I’ve been lucky recently to have had some nights that were better than average. You know the sort of evening where everything comes together just right. A good bar, with a talented bartender making drinks, great company and good tunes, the sort of evening where you have a ‘drinking experience’. It got me thinking about the little things that elevate the experience of sipping a cocktail.
I’ve always been startled by people who say that cocktails are too expensive but who don’t mind paying over the odds for a bottle of beer or a glass of wine. I admit that it galls me to pay £7.50 for an overly sweetened daiquiri made using the cheapest ingredients by someone who would rather be anywhere other than behind the bar. But when you go to a good bar and your drinks are made by a bartender who does their job because they love it (well they don’t do it for the money that’s for sure!) and you sip a perfectly balanced drink, well that’s worth paying for!
I have just returned from my annual Christmas and New Year escape. You see unlike many people I don’t particularly enjoy the ‘festive’ season so I normally grab a group of like-minded individuals and head for the hills. As well as being a keen imbiber I also enjoy mountain biking, so a trip to deepest darkest Wales for a week of playing in the mud and snow up the side of a mountain always cheers me up, while others sit watching TV re-runs and eating Turkey.
This year was no exception, but where as I usually accept a week of drinking beer in place of Manhattans, this year I decided no compromise would be allowed. Here’s my simple philosophy… ‘there is no excuse not to drink cocktails’. No matter where you are or what you are doing, cocktails enhance the occasion, so why compromise?
So with that in mind I set about planning which bottles should go to Wales, with the obvious dilemma of taking enough variety for 8 days drinking, whilst still being able to fit everything else into the car! I would have loved to have been able to take the entire 'drinking room' collection with me, but practicality forced me to dig deep and cull my packing to no more than a couple of boxes, covering spirits, syrups, bitters, tools and fruit. A real challenge!
I also decided that I should provide a cocktail list for my fellow mountain bikers, offering a broad range of drinks to suit their varied tastes. This made life both easier and harder; at least I could narrow down the list of ingredients to cover a small selection of drinks… but it also meant I had to bring enough ingredients to cover the whole range of drinks, not just the drinks I like best… so much for a bottle of rum, a bottle of bourbon and a bottle of Antica Formula vermouth!
Well, it's been a long (LONG!) time coming but finally the first phase of my project is coming to life. For the next few weeks the b&t website will be acting as a blog while we work our arses off behind the scenes to build the website and the database to support it.