Monday, 31 March 2014

The Guinness Storehouse and the Guinness Connoisseur Experience

Happily reunited with M & D this Easter Holiday, with the three of us going on a tour of Ireland together. It's our first time on the island, so we have a pretty long list of things to tick off and it's been full-on action straight off the bat. Fresh off the plane at Dublin, we decided to make the most of our afternoon and start taking in the sights, making a beeline for the Guinness Storehouse at St James's Gate, the city's most famous tourist attraction. 

If you go to their website, you can get your Guinness Storehouse adult tickets at 10% off the recommended retail price. No extra discounts for students, but it still made sense for me to claim the cheaper ticket price. We'd also made reservations in advance for the Guinness Connoisseur Experience for 4.30 pm, not knowing at the point that our guide would tell us that dinner was going to be at 5.30 pm sharp ("If you're late everyone else will finish the food at the buffet! I'm not saying the rest are a bunch of greedy sods, but..."). When we let the lady at the information counter know of the unfortunate clash in scheduling, she told us that we had nothing to worry about, and that the course would be done in 45 minutes. Wanting this very much to be true, we believed her, only to be told later on during the Connoisseur Experience itself that it would take an hour an a half at least. T'was most upsetting. 

When we started our self-guided tour though, we were blissfully unaware of all this, and had an interesting wander round the complex. The journey began at the atrium, at the base of the world's biggest pint glass - if filled, it would hold over 14 million pints of Guinness, enough for everyone in Ireland to have a couple of rounds. Much like on the Heineken experience, the main ingredients of beer were highlighted along the route.

We couldn't smell the hops, but like everyone else moving around we took a couple of pictures with the indoor waterfall. Don't listen to what the stories tell you, Guinness isn't actually brewed with water from the River Liffey, but from spring water that flows from the Wicklow Mountains that can be seen from the Gravity Bar on the seventh floor. 

They've got a good sense for drama down at the Guinness Storehouse, so the secret yeast formula that makes their beer so special can be seen hiding away in a safe.  

We spent a while admiring the giant wooden pint of Guinness, which had been worked on by over 20 artists. It's part grandiose mythology and part humour - majestic looking stallions, yes, but there are also little explorer figurines toward the top of the 3.5 m tall structure moving toward the bottle of Guinness hidden in the heart of it, underneath the lace and crystal "foam".  

Guinness Made of More Sculpture

After all this indoctrination, we were feeling thirsty and peckish, so we took one escalator after another towards the fifth floor where the eateries were located. Arthur's Bar caught our eye at first, but once D saw the Bistro with service next door that got him rather more excited, so there we went. 

Gilroy's Restaurant was inspired by the artist John Gilroy, who did the Guinness advertising posters up until the 1960s, including that of the iconic Guinness animals, still seen in pubs up and down Ireland. The restaurant is decorated with blown up posters of the Gilroy illustrations, and the menus have the Guinness Toucan on the back. Our waitress was utterly lovely and let M bring one menu back with us after seeing how taken M was with the picture. She's thinking of framing it up and putting it in our kitchen back home once she gets back. 

The different foods each came with their own suggested beer pairings, so we deferred to their expert knowledge and ordered the Extra Stout and Foreign Extra Stout to go with our dishes. To counter claims that Guinness was an English brew, Benjamin Lee Guinness adopted the harp as their emblem to clearly indicate the brand's Irish heritage, although it hasn't been the only motif to grace the bottles of stout through the years. My great-grandmother was an avid drinker of Guinness Foreign Extra (I like to imagine we share a similar taste for hops), and in her time the bottles in Singapore came emblazoned with Alsatians with their tongues sticking out. 

Gilroy's Restaurant Guinness Storehouse

Most of the dishes (Save possibly the chicken salad) had been spruced up with a generous helping of Guinness during the cooking process. We got a portion of their famous Beef & Guinness Stew to share, and as our tour through Ireland has progressed, D still thinks this was the best stew we've had so far. With sweet chunks of carrots, tender bite-sized pieces of beef, smooth mash and buttery cabbage, it was a very satisfying dish. The thick and savoury gravy had Guinness Foreign Extra added to it, with the hops supposed to add some nice floral overtones to the overall flavour. 

Gilroy's Restaurant Guinness Storehouse

M went for the seafood chowder, which was generously studded through with bits of salmon and shellfish, and came with a side of sweet Guinness soda bread. 

Gilroy's Restaurant

We also shared a big plate of Mussels in a Cream & Guinness sauce. 

We don't even like cream sauces, but this was good. As the first of many hearty Irish meals, our lunch was a very pleasant introduction to the cuisine.

For dessert, I had the mini blueberry cheesecake, which was all I could stomach by the end of the meal. 

M had Guinness ice-cream with stewed berries, where the coffee-caramel tones and hint of bitterness provided an excellent counterpoint to the sweetness of the berries. 

Our cab driver to the Storehouse had worked as a barman before, and made sure to give us a crash course on the proper way to pull a pint, so we weren't entirely surprised when at the Gravity Bar, we had to wait a while for D's pint. There's a proper way of serving Guinness, and six steps are involved in the pulling of the perfect pint, one of which is waiting for the surge to settle before topping up the glass. Nitrogen helps to create the bubbles that form the creamy foam top, far tinier than those formed by Carbon Dioxide.

Pushing past all the French students sullenly nursing glasses of Coca Cola, we could see the views of the city from the floor to ceiling windows of the bar. The day was overcast, but that didn't stop us from enjoying the view.  

The entrance tickets allows visitors to choose between enjoying a pint or a soft drink at the Gravity Bar, or learning how to pull one at the Guinness Academy. With three in our party, we could enjoy the best of both worlds, and M & D followed me down to the Academy bar to provide moral support as I pulled my pint along with a batch of eleven other students. There, I learned that the most important bit of knowledge isn't the best angle fill the glass or how long to wait for the surge to settle, but knowing which glass belongs to who. At the end of it I collected my certificate, and drank a smooth, smooth glass of stout, all the tastier for having pulled it perfectly myself. At this point my phone died, and all of D's pictures of the special Connoisseur Bar are terrible (His phone wasn't made for picture taking at all), so you'll have to imagine the luxurious, leather-clad bar, hidden away in a corner of the fourth floor so discreet, we had to be walked there by staff members after getting hopelessly lost. 

The Connoisseur Experience was easily the quickest 45 minutes of our lives, and began with the Black Lager specially formulated for the American market (The weakest of the Guinness range we felt), and we stuck around just long enough for a short history of the Guinness family and a glass of the draft beer. Andrew ran the tasting, and made sure to cover as much as he could once he found we weren't going to stick around for long. Our tour guide had painted a picture of fire and brimstone if we didn't turn up to dinner on time, so it was with heavy hearts that we ducked out of the guided tasting session and went to find M at the gift shop. 

We left with two bottles each of the Extra Stout and Foreign Extra Stout that would have been part of the tasting experience in a little gift bag that also included food tasting notes. D & I still sigh over the tragedy of the incomplete experience, but I suppose it gives us even more reason to come back to Dublin someday. 

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Singapore Day 2014 at Victoria Park (AKA Queue and Eat. Rinse, Repeat)

Unlike other posts you might have possibly seen about this year's Singapore Day in London, this one contains zero selfies taken with our PM. The closest I got to him was seeing his helicopter land from where I was queuing for Hokkien Mee (Spoiler Alert: I didn't make it to the end of the line). This is because: 

A - I ducked out at 3 pm to go Hanami with GW at Regent's Park
B - With limited time to get things done, hunting the grounds for the PM was not high on my priority list
C - In my mind, when I finally meet the PM for the first time, it will be in a less chaotic situation, and we will actually be able to have a conversation  

Instead, I present to you all I accomplished (I.E. All I ate) in the 4.5 hours I roamed Victoria Park. Singapore Day felt very homely even this far away from our sunny isle. Some voodoo magic allowed Singapore Day to fall on the first my-goodness-is-it-summer-already day that London's seen this year, and with the sheer masses of people the climate almost felt like Singapore itself.

Growing up, we kept getting bombarded by collective hand-wringing over the lack of an easily definable national identity, but I think we know who we are as Singaporeans. In a Saussurean sense for instance, we are able to distinguish ourselves easily from what we are not ("I'm from Singapore. No, that's not in China/Malaysia/Africa." or "Yeah, I joined my friend in the queue. Singaporeans will just stand there and maybe give you dirty looks, but no one will say anything. Not like in America where someone might actually whack you.").  We also collectively exhibit certain characteristics, which can be positively identified by others as being particularly us ("My friend saw us shouting at each other across the barriers while we were queuing. She said that's so Singaporean. I know right."). So we may not have an easily pinned down essentialist nature beyond perhaps our collective obsession with food. That's fine

AS was my plus-one for the day. She did her time in SMU and spent her childhood making regular trips to Singapore from India since her mom worked in our country, so she's been desperately craving good local food as well. The initial plan was to split up and queue at different stalls then regroup and keep doing that until we managed to try everything, but AS decided she wanted to keep me company and she'd prefer to have her own portion since all the dishes were just taster-sized anyway, so we went everywhere together. We were part of the second wave of people to enter the part around 10.45 am, and we made a beeline for Abdhus Salam Rojak, because we noticed there was no queue. The rojak sauce was a bit sweet but otherwise very flavourful, and all the ingredients were perfectly cooked (Especially the potatoes. Omg those potatoes.). We couldn't understand why no one else had caught on. Everyone else was probably going for the obvious favourites first, so we swept in and profited. 

We ran over to the queue for sambal stingray a few stalls down with our plates of rojak in hand, savouring it slowly while the line inched ever forward. When we got to the front where the people from Boon Tat Street BBQ Seafood were hard at work grilling the stingray pieces on banana leaves, we understood why the chefs were all armed with face masks once we choked on the sambal fumes rising in plumes off the grill. The guy next to us gave a thumbs up while hacking away, as if to say "Yeah guys! This is the real thing!", so we returned the gesture as our eyes watered and I sneezed with particular viciousness (Not on the food of course.)

We were encouraged by the assistant to help ourselves to as much pickles as we wanted, and we didn't need telling twice. We even asked her if we could have extra sambal. Shameless mah. The stingray was amazing. Sinus-clearing sambal and stingray that had been grilled with great skill made for a great eat as we queued for mee pok tah. All the stingray had been filleted, so there weren't any bones to messily contend with while still getting all the extra-soft bits of flesh, and the fish itself was juicy while still having the faintest bit of char. Everyone I met who'd had it concurred that it was amazing ("HAVE YOU HAD THE STINGRAY OMG SO SHIOK"), and we enjoyed the jealous glares of everyone else who hadn't. 

How much does AS love Singapore? A lot. How bad am I at drawing things on my laptop? Very. Hers was a little faint, but I got chopped with such viciousness at the entrance that the marks didn't fade completely till the next day. Good times! It was impossible to upload anything onto Instagram and after the first 45 minutes the network around the place seemed to shut down entirely given the density of people all trying to use their phones. If not, the internet would have been collectively flooded with identical pictures of the same kinds of Singaporean food as the event went on. Pity. The line for mee pok tah moved more quickly than expected, and as we regularly shifted closer to the counter we watched as those there for the fried carrot cake next door faced an almost indeterminable wait. ("I've been here forever. This is my first stall. How have you eaten so many things alread?!") 

The assistant at Ruji Kitchen Mee Pok Tah was the sweetest. She saw our stack of empty plate when we got to the front and immediately offered then helped up throw it away for us behind the counter as the uncle cooked our batches of noodles, and when I wheedled a little she gave me an extra handmade fishball. It was a small portion, but it meant that for once I didn't suffer from never-ending noodles while eating mee pok. The noodles were fresh and nicely chewy, and while it didn't have as much chilli as I normally put in my mee pok, the oil and generous helping of lard bits more than made up for it. 

I heard a rumour while standing in line that someone who'd gone there straight past the gates had asked the uncle to 加面 and he'd very kindly obliged. I don't really know why, but I desperately want this to be true. The uncle was super nice and talked to me while cooking the next batch of noodles, one of which was due to go to AS, so I wouldn't put it past him. 

Our next stall was Selara Rasa Nasi Lemak, where the queue shifted with great efficiency as the toppings were just piled onto the fluffy rice. Nothing could match the sambal from the BBQ Stingray, but this one was very comforting, and the fried chicken brought me back to Fried Food Wednesdays and ordering deep fried drumsticks and begedils at recess. What amazed me the most though was how every egg had been so uniformly prepared with fully cooked whites but a runny yolk.  

The nasi lemak was gone to soon as we waited 40 minutes for BBQ-ed chicken wings. The one thing I miss most often on the cold, cold nights in London is quite weirdly the chilli and lime mixture for BBQ wings, especially the one from Laguna, because that's what I grew up eating. Huat Huat's famous in Singapore for their comparatively bigger wings from Brazil, but on Singapore day they'd sourced from the UK, so everything was somewhat scaled down. Because the chicken wings were cooked in batches and they'd run down their buffer, the line was incredibly stop-start, and at the end of the queue we emerged with one wing each, a militantly enforced rule. Each bite was precious. 

The line for chicken rice had snaked out far, far beyond the designated queue, and even with the construction of further makeshift line markers, it had stretched out all the way to the army tent. In the time we spent in line, I left twice to queue for packet drinks, once for an emergency trip to the toilets (Which were really clean!) most likely triggered by the sambal, and to steal big gulps of rich M A Deen Biasa kambing soup from DS, who I kept seeing everywhere. It was utter insanity, but it had to be done.

FINALLY. Finally, we reached the end and got our plates of Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice. I'm a roasted chicken sort of person, so I gave AS my piece of boiled chicken skin, but otherwise, I was very happy. With an hour to spare, we cut across all the tents to the Come Daily Hokkien mee line, where I allowed my chicken rice to cool to a desirable temperature before devouring everything. 

Frying fresh Hokkien mee takes time, and after 45 minutes we were only at the halfway mark. With no way of contacting GW I had to leave Zone 2 at 3 on the dot if I even hoped to swing back to grab the Party Apple Juice before running to Regent's Park in time for our appointment. Eventually, I gave up and quit the line to get a bowl of Rong Cheng Bak Kut Teh right next door because hardly anyone was there. In under ten minutes, I had a piping hot bowl of the plain soup I wanted, and it was the peppery kind of soup, which I consider vastly superior to the herbal kind. My friends who toughed the Hokkien mee queue till the end told me the wait was worth it, but by that time I was already eating cream cheese, cucumber and salmon sandwiches and demolishing cups of chocolate custard under the trees. 

Back home in June, where all the Hokkien mee I need will fortify me while I finish my dissertation. Hopefully the Overseas Singaporean Unit will hold next year's installment in LA while I'm there and acutely missing food from home. 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Accidental Day-Trip Part 4: Quinteassential's Tea Total Experience at Rosylee Tea Rooms

Stepping into Rosylee Tea Rooms was a little like wandering into a posher sort of garden party with a slight Victorian feel, but a quick check confirmed that yes, everything was still indoors and all the foliage was confined to the ceiling. I'd ambled over to the Northern Quarter in pretty good time and wound up the first guest to arrive at the venue, where I was very warmly welcomed by both Chris and Bernadine, who was our host for the evening. Two sentences into our conversation, I just had to ask Bernadine if she was from Singapore, and it indeed turned out to be the case. Distance makes mini patriots of us all, and it was nice to hear a familiar accent out in the wilds of Manchester. Much hugging ensued. 

Bernadine founded Quinteassential back in 2009, inspired by the fond memories of her childhood where her mother would lovingly brew a pot of tea for the family to share and combining it with her passion for travel. Two years later some of the unique blends she'd dreamed up and carefully sourced from gardens around the world won Gold at the Great Taste Awards, and her labour of love has continued growing strong till the present day. The Tea Total experience was organized to showcase Quinteassential's artisanal blends both old and new, used in rather more exciting ways than we'd normally do with tea. 

A fine tea, blended then brewed well, is a thing of joy, and over the course of the evening Bernadine gave us all a crash course on how to get the most out of our tea drinking, with the low-down on the different tea varieties and how best to prepare and appreciate them. We got to sniff the various tea blends before we tried cups she'd brewed for us, as well as a number that wasn't part of the taste evening. Under the Mistletoe, last year's seasonal blend, smelled a lot like Christmas, and even came studded with little sugar snowflakes. Likewise, our first tea of the evening, the award-winning Garden of Eden, had sugar butterflies floating through the mix of green and black tea leaves and flower petals. The resulting tea wasn't sweet, though it did have a pleasant roundness and the faint aroma of peaches. 

Invoking the height of beauty of Spring in Britain, the tea formed the base for the LSD Sour cocktail made with Old Forester Bourbon, pink ginger and marmalade, evoking a somewhat different view of Spring, one with marshmallow fields and marmalade skies. It was a good drink that complemented the first course of food, a Thai Spiced Monkfish with Garden of Eden tea and pineapple sauce. The food and the tea came in delicate little taster portions, but the cocktails were full sized. It was going to make for a rather exciting evening. 

I'd honestly thought the dinner was going to be a detoxifying experience as I was walking there, but as you can tell, I was dead wrong. One of the other organizers of the dinner was Chris, whom everyone else at the table very fondly referred to as Scouse ("I don't think I actually know his last name to be honest." "Chris Scouse. Eh, that sounds about right."), and he was till very recently a bartender at Hula, the city's own Tiki Lounge. With spirits from the Mangrove Drinks portfolio and Quinteassential's teas, he designed the evening's cocktail menu. He's a lovely guy who got us all to wave hello to Jeff, our chef for the evening who runs the Rosylee kitchens, and then talked us through all the drinks he'd created with the help of his assistant, who stayed behind the bar in the other corner of the room, furiously shaking up the drinks. Here's Chris flaming up some star anise to smoke our second cocktail of the evening.

Inspired by The Tudors series, the drink is called the Cardinal Sin. Made with Louis Royer Cognac, it was so named for doing the unthinkable - bringing the French and the English together. A classy tipple fit for a king's court, its other ingredients include pear juice, orange zest, chocolate and a touch of rosewater, shaken with cubes of frozen Jewel of Africa tea. Another Gold winner, it's a rooibos blend with redcurrants, rose and sandalwood. When brewed, the tea has a very nice tang from the fruit. 

The accompanying course was a bit of a wonder. A tender pork loin fillet marinated in the Jewel of Africa with a honey and truffle glaze topped with a miniature black pudding (Yum!), it was also served with a touch of beetroot purée, little balsamic bubbles and some mash. Would gladly have eaten another two of the same. It had quickly become apparent that everyone else at the table had at least a passing acquaintance with each other, but they were a friendly lot and I didn't feel an interloper for long. 

Our next tea was the Victorian Affair, with green tea from Japan near Kyoto, blended with super-fruits. From this warming tea Chris came up with Old Man Jake's Non-Stop Lemon Drop. By this point, my notes are a little hazy, but they read the cocktail as being made from Portobello Road Gin, Limoncello, and cherry bitters to round out the berry notes of the tea. Rimmed with smoky paprika sugar, it made for a drink that seems perfect for sultry summer evenings. It was matched with an expertly seared scallop, that came with a delicious side of eggplant and more of the silky mash.  

As a big fan of mint tea, I particularly enjoyed the next cup, which was British Mint and Caramel. The bits of caramel balance out the iciness of the mint, and the resulting blend has a pleasant hint of grassy. I liked it so much that after I woke up the next morning evening afternoon (Blessedly un-hungover. Thank you Panadol before bed and massive glass of water) I ordered a batch from Quinteassential's online Tea Boutique. I won't be around to receive the parcel since my flight to Ireland leaves at 8.50 am in the morning, but I'm looking forward to unwinding with a big cup of it when I return in two weeks' time. 

The tea was re-imagined as a mint and caramel Caipirinha, using Velho Barreiro Cachaça but swapping the sugar out for orange blossom honey, which really brought out the mint. There's even a little video online showing how Chris makes the cocktail. I'd love to try my hand at it, but the last time I tried to mix up a cocktail at GW's we ended up having to chuck out the jug. 

Food this round was a perfectly pan-fried sea bass with a gorgeously crispy layer of skin. It came with capers and a red pepper purée, and an odd but quite enjoyable sour square of pear. The only menus on the table were for Rosylee's own Mother's Day luncheon, so we relied on the very nice waitresses to tell us what we were eating at any one time. 

The penultimate tea was the Imperial Earl Grey, but instead of the usual base of black tea, it had milky oolong, where the leaves are steamed over milk as part of the drying process. Mixed with blue cornflowers and blue bergamot from Italy, it's a buttery Earl Grey for people (Like me!) who'd otherwise see the act of adding milk to it as anathema. On the cocktail front, we were treated to Once Upon A Time In Mexico, a far more civilized version of Tequila, lime and Coke. Sarsaparilla was mixed with el Jimador and soda-streamed Earl Grey, then topped with a massive wedge of lemon and a healthy sprinkling of charcoal-baked sea salt. The last savoury dish of the evening was lamb with an Imperial Earl Grey gravy, ratatouille and a minty pea purée. 

At this point, someone pulled out the Wolfschmidt Kümmel. I very responsibly passed my shot to someone else. Our last tea was called Cleanse, a chai based blend with cardamom, cacao beans, ginger and dates. I liked it so much I drained my glass before I remembered to take a picture, so you'll have to imagine what it looks like. 

Our last cocktail was dubbed Tea Totalled, a massively indulgent drink that turned Cleanse on its head entirely. The chai was brewed in stout, then mixed with cacao beans, ginger, Ylang Ylang and the dry but sweet Elements 8 Rum. In addition, it also came with a massive dollop of peanut butter, condensed milk and lashings of whipped cream on top. It was dreamy. On its own it would have made a more than filling dessert, but the kitchen had whipped up plates of Chocolate Marquis with clotted cream ice cream for us as well - utter decadence. 

By the end of dinner (Which magically only cost £25), I literally had to run to the train station to make the departure on time, but it was worth it. It had been a pretty spectacular day trip for something that had been largely unplanned. 

The Accidental Day Trip Part 3: Drinks at Under New Management

There's been some talk among certain friends that I should call this blog Where Abigail Drank instead, but that just feels too limiting. If and when I manage to find a breathalyzer I can hook up live to the main page though, I might do it for the interesting social experiment it's bound to be. (You guys are so full of brilliant ideas.)

I'd first read about Under New Management while on the train, on a list of Manchester's Top 5 Secret Bars, and filed it away under the brain folder Keep In View. Then Mike mentioned it as well, as one of the best places in Manchester to get really well-made cocktails. His suggestion of the Manchester Art Gallery had been an excellent call, so I was inclined to trust his judgement on this point too. Under New Management opens its doors at 5 o'clock (Prime drinking time across the world), which was very conveniently also when the Art Gallery closed, so I strolled out of the city centre across the River Irwell towards Salford once I was ushered out of the museum.

River Irwell Manchester

No one (Unless they're a bit bonkers) actually wants to go back to the 1920s, when Prohibition was rife in the USA and heavily mixed cocktails exploded on the scene as a way of disguising the utterly awful taste of moonshine. Rather, the vibe of secrecy and exclusivity you can find at hidden bars is what most people are after, as well as a better class of cocktail. For me, most of the allure of the whole Speakeasy trend lies in hunting the place down and playing Which Doorway in this Dodgy Alley Should I Step Into? You can pull an address up on a map but you might still end up walking back and forth a street trying to find the exact location of the door. When you do find it though, the cocktails taste better because you've had to work a little for it. Some people have complained about how impossible it is to find the place, but I managed to locate the bar without any difficulty whatsoever, mostly because I lucked out and someone was standing just by the doorways for a smoke. 

Secret Bar and Speakeasy Manchester

At a little past five, the only other customers inside the dimly-lit and rather cosy bar had been taking their day drinking far more seriously than I had. As I arranged myself at one corner of the bar, I felt like I'd entered a little bubble of happiness dislocated from the rest of space and time. One of the guys at the other end of the bar asked a complete stranger to spin his bar stool, because he'd just realized that twirling around on the chair was the best thing in the world. She obliged while everyone in the room looked on indulgently. No cooler-than-thou posturing, just a bunch of friendly people who really enjoy their drinks. It's a wonderfully laid back location where the only thing taken seriously is the quality of the cocktails, and I felt comfortable immediately.  

Under New Management Manchester

While Brodie started me off with a nice cool glass of water, everyone else filed out in preparation for the evening's football match, so I had the entire place to myself. The cocktail list rotates every six weeks, and he talked me through the recently updated menu then helped me pick out something interesting once I told him my preferences. We struck up a good chat, and he told me how he and Andy, the other bartender I'd caught a glimpse of earlier on, had quite recently taken over the space from its previous incarnation Corridor. The decor hasn't changed yet, but the both of them have used their considerable talents at mixology to thoroughly reinvent the menu, complete with brilliant-sounding names. (The Genever Convention anyone?)  

Under New Management Manchester

My first drink turned out to be a frothy and delicious concoction Andy had invented, the very aptly titled Bread & Butter, which tastes exactly like the pudding with lashings and lashings of vanilla custard the way I love it. It isn't actually very sweet though, and I was pleasantly taken aback by how well-balanced the cocktail was. They make a lot of their own ingredients and infusions including the raisin infused rum, which provided a good deal of richness and flavour without making the drink cloying. Anyone who isn't willing to take the fifteen minute walk from the main part of town over to the bar must be mad, because these are definitely cocktails worth travelling for. 

Under New Management Manchester

I was on a roll after my first drink, and when I saw they had a cocktail involving actual butter on the menu, I knew it was The One. Butter aside, Cognac, champagne and truffles make up How The Other Half Live, but for such a decadent sounding drink, it was very light but dangerously drinkable, much like the slippery slope into over-indulgence. Very creative, and quite unlike anything I've ever tried before, the drink is usually cheekily served on a coaster of fake money, but the bar was flat out broke on that score, so I had to make do with a little platter instead.  

Under New Management Manchester

From the subject of cocktails, we got round to talking about tea, and after Brodie showed me the Lapsang scent diffuser he made for a cocktail competition, he remembered that his mate Chris was organizing a dinner this evening with tea-pairings, and helped me ring him up to check if there were still places available. Indeed there were, so I was given an address in the Northern Quarter, a 20 minute walk away. I had no dinner plans and this sounded far cooler than wandering to the nearest pub in hopes of food, so it was a very lucky coincidence indeed. 

Under New Management Manchester

Concluded in Part 4 here