For the British, the idea of eating insects is indelibly linked with embarrassing childhood errors, low-rent TV reality shows and that scary bit in Indiana Jones. None of which make it any more appealing.
And yet… a growing movement (in London at least) is trying its best to convince us that creepy crawlies actually represent not only a nutritious, tasty and environmentally responsible treat but – wait for it – a luxurious one. At least two pop ups in the past month alone have served decadent canapés made out of crickets, worms and caterpillars to adventurous foodies.
For those who remain unconvinced, Grey Goose has teamed up with some of London’s leading cocktail bars to create a less unsettling option: insect drinks. And so it was that we found ourselves sat in the belly the Covent Garden Cocktail Club about to drink a concoction made of crickets.
Not only crickets, of course. The 'Grey Goose Entomology' (which means the study of insects, but you knew that) contains a liberal douse of the eponymous high-end potato juice, some pink grapefruit, a dash of tonic and sprig of coriander.
But forget all that. It’s the tettigoniidae we’re here for.
Rather than plonk a little winged corpse on the top like a glace cherry, the process involves first freezing a live cricket (the most humane way to kill them, apparently) then whipping its body into a syrup with a mixture of cayenne and paprika.
The result is a taste that starts with a lightly bitter fruit flavour, lurches towards a strange, earthy-meatiness before ending on a firm peppery note. (Guess which part is the insect).
Far from being the gimmick it sounds, the Entomology is unlike any other cocktail you’re likely to try this year – complex yet refreshing, strange but ultimately very enjoyable.
The reason is that Grey Goose and the people they’ve got onboard are taking this insect business seriously and executing it to a very high standard.
Perhaps bugs are a new frontier in luxury dining after all. Who’d have thought it.
How to make your own:
35ml Grey Goose Le Citron
15ml cricket, cayenne and paprika syrup
30ml fresh pink grapefruit juice
100ml tonic water
Build all ingredients bar tonic over ice and top with tonic water. Garnish with a stirrer and fresh coriander sprig aromatised with cricket syrup.
The Grey Goose Entomology is available at the Covent Garden Cocktail Club from 16-25th September