I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the UK to visit various cities as brands host themed evenings, master classes or even visits to distilleries themselves. But one event that I’ve been looking forward involved me travelling to a city that I’ve only been to as a child, so this counts as a relatively new experience, despite hearing so much about it within the trade.
The rum and bitters brand Angostura were my hosts as I made my way to Edinburgh yesterday to enjoy what I can only describe as a comedy night with plenty of rum. Not knowing what to expect, and of course doing my usual way of approaching these things with an open mind, my first port of call was the rather stunning building of The Assembly Rooms. This 230 year old structure has apparently played host to many an event including royal banquets and even readings from Charles Dickens. Last night though, they were the venue for a rather unique performance titled “The Thinking Drinker’s Guide to Alcohol”, created by the team aptly named Thinking Drinker’s, aka Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham.
With a background of being a triple-crowned winner of “British Beer Writer of the Year”, Ben brought to the show his unique understanding of the finer details of not only the history of alcohol, but also the production methods too. Tom has the impressive title of being a former editor of the well-known trade publication CLASS magazine, so able to combine his knowledge and experience of writing about many a brand to the sold out audience. Covering everything from Jesus Christ to Hemmingway, the Thinking Drinker’s played on the stereotypes of many a brand, whilst covering categories such as whisky, gin, rum and even absinthe. Of course, no drinks related show would be complete without samples to be enjoyed. Johnnie Walker Gold, Buffalo Trace, Angostura 1919, Tanqueray No.10 and Pernod were all on offer to run alongside the starter beer from the Czech Republic’s oldest brewery.
If you ever get the chance to check these guys out, I’d highly recommend, even if you’re in the trade. You’ll love some of the idea these guys have got when it comes to explaining the natures of alcohol. Just watch out for the samba!
After the show we headed to Timberyard restaurant, where we were to enjoy a four course meal with a list of Angostura based cocktails to enjoy and savour. A starter of iced pea, asparagus, mint and hyssop was a surprise, with the chilled peas going down well (and I’m not usually a lover of this either).
This was followed by lemon sole, langoustine, tomato, samphire, shallot, potato and sea plantain – beautifully presented and went down far too quickly. Beech smoked sirloin came next, complete with shallop, parsnip, beetroot, chickweed and wood sorrel. Cooked to perfection, but went cold a little too quickly for my liking. However, a clean plate was left and ready for our last course in chocolate pudding, Angostura ice cream, brown bread, oats, marshmallow and mint. A great final course to enjoy, to the point of some of us shared a second! The cocktails were well done too, with myself opting for a Woods – Angostura 3yr, Licor 43, Aperol, apple and juniper. A great venue to enjoy, with the food and drink pitching the standards I’ve heard so much about in Edinburgh.
Our last place to visit came in the form of one of Edinburgh’s more well-known haunts, Voodoo Rooms. The award-winning bar showcased a back-bar with delights to suit all, including Angostura Old Fashioned’s, Caorunn Negroni’s and my cocktail menu choice of Elixir of Life – Flor de Cana 7yr, Benedictine, almond and a shot of espresso with a peat whisky rinse for the glass. The bar’s reputation in my eyes was set pretty high as Voodoo Rooms are a name that pop up in some way or form whenever a cocktail competition is in the area, and they smashed it with their service and drink creativity.
Although a whistle-stop tour of Edinburgh, a thoroughly enjoyable time has been had. I’ve met new colleagues, visited some great venues that I would highly recommend, and of course, the whole idea of the trip in the first place, drank Angostura rum alongside plenty of laughs.
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