Bristol Cocktail Week 2015, 19th - 25th October

The Milk Thistle cocktail bar is one of Bristol's hidden gems, and I mean hidden quite literally as without a sign outside to announce its presence you need to know where to look in central Bristol to find it. Since tracking it down a few years ago it has been one of my favourite places to go on special occasions. Having to ring a buzzer on their secret door, before being shown to your table in a fancy room filled with vintage curios certainly adds an air of excitement to the evening –and of course their cocktails are top notch too. It’s a great place to take guests who are visiting the city, an ideal date-night location and I have even been lucky enough to attend a very glamourous wedding reception at the venue.
As much as I love the Milk Thistle I can’t say I tend to find myself there on a Tuesday evening but this week I got to go along to enjoy a cocktail masterclass as a preview to Bristol Cocktail Week, which runs from October 19th - 25th. Now in its 5th year, Bristol Cocktail Week originated as a way for those in the industry to meet up with fellow local mixologists. Run entirely independently and not-for-profit, Bristol Cocktail Week has grown from strength to strength and this year boasts more events for Bristol's discerning drinkers than ever before.

Throughout the week-long celebrations, event highlights include, Edinburgh Fringe favourites, the Thinking Drinkers who perform a drink-along comedy show; A ‘Cocktail Safari’ along Whiteladies Road and ‘Cocktails Through the Ages’ at the Milk Thistle – which I plan on attending. The week’s celebrations will culminate in a Masquerade Cocktail Ball at St George's Hall. Unfortunately the event which sounds most up my street is sold out. The movie drink-along, to the film Cocktail, at 20th Century Flicks has understandably been a popular choice - how about a monthly event eh guys? Just think of all the films that have great drink-along potential!

With over 20 events taking place in 50 bars across the city there's bound to be a tipple related event that tickles your fancy! Check out the full list events here and purchase a wristband via Foozie for discounted prices and special offers.

Our host for the Milk Thistle cocktail masterclass was Danny Walker - chairman of Bristol Cocktail Week, part of the Milk Thistle / Hyde & Co. team, owner of Psychopomp Micro Gin Distillery and cocktail maker extraordinaire! Danny showed the group how to mix a range of cocktails according to the basics. No fancy, tricksy stuff here - the class was very much intended to teach us the tools and give us the confidence to make decent cocktails at home. We also learnt a lot about the history of the cocktail which I found fascinating.

Over the course of the evenng, as we tried a number of delicious drinks, Danny chatted away answering our questions and dishing out tips and tricks - apparently milk-based cocktails are very much passé, current cocktail trends include beer based cocktails and smoky flavours and a top tip for a bloody-good Bloody Mary is beetroot juice. I was particularly impressed with Danny’s punch (which bared no resemblance to the murky, sweet stuff I relate to punch), as with the other types of cocktails it's all about getting your basic components correct - find the right balance of sweet, sour, strong & spice and you're on to a winner!
What I really took away from the evening was how I could learn to treat cocktail making the way I do cooking. As an ardent foodie I’ll spend hours thinking about and planning meals but never put that sought of thought or effort into my drink making. Apart from the odd cocktail party - Hendricks, cucumber and tonic is about in-depth as it gets round here! The class has had me hankering to try out more drink mixing at home and certainly whet my appetite for the coming Bristol Cocktail Week!

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1 comment:

  1. Don't forget our cocktails through the ages night booking on Friday!! :)