Updated: Jun 16
At the beginning of May, I decided I wasn't going to drink for the month.
Then I booked a table at a local hotel restaurant for mine and Cesare's 3 year anniversary and we were offered the wine pairings.
And then I found out about a local food and bar festival in my town that was happening the same week that a friend of mine was coming to visit.
So, of course, I drank in May.
Rather than the food festival having multiple market stalls up, the organisers of the food festival partnered with many of the independent restaurants, farms, bakeries and bars in town, hosting a variety of events from tastings to tours to workshops. Sessions filled up quite fast but we were lucky to get ourselves into a sourdough tasting session and a cocktail tasting session!
The cocktails tasting was at a local bar, just slightly off the tourist paths, discreetly located amongst central apartments. We were chuffed to find out about the place as good cocktails are hard to come by in our town. Looking at their drinks and food menu, it's clear that the bar owner and staff are foodies which made the tasting session all the more exciting. Very adventurous with their flavours - the kind of adventure that makes you a bit apprehensive but is always worth it.
We had a glimpse of the drinks tasting menu before our first cocktail arrived and I did not expect it to look the way it did - It looked like a cosmo, but a cosmo it definitely was not! Sweetened with a splash of passoa, this sipper was smokey with Mezcal and Campari being the lead characters! Discovered a mezcal I hadn't had before and is now on my personal list of favourites....
We were then lead onto our second drink - the bars own take on a negroni. Cesare loves a negroni. I enjoy them too, but its not always my first choice......but....BUT their twist was to make it a spicy version with chilli rum, balanced with a ruby port. Hello new first choice! It was also the first time I tried a dehydrated pear and I've got to say, that it added another texture that brought the drink together - the adults version of a cherry on top.
And then came the third drink.... The bars own take on a Mai Tai. I don't know about you, but I associate Mai Tai's to being young, drunk, questionable fluorescent shots and even more questionable bars. The drink was always 'drinkable' and kind of tasted like tropical juice and marzipan mixed together. But this bars Mai Tai....Well, this bars Mai Tai replaced that association. You could even say it erased my jaded young memories. But it may have ruined all other Mai Tai's that I have again...ever. Like when you have a good coffee and can't turn back?
So many sweet and smokey flavours perfectly balanced within crushed ice. No questionable marzipan and no questionable fluorescent shots in sight. It felt like a sophisticated take on a classic party drink but without the pomp. Looking back at the photos of the night, I know for sure that just like a good coffee, I'm not turning back. This bar is now our favourite bar and also the only place I'm ever going for a Mai Tai.
I obviously didn't succeed in going booze free in May, especially with a Mai Tai that had 5 generous shots of booze in it. But, to be honest, I'm not mad. The experiences introduced a new mezcal, a place Cesare and I can now call our 'local', some new friends and also some amazing new wine, but more on that next week.
If you are interested in attempting in remaking the cocktails at home, you can buy a lot of the booze online. If you purchase from one of the below links, I'll get a little kick back at no extra cost to you.
Cocktail 1 - Bars Own Signature
Cocktail 2 - Negroni Twist
Cocktail 3 - Mai Tai