Surfer's Den Winter 2017 menu / by shane eaton

"If you have no hope, invent!"

Yuri Gelmini is a rising star in the bartending world. Inspired by a love for plants and futurism, his cocktails at Surfer's Den are both original and flavorful and a breath of fresh air for Milanese drinking scene. When I finally update my ranking of Milano's best bars, Yuri will surely be near the top.

Along with Zero Milano, Blue Blazer, ViviMilano and Mixer Planet, I was invited to preview Yuri's exciting new conceptual menu, designed by the talented Bianca Maria Fiorentino. The menu is a sight to behold - a children's book with fold out illustrations inspired by the protagonists, or artists, of the circus. The artists are linked to a specific plant, such as the Contorsionist "Un giardin del labirinto" with Japanese wisteria, Shochu, mandarin juice, sugar, red beet juice, daikon and black pepper.

The young and artistic Bianca did an amazing job of translating Yuri's creative recipes into her designs in the playful menu. I was so happy when I was told I could take this work of art, signed and numbered 37 out of 50, home with me.

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The menu design was inspired by the children's book Buonanotte a Tutti by Bruno Munari.

Yuri uses flowers and plants as both main ingredients and decorations for his drinks. For him, they add extra layers of aromas and tastes to the alcoholic base, bitters and liqueurs in his drinks. After sampling this menu along with his previous summer edition, I can't help but agreeing with him.

Another great feature of the menu is the "Barman Choose" option but I won't ruin the surprise for you!

 

My favorite drinks

My favorite drink of the night was Uomo Forzuto "L'abbraccio dell'edera". Hedera helix (ivy) is the starring plant here, in a savory drink with cognac, sloe gin, pumpkin purée, apple juice, amaretti and parmigiano! This cocktail will remind you of tortelli di zucca, the classic dish from Mantova. 10/10

 

Another spectacular drink was La Banda Musicale "Perché tarda la luna" where prunus dulcis aka almonds take this Daiquiri-inspired drink to another level. Featuring rum blanc agricole, orange juice, lime juice, almond milk, brown sugar, black pepper and oregano flower. The luscious version of a daiquri is an absolute treat to the palate. 9.5/10

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Il Trapezista "Accarezza nuvole" features Senecio rowleyanus (string of pearls) in a seductive version of the Manhattan with Bulleit Rye whiskey, Amaro Lucano, Martini Riserva Rubino and dates. 9.5/10

 Il Trapezista and Il Funambolo (Tightrope Walker), two delicious whiskey-based drinks from the new menu

Il Trapezista and Il Funambolo (Tightrope Walker), two delicious whiskey-based drinks from the new menu

 

Il Mimo "Svanir le voci" with Helleborus orientalis (lenten rose) is a deliciously dry and complex Martini cocktail with Star of Bombay, Noilly Prat and the olive of the day. Giampiero of Blue Blazer recenty asked me where to drink a great Martini in Milano - here it is friend. 9/10

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Illusionista "Fuga dall'ombra" is a complexly layered drink featuring Zucca, mezcal, orange juice, sugar, tonka bean and purée of red berries. 8.5/10

 Illusionista "Fuga dall'ombra" with rhubarb, mezcal, orange juice, sugar, tonka bean and purée of red berries

Illusionista "Fuga dall'ombra" with rhubarb, mezcal, orange juice, sugar, tonka bean and purée of red berries