With a strength of 6.4% and my love of rum, this is a perfect mix! The aromas and smells of vanilla instantly hit your nostrils with a spice mix following closely behind. A huge vanilla hit surprises you when you first taste, with the unmistakable flavour of Morgan’s Spice coming through soon after. A slight spicy end lingers in the back of your throat but its smoothness almost soothes it to a mouth-watering effect. Granted it’s not on par with the fresh pairing of Morgan’s Spiced and Coke, and at 6.4%, you don’t seem to get a strong taste of the base spirit, but don’t let that put you off. It’s like a mask for alcohol – it’s there, you know it’s there, and after 5 of these you will be close to having a very good night! This is a top 5 pre-mix contender!
Upon opening the can, no distinct aromas came out, although you may receive the obvious flavours of Southern Comfort and lime if you poured it into a glass. Tasting it though, SoCo is definitely there! If you had to do a blind tasting of pre-mixers, you’ll be kicking yourself if you got this wrong. The sweet spices and fruit hit you instantly with the lime lingering around and subtly mixing well. The low carbonated lemonade makes this a smooth beverage to have and gives that classic Southern Comfort after-taste, albeit a little dry. It’s not too strong on your senses but you don’t feel like you’ve been cheated out of anything like other pre-mixers can.
This would be great for a summer’s day drink, especially if poured into a lime rimmed glass to add some extra fresh flavour (and just look at the can! Strikingly better than the other pre-mixer can out there!). Give it a try, I know I wouldn’t pass up on the opportunity if I saw it again.
After an impromptu night off work, a friend of mine suggested going back to a place we visited nearly a year ago named Lime. It’s situated in Salford Quays opposite The Lowry and after a brief walk from the Metrolink, we made our way through the ample outdoor seating to the bar area.
We decided to try some of the cocktails on offer and trawled through their extensive range. Highlights include classics like Mojito’s, Margarita’s and Long Island’s while what seems to be their own creations with names like Jamaica Funk, Quiet Sunday and Boston Gold.
I plumped for a Midnight Love whilst my friend went for the Jamaican Funk. There doesn’t seem to be any table service so upon walking up to the bar and ordering, I was able to scour their spirit range. Again notable names of Grey Goose, Havana and Tanqueray mixed with the lesser seen Frangelico, Kahlua and Benedictine.
Our drinks were bought over, my Midnight Love served in a Hurricane glass whilst the Jamaican Funk came in a Margarita glass, both garnished with fresh strawberries. My Midnight Love consisted of both fresh and strawberry syrup, vodka, orange juice and lime which blended well to create a fresh and very drinkable fruit-based cocktail. The flavour of strawberry overpowered the rest of the ingredients, but you could tell they were a part of it all as i powered through the crushed ice to get the last drop. The Jamiacan Funk was a more tangy affair – Appleton V/X rum blended with lime, Chambord and raspberries, topped with Champagne. This deeply fruity cocktail was a hit to the senses, with the initial burst of three fruits (four if you count the strawberry garnish) and the Appleton rum, followed by the fizz of the Champagne that gave it a raw feeling as it goes down. There wasn’t much aftertaste, almost as if the champagne cleanses your palate on every sip, and it definitely wasn’t as smooth as the Midnight Love. Don’t get me wrong, Champagne does obviously make a difference when added to any drink, I just don’t think it mixes well with those ingredients.
Next on the agenda was another two cocktails, Toblerone and Baby Kiss. The Toblerone consisted of Baileys, Kahlua, Frangelico, cream and Butterscotch while the Baby Kiss was a blend of strawberries, Chambord and Champagne. Whilst these were being made I took some time to check out the surroundings of Lime. It’s a spacious venue with an obvious yet subtle divide between bar and restaurant. The bar itself stretches round the back corner, with bottled beers displayed in small alcoves against bold lighting. The rest of the place has a lot of tin and copper ‘ripped apart’ to create a stunning effect, especially with the various lighting bouncing off the different angles.
My Toblerone arrived in a Martini Glass while the Baby Kiss was in a small Champagne flute. A garnish of chocolate dusting gave off the obvious smell of chocolate, with a rather striking taste. I’ll tell you know, it doesn’t taste like a Toblerone, rather a chocolate you get from an old sweet shop. Granted there’s no Creme de Cacao in the mix, and it does give you a creamy taste, but it’s not got that silky chocolate taste you expect. As for an after-taste, whether the bartender put too much in or not, Butterscotch ruins the end. It’s an unnecessary liquor to three that could have worked a lot better on their own. The Baby Kiss seemed to be a reverse of the Jamaican Funk, you got the Champagne first and then the subtle flavours of the fruit arriving after. With its basic ingredients, you won’t be disappointed, and is an excellent alternative to the Kir Royale.
To end the night we decided to go for a glass of red wine. My friend had been picking at a bowl of olives so i suggested a Spanish Tempranillo, whilst i went for a Chilean Merlot. I’m a huge fan of South American wines and was very impressed with Lime’s offering. The Santa Helena Merlot was a creamy and vibrant red, with distinctive cherry notes making their way through as you drink. It didn’t leave any hints of dryness which made this red an enjoyable end to my night. The Marques de Luna Tempranillo was a rich and well-rounded wine, with no significant flavour bursting through to your pallet. Compared to the Merlot though, it did leave a rather dry taste, something that i don’t particularly like when it comes to wine.
Overall, this is a great place to come and wind down, and would be a great bar to sit outside in the sun. I’d be a little picky on the cocktails next time as some don’t sound too appealing, or cost a bit too much for what ingredients are being used, but there is a good range of wines and beers (Heineken, Peroni, Budweiser etc.) to keep you going for a night or two.
A work colleague of mine left to travel back to Poland a few weeks ago and she left me a can of Lech, a Polish lager which is apparently quite popular. At 5.2% I was expecting something rather strong, however it was rather surprisingly smooth and not as gassy. It had a light, slight hoppy taste, and no defining aroma to speak of. A slight bitterness comes through at the end but overall it is an enjoyable and refreshing lager.
If I had to choose between the two Polish lagers I have currently tried, i would choose Tyskie. Theres not much flavour to Lech which whilst sometimes a good thing for an easy drinking lager, you do wonder if your going to have another. Tyskie on the other hand, you know you will be asking.
A while back on my Twitter feed, Peroni asked me to try out there Peroni Nastro Azzuro and let them know what I thought, so last night I nipped down to The Waterside in Sale to taste this Italian lager.
Served in a tall and elegant Peroni branded stemmed glass, a pale yellow lager awaits you. Upon tasting, it gave off a light malt flavour with a sweet follow through and a surprising refreshing end. At 5.2% it has a slightly higher alcohol content than most lagers, but you don’t really sense that and it disguises itself well. It doesn’t make yourself too bloated so I could see myself having a few pints or bottles of Peroni Nastro Azzuro to last the night.
I also came across another brand under the Peroni title named Peroni Gran Riserva. They sell both bottles at The Circle 360, so my friend purchased the slightly stronger lager (6.6%) and let me try. On the nose it gave off a dry fruit and note aroma, with the taste coming through a little more stronger, all though it is quite well-rounded. It’s a smoother lager than the Nastro Azzuro and is lightly carbonated – you could almost mistake it for a light ale. A sweet after-taste presents itself making a mourish scent. This is one lager I’ll be buying in a hurry!
Out of the two, Peroni Nastro Azzuro is obviously the most commonly available in bars and restaurants and is a light and refreshing drink, but don’t be afraid to try its brother the Gran Riserva – it could surprise you into making itself the head of the family.
Martin Miller’s is fast becoming one of those ‘must have’ premium gins to see on any back bar or drinks cabinet. But why is it becoming so popular, and even touching the heights of Tanqueray?
It all begins in the heart of England, the Black Country, and the use of batch distillation. Combining the two traditionalists (the industrial revolution and the prefered method of production for only a few gin producers), their copper pot still ‘Angela’ is the heart of Mr Martin Miller’s creation. Over 100 years old, it distills and infuses the botanicals of juniper, orange and lemon peel, coriander, liquorice, cinnamon, cassia, nutmeg, angelica and orris root. For real attention to detail though, the water to combine the infused alcohol comes from a 3,000 mile round trip via Iceland. The reason? Iceland has the softest, purest water on the planet. The glacial waters are up to 10 times purer than the standard bottled water found on sale today.
So with botanicals sourced from all over the world, to a round trip of 3,000 miles – how does the finished product taste? Below i give to you my tasting notes on the two products.
Martin Miller’s London Dry – 40%
Dominated by citrus notes on the nose, but subtle floral aromas follow slowly. Rather mellow on the palate, with a slight dryness. It gives off some interesting citrus flavours with juniper overtones with a hint of peppercorn on the odd occasion. A slow-fading after-taste of floral and citrus.
Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength– 45.2%
Juniper aromas swirl well with short, sharp hints of citrus on the nose, whilst the palate enjoys a rich yet smooth flavour of spice and citrus, which develops into a long finish.
Two fantastic offerings to get your hands on, but what happens if you create a cocktail?
The London Cup
Jug – served with two rocks glasses
50ml Martin Miller’s Gin Westbourne Strength
50ml Martini Rosso
50ml fresh pink grapefruit juice
Mix all ingredients. Top with Fever Tree lemonade and garnish with slices of cucumber, lemon, strawberry, pink grapefruit, blackberry. Add a sprig of mint for garnish.
A great sharing cocktail for the summer!
Take a look at the rest of the photos, taken at 24 Bar and Grill, via my Facebook page.
I decided to swing by The Circle 360 for a drink with a friend of mine after work (this really is turning out to be my new favourite place!) and then came back later in the night with another friend who said he wanted to give it a try after my recommendations!
An interesting idea, and one you may have seen in other high-end bars, where the drink is presented with a small meringue placed on top for garnish. It didn’t give off many aromas, although I think the layer of cream may be the culprit, however once you take the first sip, the mixture of Luxardo Limoncello, Licor 43 and citrus juices gave a burst of flavour inside your mouth. Once you start to finish your drink, the initial rush of vanilla and citrus is replaced by a more gentle zest of lemon which gives at a rather smooth finish. This is a cocktail that does what it says – it’s a lemon meringue pie in a martini glass. Classic British!
Vanilla and Apple Martini – £5.45
My friend had a cocktail from its Martini selection and she chose a rather interesting combination of 42 Below Manuka Honey, apple schnapps and cinnamon. A simple blend of these ingredients gave off a rather strong wild apple in both its smell and taste – but don’t let that put you off. It doesn’t verge you on the cider category as the cinnamon literally drags your senses back to your cocktail. As the Lemon Meringue before, you will drink this rather quickly, and you’ll order both again.
Amaretto Midori Sours
A bartender recommendation – an Amaretto Midori Sours. Initially, I thought ‘I can’t see this working’ but in reality – wow! It seems to be one of those blends that just shouldn’t, but it does so well. Made the traditional sours way and served with crushed ice, it was presented to my friend with a slight lime green colour and an orange wedge as garnish. It gave off an expected aroma of melon and almond which blended rather well, as did the taste. I found it quite hard to describe, the almond didn’t overpower the melon as much as I thought it would, it complimented it rather well, while the Demerara sugar gave it a sweeter edge as the drink makes its way through your senses. A drink that wouldn’t look out-of-place in any cocktail bar, i would recommend to give it a try!
French Martini – £5.45
Another classic cocktail from there Martini range, the French Martini with its blend of 42 Below Pure, Chambord, fresh blackberries and a dash of Pineapple juice. Giving off a rich dark colour on arrival with a slight berry foam top giving off some fantastic rich aromas. Its taste of the tangy blackberries hits you initially yet a smooth and rather velvety end once it settles on your taste buds. All ingredients can be tasted yet none seems to overpower too much which makes it a rather well-balanced drink. The after-taste was a bit raw but i think that could be down to my dislike of fresh blackberries.
The Godfather – £4.95
This is my all-time favourite drink – a mix of Amaretto and Bourbon. Again a simple to make drink but with their use of Luxardo Amaretto and L.G. Woodford Reserve it gives it a more sophisticated edge over the usual and more commonly seen pairing of Dissaranno Amaretto and Jack Daniels. An orange peel for garnish brought out a rich aroma of sweetness mixed with almond and a slight hint of vanilla. Unfortunately being my favourite drink, it did go down rather quickly, but the taste was very smooth with a full-bodied sweetness, and not too strong as some of these alcohol only drinks can be sometimes.
Grey Goose Le Fizz – £5.45
A contemporary cocktail was chosen by my friend named the Grey Goose Le Fizz. Marketed as ‘a classical new twist’, the ingredients of Grey Goose, lime juice, elderflower cordial and then topped with soda gave off a dazzling cloudy finish in what could easily be mistaken for a Smirnoff Ice (god forbid). On the nose it had an obvious mix of lime and elderflower, with the hints of vodka slowly making its way through, and that’s what i could say about the taste too. You can taste all the ingredients, but it’s like they arrive one by one, and just make the experience better and better! Now I have to admit, I’m not a fan of soda. I think it’s a pointless liquid that ruins drinks, and I personally feel that this shouldn’t be topped with it. Now granted it does taste ok with it as you can’t really tell its there, but it would be interesting to see it topped with ginger beer, bitter lemon or even champagne.
I’m slowly making my way through their cocktail menu and will be posting up reviews as and when. I’ll also be trying some of their champagnes and wines to see how they compare.
If you’re ever with me for a drink, it’s a rarity I go for lager these days, nothing against them, I just seem to have a bigger heart towards ales. But what I do love is the time where you can just crack open a bottle at home on a hot summers day. Millers is my preferred tipple when on the hunt, so with this in mind, lets see how the brand came about.
The Miller Brewing Company was founded back in 1855 by Frederick Miller. It was at this time that he purchased the small Plank-Road Brewery in the Menomonee Valley in Milwaukee and utilised the easy access to raw materials produced on nearby farms. Over a hundred years later, the family were no longer a part of the company, with W. R. Grace and Company agreeing to buy 53% of Miller from Mrs. Lorraine John Mulberger (Frederick Miller’s granddaughter, who objected to alcohol) and her family on September 19th 1966. Three years later on 12 June 1969, Philip Morris bought Miller from W.R. Grace for $130 million, before being bought by the South African Breweries in 2002, to become a merged company named SABMiller. On October 10th 2007, SABMiller and Molson Coors agreed to combine their U.S. operations in a joint venture called MillerCoors.
Miller High Life is the companies oldest brand, having been first introduced back in 1903 and marketed as a pilsner. The more widely found brand, especially here in the UK, is the Miller Genuine Draft. First introduced in 1985, it is the original cold filtered packaged draft beer, which means that the beer is not pasteurized. The concept for the brand was developed by product consultant Calle & Company. Martin Calle evolved the concept from Miller’s New Ventures effort to launch a new dry beer at a time Miller Brewing was in danger of becoming a much-cloned light beer manufacturer. Originally introduced as ‘Miller High Life Genuine Draft’, the ‘High Life’ part of the name was soon dropped. Miller Genuine Draft is actually made from the same recipe as Miller High Life but with a different treatment. It was developed to give High Life drinkers the same taste in a can or bottle as they found in non-pasteurized kegs. *
So, how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Miller Genuine Draft – 4.7%
A light body with a slight grain malt aroma and a sweet yet sharp flavour. On the palate, it gives off a smooth and lightly hopped finish.
Miller Genuine Draft received the gold medal in the American-style Premium Lager category at the 1999 World Beer Cup, as well as the silver medal at the 2003 Great American Beer Festival. Perfect with BBQ or flame grilled meats, or just on those days where you need something good yet chilled.
I found myself purchasing another pre-mixed drink in the form of Jack Daniels and they’ve released two versions – Coke and Ginger, both £2.12 from Sainsburys.
Jack Daniels & Coke
Now the nearest competitor around is Jim Beam & Coke and having already tried the latter I was expecting high hopes, however, I was disappointed at not smelling a stronger smell of the Jack Daniels (at 6% you expect to sense something). It was there don’t get me wrong, but compared to the Jim Beam, you had to hunt for it. Now that aside, the drink itself isn’t too bad. A low-carbonated cola is used so you can drink it quickly, but it won’t make you too bloated, and you do get that refreshing taste afterwards. The down side? You feel like your not drinking a JD & Coke. It’s not got that freshness about it like the Jim Beam did, and it sometimes put me off finishing the can. But finish it i did, which can I only be a plus as im sure, like most of you, you wouldn’t finish something if you didn’t like it.
Jack Daniels & Ginger
I followed the Jack Daniels & Coke with its other variety – ginger. After looking over the can, it doesn’t mention if it’s ginger beer or ginger ale (not being a lover of ginger ale, I was hoping for the former) but then I thought that Jack Daniels could have used ‘actual’ ginger, and I was right. I’ve personally rarely come across a drink as simple as Jack Daniels and mixer to have the sole ingredient as ginger, yet could see it working rather well.
Upon opening, there’s an immediate aroma of ginger, and hardly a scent of Jack Daniels. Give it a few seconds though and you do slowly get that unmistakable JD wafting through your nostrils. The taste is rather the same as the smell, with the whiskey taking a back-seat to the raw ginger, yet creating a pleasant slow mix of the two flavours in your mouth. It leaves a slight sweet taste in the back of your mouth as it makes its way through which resulted in me drinking this can quicker than the JD & Coke (the sweet tooth in me took over!). Again at 6%, you do expect to see more of the Jack Daniels coming through as you drink but it just doesn’t seem to happen.
Out of the two I would recommend the Jack Daniels & Ginger for 2 reasons –
1. It’s unique. When was the last time you had a whiskey with just ginger? And I can guarantee it would taste even better fresh.
2. On a summer’s day, a Jack Daniels & Ginger sounds like a hell of a drink to have, a chilled one at that.
A Jack Daniels & Coke? You can have that any day of the week at any place that sells alcohol. JD & Ginger? Your high-end expensive bars would charge you 4x as much as the £2.12 you could get it for.
I’ve been looking forward to trying this again! I think i first sampled Kraken at The Boutique Bar Show 2011 in Manchester, but i had a taste at Imbibe 2011 a few weeks ago. I will always remember the way they sold it to me – a man dressed in a old-fashioned diving suit handing out leaflets, and a ‘sailor’ explaining the myth behind the Kraken Rum in a tale you expect to see in Pirates of the Caribbean!
However you look at it, it works and it’s stuck in my mind ever since. I have to admit, i wasn’t expecting to purchase a bottle so quickly, but on the shopping trip last week (where i also bought a bottle of Chase Vodka), the eye-catching bottle was begging to be bought. And at £21.99 its not a bad price, especially to the likes of Sailor Jerry and Morgans Spiced.
Upon tasting this spiced rum from the USA, the expectation of wild spices doesn’t hit you. Instead, it gently arrives with its vanilla and toffee trails and its lack of a fire edge like Sailor Jerry gives you makes this even more enjoyable. It gives your mouth a slight tingle sensation and gives a rather vivid after-taste that still lingers long after you finish. It’s almost as if this should be categorised under ‘dark’, but personally, it should be at the top of the spiced column.
This is better than Morgans Spiced and better than Sailor Jerry. To me, you must have Morgans with a mixer, it’s just too raw sometimes, and Sailor Jerry is still considered better with a companion in its glass. Kraken? Kraken you can sip on its own, you could have it as the top layer of a Mai Tai, possibly mixed with a Mojito or a Kraken Old Fashioned, which just sounds like heaven in a glass. You need to try this!