The Experimental Group on What to Drink This Season

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Joyeux BordelPhotography by Addie Chinn

The festive season brings with it a wealth of libationary delights. Here, cocktail connoisseurs The Experimental Group guide us through a few delectable recipes of their own

The Experimental Group is a bartending powerhouse like no other. The group was founded by four entrepreneurs and restaurateurs – Romée de Goriainoff, Olivier Bon and Pierre-Charles Cros, and later Xavier Padovani – who had each long been devoted to creating dynamic combinations of food and drink independently. However, it wasn’t until a serendipitous meeting of minds that they decided to join forces and set up a cocktail bar. “We had an epiphany,” Cros tells AnOther over the phone. “We said to ourselves, ‘this is it!’ and decided to try and make the best cocktail bar possible.”

The first Experimental Cocktail Club was launched in Paris in 2007: a neo-Baroque hideaway tucked into the Montorgueil district. “We started from scratch,” Cros says. “We were very inexperienced – but in a way that was a good thing, because it allowed us to look at things without constraints."

From Paris and London to New York and even a beach in Ibiza, the Experimental Group has since developed into a trans-Atlantic operation, but each strand of the organisation has maintained a focus on carefully sourced ingredients, hand-crafted food and drink, and immersive sensory experiences. “We always try to do things differently to everybody else," Padovani explains. "We keep it quite simple – no more than ten or 12 cocktails, maybe a beer or two. No wine, simply because it's not a wine bar. People just come to bars to have a good time and we try to refocus on that with every venue."

The sense of revelry around cocktails is amplified over the festive season, for which the Experimental Group has tailor-made a menu to surprise and delight visitors to its louche, opulent venues. "Christmas is about indulgence," Padovani explains. "You can smell the pine trees and the spices. It’s a magical time, and after a few drinks Christmas is probably even better than usual.”

With that, here are three Christmas-themed cocktails crafted by The Experimental Group for your enjoyment. Sit back and savour.


“The Midnight Snack is an Experimental Cocktail Club New York favourite,” Cros explains. “It’s a classic Christmas drink – it’s really really cosy. It’s made with bourbon and port, plus a bit of coffee liqueur, and there’s a whole egg in it as well, so it's kind of like a more premium version of eggnog. It’s a resurgent drink, but a good one.”


1 Whole Egg
15ml Orgeat
15ml Bittermen's Coffee Liqueur
15ml Tawny Port
45ml Bourbon

Garnish: Grated Butter Cookie

Glass: Coupette


Crack egg a whole egg into a cocktail shaker, and add the remaining ingredients. Dry shake, then add ice cubes to the shaker and shake hard for about 10-15 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. To garnish, grate a large piece of butter cookie on top.


“The Jolly Mess reflects how we work and what we do," Cros says. "If you visit the bar, you'll see that we don't always have all of the usual brands – the traditional vodkas and gins. We always try to do a bit of research, and work with products that have a history behind them – sometimes the staff will go to the distillery to find out where a product comes from. The Jolly Mess is a great example of this. It uses White Rhino, a French rye made by some people we know in the mountains in France, and you've got a little bit of bitter raw chocolate. It’s quite tasty, and it’s served in a short glass, on ice. It's on the menu at Joyeux Bordel, and it's quite a popular one.”


40ml Vulson White Rhino Rye
12.5ml Eaux de Vie de Poire
20ml Antica Formula
1 bar Spoon Green Cardamom syrup*
1 Drop Chocolate Bitters

*For the Cardamom Syrup: Boil 250ml water, 250g sugar and 10 crushed cardamom pods. Remove from heat and allow to infuse for an hour. Strain out seeds. 

Garnish: Cherry soaked in Vulson

Glass: Coupette 


Add ingredients to a mixing glass and then add ice. Stir until well chilled, and slightly diluted. Strain into a coupette and add the cherry.


“The Jonakanoo is created in the same spirit as the Midnight Snack," Cros says. "It’s very Christmassy; it uses cinnamon and cream, so it’s the kind of drink that you like to indulge in in the winter. We made it up in a non-alcoholic version, and it works perfectly – it’s rich and creamy, with almond milk and spice syrup. It’s a Christmas cliché, but you know how it is at this time of year."


80ml Almond Milk
50ml Spice Syrup*
40ml Fresh Grapefruit Juice
20ml Fresh Lemon Juice
2 Raspberries
2 Dates
2 Blackberries

*For the Spice Syrup: Toast 16 cloves, 10 fennel seeds, 1 tbsp szechuan pepper, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tbsp honey until aromas are released. Add 1:1 water to sugar and boil. Reduce for 5 minutes and rest for 1 hour to infuse then strain. 

Garnish: Grated Nutmeg

Glass: Highball


Add all ingredients to a blender, with a few cubes of ice, and blitz. Double strain into a highball glass, and garnish with grated nutmeg.

With thanks to The Experimental Group.