Ibiza restaurants: La Gaia – World class cocktails
It takes experience to become a truly masterful chef – not just in the kitchen, but in life. To earn a place in the echelons of legendary requires someone who’s traversed the globe, in the process soaking up all the individual flavours, tastes and eccentricities on offer from different countries. That’s certainly true in the case of Óscar Molina, head chef at La Gaia at the five-star grand luxe Ibiza Gran Hotel. Here is a man who dived into every nook and cranny of culinary culture across the globe before founding the internationally-acclaimed Japeruvian cuisine – a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian flavours that sets taste-buds alight.
But it’s not just on the plate where you can sample a Molina-inspired Japeruvian taste explosion. At La Gaia, dining is about the experience as a whole. That means it’s a combination of the food, service, ambience, and pivotally, drinks – every factor here merges to create excellence. Cocktails form an essential element of the offering at the restaurant, and they’re as detailed as the staggeringly layered dishes themselves. From deliciously sweet to reassuringly salty to a fiery, ferocious kick, each cocktail offers something diverse to suit each diner’s individual needs and taste, not to mention the flavours exuded by every plate on the menu.
Take the Citrus Sakura for example. The base ingredient of this cocktail is gin, and then the handpicked additional ingredients build around it, creating an intense flavour experience. The gin is of the Japanese Jinzu variety and infused with cherry, then a touch of ginger is added, as well as grapefruit and lime juice. Finally, shochu, a distilled Japanese drink made from sweet potato, barley or rice is added to the mix, alongside yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit, and a burst of cherry foam. A delicious amalgamation of both sweet and sour, it’s refreshing to sip on before a meal, or as a palate cleanser between courses.
For unashamedly Peruvian flavours, delve into the depths of a Pisco Sour with Passion Fruit. Made using premium Pisco 1615 Quebranta, which consists of only the finest Quebranta grapes grown on vineyards in Peru, as well as lime, egg white, sugar and passion fruit, it delivers a decadently rich flavour that also serves a punch. Beautifully presented, its vibrant orange colour and passion fruit garnish hint at the exotic flavours that lie within.
Connoisseurs hoping for a burst of more Japanese-inspired flavours should try the Yuki Fuji. This cocktail is made with premium sake junmai (this is one of only two types of sake, and consists of only rice, water, yeast and koji), tequila 1800 añejo, cassis, French grapes and cranberry juice. Served in a matte, black beaker and topped with handful of plump, glistening cranberries, it resembles Japan’s flourishing cherry blossoms that bloom in the country each spring.
Elsewhere, try the cuisine’s eponymously named Jap-Pear-Uvian, which fuses flavours you’re not likely to see on any other cocktail menu on the island – Sake junmai, quinoa vodka infused on grapes – known for its oily, grain, dry and mineral flavour notes, pungent elderflower, pear juice and spice-flavoured syrup. Served with an elaborately fanned pear as garnish, it symbolises all that’s vibrant about La Gaia’s innovative cuisine. And then there’s the Wasabi Martini – a fiery twist on the classic drink made with only three ingredients: Belvedere vodka, lime juice and wasabi, that hearty, horseradish plant that’s become so synonymous with Japanese flavours. Served in a typically sophisticated Martini glass, it’s the kind of cocktail that leaves you both shaken and stirred.
There are others, of course, each as spectacular as the one before, and each the perfect complement to the inspired Japeruvian dishes. Made with as much attention to detail, meticulousness and creativity as the food menu, the cocktails at La Gaia are works of art in their own right – every mixologist is highly trained in attaining that pinpoint accuracy required for liquid perfection. Chef Óscar would accept nothing less.