Bar Hopping (Part II)

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The SWE was such a great start to the day, but after we got a taste for it there was only one thing left to do and that was to continue on a bar adventure, not before stopping off at the friendliest chippy in Edinburgh! I actually remember thinking that if I was holidaying in Edinburgh, this would be perfect day out.

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So out of the people-filled very busy Royal Mile in Edinburgh’s Old Town, and across the Bridge to New town. First on our stop was Twenty Princes Street hotel and Juniper Bar. Thanks to efficient industry networking (which basically means getting drunk and adding people on Facebook), I’ve been kept up to date with Juniper’s recent refurbishment. As well as the refurb, Juniper also introduced a new cocktail menu. Unfortunately I missed the launch night, and after having these drinks, I’m pretty mad about that. The two above were great choices. I went with the Elephant Juice, an Opihr Gin based cocktail, really smooth and fresh and perfect for a hot day, and I love the ‘pour-your-own’ bottle serve. (Side Note: I’ve actually made a bottle serve cocktail, but I can’t find the notes so when I finally do I’ll be sure to post on Instagram @ryanscompanion). The cocktail pictured in the back was light and fresh as well made with elderflower gin and topped with a mouthwatering apple foam. Simply called The Juniper. If you ever do make it to Juniper you need to beg, borrow and steal your way to a window seat. Its one of my favourite windows in the city, I mean, look!

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Venturing onto George Street we headed to Tiger Lily, here Mateo, the cocktail guru made us up some fantastic drinks. We didn’t look at the menu for these drinks so I’m not sure if these were made up or not, but they look unreal. I mean, LOOK!IMG_0342

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Out the the mix of drinks we got I think that my favourite had to be the sour (orange twist garnish) or the Jack Daniels cocktail (The pinky-red with mint garnish).

IMG_0385Unfortunately that was the end of the photos, however we did move on to a few more place. We headed to Candy Bar and Kitchen which is just a few doors down, and one of the coolest basement bars in Edinburgh. A fun chilled environment thats got some of the best deals on George street. I recommend their fondu (chocolate or cheese) or cocktails with pink sugar rims! I had to head home to Opal [Lounge] for some of my own cocktails. The Cherry Stag, Back in early 2014 I was hooked on the Mint Julep and I wanted to try a twist on it. Made with 37.5ml Jim Bean Red Stag, 12.5ml Disaronno, 12.5ml Lemon Juice, 12.5ml Sugar Syrup. Rolled with fresh mint (a sprig or two). Served in a cocktail glass with silver leaf on one side. I have the silver leaf to pay homage to the outer cup that the Mint Julep is typically served in. I mean, LO… you get the idea.

Specs

Inspire by that apple foam in Juniper, and whisky in general I came up with a the following:

IMG_0407Apples and Oranges

25ml Macallan Gold

12.5ml Cointreau

25ml Lemon Juice

12.5ml Sugar Syrup

Shaken with muddled green apple and orange twists.

Double strained into a chilled cocktail glass. I went for Macallan as it has apple tasting notes, it made sense to me… I mean, LOOK AT IT!

Bar Hopping (Part I)

This past weekend I had a friend from home visit, she has visited before but we usually just stuck to the night club scene and neglected being tourists – something that I haven’t done much of in the past three years either! The shame! But, we took advantage of the rare few days of warm sunny weather in Scotland and investigated some of the cities cocktail gems. This post might be a bit touristy for some, so I will try to separate out the drinks related bits from the rest, but I wanted to include them as I had fun with this piece.

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Working in the industry I have made a some contacts and been invited to a few places, the first of which was the Scotch Whisky Experience. Situated on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, right beside the iconic Edinburgh Castle, this was an excellent start to the day. We were greeted by Emma who took us on a private tour of the function rooms of the Scotch Whisky Experience. These have been recently revamped and they look beautiful. Perfect for any wedding or party, the main function room with the real burning fire and the pull out bar was a real treat for the eye!

 IMG_0322We started the tour on a ‘rollercoaster’ of a ride (Just being slightly sarcastic here). As the tour is set in a building which isn’t a distillery this ride gives the tour group an brief but informative overview on the whisky making process in Scotland. I’m not being sarcastic now, but it is a fun way to start the tour. Next the tour is lead into the tasting room, probably my favourite room, however before you get here you get to touch some butts! I know, it was a terrible dad joke, but how could I resist?! The butt is actually part of the  barrel. In the tasting room is where you learn about the five Scotch Whisky regions (although note that SWE will only focus on four, leaving out Campbeltown). You learn the general flavour profile is of each and you are given a nifty interactive scratch-and-sniff card. After learning a bit IMG_0324more and having a smell you get to place your glass on the matching colour. Who would say no to a freebie?

The final part of the tour features the “worlds largest privately owed collection of Scotch Whisky”, and one word, impressed! Just seeing something of this stature was mind blowing, and there are some great finds in the collection. I will have to go back and see what I missed but I have included some of my favourites. Oh! And incase anyone was wondering, this collection was built by Claive Vidiz, I have a new hero I think.

The Whisky’s

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The One That Went to London, Paris, and Milan

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The One That the Angels Got Their Share Of

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The Grandfather

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The One That Was His Favourite

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The One Where “You Will Never Take Our Freedom”

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The One That Flashed

Part Two of the weekend includes the rest of the bar hoping where we went and visited a few of the better know cocktail bars in Edinburgh.

October Favourites

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This month was easy to write about. October is one of my favourite months, the nights are getting colder and longer. Perfect for some of those spicy flavours to come back out to play. This month I have a few flavours to play around with, the ones that I have used this month aren’t so intense that you are fooled into thinking its Christmas time, they are still fresh and light.

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First I went with Santa Teresa Rhum Orange. I done a training session with them a while back so some of the info is coming from that. Part of Santa Teresa (Shock), it is a Venezuelan rum liqueur. The Rhum Orange is also made from Venezuelan oranges, Santa Teresa not only produce their own rum from their own farms, but they also farm their own oranges for this spirit – you know you are at least going to get some consistency with the product. (Santa Teresa also farms its own coffee, just thought I would through that in their.) Venezuela is also very close to the equator and so, it has an almost constant temperature, highs of between 30ºC and 33ºC year round. This constant temperature means that the rum is going to be aged constantly. Unlike in places such as Scotland where the temperature changes all the time, cause the barrel to swell and constrict, causing an uneven ageing process (Not saying thats a bad thing, it works insanely well for whisky). What I like about it though is the smell! Really orangey, but unlike Triple Secs or other orange liqueurs its not sickly sweet. I also find that you get those rum notes through, which makes it very easy to work into drinks.

I used this in my last post with the Pumpkin Spiced Lantern. Which also leads onto my next favourite flavour, cinnamon. In the Pumpkin Spiced Lantern I paired it with Goldschlager, a cinnamon schnapps. This can be strong flavour so I didn’t add too much. I found that that little kick of spice was enough to warm up the drink just enough to reflect the season. Maybe in the next few months I up the cinnamon to really spice up drinks and make them supper Christmassy! Also if you have a cinnamon stick lying around then add it to a Żubrówka and apple, its the new way to serve.

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Finally, and on more of a somber note, my last favourite this month is Belvedere Black Raspberry. I say somber because Belvedere has actually decided to discontinue the product. This has an intense berry smell and one that carries through even when its mixed. And I know there are lots of berry vodka drinks out there and some of them smell really good as well, but what I found is that Belvedere Black Raspberry follows the sweet smell with a smooth finish, what you would expect from a smooth vodka though. It baffles me why they have stopped producing it, but afraid to let go we have actually ordered more than enough to keep us going for a while! We actually have a cocktail that primarily uses the Black Raspberry – the Berricino, this is a vodka and berry drink with a subtle hint of coffee, fresh but warmed up a little with the coffee. Made by our bar supervisor, Amelia Mann, I will be sad to see this one leave the menu.

The Specs

Berricino

1 ½ shots of Belvedere Black Raspberry

½ shot of Chambord

10ml Kahlúa

2 shots of Cranberry Juice

5 Raspberries

Shaken over ice and double strained into a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnished with 3 Raspberries

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Pumpkins!

 

And I, Jack, the Pumpkin King…

-A quote from The Nightmare Before Christmas

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 So a few months back I did write that the pineapple was the king of the fruits, well if you know me at all you know I will backtrack all the time, but this time I am not so much backtracking I just feel that other fruits flourish around this time of year – namely the pumpkin. Step outside your door and they are everywhere, from whole pumpkins for carving in the supermarket, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie (more for my North American friends, rather than us this side of the pond), and most notable and a favourite of mine, Starbucks have had their Pumpkin Spiced Latte campaign running. I felt it was only right to jump on the band wagon here…

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So I bring you the Pumpkin Spiced Lantern… This is ideal for Halloween parties, but also as Canadian thanksgiving has just past and American thanksgiving coming up, this drink will take you right through the harvest season.

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Specs

Pumpkin Spiced Lantern

25ml Santa Teresa Rhum Orange
12.5ml Tuaca
12.5ml Goldschläger
1 Bar Spoon of Canned Pumpkin
10ml Sugar Syrup
50ml Milk

This is all shaken together over ice and then double strain into an ice filled jam jar. I choose this to be served in the jar as I wanted this to look almost like a lantern. Before the ice is added to the jar however you will need to pick up so icing pens. I used these to draw the pumpkin face on the inside of the glass. The reason it is on this inside is to stop your hands from getting messy when all you want to do is enjoy your cocktail. I had more than a few practice runs with my face drawing skills and the top tip I can now give you is to firstly draw your shapes on the outside of the glass in white board/ dry erase marker and then trace over these with the icing. Finally garnish with a cinnamon stick and a couple of think orange twists. The outcome – something straight from Pinterest!

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I have also though of other ways in which to improve this drink, well more different options. For an actual Halloween party try adding a drop of orange food colouring in to make a really vibrant pumpkin colour to suit. If you aren’t too keen on pumpkin flavoured drinks, opt for some vanilla notes instead of the Rhum Orange and leave out the pumpkin, on your jar this time draw on a ghost face? Or go crazy and intricate details for Frankensteins face, go for apple or melon flavours and add green food colouring. As a general note, if you prefer something richer go for half milk half double cream.

Instagram some of your creations with the hashtag #PumpkinSpiceLantern!

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Photos thanks to Gareth Edge Photography

September Favourites

I think a bit of background is needed first for this post.

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Well I think an apology is needed first for promising a post for too long – number one way not to get followers!!

This post is based n the you tubers ‘favourites’ videos. If you don’t know this is when you tubers will show you their monthly obsessions. For example it can be DVDs, beauty products or even clothes. I want to do a spin on this with bar products. I hope to do this every month. As I feel like it does change quiet a bit what I work on depending on the time of year etc. But anyway, for this month I give you my September Favourites.

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The first thing that I have been obsessed with is the Fee Brothers Orange Bitters. I think the first thing that I do with any bar product is that I smell it as soon as it arrives. I have done this for years and in every bar I have ever worked in. This smells (to me) a little bit like the sweets Parma Violets. Weird that it’s orange no? Those of you outside of the UK probably have no clue what I mean. But please trust me ParmaViolets are good!! Next reading the bottle it states that the flavour mostly comes from oranges of West India. Well done West India on your delicious oranges! I’m not sure if it’s that particular type of orange or the production method but as the scent suggests, this bitters definitely has a sweet tasting note. It’s not all bitter. I also found that it can be over powering in some cocktails and it did take me some time to get it right in some cocktails.

I  have found that a couple of dashes of this in a Manhattan is a great addition, especially with an orange twist for the garnish. I have also included this in a whiskey cocktail that I was working on recently – definitely one to try, I’m calling it the ‘where’s my bacon’. In Edinburgh we have just hosted the Ryder cup. As so our bars have been filled with Americans, on Sunday I had a group of gents in who asked me to do a shot with them. They called it ‘the breakfast shot’ a shot of Jameson’s and Butterscotch schnapps served with a chaser shot of orange juice. Ridiculously simple and extremely tasty!  I wanted to turn this into a cocktail, and with the addition of some Orange Bitters and brown sugar we have the Wheres My Bacon. I don’t have a garnish for it yet but I think a piece of crispy bacon or bac-o-bits (for a vegan option) as a rim would really bring of the taste of pancakes and maple syrup. Recipe below.

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image-2The next favourite that I have this month is Bruichladdich, The Classic Laddie (pronounced Brooke-Laddie). This as the bottle says is an Unpeated Islay Single Malt Scotch Whiskey and tastes sublime. Made from Scottish barley grown on Islay and made by the sea, this is an undeniable Islay Whisky. Who needs the peat? Its fresh and almost salty. I think what I love most about Bruichladdich though is that it is the largest employing distillery on the island (and I think the spokeswoman said in Scotland, but I’ve lost my notes to confidently write that), with more people and less machines. The machines that they do use are also mostly original (just with repairs). Pretty incredible if you ask me. Another thing that I love about this brand is the bottle itself. That striking blue colour and the bold white text. The bottle alone brings whisky right into the hands of the new generation. The blue is said to be the colour of the sea if you fly over Islay on a good summer day.

 

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This also leads into my next favourite thing. Although its not really a favourite thing and more of a tip. Recently I have been going on a lot of tasting session as part of the ongoing training programme that my company employs, and works excellent for whisky tasting. Only recently have I myself became a true whisky lover – well I’m getting there at least, I’m still not a fan of peated whisky. I think its one of those things that can only really be appreciate with age – a lot like vegetables. When I was a kid / young teen (maybe even until I was 20?!) I hated most veg and wouldn’t even have them on my plate. Now as time has went on I cant image a meal without veg, I even sometimes have only veg as part of my meal! Shocking! Relating this back to whisky when I first started on the bar I hated even the smell of whisky, I like most that age stuck to sweet tasting liqueurs and vodka which I could easily mask the taste of, but as time went on I started to tolerate the taste of whisky (First the standard classic Jack Daniels with a lot of Diet Coke). And then as I really took the bar trade serious and spent more time looking at tasting notes for cocktails I have grown really fond of whisky, and with that came the best tool ever for tasting and appreciating whisky. Once poured, take a little mouthful but keep it in your mouth and swirl it round like mouthwash. coat the entire mouth. This taste wont be entirely pleasant probably and like me you might initially feel a burning sensation. But keep with it, either spit or swallow this first taste and then go in for a second. This time it will be much smoother and less of a shock to the taste buds so you will appreciate all of those notes. This technique can be used across all tastings, and you have probably already seen it in wine tastings.

Well thats all I have for this post. If you have liked this and would like to see more of this type of thing then please share it, pass it round your friends. If there is anything that you would like me to share my thoughts on, or do you have a favourite thing that you want me to work on then please comment below and let me know and I will definitely give it a go.

Also I feel like I need a signature for these posts. How about ‘Turn Up’, you know, to keep it real!?

Ryan

Specs

Where’s My Bacon

25ml Jameson’s Irish Whiskey

25ml Teichenné Butterscotch Schnapps

25ml Orange Juice (smooth)

2 Dashes Fee Brothers West India Orange Bitters

1 Bar spoon Soft Brown Sugar

Shaken with ice and double strained into a chilled cocktail glass. There are three options for garnishes in this one; BacO’s around the rim of the glass, one crispy bit of bacon served on the side of the glass, or as i have opted – nothing.

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Fun Friday

Wow, new blog, and its not about cocktails! (still getting drunk though)

So its Friday night, the first Friday night that I have had off in a very long time. But this isn’t just a holiday, this time off is supposed to me getting ready to take to time to get my life packed away into boxes and suitcases as I move out in 12 days. But guess what? I still don’t know where I am going #homelessness. Ah well its all part of the adventure, its scary how unstressed I am!

It also doesn’t help that in my personal life I am extremely bad at procrastinating. About three hours ago I got a major burst of energy and decided, YEAH I’m going to pack up all the shit I’m not going to need for the next few weeks. Everything that I don’t need its at the back of everything, underneath and tucked away. So I pulled out all of my belongings. Then its happened… I started to find all the crap that I find too sentimental to throw away, like my four year old phone. naturally that meant to go through all my old photos and texts (cringe). Next I sat on the bed and went on the internet and things just stopped completely.

After about an hour or so I thought that I at least need to clear something so I can safely get in and out, I mean what if there is a fire? And I was watching some YouTubers and I love that they make games out of things so I though I could make make a game out of this… Its the drink a shot as an award of doing something productive game. Let me explain:

The Game

Fold some clothes to be put in a suit case

TAKE A SHOT

Gather up some books and paperwork to be boxed

TAKE A SHOT

TAKE A SHOT

So now I’m a little bit inebriated and everything has stopped, Im back on the internet and my clothes are everywhere, but I’m passed the point of caring 😀

Moral of the story;

TAKE A SHOT!

Specs

Moving shots:
2 shots Grey Goose
1 shot Disaronno
1 Shot Elderflower Gin
1 Beer
2 shots tequila

(pretty much anything that you have lying around that hasn’t been drunk in a while)

So what ever you are doing. Enjoy your Friday!

An actual cocktail post will be up soon, I promise.

Pineapples!

Recently I’ve read a lot about cliche ingredients lately and how they are making a come back. Such a strawberries and pineapples. I think everyone was caught up in the hipster age of bar tending to remember how great the tiki cocktails were.

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What do I mean by the hipster age? Well it seems that nowadays its not a cocktail unless there is an ingredient such as grapefruit that was cross pollenated with a rose and infused for 24 hours in a crystal vat with saffron. And whats worse is that everyone is doing it! Even pubs are making their own simple syrup!

That probably sounds like a complaint – its not. I’m very fond of my hipster cocktail hangouts and speakeasies. I’ve not long finished infusing Moroccan Mint Tea with bourbon.

But I seen this come up and thought Hell Yeah!!! – Mixology Monday LXXXVI Announcement: Pineapple

I must admit that my entry is a bit of a cheat, its a variation on another cocktail that I already made, and that one is a variation on the famous French Martini. You know the one; vodka, Chambord, and pineapple juice. A few months back we had an extravagant booking for a 21st were an student of the University of Edinburgh booked one of our VIP rooms for her and 15 of her friends. One of the booking requirements was that she wanted her very own cocktail. She sent me over a list of drinks and flavours that she liked that included mint, mojitos and martinis. So I came up with the Bajan Martini [Can he call it a martini if there is no vodka/ gin in it? – Well I did haha]. For that I used a rum from Barbados and a mint liqueur from the same place, and simply shook it all together the same way the French Martini is served.

My other influence came from the World Cup. Everyone has gone Brazilian – even M&M’s! As well as that there are a lot of bars doing cocktails/ shots for each country. Well … I joined in the craze. Thanks to tiki cocktails we all know that rum goes really well with pineapple juice, so whats an obvious Brazilian spirit to use? Cachaca! The next step was a quick search into what fruits come from Brazil, and lots came up, like everything! I went with banana, and found a great liqueur that was just calling out to me, Giffards’ Banane Du Bresil. The first cachaca that I used was the standard Leblon, by no means am I a cachaca connoisseur but it wasn’t nice on the pallet [using the proper terms!]. Next move was an aged cachaca  – Sagatiba Esplêndida. Instantly better, and yes its just a cheesy cocktail but its a great tasting, fruity, guilty pressure, one for the ladies.

Long live the king of the fruits!

Specs

French Martini

25ml Stolichnaya Vodka

25ml Chambord

50ml Pineapple Juice

Shake over ice and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Three raspberries to garnish.

*This is a classic that has probably been slightly doctored in every other bar, this is just the specs that I use.

Bajan Martini

25ml Mount Gay Rum

25ml Velvet Falernum

50ml Pineapple Juice

Same as above, but mint leaves to garnish

Amazonia’s Crown

Mixology Monday Entry!

25ml Sagatiba Esplêndida

25ml Giffards’ Banane Du Bresil

50ml Pineapple

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No garnish, shake over ice and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Legend has it that long ago in Brazil there lived a beautiful princess in the rainforest kingdom. Her name was Amazonia. Before she was to become queen she was to be married, and she sent forth a note throughout the land. It read “the one that can capture the essence of the forest best can have my heart”. Many men tried; some tried bottling the sticky sweet smell of the forest, some tamed the wild beasts of the forest, but it was Prince Janeiro who won her heart. He created a drink the colour of the sun, made from the pineapples from the south, the bananas from the trees and the finest cachaca from the sugar plants. She said it was like there was a festival in her mouth …

…this is not not made up!

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Bartending Notes

Mixology Monday

mxmologo