immersive food and drink experience by the House of Gastrophonic, returns to London this year, exclusively hosted throughout 2016 at the magnificent Magazine restaurant at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London’s Hyde Park.
Root + Bone went to The Magazine to speak to the House of Gastrophonic about bourbon, Lapsang Souchon and how they pair with deep, electronic dub marimbas, trumpets and trombones.
“Drinking is an emotional thing”, poet Charles Bukowski once observed. We all know that drinking invariably elicits an emotional response: delight, happiness, joy or sometimes something darker. Listening to music produces a remarkably similar range of emotional responses. The tempo, differing keys, complementary or clashing harmonies, a consistent or an irregular rhythm, can all conjure up wildly different reactions.
Recent research reveals that our senses are more interconnected than previously thought, with sound and colour now known to enhance our perception, understanding and enjoyment of flavour.
This interconnectedness between naturally occurring flavours and corresponding sound and light frequencies is explored by sensory-immersive event pioneers The House of Gastrophonic in the award-winning food and drink experience ‘Unexpected Connections’, a unique four-way pairing of exquisite food, drinks, music and light designed to thrill all the senses. It’s a true synaesthesia set over four distinct courses using music and colour frequencies to echo and enrich the flavour profiles of perfectly paired canapés and cocktails.
Flavour’s connection with music is a deeply subjective thing. One man’s Mozart is another man’s Motorhead. However there are some irrefutable constants: deep, low flavours are enhanced by deep, low sounds and resonant instrumentation and the higher flavour notes are enhanced by pure tones such as bells and brighter musical notes.
When The House of Gastrophonic heard Jim Beam was launching Double Oak, they knew this new bourbon with its exceptional depth could be the beating heart of a new take on a Lapsang Souchon Old Fashioned recipe, inspired by Henrietta Lovell of the Rare Tea Company.
The Double Oak Old Fashioned has been created to pair perfectly with the low sonic sounds and deep red lighting frequencies of ‘Unexpected Connections’ second course, ‘Smoke’, and to complement Smoke’s canapés of Smoked Aged Beef Tartare, Pequillo and Charcoal; Scottish Roe Deer, Beetroot and Juniper and Smoked Mackerel, Cucumber and Lovage designed by The Magazine Head Chef Emmanuel Eger.
Musically, ‘Smoke’ opens with deep and sparse electronic dub with ultra-low sub bass frequencies; sounds that tend to be felt more than heard. These ultra-deep frequencies are reflected in the low smoky notes of the Tarry Lapsang Souchong from the Rare Tea Company. This intense tea is smoked using traditional wood fires to create a rich, peaty, black tea with an aroma that’s reminiscent of sitting by an open fire: smoky, warming and comforting.
These low smoky music and flavour notes provide the solid foundation for the Double Oak to settle on. The hints of toasted wood and lingering spiced oakiness derived from the bourbon’s twice-barreled process are reflected in the lower notes of Smoke’s musical arrangements of rumbling reggae bass lines and low, resonant heavily bowed cello riffs, that in turn give way to tumbling African wooden marimba patterns.
The wooden percussive staccato of the marimbas bind instinctively with the Double Oak and are the link to the next, slightly higher tonal layer of rasping trombone and trumpet arrangements. These notes bring flashes of burnt dark orange into the ‘Unexpected Connections’ light show, designed by leading London event production company Event Concept and in turn reflect the rich caramel and toffee notes from the Double Oak.
With its roots firmly planted in the low, smoky notes, the flavour profile of the Double Oak Old Fashioned rises up to the big, rich, concentrated comfort of dark chocolate, coffee, dark berries and bitter cherries from the Antica Formula Carpano vermouth. The vermouth provides a subtle balance for the ultra-low smokiness of the tea as well as the low / middle woody and toffee notes of the bourbon. The vermouth also folds into the final flourish of the higher notes of the Double Oak Old Fashioned that are introduced with the honey syrup made from Ling Heather Honey from the London Honey Company. This highly prized, strongly aromatic honey provides a tangy but only mildly sweet top note to the Double Oak Old Fashioned that persists on the palate. Along with the original deep smokiness of the Tarry Lapsang Souchon, it creates a strong, yet measured crescendo that binds into the rhythmic trombone and trumpet brass stabs of the final bars of Smoke’s soundtrack.
Double Oak Lapsang Old Fashioned
30ml Jim Beam Double Oak
30ml Tarry Lapsang Souchon from the Rare Tea Company
5ml Antica Formula Carpano Vermouth
½ Bar Spoon Honey Syrup made with London Honey Company Ling Heather Honey
Stir over ice and garnish with a flamed orange twist
Smoked Mackerel, Cucumber & Lovage
Smoked Dry Aged Beef Tartar, Pequillo & Charcoal
Scottish Roe Deer, Beetroot & Juniper