I thought i’d mention to you all that i swung by my local JD Wetherspoons The JP Joules today and purchased myself a pint of Adnams Gunhill (4%) by Adnams Brewery, one of their many guest ales. for £1.60! If any of you are member of CAMRA – Campaign for Real Ale, then you too will know that you receive vouchers for 50p off any of the ales that your nearest JD Wetherspoons offers. 50p may not sound a lot but i can say that my last 4 or 5 visits have resulted in me buying more pints of ale than any other drink! The one i tried today was as mentioned the Adnams Gunhill. A dark ruby malt brown colour with a smooth n slightly fruity flavour with a sweet after-taste meant this pint went down very well! At the weekend i had myself a Morland Old Speckled Hen and in the past i remember having a pint of Cotswold Spring Codrington Codger and a fruity Arundel Summer Daze.
I’ve started getting myself into ales again – there’s a lot more variety than lager and goes well with food more if you’re having a meal. I sold the award-winning Old Tom by the Robinsons brewery in my last place of work and have been hooked on it ever since! They do an original (8.5%), chocolate (6%) and ginger (6%), with all three a popular seller with the Knutsford people! This year i have also supported CAMRA by attending the Real Ale Festival at Manchester Museum of Science and Industry as well as the fancyabeermate.com Sale Ale Festival and Le Trappiste Royal Ale Festival. These festivals are great to try a variety of local and micro breweries that you wouldn’t necessarily see in your local pub. I’ve a fond memory of ale stew at Le Trappiste too which was very tasty!
If you fancy supporting CAMRA in their effort to introduce ale to a wider audience – join them on there website – http://www.camra.org.uk/
Le Trappiste Belgian Cafe Bar – http://www.letrappiste.com/ also have there 3rd annual Altrincham Beer & Cask Beer Festival in August bank holiday which i will hopefully be attending and reviewing!
On a recent trip to Tanzania, my friend bought back with her a bottle of Konyagi, or ‘fire water’. Intrigued by this i googled what i could find on Konyagi (the back of the bottle was of no help due to what i presume was written in an African language) and came up with the following –
INGREDIANT: Molasses, Spices and flavorings PROOF: (35%) AGE: Not Applicable TYPE: Flavored
It mentions how its rum flavoured and also described as a liquor so i presume it could be classed with spirits like Drambuie.
Anyway once opened a medicinal yet a slightly more gin smelling aroma hit me with some floral hints edging in there too. Its taste went down rather surprisingly quite smooth with only a hint of a ‘fire edge’ and gave your mouth and throat a slow tingle as it makes its way. This was definitely not what i expected ‘fire water’ to be like and i agree with what the link (posted above) recommends to have this spirit apart of (Mojito or Caipirinha) – it wouldn’t over power any of the other ingredients. I can see it being rather mellow, almost like your average white rum in a way with just that distinctive hint of fire to let you know your drinking something different.
Again a friend of mine came back from the island of Cyprus with a bottle of Cypriot ‘fire water’ or Ouzo. Attached to it a nifty 25ml shot glass with Cyprus emblazoned on it adds to the collection nicely! With no back label i once again had a quick search to see what came up, with a more varied result compared to the Konyagi. Ouzo is apparently a popular aperitif in both Cyprus and Greece and is consumed neat or with water and is served ice-cold. Now i have to admit, i didn’t taste mine ice-cold after only reading about this after i had tasted it, but i will freeze it over night, try it again and let you all know if there is any difference.
Its aromas of aniseed had the thoughts of Sambuca running through my head and indeed the taste does bode similar to that of the Italian aperitif. A slight mouth-watering effect hits you as it travels through your mouth, which you don’t really get with the Konyagi. However, Ouza feels a lot more raw and stripped down with a bigger kick of fire as its after-taste.
Now if i had to choose between the two, Konyagi would be my choice. Yes Ouzo backs up its ‘fire water’ tag better than Konyagi does but there is a lot more choice with what you can do with the Tanzanian spirit. Its easy drinking and you could get through a 200ml bottle with a lot more ease than you would Ouzo.
The ‘Spanish Smooth Sensation’ has made a comeback recently, with Licor 43 being ever-present on many new and existing back bars. This Spanish liqueur is made from citrus and fruit juices, flavoured with 43 different vanilla and aromatic herbs and spices (hence the name). Its origin though starts in the early 20th century at a small factory in the Mediterranean city of Cartagena.
Three brothers (Diego, Angel and Josefina Zamora Conesa) and Mrs Conesa’s husband Emilio Restoy Godoy started the company and became the most sold liqueur in the South East of Spain. Since the beginning, the Diego Zamora company (still family owned to this day) has been a pioneer in Spain for its use of advertising on radio, TV, press and cinema, with the 60’s paying off as Licor 43 went global to 55 markets to become the most international Spanish liqueur ever. Licor 43 are rather proud of their history and recipe, and the 43 herbs and spices are a guarded secret, however this doesn’t stop you from enjoying the moment as you try to work it out for yourselves –
Licor 43 – 31%
Subtle vanilla aromas blend their way through on the nose accompanied by sweet fruit and spices. A smooth, instant mouth-watering vanilla taste hits the palate first with subtle citrus hints following. Creates a long, sweet after taste.
Licor 43 makes an ideal ingredient to use to balance out a Daiquiri, or even used in a dark Mojito to add a slight extra vanilla flavour to the rum used. Or try one of these –
50 ml Licor 43
50 ml Vodka
75 ml Cranberry juice
50 ml Lemon juice
Shake all ingredients together and serve in a chilled Martini glass
125 ml Licor 43
50 ml Vanilla Syrup
75 ml Cream
175 ml Passion Fruit Nectar
125 ml Orange juice
25 ml Cherry juice
Mix all ingredients without the cherry juice with ice in a shaker. Add the cherry juice once poured into a hurricane glass.
This versatile liqueur really shows what it’s made of, and has even caught the judges eyes, winning gold in the 19th Cocktail Challenge Edition at Shaker & Company in 2012 and silver at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2011.
Expect to see a lot more of Licor 43 of the coming years, not only in cocktails, but offered as part of your after-dinner range as well as over desserts such as ice cream, fruit salads and strawberries. Or better still, have one in your drinks cabinet.
Check out the rest of the photos, taken at The Circle 360, via my Facebook page.
I promised Malibu on there twitter feed I would try out some of their pre-mixed drinks that they offer so on a recent trip to the supermarket I bought a can of Malibu & Cranberry (£1.49). Having tasted my first pre-mixed drink only a few days ago (Jim Beam & Coke), I had high hopes for this version and at 5% it comes stronger than the JB too.
After opening the can you get the instant strong smell and aromas of Malibu and the cranberry sneaking in later, and with pouring into two glasses (i shared it with a friend to get a females perspective on what to me is seen as more a lady style drink) an intense red/purple colour, not your traditional cranberry colour. Once in the glass the aromas we had when i first opened the can were nowhere to be seen, which was a bit disappointing, but it may also be due to the fact the open glass releases a lot more than a can would.
The taste was surprisingly ok, not as strong as i thought it might have been but you could definitely tell the Malibu is there. Unfortunately, after the first few tastes my palate got used to the taste of Malibu a little too quickly and i finished it wondering if I’d drank all the Malibu at the beginning. Don’t let that put you off though, a refreshing mouth-watering aftertaste will get you finishing the can fairly quickly and I would recommend for a pre-party drink due to the price and the attraction of you can drink it quickly due to it being still instead of carbonated. If your thinking of having it in a glass i may recommend adding some fresh limes like your traditional Malibu and mixer drink.
Now to try there pre-mixed cocktail pouches, an eye catching find in the pre mixed section!
Last night for the fathers birthday he wanted to eat out at a place i’ve been to a couple of times called The Romper (just off Wilmslow Road near Manchester Aiport and next to Aviation Viewing Park).
The Romper is your traditional English pub owned by the Chef & Brewer company and boasts ‘ freshly prepared pub food and high quality drink at great value’ – i’d say that was spot on.
We were greeted by what i presume was the Duty Manager who enthusiastically sat us a window seat for 4 which had views of their outside dining area and informed us of the 2 waitresses who would be serving us for the night (a nice touch i feel should be adapted in every restaurant). Drinks were ordered quickly with a large glass of red, pint of Greene King IPA, pint of Amstell and a Pepsi arriving as we looked through a wide variety of starters, pub favourites, fish, steak and burgers as well as the chef’s recommendations.
3 of us plumped for the individual Seafood Platter (£5.80) which came with a selection of both breaded and fresh prawns, mackerel, scampi and salmon with tartare sauce to dip whilst my sister ordered the Prawn & Salmon Cocktail (£5.45). The platters arrived on a long wooden board with two dishes at either end and sauces, bread and butter in the middle. Set out rather differently compared to what i expected of one plate with them all thrown on. One bowl had the fresh prawns, smocked salmon and sweet-cured mackerel whilst the other the piping hot scampi and breaded king prawns. It may not sound a lot but it filled you up enough to be ready for your main without regretting what you ordered. The prawn and salmon cocktail went down well with the added salmon which i rarely see on prawn cocktails a plus.
Plates were cleared and mains arrived in adequate time despite the tables around us filling up rather quickly. Two Gourmet Burgers (£9.25), Grilled 8oz Gammon & Egg with extra Pineapple (£7.45) and Teriyaki Surf & Turf (£8.55) were all presented well with large portions to wet the appetite. I myself had the Teriyaki Surf & Turf which was presented well on a square wooden board with the fries, teriyaki sauce and 9oz rump steak / battered king prawns each on a separate dish. I had my steak medium rare and it was nicely marinated in a teriyaki sauce and piping hot. 3 prawns rested on top and finished with what i believe was pak choi. All were gone by the end of the meal with my only criticism being that the steak did go a little cold near the end. The two burgers, which were stacked high with both rump steak and chicken breast and a fried egg on top, looked delicious and were well received, whilst the gammon, which also looked very impressive with the egg and pineapple grilled on top, was more than enough to what you would expect a pub to deliver.
Plates were cleared and desserts were offered but politely declined as the two courses were more than enough, although i overheard a couple ordering a Sticky Toffee & Butterscotch Pudding and nearly re-considered!
Overall the four of us had enjoyed the night with nothing but praise for the food that we ordered and the speed of the service we encountered. As we walked out, despite the restaurant being full (on a Wednesday too) staff still found the time to say their goodbyes to us and we left a very good atmosphere behind.
I’d recommend The Romper for both couples, families and even large parties as they cater for all, with a well priced menu, outdoor seating and both friendly and knowledgeable staff to create an atmosphere you’d want to go back to again and again!
Theres a new champagne and cocktail bar located in the Italian area of the Trafford Centre’s Orient food hall. I’ve watched this bar grow from day one as it’s location is opposite to where i work and i’ve been itching to try it out ever since its grand opening less than a week ago.
I took along a friend and arrived at about 3pm. As you can see the back bar automatically grabs your attention, the large circle with a magnum of champagne in the middle! A good layout of spirits surrounded underneath it including Jack Daniel Single Barrel, Belvedere, Patron and Martin Millers as well as display ice buckets with several bottles of Moet & Chandon poking out the top. Cake stands were also visible for there Afternoon Tea promotion (more about that later).
Sitting ourselves on white leather bar stools which despite looking like salon chairs, went surprisingly well with the white decor, we were greeted by the bartender on duty with a smile and a drinks menu. I had already previously asked The Circle Club (the company behind the bar) on there Twitter feed which cocktails they recommend with the replies of ‘Pornstar Martini and the speciality 360’, so with curiosity getting the better of me i plumped for the 360 while a French Martini was ordered as well. Now i don’t know if this is me but if you make a cocktail, you make it in front of the customer, not halfway down the bar. It would have been nice to see what ingredients he was putting in to this speciality cocktail (i glimpsed Hendricks gin being used) but i gave the man his dues once he presented me with the finished item.A dark blackcurrant colour with a fresh blackcurrant and cucumber fold as a garnish made a good first impression. It had a smooth velvety taste to it with the constant aroma of cucumber coming from both the garnish as well as the Hendricks gin. Slightly overpowering it sometimes but the blackberry taste counteracted it nicely and made it a very nice mouth-watering signature cocktail.We were a bit confused with what our other drink was as we originally ordered a French Martini however a champagne flute was handed to us which eventually turned out to be a French 75. Obviously thinking the French Martini would be served in the Martini glass and the signature cocktail served in a champagne flute, it turned out we were drinking the drink the other one had ordered. A mistake on the bartenders part but non-the-less the French 75 was a beautiful lemon zest cocktail with the Moet & Chandon champagne top not overpowering the overall complexity at all. After a few sips i also noticed it started to go down very smoothly, as if the drink had settled and it allowed you to enjoy it that little bit more. The glass itself helped, an elegant yet simple thinly stemmed champagne flute that curved at the top to reduce the amount of gasses being released.
A Parisian Re-fashioned followed next for me with an absinthe take on the Old Fashioned classic.
Made with coating the inside of a tumbler glass with Le Fee Parisian Absinthe and igniting for a few seconds, blowing out and starting the 7 minute process of an Old Fashioned. The use of Woodford Reserve bourbon was a particularly good choice and vanilla sugar made my day as the sweet tooth guy I am. To be fair it wasn’t 7 minutes in the making but the drink itself was a well-balanced affair. The vanilla sugar took the edge off a drink which can sometimes come on a bit strong if not enough Demerara is used and it worked well. The burnt orange zest gave some interesting aromas as it mixed with the coating of absinthe and the Woodford Reserve but it didn’t over come you which made it a very drinkable drink.
My friend is a lover of Tanqueray 10 and asked the barman for a recommendation that involved fruit juices. The result was Tanq 10 with both fresh and puree strawberries with a top of champagne served in a Martini Glass. This had a zest tingly sensation to it, possibly due to the champagne top but also to the fresh strawberries used. The gin was hard to tell it was there sometimes but you got the odd taste of the Tanq once you made your way through the layer of fruit.
The Circle 360 bar menu is a simple yet well set out design with a ‘champagne story’ on the inside cover to highlight the bars purpose.
Now i will say this, the prices that the drinks are being sold for are worth it.
Champagne cocktails (Bellini’s, French 75’s) for £6.95
Signature cocktails (Pornstar Martini, Jack Daniels Single Barrel over ice) for £5.95
Classic cocktails (Mojito, Margarita, Long Island) £4.95
Contemporary cocktails (8yr Itch, Grey Goose Le Fizz) £5.45
Martinis (Cosmopolitan, French Martini) £5.45
Compared to the rest of the Trafford Centre’s bar/cocktails offerings as well as the reputation of The Circle Club i did expect to be paying a lot more for these drinks, especially when they use premium spirits and champagne! This could be a winning formula for them and i hope they stick at these prices for a while to come.
Now as you’d expect there are offerings for wine with what looks like a very good and varied selection in each category (a bottle of Sangiovese, Ceravalo Estate caught my eye for £29.50). The usual suspects of champagne are there with glasses of Castell Lord Cava at £3.50 to £7.95 for a Moet & Chandon Imperial Rose and topping to a bottle of Krug Clos D’Ambonnay Vintage 1996 at £3295. Theres Bollinger, Dom Perignon, Laurent Perrier, Veuve Clicquot and Louis Roederer thrown in there for good measure too.
Soft drinks are available too with the offering of juices, milkshakes, smoothies and tea and coffee as well as fresh cake slices including victoria sponge, cupcakes, scones and lollicakes (cakes on a stick, – popular with celebrities apparently!). They also do a Afternoon Tea priced at £15.50 where you receive a pot of Darjeeling tea, choice of 2 sandwiches, scone, elderflower cake, chocolate choux pastry and fresh fruit tart!
Nearing the end of our visit we were both genuinly impressed with the offerings that The Circle 360 give you in the case of drinks as well as surroundings. The stunning bar set-up is a thing to see and you don’t always feel like your in the middle of a food court when your sat there, something which i thought would put me off.
You’ll be seeing me here again that’s for sure, theres plenty more drinks for me to try!