Drinking (and grabbing a bite or two) in El Born, Barcelona.

Oct 18, 14 Drinking (and grabbing a bite or two) in El Born, Barcelona.

Posted by in All, Food and Wine, Spain

I’m currently hanging out in Barcelona and getting to know the city. It’s not only a cheap holiday destination but a gorgeous city to wander around. As a wine blogger, I’m always interested in finding good wine shops. Barcelona has some really great wine bars and shops to explore. Of course, Barcelona has also jumped on the natural wine bandwagon and there are a few bars, especially in the Born neighbourhood that cater to the natural wine enthusiasts. I stumbled across two of them one night, L’anima del Vi and El Soplo. I recognized a fair amount of wines from France and Italy as well as some Spanish wines lining the walls of both venues. L’anima del Vi is bigger then El Soplo, having a good sized seating area with tables for drinking the night away. El Soplo is more of a hole in the wall but very atmospheric. L’Anima del Vi has a small tapas type menus to soak up the vino and El Soplo serves free tapas with all the wines they serve. The prices were average for a natural wine bar but more expensive then your typical tapas and vino bar in Barcelona. Both were within a stone’s throw of the Santa Margarita del Mar church which is located in the middle of the Born and dates from the 14th century. The Born along with the Barrio Gotic forms the oldest part of the city and it’s easy to wander the warren of alleyways, stumbling across cute boutiques, restaurants and wine bars.  The Picasso Museum is also in the Born and just around the corner from Santa Maria del Mar church. Another must visit while in the Born neighbourhood is Vila Viniteca. A good sized wineshop, they specialize in wines from all over the world and have extremely knowledgeable staff (one of the requirements to work there is that you must have sommelier qualifications). Don’t worry if you don’t speak Spanish, the staff there are multi-lingual and are more then happy...

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Lashings of Rum at the Worship St. Whistling Shop

Aug 27, 11 Lashings of Rum at the Worship St. Whistling Shop

Posted by in Spirits

The History of Rum. Could be interesting in the right hands. At the Worship St Whistling Shop bar it was one of the most fun and informative evenings I’ve had out drinking in quite awhile. And that’s saying something. Tristan Stephenson was our genial host/narrator and led us through the dark Victorian style bar to The Emporium, a small room in the back of the bar to begin our rum experience. Once seated on benches around 3 sides of a table, the lights darkened and the show began. I’m not going to give too much away but the show encompasses a sight, sound, smell, taste and audio tour through the highlights of rum, from Colonial America to Havana and beyond. The bar bills it as a “fairground ride of cocktail imbibation” (I’m pretty sure they made that last word up) and that sums it up quite neatly. There were plenty of surprises and Tristan has teamed up with Heston Blumenthal’s Experimental Kitchen to come up with some surprising food combinations and textures to go along with our rum libations. The History of Rum is the first of these cocktail experiences and will be running for the next three months. They’re busy planning the next experience, although Tristan wouldn’t tell us what it is just yet. Ideal for a night out with friends, the bar is currently only taking bookings for groups of 5-8 but are considering opening up the show to couples bookings. I wouldn’t worry if you don’t know the other couples when you start the evening, by the end, you’ll all be good friends over the generous and numerous cocktails poured throughout the two hour show. For more information and to make a reservation, check the website: Worship Street Whistling Shop, The Emporium. Fantastically fun night out and I even learned a thing or two about rum. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Cocktails at The Connaught

The Connaught Hotel has an eponymous bar tucked in back of the lobby which is a hidden gem. Sure, you might get sucked into the lush Coburg Bar which fronts the building but if you walk straight in through the revolving doors, past the lobby desk and make a left when you hit a dead end, you’ll be walking into a locals only kind of place, where you have to be in the know to find this watering hole. Silver walls and alligator coloured Art Deco inspired chairs and tables and marbled floors give the Connaught bar a cool vibe while still retaining a veneer of Jazz Era glamour. I can just imagine strolling in and ordering a perfect Manhattan. Which is what I did one afternoon when I was invited for drinks at the Connaught. Oh,the perfect Manhattan. Although I’m The Winesleuth, I do like bourbon and this American expat is always looking for the perfect Manhattan in London. I don’t know why but it is difficult to get a properly made one in London, although I have noticed that I am having to send them back fewer and fewer times nowadays. The Connaught passed the Manhattan test with flying colours. Made with Maker’s Mark, as requested, and even though there were no maraschino cherries, (they did have their own specially infused cherries) it was served on the rocks the first time around, or rather, one big rock. Yes, I encountered that big ball of ice again. This time it was explained to me that the round ball of ice actually melts very slowly and thus you get a cold drink without it being watered down, ah-ha! I also tried another American classic, the Mint Julep. Heaps of shaved ice, fresh mint and a mini strainer in the drink to sieve the bourbon as I sipped. Very well done but a touch too sweet after the Manhattan. I should have started with the Mint Julep and then gone on to a Manhattan. Live...

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KetelOne Bloody Mary Trail

Ketel One Citroen and Square Meal set the month of May as the month to find the best bloody mary in London. I got a little cheque book in the mail which entitled me to two free bloody mary’s at 10 bars around Shoreditch/Old Street. The criteria was pretty easy, rate them on  the cocktail and also on the experience. I’ve never really thought much of bloody mary’s, somebody asked me if it wasn’t a drink you had after the night before. Which is pretty much what I always thought but I was game. My willing volunteer, Eatlikeagirl, tagged along for some of my bloody mary adventure. 3 of the bars didn’t even try! I mean come on, pouring a tomatoey conconction over ice and throwing in a slug of vodka is not going to get you the crown of best bloody mary. Special odious condemnation goes to The Chill Bar in Brick Lane. Sticky concrete floors, dank smell of spilled beer, bright lights and bored staff did not make for a welcoming experience. And terrible bloody marys, full of pepper pieces, it’s only saving “grace”, it was strong. Let’s put that horrible experience behind us and get on to my top 3. Many of the bars also served a little snack to go along with drink and some but not all my faves served food with it. Spot number 3 goes to Pinchito Tapas near Old St. What I liked about their ‘mary was they kept true to their Spanish roots and added a shot of sherry along with the more exotic tapa of pineapple blue cheese jelly served alongside it. Talk about an umami explosion! Whew! That was some good stuff.Cool venue, too. No. 2 goes to the Rivington Grill. A light and tasty concoction, full of horseradish but a good citrus balance. It was surprisingly light bodied but still packed a punch. Extra points for actually serving it with a stalk of celery. And a great big slab of welsh rarebit....

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