18/81, and Nocturnal Animals, Birmingham

Someone should have let me know that I was sleeping on Birmingham’s bar scene cause damn.

Spending a weekend in the Midlands at the Bites Here and There conference, the Hoodooist and friends got to crawl around some of the most impressive cocktails bars B’ham has to offer.

18/81

Type of Bar: Speakeasy
Damage: ££
Ideal for: Small Groups, Date

I ain’t gonna tell you how to find this venue, but follow your gut. London’s speakeasies could learn a thing or two about how to….be an actual speakeasy from 18/81.

Once in, the décor is clean and simple, a risky decision but lord, was I happy to not see a speakeasy made of low lights and leather armchairs.

This menu unapologetically revels in the return of vodka and that is so refreshing to see.

The Oaxaca

The Oaxaca mixes mezcal, mole negro, red Muscat, and served with a dark chocolate garnish.

“Is this just you in a glass?” Natalie of legal and IT recruiters Tap Search asks.

And she has a point. Smoky mezcal with hints of white pepper gives into lightly floral sweet Muscat, before being a submerged into dark chocolate and spicy chilli, from the savouriness of the mole. Do I love this cocktail? It goes on forever and stands as one of the best I’ve had in a while,and certainly the best I’ve had in Birmingham (in competition with the Smokey Old Bastard by the Edgbaston Hotel).

The Garden to Glass

The Garden to Glass serves vodka, wild nettle, cut grass, and garden herbs

Spectacular. Icy vodka prickled with fresh, grassy notes and effervescent nettle that cuts through the herbs. If light cocktails are your style, this is what you need.

Le Jardin once again gives us vodka, this time with jasmine, wormwood, and wild flowers. I have mixed feelings here. I do like the perfumed nature of the drink, and the anisey wormwood, but it feels a little *too* perfumed. If you like bitter and floral, here’s your cocktail, an acquired taste though it is.

The Shandong Blonde, and Le Jardin

The Shandong Blonde, a mix of vodka (Well, this has clearly made a comeback), Szechuan pepper flower, citrus, borage honey. Sweeter, if a bit confused. Maybe I’m just being fussy after the Oaxaca and Garden to Glass? The light floral spice feels a bit conflicted against the powerful raw honey sweetness of the borage honey. It doesn’t taste how you’d expect it, while also tasting exactly how you’d expect it to.

With a spectacular team behind the bar, service is impeccable. 18/81 serves us an amazing experience, down to the hunt for the venue.

Drinks: ****
Atmosphere: **
Service: *****

18/81
Thorp St,
Birmingham B5 4AU

http://1881birmingham.co.uk/

Nocturnal Animals

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant
Damage: ££
Ideal for: FoodSmall Groups, Date

Talk about a showstopping look. Black walls, blue banquettes, neon against a massive bar – complete with multi-sensory distortion dividers (touch em, you’ll see what I mean). Nocturnal Animals knows how to turn a look – and don’t miss the IG opportunities downstairs!

This menu is set up in an excellent manner – each section has a base spirit and set of ingredients, followed by three takes on that mix – the Short, the Sharp, and Long – each a longer version of the prior.

The Short Pisco, adds pink grapefruit, rosewater, peach, Turmeon Rose vermouth, Aperol, and Japanese peach bitters to the mix.

The fruit of the Turmeon Rose Vermouth comes through on the nose quite spectacularly. The palette is similarly sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. For its sweetness, the drink is perfectly short, since it would take you as long to drink.

Wonderfully fruited from the vermouth and fruits, the pisco and Aperol just pull it back from a fructose hell into being a fabulously balanced sweet cocktail with a mild winter spice hit. Wave after wave of fruit notes make this a rollercoaster delight.

The Short Pisco

The Short Gin, mixes green chilli, pear eau de vie, Turmeon weed vermouth, and charred fennel bulbs.

Now, there is a lot to be said about the political ramifications of racism and the prison system in the legal cannabis market but anyway, here we are being edgy.

That said, this Martini works excellently, though is an acquired taste. The gin is drowned out by the other ingredients, however. The bright chilli is immediately followed up by the cannabis flavour of the vermouth and fennel, but eventually settling on the sweeter notes of the pear and vermouth, and a great long finish.

The Short Gin

Remember to book, this place is booked up and take in all this dystopian sexiness.

Drinks: ****
Atmosphere: ****
Service: ***

Nocturnal Animals
20 Bennetts Hill,
Birmingham B2 5QJ

https://www.nocturnal-animals.co.uk/

Join us again next time for our review of the Edgbaston Hotel, Birmingham!

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BOLD London Spirit

Charming BOLD Brand Ambassador Tomas Lenko welcomes us into London’s popular Hide Bar, famous for its policy on primarily serving up spirits and ingredients prepared in London.

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Many have probably already encountered BOLD London Spirit, an enigmatic little bottle popularly known as a cherry aperitif, but in reality a much more versatile cherry based spirit in its own right alongside vodka, gin and other cocktail bases we all know and love.

At 36% ABV, it packs a punch, but it doesn’t dull the flavours of cherry, cloves, or cassia. Inspired by the flavours of his childhood and the varieties of wild cherries in the UK, sour cherry bursts forth, followed immediately by bitter and floral notes of spices – making it a fantastic digestif as well.

An up-by-the-bootstraps project, the home-grown spirit is a tribute to life in London.

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The Strongman’s Sour mixes BOLD, lemon, orgeat, chocolate bitters for an excellent nightcap. A sweet sour, the cherry settles in with the chocolate like the perfect liqueur candy, with the nuttiness and floral of the orgeat lifting it up from being too heavy. How rare is it for me to love a drink with chocolate bitters?

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The BOLDvardier gives us BOLD, Campari and sweet vermouth for a wonderfully fruity take on the classic, and is much more forgiving for those who struggle with the strong whiskey flavours of a classic Boulevardier. Instead the BOLD removes the need for a cherry garnish and instead replaces it with a bright and uplifting orange, which classically intensifies the brighter flavours of the vermouth and Campari.

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And in time for the summer, the Chelsea Rose is a tall tipple with BOLD, raspberry, apple – super-sweet, yet somehow not offensively so. Perfect for the summer, classic fruit flavours of cherry, apple and raspberry make it a great grown up juice box.

And in a world where G&Ts are a dime a dozen, the Hoodooist is pleased to see the B&T be a refreshing change – and something that changes the way we approach an icy summer afternoon fruit cocktail. BOLD, Tonic, ice, sorted.

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Two years down the line, BOLD continues to be one of the more intriguing additions to the London drinks scene, and one that I massively enjoy. Cherry liqueurs are too cloying, but as a spirit, BOLD allows us to enjoy the flavours in a completely different way – as an aperitif, a digestif, a winter warmer like the Strongman’s Sour, or a summer sip like the Chelsea Rose as easily as ordering a BOLD and Tonic.

 

Death+Victory, Smithfield

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant
Damage: £££
Ideal for: FoodSmall GroupsLarge GroupsAfter Work

 

Smiths of Smithfields, a Farringdon staple for it’s multiple floors and enormous space, has long attracted city boys after work and meetings in the day time. One of its floors has now been relaunched as Death + Victory, a dedicated cocktail space.

This smaller bar exists as a more private, less formal, room away from the rest of the venue, allowing for some intimacy and conversation. In teals and yellows, with low candle light, it maintains a city-chic.

We were looked after by George, who was attentive and made fantastic conversation. Even when busy, we didn’t feel overlooked.

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The menu is meant to be easy and accessible to the cater to the after-work or quick meeting experience. Light and easy drinking cocktails that often come as twists on classics.

The Smooth Fields presents us with a twist on the whiskey sour – Jameson Caskmates stout edition whiskey, Amaro Averna, egg white, lemon, sugar syrup. The Caskmates’ nose of orchard fruit and the Amaro’s spice comes through on the nose. As a sour, it holds its own with the Amaro’s bittersweet orange zest and liquorice flavours adding a bit of tart bitterness to the sweeter Irish potstill and hopsy notes from the stout cask.

While we’re on the sour train, the Monkey Went To Market mixes Monkey 47 gin, apricot liqueur, lime juice, gomme, egg white and garnished with mango. An excellent sour where the woodsy and spicy Monkey 47 is balanced out against the apricot for a bright cocktail.

Our final two cocktails include the one that didn’t work too well and one that was excellent.

The Horace, I think, is entirely too ambitious. Absolut Elyx, jasmine tea, Lillet Blanc, lemon juice, chocolate bitters, Champagne creates a cacophony of clashing flavours and temperatures, with the hot tea is mixed in with the cold spirits, and asking the bartender to chill it down was one way of making it more drinkable.

On the other hand, The Regal was an excellent take on a classic Brooklyn.

The bar had (luckily) just run out of Lillet Rouge, which would be the usual vermouth for the cocktail (let’s leave the argument for whether or not Lillet is a vermouth for another time). Instead we used the Lillet Blanc to mix with Chivas Regal 18YO, Maraschino and honey water.

Saving the cocktail from the potentially sickly mix of the Rouge, the Blanc instead allows for a lighter yet still decadent cocktail where the marmalade and cocoa of the Chivas mellow out the honey water, with that added candied orange and quinine of the Lillet Blanc giving it that little kick.

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The Horace and the Regal

If I were to raise a concern, it would be that the prices were slightly steep for the offering at 12 GBP each.

Outside that one concern, we must acknowledge the comfortable space and attentive service, the drinks were all approachable and enjoyable, and it is pleasing to see an after-work staple for so many in the area step up its cocktail game.

 

Drinks: **-***
Atmosphere: ****
Service: ****

Death + Victory @ Smiths of Smithfield

67-77 Charterhouse St, Clerkenwell,
London EC1M 6HJ

https://www.smithsofsmithfield.co.uk/death-victory-cocktail-bar

Savage Garden LDN, Tower Hill

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Rooftop
Damage: £££
Ideal for: ViewFoodDateSmall Groups, Large GroupsAfter Work

Overlooking the Tower of London and the gorgeous Trinity House, the Sky Lounge of the Doubletree Hilton has been revamped into the wildly beautiful Savage Garden.

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From the sweeping view of old London to the stunningly modern decor, the bar evokes a sense of expanse and clashing beauties that gives clout to the bar’s name.

From the dining room, to the hall and main bar, to the two terraces hosting carnivorous counters for seafood and meats, to the Beefeater (We’re next to the Tower, so) gin terrace and Jägermeister bar, the enormous venue attempts to cater to all eagerly making the most of the sun by sunset – which is met with a live band in the main bar area overlooking Tower Bridge.

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We were immediately welcomed with citrus buttermilk chicken sliders, crisp and brought to life with kimchi slaw and Korean gochujang-inspired ketchup, and soon after moreish beef sliders served in threes on a bone. Our time on the sunset terrace was accompanied by crispy prawn toast with a delightfully smokey bacon jam. The venue wants to make something very clear: they know their proteins.

Worry not for vegetarian options! Not far away we found the honey miso aubergine burgers served with fried green tomatoes, mozzarella and basil in their glorious red brioche.

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Well, we did say savage.

Not that we’ve forgotten about the cocktails!

Opening we have the Devil’s Advocate: Olmeca Blanco tequila meets pink grapefruit and lemon, blackcurrant and sage. Outside the deceptive name and the threatening chilli garnish, this drink is incredibly tame for the light drinker – though I suspect it might sneak up on you.

This vegetal tequila mingles smoothly with the sage, that adds a pleasant contrast to the sweet blackcurrant and bright grapefruit.

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Now if you’re looking for something slightly punchier, you wanna check out the Flambard Colada, inspired by the infamous Ranulf Flambard – first prisoner in the Tower of London, and the first to escape it – Havana Club 3YO rum mixes with pineapple, cucumber, topped up with Ayala champagne and a hint of absinthe. I found toning down the cucumber and upping the absinthe did wonders for this cocktail as a less creamy alternative to the tiki classic.

The marzipan of the rum stands out on the nose, and the cocktail itself packs a punch though it might seem innocent at first glance. The initial cucumber fades to a subtler pineapple that accompanies the champagne, waiting for the absinthe to cut through. Should probably relax on the garnish though, visually speaking.

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The Wild Poison makes a great long drink to relax with. Wild Turkey 101 bourbon, Merlet apricot brandy, cloudy apple juice, smoked pine syrup, Campari, with the garnish of ‘poison apple’.

The simplicity of the visuals is refreshing, while maintaining a solid theme, which I like. And though it is one of the sweeter drinks tried that evening, it isn’t offensively so (we are all aware by now of my struggle with sweet cocktails). You might take your time with the heaviness of this cocktail, but the mix is wonderful.

The USA has seen several renditions of the Apple Bourbon with a hint of sweet, so here Savage Garden takes a well-loved homemade goodie and give it a London up-do. This summery take on an Autumn cocktail uses Merlet apricot brandy in place of the oft-used honey or maple, while balancing out some of the excess sweetness with smoked pine and bitter Campari – making it accessible to a wide range of palates.

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Our last two cocktails were possibly our favourites of the evening, and two very different cocktails indeed.

One certainly counts as dessert: the Horny Beast comes inspired from the savage gardens of the Red Riding Hood tale in a mix of Beefeater pink gin, Aluna coconut rum, almond, lime, green strawberry, smoke and oak bitters, apple, rhubarb, and cinnamon soda, served with a strawberry, lime, and black pepper cracker.

Okay. So. Let’s discuss that cracker.

This cocktail is worth getting for that cracker.

The cocktail is a swirl of flavours that settles on ‘grown up cotton candy bubblegum’ which is bizarre, and yet… works. Well. I never thought I’d find myself saying that about something I’d describe as cotton candy bubblegum, yet here we are. A surprisingly fun drink that embraces itself.

Also that cracker.

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Finally, probably my favourite drink of the evening shouldn’t have surprised me from the moment I read the first ingredient.

Hey, we all have favourites.

The Lady Grey mixes Freya birch spirit, Seedlip Spice 94, apple and Earl Grey liqueur, oak and aromatic spices, topped up with Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic.

Clear, composed, with a certain nobility in flavour, the Lady Grey has a running  undernote of the earthy birch spirit all the way through the cocktail, as the woody and spicy Seedlip’s cardamom finds itself comfortable in the spice mix. The Earl Grey liqueur soon comes to the fore as the cocktail soon settles on the floral tonic.

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If there was one thing I would add to this cocktail menu, it would be short cocktails. A lot of what we had seen was primarily topped up with juices, sodas, champagnes and tonics – and though each drink was carefully designed with a distinct personality that worked well with their length, those of us who enjoy our short drinks will have a smaller choice.

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Savage Garden is a strange beast. With its sprawling square footage and variety of bars and food counters and terraces it feels like more of a touring experience than a singular bar.

One thing is for certain, with the retractable ceilings and immense view, it will always be a summer draw, so expect late night parties under this wild city’s sky.

Drinks: ***
Atmosphere: *****
Service: ****


Savage Garden LDN @ The Doubletree Hilton,

7 Pepys St,
London EC3N 4AF

https://www.savagegarden.co.uk/

The Real McCoy Rum Tasting @ Bobby Fitzpatrick, West Hampstead

Bobby Fitzpatrick lounges over two floors of 70s nostalgia and low lighting – and the upper floor hosts a small choice of bar seats and a mini kitchen space (not just the kitchen for their pizzas, but like, a 70s kitchen. You’ll see what I mean) where a range of The Real McCoy Rums were presented for tasting in the company of UK Real McCoy Ambassador, Gergo Murath.

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Onto the rums!

The 3, 5 and 12 year rums are named after Bill McCoy, pioneer rum runner of the Prohibition, who’d park his boat bar stocked with Caribbean rum 3 miles off-shore in international water – lauded for serving his alcohol without toxic additives like turpentine, which illegal alcohol was often cut with in during the dry days. These Barbados rums are aged in charred Bourbon casks.

 

The Real McCoy 3 Year Old White Rum / Bourbon Barrels

 

Citrus and floral wafts in with the youngest of the rums, the 3 year, along with the expected vanilla. My favourite of the three, the light straw coloured rum is smooth, woody and spiced with nutmeg and rich with caramel, almond and coconut. A long, warm length follows.

Light, strong, confident – fantastic for cocktails.

 

 

 

The Real McCoy 5 Year Old Rum / Bourbon Barrels

 

 

The sweet, fruity nose really stands out in the 5 year, and is much more familiar to the rum drinker. The oak and caramel palate is strong with the added kick of cinnamon. The length brings both the coconut we know and love from the 3 year as well as the welcome surprise of smoky tobacco.

 

 

 

The Real McCoy 12 Year Old Rum / Bourbon Barrels

 

Finally, the 12 year brings in an astonishingly smooth texture, and a chocolate nose with oaky sweetness.

Definitely for the discerning sweet tooth, take time to appreciate the rolling complexity of flavours, the buttery sweetness now presents a woody, spicy spark, with the sharpness of orange and tobacco. A lightly smoky finish with the slightest hint of pepper brings an end to the tasting.

 

 

And we were lucky enough to try the cocktail special at Bobby Fitzpatrick that ranked as the most popular drink of the season!

The Gran Hotel Barbados mixes the 5yr Real McCoy Rum with apricot, pineapple and lime, for a sweet drink that is instead light and refreshing. The caramel and coconut notes take centre stage, and the apricot holds the pineapple up for a well-balanced cocktail perfect for summer.

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And if you’d rather got for something more indulgent, the Rumhattan is the sweeter alternative to its whiskey cousin, playing the part of paradoxical sweet aperitif. Deeply sweet and sweetly deep, you’ll want to take your time with this one, in comparison to the easy necking of the Gran Hotel above.

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Here at Bobby Fitzpatrick, The Real McCoy displayed their variety and versatility when it comes to producing this popular molasses spirit. With a pour for every occasion from light daytime sips to late night indulgent pours, serves can also come straight from a balloon glass with a cigar in the winter.

An excellent range of rums from the House of McCoy.

 

 

Thanks to,

The Real McCoy Rum

http://www.realmccoyspirits.com/

and,

Bobby Fitzpatrick

273 West End Lane, West Hampstead
London NW6 1QS

https://www.bobbyf.co.uk/

 

Le Petit Chef – A Dinner Time Story @ TT Liquor

Setting sail from Dubai, and travelling all over the world, Le Petit Chef comes to London!

The multisensory, multimedia, multicultural, 6 course event (I know I’m pushing it, it’s a Sunday and I’m craving a Ramos Gin Fizz before noon, sue me) follows the adventures of the Marco Polo, being relived by the tiny Petit Chef, as he guides us through the cuisine of several regions along the way. We begin in the Mediterranean, enter the Middle East and the Maghreb, then South Asia, a short stop in the Himalayas, with a main course in China and ending with a dessert that brings elements of the journey together.

Personally, something I really enjoyed about the event was how family friendly it was. Nadine Beshir has developed a great way of introducing kids to varied cuisines in an accessible, attention grabbing way. As the story unfolds, the décor changes as well, keeping the experience immersive.

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Going in without being sure what to expect, we found ourselves seated on upstairs at TT Liquor (which we know is one of the Hoodooist’s favourite venues, and basically his Hogwarts), with a book set out in front of us.

Soon, I quickly realise there our projectors set up over our heads, and the table comes to life, introducing us to tonight’s Dinner Time Story, as our minuscule chef guides us across the silk route in cuisine.
I was thinking of posting videos of the event here, but then again, I thought I’d leave it up to you to find out!

So, leaving some mystery to the night, let’s get down to the courses!

Each food course is paired with a cocktail, and wine pours throughout the evening, so be prepared for a heavy one!

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Our amuse bouche, honestly is gorgeous and is a good sign for the rest of the evening. Simple and effective: Truffled goat’s cheese and slow roasted tomato, spiralled on a Gruyere sesame seed biscuit with sweet tomato chutney. The umami fullness of the truffle forms a base for the brighter and sweeter tomato chutney, whose savouriness complements the salted cheese gracefully.It’s an amuse bouche that packs a punch.

Tuna nicoise tartlet with a soft boiled quail’s egg immediately follows, condensing a classic into a quickly digestible whole.

Our amuse bouche is paired with a TT Liquor staple that manages to be one of my favourites: Le Chat Noir. A perfect aperitif of Hayman’s Old Tom gin, Lillet Blanc, Henry Bardouin Pastis, fresh lime juice, syrup and tarragon. A light sweetness of the Old Tom and Lillet along with the aniseed of the pastis and the herbaceous tarragon invigorates the palate, announcing the evening.

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Our chef fights the sandstorms of the Middle East and finds himself in a spice souk, making his way through several classics along the way.

Okay, how many ways can I say I adored this course?

A lamb tagine croquette with pistachio crumbs served with a harissa and lemon dip is rich with full meaty sweetness lifted by the pistachio, and brought to life by the spiced and citrus dip.

A filo cup is stuffed with smoked aubergine caviar and a baby ratatouille garnish, and a classic dolma twists itself with more mint and a spicy tomato and cucumber dip, setting itself apart from its store-bought cousins.

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A crispy flatbread is thoroughly dusted in Zaatar, paired with corn fed chicken kibbeh, for a smoky, rich bite.

The course is paired with the Maghrabi TT: gin, spicy honey syrup, lemon, Verbena tea and mint. This cocktail, though intriguing on its own, I fear struggled a little with the flavours of the course, often risking over-crowding – particularly the verbena tea.

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Sweeping into South Asia, we are served butter chicken on mini poppadom with mint raita – I mean, butter chicken is a classic that it is impossible to not enjoy, mildly spiced with a buttery fullness that’s brought alive by the fresh mint raita contrast. Immediately followed by a cauliflower pannacotta with a gobi aloo (cauliflower and potato) tartar served in a crisp puri.

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Our cocktail pairing is a Pineapple Mango Cobbler – vermouth bianco, fresh pineapple, fresh mango and kaffir lime cordial. A low ABV break from our last two courses, the fruit flavours of a summer in India bring a balanced sweetness to this savoury course.

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We take a break with a sorbet of pink grapefruit and lychee in the Himalayas, with one of the most visually enjoyable and immersive moments of the evening – which I will not spoil for our readers! A chill runs through the room, and the sound of a cold mountainous wind rushes across the table.

Just, this is a great course. I am not spoiling it.

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After that palate refreshing sorbet, we prepare for the main course – though I must admit, I was already pretty full!

Paired with a red or white wine, our main takes place in China – though still a good course by all means, the past 4 courses raised the bar fairly high. Unfortunately, I think this might be the weaker course of the evening.

My duck with Bok choy and East Asian vegetables left me envying my friend’s seafood choice. The duck could have been warmer, and considering it is served with chopsticks, the rice could have been sticky, instead we found ourselves requesting spoons.

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But we finally enter our final course of the evening, by now finding it impossible to move. Our dessert is a wonderful combination of ingredients from previous courses into a crème brulee, served with a refreshing digestif: the Sgroppino mixes vodka and lemon ice cream, topped up with sparkling wine for a wonderfully lively end to the evening with its citrus sweetness.

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Cue us trying to think of a way to stand up after an absolutely massive meal.

Le Petit Chef is a fantastic evening, which finds a way to bring multiple cuisines together to one meal in a way most of us would normally be skeptical of. Its use of multimedia is a fun way to segue between courses, and its family friendly nature makes it an excellent evening for kids and families. Oh, and vegetarian options are available if informed in advance!

I encourage anyone to certainly pop down to TT Liquor for Le Petit Chef while it’s running, which, due to its success, has been extended to 31st August 2018! And prepare for a trip across the globe from the comfort of London.

 

Drinks: ****
Atmosphere: *****
Service: *****

Le Petit Chef @ T. T. Liquor

17b Kingsland Road,
London E2 8AA

http://dinnertimestory.com
Tickets are available on the website at 95 GBP.

The Spirit of Sharing 2018, @ The Embassy of Ireland

Some of you might be gearing up for the craziness of this year’s St. Paddy’s Day (cough Sun Tavern), but whether or not you’re still wearing (feeling) green (or still pretending to be Irish), this year’s explosion of Irish whiskeys and poitins onto the London cocktail scene is making some of the Scots lowkey panic.

As for the English whisky distilleries..Well. Um.

Anyway.

We now enter the ballroom of the Irish Embassy, South Ken, where the Bord Bia Irish food board and brought in some of the biggest, and growing, names in Irish spirits to taste, in the company of fab bartenders from around London!

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Let’s have a stroll and look at some of the outstanding spirits we have on show today!

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Of course Teeling is here!

We know the Single Malt: Light, peppery, cinnamon – peppered with floral notes. The Single Grain is more adventurous: Be ready for cereal flavours with spice and treacle, custard plays around here too. A spry spirit, that. Finally, the gorgeous Small Batch: rich with floral notes, spiced with cinnamon and other herbs, a creamy creme brulee at the end. Wonderful and flamboyant.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

On whiskeys, got to give a second to Hyde’s 1922 Rum Finish Single Malt – the rum cask gives this whiskey a twist with tropical fruit, and stronger vanilla notes.

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They say an oak-carved devil stood over the gates of a place nicknamed Hell in the Liberties of Dublin. They also say that oak was soon used for whiskey barrels – explaining the name of The Dublin Liberties‘s whiskey: Oak Devil. Expect a lot of caramel, spice and pepper, followed by warm winter notes of Christmas. Love this little tipple.

Most noted of the Tipperary expressions is the Watershed: Bright and sweet on the nose with vanilla, the pallet has sparks of black pepper, vanilla fudge, and a long honeyed finish. A less chocolatey version of the Tipperary Rising.

How about something a little different? This year’s gin room, curated by Gin Monkey Emma Stokes, exhibited some spectacular Irish gins.

We’re seeing a lot of gin from Ireland, and one of the more intriguing ones is Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin: A bright citrus of lime and lemon before giving way to deeper spices and the characteristic gunpowder tea. Great if you like your gins spicy without getting too Opihr-esque.

Dingle comes in with a wealth of spirits: the Dingle’s Original Gin is a classic London dry, with its flavours enhanced by a slice of orange in the glass. Powerful notes of classic juniper, summer berries, and notably floral with a clean finish. On the other hand, Dingle Vodka is rich with vanilla and white pepper, with hints of aniseed.

Dingle Original Gin

The Bord Bia’s Spirit of Sharing continues to be a success, with more excellent products and expressions coming out of Ireland each year. We’ve been sleeping on Ireland’s gin industry, and I can’t wait to see what more the island has to unveil.