Hard Rock Cafe Want To Spritz Up Your Summer!

Hard Rock Cafe have brought out their latest cocktail creations for the Summer season, focusing on the ever-popular Spritz, twisting them with familiar names such as Bombay Sapphire, Jack Daniel’s, Grey Goose and Chambord.

Kick-start with my personal favourite of the ‘Jack and Diane’ that see’s Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 combined with Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup and topped with lemonade for a bold hit of whiskey and orange. A close second for me is the ‘Chambord Supernova’ that see’s Chambord blended with St Germaine elderflower and topped with Prosecco, soda and a lemon twist. Rich, refreshing and offers a long finish!

A fantastic Grey Goose offering in ‘Good Limes, Bad Limes’ is available, showing the flavours of St Germaine elderflower, fresh limes, Prosecco and soda, whilst the ‘Thyme Warp’ offers a highlight of the Bombay Sapphire experience with fresh lemon juice and tonic, with a sprig of thyme to bring out the fresh aromas.

The two other Bombay Sapphire creations include ‘Gin Ginie’ that see’s the bolder profiles of Chambord mixed with the British gin and bitter lemon, topped with a sprig of mint, whilst the ‘My Gineration’ focuses on the gin with orange juice, tonic and plenty of orange peel for garnish.

Six refreshing serves, priced between £9.45 and £9.95, served up, if you wish, within a Hard Rock souvenir mason jar (for £11.80) whilst rocking out in the sunshine (or what’s left of it) on their terrace. And if you’ve ever read my previous features on Hard Rock Cafe’s food offerings, you’ll know you can make an afternoon of it!

Jack & Diane with a Guinness Bacon Cheeseburger for me. I’ll see you at the bar.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Night Of Living Ventures In The Suburbs

Hale Bar and Grill

Guest writer Keeley Watts experienced once of my spirit evenings a few weeks back. Take a look at what she thought of the expressions I had on offer;

Most drink related events in the North West tend to take place in Manchester City Centre. This is great for me as I live there so can just wander out but I know friends who live in the suburbs really struggle to get to some of them. Quick to recognise this was The Drinks Enthusiast who joined forces with Hale Grill for a spirit tasting with a difference.

We started with a chat about what spirits we liked and disliked. Lucky for me I had tried all the spirits Dave brought to the tasting but it was lovely to listen to others in the group who had never been to an event like this.

Dave started with Grey Goose vodka and the fascinating story of Sidney Frank. Frank was responsible for the promotion and development of Jagermeister in the States which, was huge, and decided he wanted to hit the market currently enjoying Absolut vodka. He was originally beaten by Belvedere being recognised as a premium brand. Not deterred he upped his game and decided to search for a brand in France rather than the more traditional vodka producing countries of Russia and Poland. He found an excellent base in winter wheat which gives the vodka a smooth and light taste ideal for sipping.
The product has ‘slow legs’ in the glass showing no sugar has been added. On the nose are notes of butter and almond with this buttery taste coming through on the palate. It is sweet and smooth; so unlike any other vodka I have tried.

Up next was a personal favourite of mine, Portobello Road gin. Now I like gin, this isn’t a secret. But then it comes to a sipping gin I prefer something smooth and slightly sweet with no spikiness. That is exactly what you get from Portobello Road which was brought to us by Jake Burger, Gerard Feltham and Paul Andrew Lane. Juniper is quite heavy on the nose as is lemon anise and liquorice. The liquorice is prominent on the palate too which is likely to be thanks to the cassia bark, coriander and nutmeg used in the distilling process.

A whiskey followed with Monkey Shoulder. I’m not a fan, the flavours just don’t work for me but if you are thinking of trying whiskey for the first time, this is definitely one to start with. It is a blend of whiskeys from Speyside and other none whiskey drinkers in the room described it as incredibly drinkable. Dave had a few converts on the night!

Last but most definitely not least was Old J spiced rum. Formulated by Tom Hurst in 2009 who tried 60 varieties to find the perfect blend, this rum is delicious. Butterscotch and slight honey aromas on the nose yet toffee, vanilla and lime are prevalent on the palate with a gentle spice kick.

Hale Grill has launched their new summer cocktail and invited us to try one of two cocktails featured. I chose the honeyed rum daiquiri which blends honey, lime and Old J spiced rum. A classic this is slightly sweet with the lovely toffee flavours coming through from the rum. I also got to try the apple, mint and raspberry cosmopolitan as other guests ordered this on the evening. Stoli raspberry, Cointreau, mint and apple juice gives a fresh twist to the classic cosmopolitan whilst the mint provides a lovely freshness.

A thoroughly enjoyable evening and a feast for the senses, it was really interesting to hear what beginners thought of the spirits neat. All are readily available at your favourite bar in the City but this just goes to show that you don’t need to venture too far to get your fix.

Vogue’s Fashion Night Out at Frog Flowers Review

Susie - Vogue

Fashion and lifestyle magazine Vogue came to Manchester last week with their Fashion Night Out event being held for one night only, collaborating with the likes of Manchester heavyweights Selfridges and Harvey Nichols as well as stores such as DKNY and Top Shop. With various drink brands coming on board to showcase their names with fashion designers, I took notice of something a little more intimate.

Frog Flowers is located in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, away from the usual trendy places like Deansgate and King Street. Offering Manchester a unique experience in the art of flowers, the florist used its innovative and contemporary ideas that utilised a wide range of flowers & foliage. Working alongside them were Jean Jackson Bridal Wear, a South Manchester staple since the 1980’s. In return, a stunning boutique setting over three floors. Its ground floor offered me the most delight though as Manchester bartender and fashion icon in her own right, Susie Wong, offered her services to create for Frog Flowers three Vogue themed cocktails – Penelope Tree, Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy. The 60’s icons were immortalised in Susie’s creations, with each recipe written on a Vogue magazine cover instead of a menu adding the glamour touch.

Susie Wong
Susie with her Penelope Tree creation

Penelope Tree came in the form of a relatively new gin, City of London, built with The Bitter Truth Violette liqueur, tonic bitters and topped with grape soda. A recipe that Susie took with her to London after impressing the judges at the recent Bitter Truth cocktail competition held in Manchester, she took great pride in showering her creation with glitter and flowers to really set the scene for the evening. Another of her creations, Jean Shrimpton, again had a gin base of City of London, but this time shaken with Cointreau, Blossom Syrups Strawberry and cranberry juice. Helped by fellow bartender Edoardo Arcesi of Epernay, the use of strawberries and orange gave a fantastic aromatic floral nose, and came complete with a peacock resting on top. Her last creation was a simple affair, putting together Cointreau and The Bitter Truth orange flower water and topping it with Fentimans Rose Lemonade, complete with a lollipop!

With a display of spirit bottles being utilised to not only show-off Susie’s creations, but also adapted to be a part of the venues display-works (see the photos from the link below), Frog Flowers showcased the very best of the boutique styles that Manchester has to offer and display them in a way that only they seem to create. Having Susie come on board make perfect sense, with myself enjoying many a cocktail from the lady in the past, her style and approach to her creations doesn’t surprise me in her being a part of one of the biggest fashion nights out in the UK.

See, it’s not just the big boys who come out to play on these nights. And I mean that in both ways. Well done to Susie, David of Frog and the team at Jean Jackson.

Check out the rest of my photos via my Facebook page. Also see snaps from the official photographer Danielle Boxall.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Cointreau Noir

After taking a look at Grand Marnier, it’s only right that we seek out its fellow orange – Cointreau.

Cointreau prides itself with a mix of tradition and modernity since its creation way back in 1875. A gentleman named Edouard Cointreau, son of Edouard-Jean (a famous master confectioner), distilled himself a spirit from sweet and bitter orange peel with a highly crystalline robe – a major novelty at the time. Edouard Cointreau also at that time invented the square-sided amber-coloured bottle which to this day still houses the liqueur.

In 1898, the creation of the Pierrot character, which became the symbolic image of the brand by famous poster artist Nicolas Tamago, was first published, and a year later Edouard Cointreau launched the first advertising film featuring Pierrot.

1923 saw the brands success grow to countries such as the United States, Canada and Latin America. Edouard’s sons, Louis and André Cointreau, replaced him at the head of the family business and invent the concept of ‘the worldwide brand’. This slogan is used on most of the brand’s poster campaigns across the globe. Even James Bond got in on the act, using Cointreau as part of its marketing exploits. Rémy Martin merged with Cointreau in 1989 and became a leading brand when high-quality came into mind, which in 2007, completed its image with the signing of Dita Von Teese becoming the Global Brand Ambassadress.

So its a simple history, and a simple production too. The orange peels are fully dried, macerated and finally distilled in copper stills to extract the drops of essential oils.

But how does it fare? Well below, i give to you my tasting notes –

CointreauCointreau – 40%

Fresh orange on the nose with a slight sweetness mixing. Ripe orange rind flavours on the palate produce a mouth-watering effect, with sweetness dominating near the lingering end.

In October 2014, a brand new expression was released under the Cointreau banner, Cointreau Noir. Spearheaded by Cointreau’s Master Distiller of 30 years, Bernadette Langlais, Cointreau Noir is a unique blend of Cointreau and the Cognac Rémy Martin. It was inspired by Majestic, a spirit originally created by Édouard Cointreau in the 1900’s, and has been macerated with walnuts and almonds.

Cointreau Noir – 40%

Rich orange peel on the nose with a lick of burnt zest with a slight dryness. Thick, smooth and a developing spice on the palate. An underlining of sweetness with plenty of orange creating a very long, warm finish. Rich grape flavours are also present.

As you can imagine, Cointreau goes well with many a cocktail, including these –


Glass – 


Cointreau Fizz Cucumber Basil
Cointreau Fizz Cucumber Basil

Ingredients –

20 ml Cointreau
10 ml Lime juice
20 ml Cranberry juice
40 ml Vodka

Method –

Pour into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes,shake well, then pour into a chilled Martini glass.


Cointreau Fizz Cucumber and Basil

Glass – 


Ingredients –

50 ml Cointreau
20 ml Fresh lime
3 cm Fresh cucumber
4 fresh Basil leaves
50 ml Soda water

Method –

In a Boston shaker glass : muddle the cucumber dices with basil leaves, add Cointreau and lime juice. Fill with ice. Shake until the metal tin is frosted. Strain into the glass over ice, and top off with soda water. Garnish with basil leaf

Cointreau doesn’t stop itself at cocktails though. Food creations have also been a staple recently including Chocolate Roll with CointreauCaramelised Risotto Pudding and Chilean sea bass.

A staple in many a bar, Cointreau will be seen, used and enjoyed by not only bartenders, but also by yourselves at home.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.