As we haven’t eaten out much lately, I thought I’d look back at some of the cocktails we’ve had so far this year. Sadly the only way I can mention Berry and Rye in Liverpool is by saying we haven’t been so far this year but there is no way I could write about cocktails and not think of how good that bar is.
It starts with Espresso Martini, which I had three different versions. At The Square it was the one so many of us know and love, not to bitter and not to sweet with a lovely froth on top and the requisite coffee beans. At The Butchers Arms in Priors Hardwick, Jorge (who I keep meaning to ask what exactly the ingredients were so I can make it at home) made a Flat White Espresso Martini. Adding the creaminess of the Baileys to an Espresso Martini was like adding cream to your coffee but with added alcohol. Slightly sweeter but perfect as an after dinner cocktail. At the Hand and Flowers, I asked Alex if he could make it using the Marmalade Vodka from Chase Distillery, he wasn’t sure if it would work but I knew it did as I’ve made them at home. I just wanted to see how to make it properly!!
The Coach do one of my favorite cocktails and James very kindly taught me how to make it at home – Sloe Gin Snake Bite. I’m not going to give his secrets away but I’m sure you can guess from its name that it contains Sloe Gin and Cider. It’s a wonderful long drink, slightly bitter but very refreshing and very drinkable.
Hakkasan (both Hanway Place and Mayfair) do some great cocktails. Two standouts for me are the Lychee Martini, quite floral and perfumed without being overly sweet and the Chinese Mule. The Mule is a mix of Vodka, Sake, Coriander, Ginger, Lime and Ginger Beer, it smells wonderful, has a little heat from the ginger with sweetness and fizz from the ginger beer. A very well balanced and moorish cocktail.
L’Atellier de Joel Robuchon has a fantastic Bar upstairs with an extremely warm fire. They have a monthly cocktail alongside their normal list but due to being on the phone on the last two visits I’ve not heard what they were when they bought them over as a welcome!! They were both very good, one was tangerine based and the other kumquat. They also do an incredible Raspberry and Chilli Martini which is my normal cocktail of choice when I’m there, I just didn’t get round to ordering it.
At the Westin Hotel in Dublin it was the start of the Six Nations so various types of Bloody and Virgin Mary’s were on offer for breakfast. I wasn’t there for the Rugby but I was more than happy to try a shot of Bloody Mary and it was bloody good. Lots of fruit, some heat and more kick than my usual double espresso.
Patricks with rooms in the Mumbles gave me a much longer version of a Bloody Mary than I had in Dublin, they also gave me far more heat!! It was made with a homemade Chilli Vodka which made my lips tingle, not in a bad way but you knew that this drink had chilli’s in it. Some may find it overpowering, personally I liked it but it would have been better as a shot instead of the longer drink that was served.
The Gilbert Scott, part or the Marcus Wareing group of restaurants at St Pancras in London is a beautiful location. The bar snacks are faultless from the Cod Cheeks to the spiced nuts, the cocktails are superb and the wine list by the glass is more than adequate but on two out of the three visits the service has been slower than you would wish. It’s a minor nit pick but when you are at a major train hub you don’t want to be waiting for your bill and trying to get the staff’s attention when you have a train to catch. That aside, I love Bramwells Ruin – Gin, Sloe Gin, Apricot Liquer and Sherry. It has a grandeur to it which perfectly fits the location.
Ronnie Scott’s Jazz club is always a good night out and I love the bar upstairs, the music is fantastic and so are the Cocktails. Tipple of choice when I’m there is The Soho Martini – mint and basil stirred with citrus vodka. I’m sure there is more to it than that, but it is a very fresh, quite sharp and not to sweet.
The Chiltern Firehouse is not only a great restaurant but also a hotel with a great bar and some very unusual cocktails. We arrived early for our meal so instead of heading for the restaurant bar we thought we’d try the hotel bar instead. I had the English Vice which is based on pink pepper gin with bitters, sherry and syrup. A very well balanced combination with just enough warmth and heat to not overpower the freshness from the eucalyptus.
The Blind Pig which is above Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House is a great bar with a very inventive cocktail list and some fantastic bar snacks. We had several cocktails on our visit including one that came with popcorn but the best one for me was the McBandaq, what I can best describe as an alcoholic banana milk shake. If you get the chance to have one, do, you won’t regret it.
The American Bar in the Savoy Hotel and current Head Bartender Eric Lorincz are both world renowned and some of their latest offerings continue to prove it. Two in particular were outstanding, The Sam Collins and The Caviar Martini. The Sam Collins is part of the London Cocktail menu that is currently running at the American Bar and contains Vodka, Agave, Lemon, Smoked Salt, homemade Caramel Vanilla, Yogurt and Almond Milk, it is a fantastic after dinner drink and perfectly balanced. The Caviar Martini is just sheer decadence. Served in a Baccarat Glass on a Mother of Pearl Coaster with a Silver Cocktail stick and that’s before they have added the premium spirits along with the Oscetria Caviar stuffed Olive, this drink just oozes class and decadence. It actually makes you feel special, bizarrely as it’s just a drink but it does. It’s not cheap, it’s £40, but as an experience it is worth it. It is the best Martini I have ever had and I will be amazed if I find a better one. Eric Lorincz you are a master of your craft, a genius, a living legend, I keep coming back to the American Bar just to see what you have created. Chefs get Michellin stars, you should have a similar award as your work and technique deserves it.
Adam & Beverley xx
(Actually not Bev as she doesn’t drink cocktails, so this one was all me!!)