Booze, booze, booze – lots of booze on the blog lately and this post is no exception (and the next post might not be either…). But how can I resist from imparting to you my latest shenanigans with those professional booze hounds, The Liquorists, when it was a night out like no other?
Limiting itself to just one brand this time, Belvedere Vodka, the spirit trail started at the gloriously upmarket Lowry Hotel; we sipped Belvedere Pure (their premium vodka) amongst sumptuously dressed guests as we watched the lights ripple on the Irwell below. We tasted the brand’s signature cocktail, The Zephyr, a mouth puckering contrast of sharp grapefruit mellowed out with sweet almond syrup and ate delicate cubes of softly wobbling passion fruit jelly.
On to The Liquorists’ now eponymous headquarters, 22 Redbank; this time to sip the red peppery, spicy notes of Belvedere Bloody Mary. Made by macerating each different ingredient into the spirit so the actual essences are included (only premium brands do this, most only use flavourings) – this little shot was a fiery explosion of heady flavours that left you glowing all over.
To match the Bloody Mary vodka, what did The Liquorists do (apparently contrary to the advice of the brand), they made a Bloody Mary with it. Pretty good as far as Bloody Mary’s go; but it should be as Jody (of The Liquorists) used to own a bar that only specialised in Bloody Marys. To accompany these fiery drinks we ate platters of olives and chorizo, the salty food pairing perfectly with the savoury drinks.
Next stop Kosmonaut to sample the Belvedere Citrus – the brand uses both orange and lemon in this maceration to create a more rounded drink with layers of refreshing, perfumed flavour – this was my favourite of all the flavoured vodkas we tasted. Kosmonaut’s cheeky food pairing surmounted to the very posh and heady heights of Mr Kipling lemon fingers – well he does make exceedingly good cakes; it was good to see that they had put more thought in to the cocktail, The Belvedere Traingle; basically a rhubarb and custard in a glass. Belvedere Citrus mixed with rhubarb liquor, grenadine, clementine juice and egg white – creamy, sweet, vanilla, childhood memories in a glass.
Penultimate stop on the trail and very suitable for this upmarket jaunt through this premium brand, was champagne bar Epernay. Unlike the Citrus Belvedere, the Pink Grapefruit maceration we drank here only uses pink grapefruit to create as true a likeness to the fruit as possible – Belvedere have certainly got it right; this vodka has that same heady, floral, sharp sweetness as the fruit itself.
Staff handed round tiny squares of Black Forest gateaux with pink grapefruit vodka cream for us to daintily nibble whilst sipping the Hemingway Royale they created with Moet champagne (of course), pink grapefruit Belvedere (well of course) and kir soaked cherries. Decadent, delightful and playfully light, this cocktail was my favourite of the lot (well, this lady does have expensive tastes…).
On to our final destination, we landed on the slopes at Ski Club, Manchester’s newest winter bar that’s popped up at Spinningfields, bringing the style and sophistication of the winter playgrounds of the rich and famous to Manchester’s…er…sodden streets. The last vodka was the Belvedere Unfiltered – a heady, musky, almost after-sex bedroom smell to the nose and a rich, heavy warmth in the mouth.
Unfortunately the cocktail and food pairing at Ski Club didn’t match up to the brand or the rest of the (as per usual) faultless tour – the Ski Club’s take on a mojito was far too dominated by rosemary and sugar, basically like licking a Sunday roast created by someone who’s over-Jamied a lamb joint by stuffing a whole rosemary plant up its jacksie. The cheese and meat platters were good (but it’s hard to fuck up food that you take out of packets), but the accompanying fondue was claggy – the pots they are using are warmed by three small tealights meaning the cheese is not at the right temperature (plus it could have done with some extra garlic if I’m being picky).
However by this time we were merry and warm so this little downer didn’t detract once again from an excellent, fun and fact filled night from The Liqourists. Raise your glass to many more!