Archive | September, 2011

A cocktail or two (or three, or four)

25 Sep

Unfortunately, summer is over (did it ever begin?) and we are heading towards that time of year where we tend to return to our animalistic instincts by hibernating away and counting down the days until spring returns once more.

For me, this means I spend more hours than is natural scouring the internet for winter ‘mini-breaks’ to see me through the dark months, imagining myself as Bridget Jones dashing off at the drop of a hat with Daniel Cleaver for a romantic getaway in a vintage soft-top sports car (the reality is slightly different given that I generally travel standard class on Great Western train from Paddington – booo!)

However, seeing as I’m not financially going to be able to visit all the lovely hotels I want to (one or two is already pushing the boat out) I decided last week that a more realistic approach would be to visit their bars instead to sample the cocktails on offer and pretend, even if just for an hour or two, that I would be sinking down into one of their Egyptian cotton, goose-down duvets afterwards.

The first hotel we visited was The Forbury, a Berkshire boutique hotel with a European-style ambience and its very own  restaurant and bar, the Cerise bar, which seemed to attract all those wanting be seen on a Saturday night in Reading. My boyfriend and I got settled at the end of the pewter bar, and watched as our bar man expertly rustled us up an Aperol Fizz (rhubarb liqueur and sparkling wine) and a Vesper (Tanqueray 10, vodka and Lillet Blanc, shaken, not stirred) which accompanied our people-watching session very well. My cocktail admittedly didn’t taste too much of rhubarb, and looked suspiciously like lucozade, but it went down quickly all the same.

Cocktails at The Forbury

The following Saturday, my friend came to stay so we decided to head for The Booking Office bar at the newly relaunched St Pancras Renaissance hotel, which can be accessed through the station concourse or through the impressive entrance on Euston Road:

If you’re anything like me, you’d probably normally associate King Cross with manic travellers all trying to leave of the capital before you can say “I’m a commuter, get me out of here”, but the area is currently undergoing a massive regeneration project with the first of its new offices, homes and bars due to open this autumn. The Booking Office is an impressive setting for a drink with tall, gothic ceilings, dark woods and cathedral-like opulence with a cocktail menu devised of drinks recreated from lost recipes from the Victoria era. The bar staff were friendly and attentive, particularly when we made them giggle by asking, rather alarmed, what a horse’s tail is (not the furry kind as we thought, but instead a large piece of lemon peel curled in a drink). My drink of choice was an Orchard Sour – elderflower liqueur, apple juice, fresh lime, sugar syrup and egg white, while my friend chose the cute-sounding Cosmopolitan Daisy – gin, curacao, lemon juice and raspberry syrup.

At £10 a pop, we were expecting big things and these drinks didn’t disappoint with my Orchard Sour slipping down like liquid velvet and my friend’s Cosmopolitan Daisy a perfect balance between sweet and sour. Maybe it was a combination of the setting, service and surprise-factor, but I’d definitely recommend a visit if you’re passing through St Pancras and Kings Cross this winter.

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Time for celebratory drinks!

10 Sep

What better way to start my new blog than with a celebratory bash? Now, as much as I’d like to pretend that this was an exlusive launch party, created solely for this momentous occassion in my life, the reality isn’t quite so self-indulgent or glitzy. Instead, the celebrations were for my younger brother’s 21st birthday party which required us to hire a variety of glasses from our local Morrisons, a place I admittedly don’t normally shop.

Awarded with the (perhaps undeserved) title of resident family wine expert, I was given the important job of selecting the wines to accompany my brother’s party, so, keen to try some new wines, I headed to the wine aisle in Morrisons to choose a couple of wines from their own-label ‘The Best’ range.

After a hard day of cleaning, tidying and prepping the house for a party, by 4pm (hmmm, ok, maybe 2pm), I felt I deserved a glass of chilled white and my wine of choice was Morrisons ‘The Best’  Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010. With classic aromas of gooseberries and nettles, this fresh, crisp wine was perfect for pre-party, post-cleaning sipping and at £7.99 was a good bargain too.

As the party swung into action, I later cracked open a bottle of Morrisons ‘The Best’ Gavi 2010. Although I’ve tasted better examples of this fruity Italian offering (Majestic’s Gavi di Gavi La Toledana is yummy), the wine went well with the light salad dishes on offer at the buffet and displayed notes of ripe pears and apples, balanced by a citrusy freshness. Definitely one to try if you’re normally a Pinot Grigio lover.