A London cocktail entrepreneur has launched a bone marrow-infused cocktail in a bid to help save his friend’s life.
‘The Underwood’, on sale at new Dalston pop-up The Manhattans Project, is named after John Underwood, a 26-year-old writer from Stepney. John has recently been diagnosed with an aggressive form of blood cancer and is likely to rely on a bone marrow transplant to save his life.
His story has gone viral over recent weeks as he has raised nearly £80,000 towards Anthony Nolan’s lifesaving work by blogging about his treatment with his trademark wit and stoicism.
Owner Felix Cohen is an old friend of John Underwood’s and describes the Underwood as having a ‘beefy sweetness’ and a ‘richer, silkier feel’ than a traditional Cognac Sazerac.
John’s namesake cocktail includes Martell VS Cognac (which Cohen is infusing himself with fresh bone marrow using a sous-vide water bath), served with Peychaud bitters and rinsed with absinthe.
The Manhattans Project will donate £1 from every ‘Underwood’ sold to blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, which runs the UK’s bone marrow donor register.
Cohen has also said he will give each drinker their first Underwood half-price if they show an Anthony Nolan donor card at the bar – as ‘any one of these selfless individuals could end up saving the life of John or someone in the same position’.
The menu reads: ‘In honour of our dear friend John, who’s laid up with a particularly niche form of cancer, but is still the finest drinker and talker we know. Bone marrow infused Cognac Sazerac. Best sipped slowly over a long story.’
“Sazerac is based on one of the oldest cocktail recipes in the world and was traditionally a medicinal drink, developed by apothecaries in New Orleans,” explains the 32 year old cocktail aficionado from Hackney.
“I was developing the menu for the pop-up and thought adding the bone marrow infusion to the Sazerac could be a nice way to show my support for John and raise some money for Anthony Nolan.
“I wasn’t sure what John would think about the idea of a bone marrow cocktail, so I contacted him just to say, ‘Dude, is this OK?!’
“Anyone who’s been following John’s story in the press or on Twitter will know that he and his girlfriend Ella are delightful human beings and have a brilliant sense of humour. Luckily, John thought it was hilarious and is keen to get to the point where he can drink one himself.”
John and Ella
The drink will be served during the Manhattans Project’s three-month residency at Pond Dalston, a Hawaiian restaurant.
John Underwood’s fundraising total is still rising each day as strangers rally to support John.
Cohen added: “People are a bit squeamish about bone marrow in general. I know that loads of people think it’s a really painful thing to donate it. But these days, it’s super easy and more like giving blood, so I hope as well as raising vital funds, this raises awareness and gets more people to think about becoming bone marrow donors.”
The Underwood is available at the Manhattans Project in POND Dalston from 1st September 2015 for three months.
You can donate to John's Justgiving page here: www.justgiving.com/John-Underwood-Anthony-Nolan
If you're aged 16-30 and in good general health, you can sign up to the potential donor list at www.anthonynolan.org/register