Peroni Ambra is the new drink from Peroni Nastro Azzurro. Italian Chinotto is added; the dark sour juice of the fruit of the myrtle-leaved orange tree (Citrus myrtifolia), found in Liguria, North West Italy.
Peroni have enlisted renowned mixologist Filippo Previero to incorporate it into some lovely aperativo cocktails and myself and architect Kevin have come to Selfridges to try them.
To get to the roof terraces at the top, you have to wade through the fug of scents that is Selfridges fragrance department and locate the express lift. At the top a long boring corridor has been’sexed up’ with an array of plastic foliage to disguise the fact that it is a long boring corridor.
The terrace itself is also trying hard to mask the fact that since it’s heyday as a pleasure garden in the 20’s it became just a roof with decades of accumulated wiring, air-conditioning units, generators and electrical boxes. But maybe we’re being too hard on the architecture, it’s now all jazzed up again as the Peroni Ambra Roof Terrace.
We are led behind the velvet rope and take up high stools at a podium in the early evening sunshine. Groups of tanned better dressed blonde people are lounged about in the late sun.
In about thirty seconds flat we are each served a Peroni Ambra over ice with a pointy elipse of orange skin and an’on message’ paper straw. In my wayward youth I may have tried drinking beer through a straw to get inebriated quicker and I now struggle to remember if that actually worked.
It’s a nice drink. It certainly doesn’t taste like a lager with some Orangina sploshed in, it has a bitter quality rather than the sweetness you might expect and that obviously works with beer. It’s in a interesting glass with a fluted finish on the inside so it looks cool too. The only thing wrong is that it’s only 250mls and we are thirsty men.
We don’t have to wait long as the Ambra Spritz arrives. It’s inspired by the Venetian aperitif with Aperol, fresh lemon, fresh peach and yes, beer.
It’s served in a long-stemmed glass and it does seem weird that we are quaffing beer cocktails. It mat sound odd but it tastes great as it washes down the bruschetta with fresh cherry tomatoes we have been given to soak up the booze.
The sun is lower in the sky as we move on to the Peroni Sbagliato; Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto, Luxardo bitter Bianco, grapefruit juice a couple of dashes of peychaud bitter, topped up with Peroni Ambra, shaken, served in a squat tumbler with orange zest and an olive.
It’s basically a Negroni but with beer instead of gin. Yes, again it sounds bizarre but this is the best drink we’ve had so far.
Light and crispy Arancini balls come our way and we are having a thoroughly good time eating and drinking in the sun. It’s not over either as the Ambra fizz is listed as the last concoction on our bar menu.
I assume they swap the gin for beer in what would be a classic gin fizz with fresh lime and elderflower but it turns out that the gin is in there too, just with the bonus of a lager top.
Gin and beer in the same glass? It’s not right, but again it tastes good and both ours go down a treat with a plate of Antipasto misto featuring Italian cured meats cheeses olives, sun dried tomatoes and roasted peppers.
The sun is sinking fast and as it goes behind the adjacent rooftops the temperature drops by ten degrees in the space of a minute. The blonde people immediately begin to leave, it’s suddenly not the place to be seen.
Me and Kev hang on doggedly for another round of our favourite Sbagliato’s until the we’re the only guests left and staff are clearing everything away around us.
We must finally admit defeat and walk out through the restaurant of chattering classers to the long corridor of plastic plants and back down to the real world.
It’s been a lovely experience and we’d have any of those Ambra drinks again, but you do need that added ingredient: sunshine.
It’s a bit chilly at ground level so we head swiftly to the nearest warm pub for a far less dressed up warm beer.