Is it cocktail time?

Not those syrupy confections that contain a bowl of fruit salad, nor the type that strip teeth enamel. And especially not the ones with naughty names. No, hand me a simple, classic whiskey sour and I’m happy.

After a recent tour of Amsterdam’s convivial brown bars, I popped into an extremely cool cocktail bar by way of a contrast. Hiding in Plain Sight has been named one of the world’s best bars and is famed for its talented drink ‘mixologists’.

After a rather girlie Tiny Bubbles rum and champagne-based cocktail, I felt compelled to try an intensely macho Pickleback – a bourbon whiskey with a down-in-one kosher pickle juice chaser. An acquired taste perhaps?

Highlight of the evening was seeing my wife presented with a Walking Dead, a giddy mix of three different rums served in a giant glass skull – and then set on fire. She loved it (despite the singed eyebrows).

Back home, cocktails are making a real comeback. Joe Lavin, general manager at the Castle Hotel in Conwy, tells me: “They bring back some drama into going out. With the price of normal drinks so high it makes what used to be an expensive indulgence a credible alternative with a bit of glamour.”

The Castle’s top sellers are the classic Mojito and Cosmopolitan, priced at an affordable £5.50 and £6.50 respectively.
The Abbey Hotel in Bath is another which boasts an extensive cocktail menu, devised by its ArtBar manager Andrew Fisher. 

In addition to the most popular mixes, Andrew encourages guests to try his Corpse Reviver No. 2. Dating back to the 1930s, it comprises Lillet Blanc and Cointreau shaken with fresh lemon juice and Tanqueray with a hint of Absinthe. The Abbey’s most popular cocktail is White Cow, based on the ‘on trend’ Black Cow Vodka.

Imbibers who seek something sweeter and a tad tropical should whizz up to Windermere where Linthwaite House offers its signature cocktail, the Linthwaite Sweet Kingdom. This consists of 50ml Havana Rum, dash each of Archers and Triple Sec, 25ml pineapple juice and juice of half a lime.

Also in the Lake District, Lakeside Hotel is celebrating the Sochi Winter Olympics with two appropriate concoctions – an old favourite, the Advocaat-based Snowball, and the Olympic. The latter sounds good to me. Served in a half-pint glass, it contains 25ml Courvoisier cognac, 25ml Triple Sec and ice, topped-up with orange juice and an orange slice.
Finally, there’s good news for cocktail aficionados in Suffolk. The trendy Wingspan Bar at the Angel Hotel, Bury St Edmunds, features familiar names from Martinis to Mojitos – and is offering two for the price of one during an Hour of Happiness (5.30 – 6.30pm) Monday to Thursday.

Cheers – I’ll drink to that!
« View all blog articles.