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Meet the author: Zoe Burgess

The founder and owner of indie drinks consultancy, Atelier Pip, has consulted on projects with fellow flavour devotees, Heston Blumenthal and Professor Charles Spence. Here, she shares insights into her debut book, “The Cocktail Cabinet: The art, science and pleasure of mixing the perfect drink” with Douglas Blyde…

Zoe Burgess – with her new book – The Cocktail Cabinet, published on the 7th of September 2022.

When did you first put pen to paper for The Cocktail Cabinet?

I captured the initial ideas back in May 2020. Being mid-lockdown, and curious as to how hospitality could evolve, I realised I could share my knowledge and perspective on the structure of cocktails and the understanding of flavour. That shaped the proposal for the publisher.

How long did it take to write?

One year. I’m not a natural writer. However, over time, I came to really enjoy it and it’s definitely something I plan to do more of.

How have you strived to make it useful for the reader?

I really wanted the book to be logical and understandable no matter what your existing knowledge of cocktails is. That required a lot of planning on how to structure the chapters both visually as well as through words. Though the book contains 80 recipes, what I really wanted to crack was the way of helping people identify their palatal preferences.

What drink within it is the most emblematic of who you are?

Right now, the whisky highball which features a little twist, being a dash of Japanese drinking vinegar. I like the purity of this drink and the fact that I can dial up the vinegar depending on my mood.

What brands of glassware feature throughout the book?

The glassware selection was very important, not only in terms of design, and in explaining how the shape of a glass affects each drink, but I also wanted every glass to be available to buy. Every image in the book is real – no trickery! – so readers truly have a good visual measure for their efforts. There is glassware for every budget, from LSA to Richard Brendon, and the wonderful NYC-based Malfatti Glass.

Who designed the book?

The amazing team at Octopus made the whole process very collaborative, ensuring my vision was communicated. And my good photographer friend, Andre Ainsworth, worked closely with me adhering to the brief, “make it glow!” which I believe we achieved.

What would you say are the worst and best-named cocktails in the world?

Controversially, perhaps, the Americano is my current worst-named cocktail. This is only because, for some unknown reason, whenever I’ve been in a bar with a specific friend who always drinks Americanos they are frequently brought an Americano coffee and not the cocktail! The best would be the Martinez, however, because of the fond memories I have from when I first tasted this drink. I think that’s key to a good cocktail name – the potential to tie it to a moment in time.

What is your approach to garnishing a drink?

A garnish has to have a function and should not distract from the experience. I pay a lot of attention to the aroma of cocktails, this being such a powerful sensory tool. So a garnish needs to compliment that, otherwise it’s unnecessary. For example, the experience of a Martini totally changes if you choose an olive versus a lemon twist. My preference is for an olive: I find the salinity and umami gently smoothes the whole experience. Plus, I like the edible treat it provides at the end. I personally struggle with a lemon twist which can make the Martini feel more aggressive.

Describe your career to date?

I started in the flavour world by chance, graduating from art college, then working for a small artisanal chocolate company. It was during that role that I discovered cocktails, later joining Drink Factory, a unique development kitchen. There, I became head of research and development, creating cocktails for some of London’s top cocktail bars as well as projects for Dinner by Heston team and Professor Charles Spence. I later co-founded Untitled bar, Dalston, exploring abstract flavour experiences such as the taste of snow – a cocktail designed to capture the moment when a snowflake melts on the tongue, made from distillations of clay and enoki mushrooms. I subsequently founded my consultancy company, Atelier Pip. Through it, I still work with Heston’s creative team – and much of that work will come to light in early 2023. I also had the pleasure of helping clients such as SOMA, Soho and Be-oom tea rooms, Exmouth Market find a path and style for their cocktail offerings.

What is the most considered advice you have been given?

“Eat the elephant in small slices.”

Autumn or spring?


Gin or vodka?


Bourbon or Scotch?


Tell us something surprising about your family?

My sister coaches Olympic athletes.

What is the most enticing scent in the world?

The sea.

Finally, who from history would you like to share a cocktail with?

Artists, of all types, inspire me. Particularly Andy Warhol. I’m fascinated by how this outsider collected a crowd of misfits and turned them into stars. He wasn’t all bubble gum; he had something to say and he achieved it with a sense of humour. Who knows, if I’d been sat there with the man himself, I could have been one of his look-alikes?


‘The Cocktail Cabinet’ (£20) is available in hard copy at WHSmith, Waterstones, Foyle’s, Amazon, Hive, Blackwell’s, and Wordery, while eBook versions may be downloaded via Apple, Google, Kindle, Kobo, and

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