Seasonal cocktails at The Kentish Hare
Alongside our award-winning dishes, craft beer selection and extensive wine list, The Kentish Hare also boasts a colourful cocktail menu. Spearheaded by bar manager Eszter Boswell, this assortment of mixes has become an integral part of the pub’s overall drinking and dining experience, using fresh, seasonal, handpicked ingredients to make the most out of what’s available.
“I like to keep the menus seasonal, and do a little bit extra that no one else does, like foraging for my own ingredients to make homemade syrups,” says Eszter. “As a gastropub, the restaurant side is why people want to come back and visit us – they come here for the whole experience, so we need to make sure we’re offering something special on the bar side as well.”
Hailing from Budapest, Eszter moved to the UK in 2007, joining James and Chris Tanner at the Barbican Kitchen. After four years running the bar, she moved to work directly for the same site’s world-famous Plymouth Gin distillery, honing her craft for a further six years, before the opportunity arose for husband David – then BK head chef – to relocate and take over our Bidborough kitchen.
“I’ve done and learned a lot over the years,” she continues. “When David and I moved to Bidborough to join The Kentish Hare, Chris and James gave me the reins to take over and run the bar, and really push it forward. The feedback’s been great, and I love getting creative with the cocktails, and chatting to customers about them whenever I have the chance.”
At the start of October, Eszter unveiled our autumn cocktail menu. Featuring deeper, darker options than the preceding summer round-up, this series of blends includes a Coffee Negroni, Earl’s Luxe Tea, and Bourbon & Sloe Collins, using spirits and liqueurs like Campari, coffee-infused vermouth, fino sherry, and Four Roses Yellow Label to showcase the very best for the colder months ahead.
“For this menu, I thought about what triggers me in terms of flavours and memories surrounding autumn and the change of seasons,” explains Eszter. “This formed the basis for the cocktails, and acted as a starting point and guideline. Keeping my clientele in mind, I changed, tweaked and played around with the recipes, until I had flavour profiles that would suit and speak to people’s different tastes and personal preferences.”
A favourite among customers so far has been the High Street Sour, a flavoursome fusion of Olmeca Altos tequila, Campari, passionfruit, lime and sugar. Inspired by her love of travel, Eszter is always on the lookout for new and exciting ideas, inspired by a thirst for adventure, and exploring different countries and cultures.
“Whenever I’m travelling, I always like to try new drinks in different places, to get an idea of what’s trendy, and what other bartenders are making,” she reveals. “In the US, there’s been a big focus on ingredients like watermelon, hibiscus and Campari for cocktails recently – wherever I’ve been, I always come back inspired to create fresh new drinks.”
It’s this big-picture thinking that informs Eszter’s mixology. By keeping all elements of the pub in mind, she’s able to produce cocktails that not only excite, intrigue and entertain our guests on their own, but also complement the entire Kentish Hare approach to hospitality. And with plans to shake things up with drinks-led events going forward, the possibilities are well worth raising a glass to.
“I’m always looking at the bigger picture of the whole experience,” she confirms. “I want my cocktails to speak for themselves, so try and keep garnishes to a minimum, while using the best ingredients, and putting that extra little twist on things. I like to keep the menu relatively small and simple, so that, hopefully, everybody will find something that intrigues them, and that they like and want to try.”