Let's be under no illusion that the sole reason Arcade Fire planned a show in Hyde Park, London, was not to play to a sold out audience of 60,000+ fans during the busy festival season. It was to actually collect the extremely limited edition Orcadian Fire bottling Highland Park had created for them with the help of Caskstrength.net's whisky agency Caskstrength Creative.
Not being sold via retail, there are only 75 bottles of the 18 yo which features a subtle bespoke Arcade Fire "The Suburbs" label.
Being based in Montreal, the band is more than acquainted with the fact that Canada is famous for the strict rules on importing alcohol and its sale. Scotch fans are limited to the selection made by the provincial liquor boards, which is generally meagre. To top this off, retailers outside Canada are finding products are blocked at the border and rarely make it to the customer who is waiting eagerly for that something special!
So, who can blame the band flying all this way to collect a little bit of decent Scotch?
When the invite was extended by Neil and Joel at Caskstrength to help out backstage doing cocktails and serving whisky for Arcade Fire, Mumford & Sons, Beirut, The Vaccines & Owen Pallett in the green room and after show party, I thought why not? For those not aware I've been known to set up events, run bars and host tastings, so was a good match for what these guys wanted to do. Plus, they always put on a good party.
Slightly unsure what the set up would be we agreed to meet up the day before to load in Mr Ridleys 1950's leather clad bar and equipment so we could scope out what was required.
Like a little town on the back of carnival we drove into the site to see crazy golf, huge chess sets, arcade machines and a number of other attractions that you just wouldn't ordinarily expect at an event of this type. Setting up quickly we headed off in our van ready to return the next day and make some drinks.
Arriving back the next day, sound checks were under way and over night Neil had made some traditional pub fair for the bar (pickled eggs). After a little prep it was agreed between the three of us that a test was required of a cocktail created by the chaps at Caskstrength.
A simple drink heres the ingredients; The Orcadian Fire cocktail
- 50ml of Cutty Sark Original,
- two good squirts of Whisky barrel aged bitters (courtesy of Master Of Malt),
- Fever Tree's fabulous Ginger Ale,
Garnish: expressed orange zest & slightly 'bruised' mint
Simply add the Cutty and bitters to a long glass, topped off with fresh ice and add the ginger ale. Stir, Garnish and and your good to go! (see the video below of Neil doing a demo of the process + No Cars Go by Arcade Fire)
As we finished the video and creating two of the concoctions Bierut arrived in perfect time to test it. Coming back more than once to confirm it a success.
As the day when on we served over 500 Orcadian Cocktails and a whole bunch of Scotch, including the fantastic Highland Park 18yo. We hung out backstage, met legend Jimmy Page (sadly he wanted a Peroni) and watched a band with Dave Grohl.
All in All a success!
For more on the event see the references below.