In case you missed it, we recently ran a cocktail competition with the Grand Hotel Brighton to name a new cocktail created by head barman George. Our winner Aimee Fenn cleverly named the cocktail a Rhuby Ruin and her prize? The chance to taste all the cocktails on the Grand’s funky new cocktail menu! Here’s what she had to say about it all…
We arrived at The Grand on Saturday evening not really knowing what to expect. Having never drunk in the bar area before, images of stuffy, suited businessmen propping up the bar (and their laptops) popped into our heads. This stereotypical notion was shattered as soon as we approached the reception area at the Victoria Bar.
To call him a bartender would be doing him a massive disservice. He was a cocktail wizard
A polite and well-dressed hostess lead us into a contemporary and stylish bar that, although modern also had a classic regal feel to it. Chandeliers hung from the roof and subtle rose gold accents gave the room a warm inviting feel. We were greeted at the bar by our host for the evening, George. To call him a bartender would be doing him a massive disservice. He was a cocktail wizard, a veritable Blumenthal behind the bar. A whirlwind of dry ice and weird and wonderful flavour combinations, all topped off with a cheeky smile. We took our seats at the bar and fastened our metaphorical seat belts for the flavour journey we were about to embark on.
First up on George’s new signature cocktail menu was “The Columbus 1493”, a fruity, pineapple and rum based cocktail inspired by Christopher Columbus’s journey to the new world. The pineapple being a symbol of hospitality amongst the Caribbean natives Columbus encountered on his travels. It was a sweet, fruity yet punchy number with a nice hearty kick from the rum. Definitely one for the Pina Colada fans out there.
After our mouths took their trip to the Caribbean we head back to the UK via “The Baroness”. Margaret Thatcher’s favourite tipple was whiskey and like the lady herself this cocktail was a serious, no nonsense affair. Made with whiskey, lemon juice, Cointreau, bitters, egg white and marmalade. Now I know what you’re thinking, all those ingredients sound rather, well bitter. But unlike the lady herself it may be bitter but it’s not unpleasant. In fact the flavour combinations make this drink rather tasty and refreshing. The sugars from the marmalade give it a slight sweetness and the egg whites make the whole thing feel a bit indulgent. While not for everyone it was still a tasty cocktail.
Lapsang souchong tea, mixed with Bulleit bourbon, honey bitters and sugar syrup all finished off with a squeeze of lime. This was my personal favourite of the evening
Next up on our alcohol fuelled tour for the tastebuds was the “1864”, named after the year the hotel was built. Just as the original architect John Winchord Jr demonstrated over 100 years ago with the hotel we’re sat in, this drink showcased some serious creativity and our mixologist George’s flavour wizardry. Lapsang souchong tea, mixed with Bulleit bourbon, honey bitters and sugar syrup all finished off with a squeeze of lime. This was my personal favourite of the evening. A fantastically smokey, playful, yet masculine drink. With the sugar syrup and lime adding a zesty freshness, stopping the whole thing from feeling like a barbecue in your mouth. Definitely one for the adventurous.
We moved on to the next cocktail of the evening which was a Brighton twist on a classic drink “The Grand Martini”. To borrow the description from the menu “The magnificent, unique and unrivalled structure had sprung up, as if by magic and forms the greatest ornament in town.” This cocktail is a representation of this statement. A strong and unique take on the Martini featuring gin, Martini Rosso, Cointreau, Campari and lemon juice. All this sounds fairly normal I bet but what makes this drink so different is that it’s accompanied by a ginger ale shot, to be drunk between mouthfuls of this dynamic cocktail. This combination really sets this drink apart from other Martinis you may have had in the past. This is a real gin lover’s drink and the added ginger ale makes this a fun cocktail for a night out
The final cocktail on George’s menu was the “Hobden’s Margarita”. This drink gets its name from the salt water bath house that used to stand where the hotels Empress suite is now situated. In this case the Brighton sea water has been replaced by a delicate ring of pink Himalayan salt and dry ice. Probably for the best really. This take on the classic Margarita contains tequila, Dubonnet, Cointreau, lime juice and agave syrup. Like Brighton itself it’s part sweet, part frisky, and thanks to the lime and salt a little cheeky too. A great drink for parties and celebrations.
You could serve this delicious cocktail in a mop bucket and people would probably still queue up for it
The very last cocktail we sampled on this alcohol-fuelled ride through George’s culinary mind took us to the Alice in Wonderland-esque, soon-to-be-new-addition to the menu, the “Rhuby Ruin” (named by Yours Truly, if you didn’t know!). We picked the name as a nod to the use of Rhubarb vodka, and this is a sweet yet naughty cocktail also made with Brighton Gin, lemon juice, vanilla syrup, white chocolate, and elderflower lemonade. You could serve this delicious cocktail in a mop bucket and people would probably still queue up for it. It’s so tasty and easy to drink, the addition of the vanilla and white chocolate tricks your mind into think you’re eating dessert. Expect this one to soon become everybody’s favourite after-dinner drink!
Once we’d polished off all the cocktails that had been lovingly and expertly poured for us we thanked George for his informative and entertaining hospitality and staggered elegantly and somehow majestically out of The Grand. I’m sure we’ll be back soon to embark on another tipsy adventure through copious spirits, Chinese tea, rhubarb and marmalade.