Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog: cocktails
Showing posts with label cocktails. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cocktails. Show all posts

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Gin cocktails

I'll be honest, my gin collection is starting to get a tad out of control. I used to think gin was just gin - a simple spirit, with little to distinguish one brand from another. This assumption is increasingly wrong in a market which is continually improving, with a greater variety of different distillers producing gins which are carefully thought out, innovative and ultimately delicious.


It's upon drinking them neat that the nuances of flavour can be picked out and pondered upon, but many of the gins on my shelves lend themselves equally well to cocktails, with the characteristics of each neat gin determining the additional components I like to try alongside them. Here are a few of my current favourites.

NB Navy Strength Gin


A Craft Gin Club discovery, NB Gin hails from East Lothian, Scotland. Neat, it's very balanced and a beautifully classic London Dry style gin, however at 57%, although it remains smooth and has a good burst of citrus, the strength is a little too apparent for me to appreciate the gin fully without a lot of ice (which helps to open out the flavours) and a lemon twist for garnish.

Craft Gin Club labelled this the perfect gin to make into a martini, and who am I to argue with perfection?! To a very cold glass (this is important), pour a double measure of NB Navy Strength, add 10ml of extra dry vermouth, stir and garnish with an olive - simple as that, but so much more complex on the palate than it is to make. My olive garnish was another item from my Craft Gin Club box - Alco Olives, themselves infused with NB Gin! Overall, I'd say this is a heavyweight gin which although tasty gains greater balance and drinkability from a cocktail.

Sibling Gin


I absolutely adore this gin. The first time I tried it (in the Devonshire Cat in Sheffield, which has an excellent gin menu), it absolutely blew me away with a massive hit of what I perceived as bubblegum flavour - something I've never experienced before in a gin! According to the Sibling team (actual siblings themselves!) it's quite common for people to pick up on bubblegum notes from the blueberries used as one of the botanicals. It's got a gorgeous, very slightly earthy, fruity edge to it and it's so unusual. Highly recommended.

In a cocktail, I thought I'd play more on the blueberry elements within the drink and stirred the gin down with a small spoonful of blueberry jam and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, before topping up with prosecco. Decadent and delicious. This gin also makes a beautiful G&T, with Fever Tree tonic and a few blueberries to garnish.

Robin of Locksley Gin


Our most local gin! Based just a ten minute walk away from our house, we absolutely love this gin and the folks who run it are fantastic as well. The gin neat is light and zesty, with a slightly floral aroma and an incredibly smooth, balanced palate bursting with fruity citrus.

For the cocktail, I decided to use an ingredient from another of our local favourites - Birdhouse Tea Co. The citrus and grapefruit notes in the gin I felt would work really well with peach flavours, so I iced a cup of my favourite Princess Peach sencha green tea and added a good splash of Locksley gin. The cocktail was finished off with a squeeze of lemon juice, a tiny splash of sugar syrup (to taste, my friend preferred it without the additional sweetness) and garnished with a piece of pink grapefruit. As an aside, Birdhouse have just opened their own tearoom, bar and restaurant and it is STUNNING. Sheffield, pay attention - they have a tea cocktail menu too!

Brandon's Gin

An American gin for my final choice - this one hails from Rocktown Distillery in Arkansas. This one was recommended to us by the fantastic Starmore Boss, one of our local booze purveyors and without a shadow of a doubt the most knowledgeable. Neat, it's crisp, fresh and almost a little creamy on the palate, with a beautiful honeyed character for an almost silky finish.

For a cocktail, we chose a Souped Up Negroni. Now, the classic gin, vermouth and Campari mixture is boozy as hell as is. But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to mix up the Brandon's with the bourbon from the same distillery - a Negroni/Boulevardier hybrid, if you will. We mixed a shot each of the bourbon and gin with half a shot of red vermouth and Campari. The result was bitter, ridiculously boozy and very grown up, full of Seville oranges with an oaky backbone from the whiskey which helps set it apart from your standard Negroni. Not one for the faint hearted, but definitely and defiantly delicious.

Cheers!

Laura

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The Botanist Sheffield Launch Night

We're not usually ones to frequent chain establishments, preferring instead to support our local independents, but when we were invited along to the launch night of the newest addition to Sheffield's bar scene, The Botanist, the look of their cocktail menu alone made us decide it was worth making an exception. The Sheffield branch of the Botanist is the 10th of it's kind across the UK, run by the New Trading Company, and is based across three floors in fashionable Leopold Square.


We received a warm welcome from Ellie and the Botanist team and were ushered straight into the downstairs bar area where Laura dithered over the cocktail menu for far too long, eventually picking the signature "The Botanist" cocktail (vodka, rum and elderflower liqueur) upon the recommendation of the bar staff. Jim went for an All Day IPirinha - a clever twist on a beer cocktail with a miniature caiprinha served alongside a full can of Founders All Day IPA, meaning you could tailor the cocktail to your own exacting requirements. A good idea indeed. Both were presented beautifully and tasted wonderful, the Botanist getting more savoury than sweet as you continued to sip which was pleasantly surprising.


We then went upstairs to be seated. Instantly, the decor absolutely blew us away - it is absolutely stunning. Victoriana blends seamlessly with the floral theme and the entrance to the room, which has been made to resemble a woodland glade, made us feel like we were being transported to somewhere almost ethereal. The focal point of the dining room is a little bandstand, where on the night of our visit acoustic musicians added to the relaxed ambience of the room, even making Shaggy sound classy. Who knew this was a thing?! The venue plans to host "Sunday afternoon sessions" with this sort of feel, alongside evening gigs.


Onto the food! While we perused the cocktail menu (again), we welcomed a little nibble platter of pork crackling to the table, slightly Asian-inspired with chilli and spring onion (and we think soy sauce provided much of the saltiness), deliciously crunchy and served with sweet apple sauce which cut perfectly through the chilli... and can we all please take a moment to appreciate the tiny wheelbarrow?!


Starters arrived swiftly after along with our second cocktails of the evening. The homemade Scotch egg had a lovely runny middle, and came with a piccalli puree - initially a tad perturbing, but absolutely couldn't fault the flavour, tangy and piquant against the well-seasoned sausage meat and egg. The basket of wings was a generous portion, and again served in the most twee (in a good way) fashion in a little wicker picnic basket. The cocktails were just as impressive as the first round - the blackberry and mint julep was refreshing with a good kick from the bourbon, and the rosemary negroni was probably the nicest negroni I've ever had in a bar, with savoury bitterness coupling brilliantly with grapefruit and rosemary. It's worth mentioning that the spirit menu (particularly the gin) is extensive and the emphasis is on using quality, carefully selected options in the cocktails too - no sticking to "house" options here.


We both picked the "Hanging Kebabs" for main - Laura the jerk salmon with sweet potato fries, and Jim the salt and pepper belly pork with regular fries. When these arrived they looked spectacular, although it would have been good to have been informed that the vegetable component of the salmon kebab was sweet potato (this wasn't specified on the menu), as I'd then have picked a different side. It ended up being far too sweet potato heavy meaning I couldn't finish everything. The salmon was well cooked, though, and the jerk seasoning was spicy without being too overpowering. Jim's belly pork was melt in the mouth, but pretty heavy on the salt.


Jim couldn't resist his favourite sticky toffee pudding for dessert, accompanied by a Wild Beer Millionaire, a salted caramel stout which made the rich pudding even more of a treat.
Laura decided to refrain, instead choosing a sweeter cocktail to finish off the meal - a pear and cinnamon Sazerac, a well-balanced, slightly festive and imaginative twist on the classic.

We had been informed towards the start of the evening that staff training was still underway, with new members of staff shadowing more experienced members of the team. We really appreciated being informed of this - service was a tad reserved in places but having this explanation meant that in no way did we see this as a negative.


Overall, a hugely enjoyable evening. Although the main courses weren't quite up to the standard of the starters and nibbles, the lavish but welcoming feel of the venue and the outstanding, elegant cocktails more than made up for it and we'll undoubtedly be back to work our way through more of the menu.

Many thanks to the team for having us down!

Cheers,

Laura and Jim

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Mojito: Lime Gose - A Collaboration Brew

It all started last Halloween (ooo spooky) at the most recent Brewdog Collab Fest. Our local bar, Sheffield, had teamed up with Bad Seed Brewery to create a white IPA with Sorachi and Equinox hops, cunningly named "I am the one who Equinox". We headed down to Brewdog to sample this along with the rest of the Collab Fest brews, and were quickly introduced to team Bad Seed - James and Chris - who'd popped along to check how their beer was going down (very well indeed, I seem to remember!). Surrounded by so many collaborations, ranging from the rather interesting (such as Bristol and Moor's Rye IPA) to the frankly ridiculous (Glasgow and Fallen Brewery's Big Raspberry Dog Chew, a 10% raspberry and salted caramel imperial milk stout, springs to mind, and delicious it was too), conversation inevitably turned to the ideas we've had for collaboration brews. A passion of ours (particularly Laura's) along with beer is cocktails, and the way in which individual flavour components can be added together to produce something altogether spectacular to bring out different elements of the sum of its parts. Couple this with Bad Seed's prowess in the sour beer arena, and Mojito: Lime Gose was born.
Yep it's a kettle!

And so, to a snowy(?!) day in late April and an early drive up to Bad Seed HQ just outside Malton. The brew day itself wasn't the most eventful, as with a beer that is to be soured most of the work is needed during fermentation and conditioning, but we got stuck in where we could. Firstly we mashed in, with a grist of pale malt and a decent portion of wheat (around 35%, if I recall correctly). Next we mashed in for a second time - a pot of coffee on this occasion - and helped to unload the van from Beertown Malton, the local beer festival which had taken place the previous weekend, which we definitely want to try to get to next year. And it was at this point we realised an ulterior motive to the collab: extra bodies! (Although Laura was pretty useless it has to be said...)

During the spare and transfer into the kettle, we headed out for a quick bite to eat... honourable mention at this point to Malton Relish for an excellent lunch, including literally the best brownie ever...


Now nicely energised, whilst the wort boiled away it was time to dig out the mashtun!


Once the boil was complete, to our wort base was added literally all the mint in Malton, to be followed a few days later with tubs and tubs of salted limes.


Whilst we waited for the heat exchanger to do it's thang and cool down the boiled wort to 44 degrees, we had a little sample of some of Bad Seed's excellent beers, both very much enjoying the Vic Secret Sour and Bretted Saison.


Lastly, before heading home it was time to add the magic... pitching the lactobacillus yoghurt culture.

It felt like a long wait until the beer was ready without being able to sample it! The first bar we were aware it had made its way on to was the Rook and Gaskill, just outside the city walls of York, one of our favourite day trip destinations, so we wasted no time in hopping on a train and going for a taste. And we were blown away by how well it has worked! Against a delicately salty gose background, the mint and lime work in perfect harmony with the style to produce a beer which is tart, refreshing, and lip smackingly delicious without overwhelming the taste buds.


Thank you so much to James and Chris for hosting us at your brewery, and for nurturing the beer so well!



Cheers,

Jim & Laura

Monday, 27 June 2016

Longflint Craft Cocktails

Longflint are a brand new business venture based in London, slotting neatly into the "craft beverage" arena with a range of pre-mixed cocktails made from 100% natural ingredients. Here are my thoughts on their first three products.
 

Rose hip & gin fizz

Made using "premium dry gin" from an unnamed brand and rose hip simple sugar syrup, this had a delicately floral aroma, light carbonation, and a big hit of herbaceous gin bitterness. Dry and quite savoury in nature - definitely a grown up cocktail. The recommended addition of a slice of cucumber really brought out the grassy elements of the drink and gave it quite an autumnal sort of flavour. Very well balanced, and it was so refreshing (in both senses of the word) to have a pre-mixed cocktail that didn't taste fake and full of sugar. This would work wonderfully served alongside tapas - I nibbled on some olives as I was drinking and the combination was delicious!

Rhubarb and vodka seltzer

Very pretty pink colour. Perfect level of rhubarbiness (definitely a word) - tart and fresh with a hint of creaminess but without being cloying or overpowering. Just a little hint of those rhubarb and custard sweets! Longflint pride themselves on using only natural ingredients and it certainly shows here. This was less boozy than the others, although the vodka did help to provide a lovely lingering finish. This worked really well just as it is, no accompaniment required!

Ginger and Rum Fuego

The first thing I noticed with this one was that it needed a good shake before serving, due to a layer of fresh ginger having accumulated at the bottom of the bottle. This is by no means a negative - the ginger gave a huge hit of spicy, zingy warmth which was really delicious and complemented the booziness of the rum perfectly. A slice of lime was added as recommended which provided another layer of freshness, making this the perfect drink to sip in the summer sun. I also popped in a couple of ice cubes containing mint leaves from our garden.

Overall, I felt that all three of the Longflint cocktails were sophisticated, well thought through, and tasted like the sort of drinks I like to make myself at home. They'd look perfectly at home on the shelves of any specialist drinks shop (or craft beer shop/bar as an interesting alternative) and I reckon the contents certainly live up to the beautiful packaging. I'd be interested to know which spirits are used, and a more comprehensive ingredients list generally would be useful, however I've been truly impressed by the products and look forward to seeing what other creations may be released in future.


Cheers,

Laura

Disclaimer: these cocktails were kindly sent to me by Longflint free of charge to sample. This has not influenced my opinions, all of which are my own.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Espresso Martinis

Much as we love our spirits unadulterated, we are also BIG fans of the odd cocktail or two. The espresso martini is one of our absolute favourites... rich, creamy and decadent. The absolute key to getting it right is using good quality ingredients - we go by the rule of never putting in a cocktail anything we wouldn't drink neat.

First of all, make the espresso. Instant coffee will in no way cut it, it needs to be the proper ground stuff.


Put a load of ice in a cocktail shaker. Add a double shot of vodka per person. We used Brittains vodka, made in Doncaster (always nice to keep things local!) and bought from one of our favourite independent shops, Mr Pickles. Next, a generous shot of coffee liqueur. Add a shot (or more, if you like it bitter) of espresso per portion and if you're feeling particularly swish, a little glug of chocolate syrup. The final ingredient is an egg white, very important for a lovely frothy top. Shake until you feel like your arms might fall off, then strain into martini glasses.


Enjoy!

L&J
"Serious GOURMET shit"

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Autumn menu launch: Forum, Sheffield

The Forum in Sheffield, part of the newly renamed True North Brew Co, had tended to fade into the background a little alongside it's sister venues, with us more likely to choose to eat and drink at The Broadfield or The Old House. However, having received an invitation from manager Miles (formerly of the Broadfield) to try out their revamped Autumn menu, and having had a frankly awesome evening doing so, it's abundantly clear that we were being unfair to True North's flagship venue.

We arrived at 7pm and were greeted by Miles himself (who's traded in his Broadfield beard for a trendy city centre moustache, with great pizazz) and Forum's take on an Aperol spritz, adding prosecco and grapefruit bitters. This was a pleasantly refreshing and lightly bittered autumnal cocktail which got the evening off to a great start. Whilst we sipped on these, executive chef Andy Burns introduced the menu to us. It was quite a surprise (the good kind!) to discover that the menu is themed around a fusion of traditional British dishes and Korean fare, taking inspiration from the increasingly popular street food festivals which have sprung up all over the country in the past couple of years. Andy explained that he wanted to keep the "hand food" sort of style which has always worked so well at the Forum, whilst juxtaposing familiar menu items with something a bit more adventurous. The result is a modern, exciting menu which definitely offers something different to our local scene.


The first dishes presented to us were the spicy sriracha hummus with pitta chips, baby back ribs with a honey and sesame seed marinade, and a gorgeously tangy blue cheese rarebit fondue served with hearty slices of sourdough (all £3.95 or 3 for £10). Following this were two types of steamed buns - kimchi pork belly, and bulgogi beef (also in the same 3 for £10 deal). These were Laura's favourite offering of the night - both absolutely bursting with flavour, aromatic, wonderfully seasoned, and the soft steamed buns were a delight to eat. This sharing food style of starters worked really well and I'd say for a group of four that three dishes would be just right to nibble on before main courses.

Next up was the second cocktail of the evening - a soju daiquiri made with muddled sweet potato, lime and agave syrup. Now this sounded slightly odd, but was a revelation... tasting just like sherbet lemons!

 Onto the mains, where firstly we sampled the pork tomahawk steak (£9.95) - the meat was wonderfully cooked and beautifully succulent, with the soy and ginger glaze giving just the right balance of salty and sharp sweetness. This was served with skinny house fries and roasted vine tomatoes, which were both good accompaniments.

The food just kept on coming! The chicken and tofu skewers and Korean pork belly burrito (all £8.50) were both familiar enough to have all-round appeal, whilst offering a tasty twist too. We both really enjoyed mini versions of the classic beef burger - the meat is sourced from one of our favourite local suppliers, Mr Pickles, which demonstrates the Forum kitchen's commitment to quality. These were served on buttermilk buns from Seven Hills Bakery, another Sheffield gem. We also tried the cod pakora, which were a great idea, but a little underseasoned on this occasion. Lastly was the shaved bulgogi beef - thinner strips of the same flavoured meat as those spectacular steamed buns. Bulgogi is a new one on us - apparently it means "fire meat" - a very pleasing concept, I'm sure you will agree. It did not disappoint - tender to the point of falling apart in the mouth, with a rich and fruity flavour from the marinade and an almost caramelised characteristic from the traditional grilling techniques used to cook it.


Finally, we reached desserts. The two of us shared a Hotteok - a Korean style filled pancake with seeds, which was almost crumpetty (definitely a word), served with Yee Kwan coconut and chocolate ice cream. Despite being absolutely stuffed, we also couldn't resist trying the deep fried ice cream sandwich, which was like a classy seaside donut! There were also salted rolo brownies to try, which the rest of the table vouched for as delicious, but we really couldn't fit one in.

We ended the evening with our third and final cocktail, which was a inventive take on a whisky sour. Peaty, smoky Bowmore 12 and delicately punchy St Germain elderflower liqueur combined with lemon to produce the perfect palate cleanser. Although the Islay whisky wasn't to everyone's taste, the balance was just right and it didn't overpower. A good example of how the Forum's cocktail menu, like True North's other venues, combines classic recipes with exciting new elements, resulting in a range of drinks that is quite unique. A winner in our book!

Action shot!
We had a fantastic evening all round and it was great to catch up with Sheffield blogging friends old and new! Despite the absolute FEAST we were presented with, there's still plenty of dishes we'd love to try (crispy pigs ears with a blue cheese dipping sauce, HELLO... plus the brunch menu looks delicious), so we'll definitely be back. Big thanks to Miles, Andy and the rest of the Forum team!

Cheers,

Laura & Jim

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Milestone

At the Sheffield Food Festival, we had our first taste of cuisine from The Milestone, with their "Piggy" dish. This was a delightful selection of pork, including braised head fritter, blood sauce with black pudding, and an array of miniature salads and shoots. After trying this, we couldn't quite work out why we hadn't been to the restaurant before, particularly as it seems a sort of rite of passage in the Sheffield foodie scene!

We wasted no time in booking ourselves on to the Early Bird menu, which offers a smaller but still very varied selection of dishes and even includes a pint or glass of house wine.

Whilst we perused the menu we went for some homemade bread and dripping, recommended by our waiter for the evening (and it's worth mentioning that the service throughout was exceptional, although a little more formal than we're used to!). Can't go wrong there really, can you?!

Second up on our meal, we went for a celebration of the humble chicken, with chicken ham, chicken liver parfait, and chicken thigh served with crispy skin. Very nice (although the liver was just a tad too rich for Laura). We also shared the pig's head terrine, which was served with a delicious selection of pickled veg, crackling and a wonderfully tangy apple sauce. We'd expected this to be quite similar to the Piggy dish from the Food Festival, but it was a totally different twist on the ingredients, which demonstrates the flair and originality shown by the chefs on a day-to-day basis.


Onwards to the main courses! Laura chose the coley, accompanied by buttery-soft new potatoes and sea vegetables. Gherkins and anchovies were also used in the dish which worked really well as seasoning and were a lovely touch. Jim decided upon a classic: sausages served with mustard mash, plus side dishes of quite dense but still delicious Yorkshire puddings, and fresh asparagus. The mash sang with a lovely kick and tang of mustard and worked really well with an excellent pair of sausages. The spring asparagus was sweet and fresh with a lovely crunch and nicely seasoned with Parmesan.


Having partaken in two sides, Jim decided on a calvados rather than a dessert, which turned out to be a very good idea when Laura's sticky toffee pudding arrived. As such emphasis is placed on presentation here (and everything arrived looking outstanding), we were expecting a dainty little pud. What was put in front of us was a veritable wedge of gooey, rich and utterly scrumptious toffee pudding, served with salted caramel sauce and really tasty droplets of date puree, which brought the whole dish together perfectly. Jim's assistance was required.


The Milestone have a great ethos, having an end goal of being self sufficient. Already having a pig farm and a lovely little rooftop garden, they are well on their way to achieving this. The garden provides the restaurant with many of the shoots and herbs used in the dishes and cocktails, meaning they are as fresh as you can possibly get.

The "From Garden to Glass" cocktail menu itself looked superb, and boasted some completely original cocktails that I've never seen anything like in Sheffield before, including the Walk in the Weeds (comprising gin, celery, cucumber, mint, and borage - or whatever else they can forage from the rooftop garden!). Whilst we had over-indulged quite enough for one night we will definitely be back to try some of these out.

Cheers,

Laura & Jim

Thursday, 5 June 2014

American Whiskey Tasting at the Broadfield

Well, well, well... here we are again. We originally hadn't thought to book onto the American night at the Broadfield, not thinking it was quite our tipple. However, after only a little bit of liquid persuasion (the Japanese whisky night!) and talk of classic American cocktails with a twist as the pairings for this night, we had our spaces reserved and our Boardwalk Empire DVD on repeat.

The evening opened with Old Fitzgerald: an 8 year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon. This was a good entry level whiskey, if you are after a typical bourbon. Vanilla on the nose and sticky sweet across the palate, this whiskey is bottled at 45% but is much smoother than it's Scotch counterpart. Available at around £20 per bottle, it's a dram which is completely accessible and really quite delicious.

This was accompanied by an Old Fashioned cocktail, with sugar syrup, orange peel and a dash of bitters added to the Old Fitzgerald. This was then transformed into a smoked Old Fashioned, using applewood chips and a smoke generator. The cocktail was fantastically orangey and a great twist on a classic, as well as the slightly bonkers methodology being a sign of the magic to come!
Whisky Curator at work!
We moved on to a Woodford Reserve, a bourbon with a high rye content and a heady nose full of honey, vanilla and woodiness. This literally tasted as American as apple pie - fruity, with hints of cinnamon and cereal sweetness. The toasted wood notes returned in the lingering finish.

With this was served a Manhattan, but not just any Manhattan: this one was barrel aged in a mini Kentucky toasted oak cask. For two weeks, the barrel held a Spanish sweet vermouth, before the Woodford Reserve and dry vermouth were aged in the same barrel for a further 6 weeks. The drink was completed with a splash of cognac added to the aged ingredients along with Benedictine and homemade orange bitters. Pure class. The barrel aged cocktail isn't something we've seen very often, but after sampling this one we're thinking Ed could be quite the trendsetter.

The third dram of the night was the Blanton's Special Reserve. This caught Laura's eye due to having possibly the best bottle stopper ever - it has a racehorse on it, in honour of the Kentucky Derby. Bottled at 40%, this smelled more like a Scotch than the previous two offerings of the night, with prominent spiced notes. It had a nutty flavour with a bit of a bite from citrus peel flavours and more spiciness.


Our next cocktail was a hot variation on the Mint Julep, which came poured from a proper antique teapot into a little china teacup. Just darling. Peppermint tea was delicately brewed before adding brown sugar syrup, fresh mint and bitters, along with the Blanton's. It's fair to say that this was not a favourite in the room, having a somewhat medicinal quality, but Laura loved it, and the Prohibition-style presentation was a great touch.

Up next was FEW distillery (ironically named after initials of Frances Elizabeth Willard, one of the leading figures of the temperance movement in the distillery's home city of Evanston) with their Rye Whiskey, bottled at 46.5%. The rye was prominent on the nose, along with aromas of lemongrass, ginger nuts and a hint of lavender. On the palate, you can taste that it's a young whiskey, but this is no detriment - it's a very nice tipple with a lightly herbal note. 


The cocktail pairing this time was an original take on a whiskey sour, which began simply with FEW rye whiskey, fresh lemon and sugar syrup. All straightforward so far. It was then shaken (with added flair from Ed). A honey, rosemary and elderflower foam was added to the glass before the cocktail was poured through, to produce a delicate and sweet-yet-sour delight.

Finally, we were treated to the High West Campfire. This had a more familiar seaweedy nose, with inspiration coming from a master distiller who fell in love with Islay, and so decided to create a whiskey which paid homage to the beautiful island. The whiskey is formed of 70% bourbon, 20% rye, and 10% Islay whisky, and it was an outstanding drink. Sticky sweetness and dried fruits provided the undertones to the palate, with heat and spice playing a part too. The peated whisky element made itself apparent in the finish.


A Rob Roy cocktail completed the line-up for the evening. High West was stirred down with barrel aged vermouth sugar syrup and bitters. Added to this were Martini Rosso sweet vermouth caviar pearls (yes, really!). These little jewels were created with a sweet vermouth sodium alginate, which was painstakingly dripped into a calcium bath (ooo technical).
 A vacuum and an Aerolatte were also used in there somewhere. We lost track a tad, but trust us when we say there was real chemistry in the room! 

The night as a whole was probably our favourite tasting so far. Whilst the whiskeys weren't quite as much to our taste as usual (we've not been converted away from our Scotch!), they were none-the-less great easy-drinking drams and very enjoyable. However, the highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the cocktails - all five were absolutely spectacular and totally unique.


Cheers,

Laura & Jim

You can find out more about the cocktails at whiskycurator.tumblr.com. Thanks to Ed for another great evening!


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Favourite pubs: Lebowskis Edinburgh

The Big Lebowski is one of our all-time favourite films, so during a trip to the beautiful city of Edinburgh, we couldn't miss out on a trip to Lebowskis bar. This place has a great relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff, and plenty of Dude-themed decor (although sadly the playlist doesn't come from the film soundtrack!) Food wise, some awesome American bar food is on offer, from gourmet burgers to mac 'n' cheese, and ribs to hot dogs. Everything is made using fresh Scottish produce, and prepared in an open fronted kitchen, which as well as allowing you to see your dinner being created, fills the whole place with a mouth-wateringly good smell. We both went for burgers, and they were MASSIVE.

But delicious though our meal was, the drinks selection is much more exciting. A speciality menu is on offer, consisting solely of White Russians. Delights include the 'Jackie Treehorn', a cocktail made from Bolivian coca leaf liqueur, Kahlua and a 50/50 mix of milk and cream. In keeping with the theme, this was served with a line of sherbert "cocaine". As well as this one, Jim also sampled the variations on the classic which contained Absinthe and Buckfast. Sensible man.
The Jackie Treehorn: "The wave of the future, Dude"
One concoction caused a particular stir for Laura... a mint chocolate White Russian known as 'The Toe'. The addition of Creme de Menthe and chocolate syrup to the usual base precipitated an 8 month quest for the emerald nectar, so we can recreate the creamy delight at home. You will all be relieved I am sure to hear that we did eventually source this, from a humble Morrisons of all places, after a search which had even involved a trip to Calais.
Inspired to recreate them at home! The Toe is on the right
The general gist of the place, which we brought away with us, is add Kahlua to it and pretty much anything will taste great in a milkshake.

The Dude abides, and so should you.

Cheers,

L&J