Combining work and leisure
It was the beginning of the year 2020. As usually around that time of the year, I was in Poland spending a long Christmas vacation with my family. Since my vacations are often a mix of leisure and work, I was routinely checking my emails in the mornings.
2020 just couldn’t start better
One of those emails came from Madison Square Garden. They were reaching out to tell me about their upcoming event with Squarespace – Kicks and Cocktails for the New York Knicks. Alchemiq Catering was chosen to create cocktails for 500 event guests, including the team members and their coaches. I remember thinking ‘2020 just couldn’t start better.’
Soon after returning from Poland to New York, I was getting ready for another exciting trip. I was at the early stages of planning a new service – weddings in Maui, Hawaii. That’s where the cocktail recipe for the NY Knicks event ended up being finalized.
My recipe development process
When developing new recipes I usually start with two ingredients and build around those. For the Knicks cocktail, I wanted to start with orange juice and turmeric to get close to the shade of the iconic Knicks’ orange.
Since I was only creating one specialty cocktail for 500 guests, I knew it needed to be a very crowd-pleasing drink. Turmeric was not the easiest starting point, however I was determined to keep the beautiful shade of color, and I was up for the challenge.
I wanted for the cocktail to be intriguing. Every sip was supposed to make you want to take another and wonder what the delicious combination of flavors was. For more flavor depth, I decided to use Bombay Sapphire gin. Knowing many people prefer vodka over gin, some would say I complicated things. I was thinking the opposite – a perfect balance between orange, turmeric and juniper was a beautiful starting point.
The cocktail needed to work for both gin lovers and gin haters. To accomplish that I knew the finishing ingredients needed to be potent and delightful. The island of Maui luckily offers amazing fresh botanicals. The final inspiration came from a quick drive around local markets. At some point it became obvious to me… ginger and makrut lime leaf would not only zip all the other flavors together, but also finish the cocktail in a subtle way.
My team prepared 500 servings of the cocktail for the event. Knowing there would be a full open bar for everyone, I initially thought it was too much, but we ended up right on point. The venue ended up serving 450 of them!
In my breaks from hanging out in the VIP room with the NY Knicks Team and the coaches, I visited the bars for “quality control.” I must say each bar did a fantastic job. No wonder we nearly ran out.
Story by Igor Zukowiec