Blimey, the way some people go on you’d think you needed a PHD to drink cocktails. Constructing them, is one thing but imbibing? In our book, that should be about enjoyment and dare we say it, fun.
Not too much obviously, we’re not ones to condone irresponsible drinking. However, unlike considering the merits of an obscure single malt whisky or regaling about the nuances of a knackered old wine, cocktails are about parking aside the heavy stuff, cracking a smile and getting stuck in.
We’re not the only ones who think that way. Artesian at The Langham hotel (www.artesian-bar.co.uk) prove that five-star luxury isn’t all hushed tones and taking yourself too seriously. Yes its drinks are top dollar and the room is luxury personified but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to turn on the chuckle-o-meter when its called for.
Its new cocktail menu is a case in point. Clever, classy and seriously cool, it consists of an interactive flavour wheel containing 15 drinks. Its purpose is to take the customer by the hand and guide them to their favourite cocktail. “One of the drinks is called the Super Panda,” says Alex Kratena, bar manager and holder of the International Bartender of the Year 2012 title in the prestigious Spirited Awards at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans.
“It’s presented with a balloon-shaped like a head of a panda. When it arrives at the table, the balloon bursts and releases a tangerine aroma which then becomes a coaster and the drink – a 21st century Tiki-style cocktail containing Botran rum, Kamm & Sons ginseng spirit, mango, mastiha and almond and rose syrup is there to be enjoyed. Like all of the cocktails on our new menu we aim to stimulate all the senses and make our guests smile.”
The Blind Pig at The Social Eating House (www.socialeatinghouse.com) is another bar which knows how to do things with tongue firmly in cheek. The puntastic names on the menu suggest that Gareth Evans and his team don’t take themselves too seriously but at the same time, not for nothing has Evans been crowned the Best Bartender in the UK in the prestigious World Class Awards. Drinks like the Robin Hood, Quince of Thieves, Slap N Pickle, Piscoteque and Cuba Pudding Junior are guaranteed to raise a titter even before they arrive – when they do, each one is an absolute triumph in both presentation and taste.
Then there are the fairground attractions in the bars at Drake & Morgan group (www.drakeandmorgan.co.uk). The new cocktail menus take in the Goldfish In A Bag (don’t worry, the ‘fish’ in question is a simple grapefruit twist but the drink is served in a bag!), Tears of a Clown and the Fairground Millionaire, served with ‘a few bob on the side. Genius.
The Cocktail Lovers say
Speaking of fun, you can’t get more upbeat than the D.I.Y. sweet treats and ‘pardy’ drinks in Candy Kittens, the new book by Chelsea boi Jamie Laing. Available from www.octopusbooks.co.uk
This week we’re loving:
Gatsby Glamour at The Milestone Hotel on Wednesday 3rd July. Tickets for the exclusive evening includes four cool cocktails with matching canapes, plus tales about the era and the opportunity to get behind the bar and learn how to make them yourself. Tickets cost £39.50 and include a goody bag. For details contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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