Cocktails in Chiswick

Sep 17, 11 Cocktails in Chiswick

Posted by in Italy, Lifestyle, restaurants, Spirits

London recently had a week dedicated to cocktails and who doesn’t like a well mixed cocktail? I’ve visited a few cocktail bars in London and the best seem to be located centrally but if you’re one of the lucky ones who live in or near Chiswick, you’ve got a gem of a cocktail bar/restaurant on your doorstep. Charlotte’s Bistro (little sister to Charlotte’s Place in Ealing) of Chiswick with it’s dark wood and modern glass and steel frontage just looks like a great place to order a martini or two. To get to the restaurant you have to pass through the small bar up front but everyone is so friendly on entering that it’s hard not to stop and have a drink before carrying on up the stairs to the dining room. Laura Marnich (ex-Sketch) is the Head Bartender and she works closely with the Head Chef to come up with unique cocktails. Why would the  Bar work with the kitchen? Because Laura likes to create with cocktails with a twist: Fennel & bergamot martinis, Peach & Basil KT Blossom martini and Cherry Meringue sour  with frothed egg whites, just some of the concoctions the bar and kitchen have come up with over the past year. I tried all of them and they all surprised me. I must say, I was a bit sceptical about fennel and bergamot but the combination was intoxicating (figuratively and literally). As a matter of fact, I think I drank most of my companions – ooops! Laura also does traditional cocktails and the Manhattan she whipped up passed my very strict Manhattan taste test despite the fact it was served straight up at first, they even had their own marinated cherries. Laura likes to change the menu seasonally, working with whatever fresh ingredients are available. Currently they are just finishing up summer and I can’t wait to see what she devises for Autumn. Prices? Well, unlike Central London, prices here are run between £7.50 and £9.50 and you definitely...

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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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Forbidden Fruit (liqueur that is) at The Dorchester

Aug 23, 11 Forbidden Fruit (liqueur that is) at The Dorchester

Posted by in Hotels and Spas, Spirits

Although my remit is wine, I do like a good cocktail, my favourite being a perfect Manhattan on the rocks. I don’t however, restrict myself to Manhattan’s, which is how I found myself at The Bar at The Dorchester with the very charming and legendary Bar Manager, Giuliano Morandin explaining to me how he recreated the lost recipe for Forbidden Fruit liqueur. The Forbidden Fruit liqueur was first invented in the early 1900’s and was hugely popular in the US, of all places, until Prohibition came round and that was the end of that.  The original recipe disappeared in the 1950’s and no one has been able to replicate it since. The Dorchester of London cocktail  made with Forbidden Fruit was originally created by Henry Craddock and is even included in an old drinks recipe book but after the 1950’s, with the liqueur lost, it was impossible to make. Until Giuliano heard about it. He wanted  a special cocktail to mark the 80th anniversary of the Dorchester and thought recreating a “lost classic” would be perfect. He was fortunate to find a bottle of the original Forbidden Fruit at a private sale in the States and brought it back to London. He then  took it upon himself to recreate the liquor and, after 7 months of experimenting, was finally satisfied with the result. I really wonder what that forbidden fruit is or was. The liquor itself smelled like honey but tasted like a licorice grapefruit, very interesting indeed. It had a hell of a kick to it! I got to try the original Forbidden Fruit which was full of maple syrup flavours, much less honey but still very sweet. I can see why Giuliano tweaked the recipe as I think modern drinkers probably wouldn’t appreciate it as much. The resulting cocktail is quite simple once you have the liquor, just add Bacardi rum and gin, shake over ice and then serve straight up.  All the cocktails at The Bar are served straight up unless...

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Talisker and the first Sail-in Cinema in the world

Aug 15, 11 Talisker and the first Sail-in Cinema in the world

Posted by in Spirits

Standing by the sea with a glass of Talisker 18 year old in hand, the faint taste of seaweed rolled around my mouth and it was difficult  to tell where it ended, the salty seaweed tang of the sea air seemed to swirl around my glass both inside and out. We were standing by the quayside in Cowes with Talisker Brand Ambassador Colin Dunn who wanted us to experience the true taste of Talisker, which comes from the Isle of Skye and is “made by the sea”, as they say. As an added bonus, we had fresh, locally caught fish & chips from the nearby chippy. Why is it that fish & chips always tastes best by the sea? Talisker was sponsoring the first ever “sail-in Cinema” and to show off a bit, had arranged a small tasting of Talisker’s range. My favourite was the cask strength 57 North so named because the alcohol level is 57.1% alcohol. It’s a new release from Talisker and is aged in barrels that are heavily charred and 8 – 14 years old. As Colin said, “…it’s pure Nirvana – smells like teen spirit  and tastes like it, too.” Creamy and sweet, notes of brulee, vanilla and then a peppery kick to finish, which is the signature of Talisker. Add a drop or two of water and it’s some smoooooooth sailin’. Finishing off the fish and chips and we headed off to the boat where we would be watching Master and Commander on the big screen. A gigantic screen had been set up on the esplande of Cowes facing the sea so that boaters could sail up, drop anchor and enjoy the movie. Talisker even thoughtfully provided radio earphones so that every one could individually hear the movie. It was a lot of fun to be floating off the coast of the Isle of Wight, munching popcorn and the special Talisker cocktails that were whipped up for us to enjoy with the movie. It did get a bit...

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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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