As part of Maldon’s Cocktail Club, we are delighted to have partnered with Michelin-starred restaurant, Native and their founder, Imogen Davis to bring you an exclusive Maldon cocktail creation inspired by the ethos of Native. We sat down with Imogen to discuss her career journey, her inspiration in and out of work and Native’s exciting new venture on the island of Osea.
What made you want to work within the hospitality industry?
I didn’t really know anything about the hospitality industry when we opened Native, as we hadn’t worked or trained in restaurants before, but I’ve realised since that it’s in everything I do – the beauty of hosting and giving people a memorable, special experience no matter if it’s just that they’ve had a terrible day at work or they’re celebrating a really special occasion – seeing people leave with a smile on their face is what hospitality is all about. No two days (or hours) are the same and that’s what makes it so great.
What was the inspiration behind Native?
Native was inspired by a desire to make wild, foraged and sustainable food accessible to all. Ultimately the food has to taste incredible and the service has to be informative and friendly, but underlying we have to know that we’ve made conscious choices about choosing and supporting the best ingredients and suppliers out there.
What promoted the relocation to the island of Osea?
The opportunity of opening a restaurant on an untouched, tidal island off of the Essex coast was presented to us in the middle of the pandemic – how could we say no!? We created a fully immersive island dining experience that reflected the water and land surrounding us, and I’m so proud of what we created, it was like extreme restauranting.
What is your tipple of choice and why?
Scotch. Whether it’s neat to warm me up after a wild swim or in my favourite cocktail, a whisky sour, I find it so versatile!
If you were to recommend one dish and drink pairing at Native, what would it be?
One?! That’s tricky! The menu changes so frequently, but it doesn’t get much better than the wood pigeon kebab with a chilled sparkling red lambrusco!
What your number one Netflix recommendation?
I’ve recently discovered L’Agencie – a French programme following a family run estate agent based in Paris – you are given sneak peeks into incredible houses while trying to teach myself French!
Here’s Imogen’s recipe for a Seaweed Martini…
60ml Gin or Vodka of your choice
25ml Dry Vermouth
5ml Maldon Salt & Seaweed Brine
For the brine:
Dissolve 5g of Maldon Salt in 200ml water with a handful of seaweed, and store in the fridge in a sealed container, leaving overnight to infuse
Garnish – brined seaweed
Stir for 30 seconds in each direction. Strain into your favourite chilled martini glass.
A staple on the list at Native, our version of a dirty martini is inspired by the rock pools, sea foam and salty air from our foraging trips along the shorelines of the UK coasts.
The function of salt in a cocktail is to enhance the taste – the freshness and delicate sweetness of Maldon with the seaweed is spot on!
This version makes use of any seaweed* you can get your hands on. If you’re lucky enough to escape for a beach walk, that will be perfect, it dries very well so you can store in an airtight container and use when necessary – you’ll be pleased to know there are no 1 toxic seaweeds in UK shores. I’ve used bladderwrack in this one but failing beach access, you can even pick some seaweeds up in your local supermarket.
*Foraging tip: when gathering and foraging seaweed, always take the seaweed that is attached to the rocks, not floating in the sea.
Remember the Foraging rule of thirds:
2.Leave one-third for others
3.Leave one-third for the future