You know it’s big news when Stourbridge gets its first dirty burger eatery.
I grew up in Stourbridge, my parents owned Mayson Chinese Restaurant for the best part of 25 years so I was raised in the catering & service industry. I started working at the restaurant when I was 16, like my older brothers before me, and it taught us all a lot about the industry.
Back then, the nearest Stourbridge had to quality burgers was McDonalds. Today, the High Street is full of chain coffee places, Pizza Express, Wetherspoons and the odd independent eatery smattered between.
Which brings us onto the Cock’n’Bull. This is their first eatery, with the second due to be in Glasgow. When I found out they were opening in Stourbridge only a few months ago, I thought I would check out the place. My parents still live near Stourbridge and as I was having a catch up with my college friend Sarah, it gave me the perfect excuse!
We turned up early evening Friday and it was already packed. We hadn’t booked ahead but were told there would be a short wait and if we wanted to get a drink at the bar, they would let us know when a table was available. No sooner had we ordered our drinks and perused the menu, printed on butcher paper, a table was available.
There’s a good choice of sharers and mains, it was almost too much. The foodie in me just wanted to order a bit of everything but knowing how it was likely to turnout out (i.e. significant left over food!), we went for burgers with a couple of sides to share.
My choice was the Cheese & Bacon Filthy Burger, which consisted of 2 free range Herefordshire Beef patties with Monterey Jack cheese and streaky bacon housed in a brioche bun. The burger was cooked perfect for me, with the saltiness of the bacon counterbalancing the sweetness of the brioche. I don’t often finish burgers but I managed to wolf this down well, which is a good sign that I really liked it!
Sarah went for the Cockadoodle burger, free range buttermilk chicken coated & seasoned in their own recipe crumb with mayo and lettuce. Classic & simple, the coating was crispy, light and slightly salty. She found the brioche bun quite filling, much preferring the chicken itself.
We skipped the fries, something I don’t normally do, and went for sides of onion rings and Asian slaw. The onion rings were done in tempura & black sesame seed batter, which was light if slightly greasy. The Asian slaw was quite heavy on the red onion but tasty nonetheless.
For me, this is good news for Stourbridge, to get a new and different experience. I found the staff friendly and attentive. The next visit will most probably be with Ryan, as he’s already had a mooch at the menu and wants to try all of it.
Where: Cock’n’Bull, 109 High Street, Stourbridge DY8 1EE
November 24th aka “Black Friday”, the day the internet and shopping centres go wild for pre-Christmas bargains. Bitters ‘n Twisted wanted to do something a little different to crazy sales and mad purchasing and offer something back to our nominated charity, Acorn’s Children’s Hospice.
What’s more, from 1st Dec – 31st Dec for each cup of Brother’s Winter Cider sold in any of the venues, Bitters ‘n Twisted will donate 50p to Acorn’s – resulting in a big cheque being given to the charity in January.
NOTE: This is not a sponsored post or endorsement, just news of something happening in the food scene in and around Birmingham you might want to know about.
A few weeks ago, it was Wifey and I’s 3rd wedding anniversary so we popped over to Jersey for a few days to visit my brother-in-law and his family, and ate too much food (more on that soon!).
So when I had an invite to the lovely Bulls Head (or is it the The Garrison?), with the new brand ambassador for Langley’s, Katie Rouse. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend, George aka Caramellattekiss, being a massive gin fan, was willing to step into my shoes. Let’s see how she got on.
When two giants of the Birmingham drinks scene pair up, you know you’re in for a treat. I went along to one of Birmingham’s old pubs, The Bull’s Head, for a master class with homegrown gin company, Langley’s Gin.
Upstairs in the gorgeous Club Room, I settled in with a group of keen gin fans, to be led through the history of gin by our excellent guide, Lucy. She talked us through gin’s journey from its humble beginnings as a medicine in Peru, through to the ‘Dutch Courage’ drunk by English soldiers during the Thirty Years War, to Mother’s Ruin in the booming gin era; the disappearance of gin as vodka came into vogue, right up to the new boom in gin production of today. As a gin fiend, most of the history wasn’t new to me but Lucy was knowledgeable, funny and passionate about her subject.
We started with a classic; the Langley’s Aromatic G&T. Made with Langley’s No. 8 and Double Dutch Tonic, garnished with grapefruit and basil, this G&T was an excellent starting point. Double Dutch isn’t a particularly bitter tonic so it makes for a good, light base, with fresh flavours of citrus. No. 8 was originally marketed to men so the botanicals are stronger flavours than other gins, and include coriander seed, nutmeg and cloves.
Our opening drink was accompanied by a sharing platter of Chicken Skewers and Cauliflower Pakora. The skewers are served smothered in a honey mustard dressing and chargrilled, locking in bags of juicy flavour. The pakora are lightly fried, with not a hint of oiliness, and are a surprising hit for such a simple dish.
The platter was followed by a Lamb Kati Roll, which is a lamb kofta rolled in a warm paratha flat bread. The lamb is gently spicy but a little dry for my taste. Our accompanying drink was my favourite of the evening, the Old Tom Buck. This has big flavours of tangerine, perfectly accompanying the citrus flavours in the gin. The gin has a little spice to it, which worked well with the Kati Roll.
Finally, we tried a Masala Martini, a twist on the classic martini, inspired by the Indian twist to the Bull’s Head food menu. Vermouth is distilled with chai masala before being mixed with the gin. This was a divisive drink, with some finding the dry flavours too much. I was impressed and enjoyed the unusual combination of the boozy flavours with the warming chai spices.
For dessert, I tried a new item from the Christmas menu. Blood Orange Sorbet is deceptively simple but served with a drizzle of bitter dark chocolate, the flavours sing. The sorbet is incredibly citrusy, sweet, with a hit of sour and very refreshing. The bitter chocolate is a perfect addition, and I hope this Christmas item makes it to the permanent menu.
Langley’s Gin School is a great excuse for well-crafted cocktails, tasty food and some gin knowledge, delivered in the gorgeous surroundings of The Bull’s Head. I’d definitely recommend it for any gin fan.
About Caramellattekiss / George Elsmere
George has been writing Caramel Latte Kiss since 2010. By day, she works in Marketing, but by night I’m a blogger and a cosplayer. Caramel Latte Kiss began as a personal style blog, but has grown into covering food, coffee, cosplay and my adventures in the second city. she also co-presents as part of Geeky Brummie team on Brum Radio, presenting 60 minutes of all things geek every Saturday from 12pm. You can find her work at caramellattekiss.com/.
Disclaimer: For this visit, George was a guest of The Bulls Head and Langley’s Gin who provided all food and drink. As with all posts on this site, this blog was George’s personal, unaltered, opinion. Brummie Gourmand strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.
My second post in a row outside the ring road, shocking isn’t it?
But I heard the golden words “Rob Wood” and “Cocktail Menu”, especially when it’s at The Plough too. All three boxes ticked, I grabbed Wifey and we hightailed it out of the city centre to the plush surroundings of Harborne.
“Fast cocktails but highest quality possible, How can we make the best cocktails we can as fast as we can, quickly?”.
And who better to assist than Cocktail Master Rob Wood, who also consults on the side as well as running his own bar, Smultronstalle.
We went upstairs to their private rooms aka “Next Door at The Plough” with a few other bloggers and invited guests to see what the man himself had come up with…
And the answer was Premix – somewhat of a dirty word in cocktails until recently.
Rob and The Plough’s view was it’s the best way to keep quality and consistency, whilst allowing for a fast moving bar without the usual pre-requisite “cocktail faff”. By doing the hard work ahead of time, it reduces the time customers spend standing at the bar and helps break down the snobbery barrier between bartender and customer.
This philosophy ended up in seven highball cocktails each with a spirit mixer.
Rob went on to explain that each drink is designed with four elements: primary, secondary & tertiary flavours plus a spirit group, with the depth of flavour coming from the sourcing of most appropriate ingredients for each drink.
First on the list was Raspberry and Hibiscus.
Made with Hibiscus flavoured vodka to begin with and added Creme de Framboises, it’s also an excuse for Rob to use his favourite cream soda, Soda Folk Cream Soda.
For the cocktail itself, there was rich raspberry which subsumed into the vanilla from cream soda, then onto the bitterness of hibiscus and to finish, the dryness of vodka.
Our second cocktail featured another creme, this time Creme de Cassis, to provide the blackcurrant. The gardenia (a member of the the coffee family of plants) was steeped directly with gin and then topped up with a Soda Siphon, which had been steeped with Oolong Tea. A crisp and refreshing drink which had the sweetness of blackcurrant, sufficiently dulled to an acceptable level.
Next another tea combination with Green Apple and Matcha Tea.
This exploited the lighter flavours from Matcha with the robustness of sharp green apple. It’s Willy’s Cider Apple Sours (and that one for some reason Chase keep quiet..) cut with Fino, the driest of sherries, and a dash of Matcha syrup. As there’s a lot of flavour going on, it’s topped up with Belu Mineral water. Sweet, sharp dry and with that dusky Matcha flavour all rolled into one.
Keeping in the Oriental theme, we then went to Japanese Plum and Cherry Blossom.
The tonic in this cocktail is Thomas Henry Cherry Blossom Tonic, a curious flavour which I’ve never tried before although I do like a Sakura flavoured Kit Kat from time to time when I can find one. For the Japanese Plum element, they used Shairume Ginjo Umeshu a Sake fortified with plums, in a similar process to sloe gin. To round off the drink, there is the addition of Jinzu Gin, a 40% gin distilled with sake. It was pretty much a G&T as far away from a G&T can possibly be, and I think it was very plummy drink, perfect for moving from late summer into autumn.
The next combo was a Rhubarb and Rosehip.
This was an experiment in how to make a Pimms Cup style drink unique to The Plough. And I’m glad as I personally detest a Pimms Cup.
Rob had put a touch of himself into the drink with the addition of Fitzpatricks Rhubarb and Rosehip cordial . A personal favourite from his childhood growing up in Lancashire, it originated from the last temperance bar in the UK (he also recommends the Sasparilla). To combat this beefy cordial, Rob countered the flavour with Slingsby Rhubarb Gin . With a touch of local Brummie about it (not that Slingsby would tell you that), he added some Rose Wine and topped up with Prosecco, the hottest wine since Pinot Grigio. It was the antithesis of a Pimms Cup and refreshing for a nice summer’s day in the garden.
Next was something a little more tropical with a hint of Japanese too, the Coconut & Ginger.
This was Koko Kanu a Jamacian rum with a strong coconut flavour, married together with Yuzushu. Yuzu fruit has a very complex, very acidic, very aromatic flavour, somewhere between a mandarin and a grapefruit if you will. The rum added roundness and sweetness to balance the citrus, with the topper up of Ginger Beer to finish which cuts the complexity whilst at the same time, the ginger not overpowering the other flavours, prefect for a chilly evening.
Our final drink of the night was an elderflower and grapefruit combination.
This was spicier than expected due to a pink peppercorn infused vodka bringing the heat (and the colour) to the mix, and mixed with a dash of pamplemousse (grapefruit) liqueur and topped up with Elderflower Presse. The fourth ingredient in this case was cucumber, which changes the texture and flavour of drink as it imparts its flavour throughout. It was really different every sip of the way down.
After all this imbibing, there was an impromptu Q&A with Rob Wood after the drinks. It was fascinating to hear his views on the revival of the cocktail scene in the UK and the issues that come with that, with very few genuine carers of the profession shared between a wealth of venues. It was incredible to hear the amount of detail and thought put into this menu of seven drinks with liquid densities, prep time, ease of creation and, most importantly flavour, all having a role to play.
We were that impressed and the consensus around the table is if The Plough wanted to make even more money, they should sell miniatures of the pre-mix at Christmas. I’m sure these would be welcome gifts all round.
Rob’s passion comes through and we could have listened for hours but alas, taxis waiting, it was time to head home and enjoy a fine, if chilly, autumnal evening.
Many thanks to the team at The Plough and Rob for a fascinating evening exploring alcohol in its many forms.
The list of highballs in full:
RASPBERRY & HIBISCUS hibiscus vodka/framboise/cream soda
BLACKCURRANT & GARDENIA gardenia gin/cassis/oolong soda
GREEN APPLE & MATCHA apple liqueur/fino sherry/green tea soda
JAPANESE PLUM & CHERRY BLOSSOM jinzu gin/umeshu/cherry blossom
Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of therelationship.co and The Plough who provided all drink for Wifey and I. This provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.
Regular visitors and residents to Sutton Coldfield will no doubt already know about the Brewhouse and Kitchen, which has been open for the past few years. They’ve now extended this into their new Hop House Garden with a pizza shack amongst the new features.
There’s also a Facebook competition too!
More info below:
With a fire pit, pizza oven shack, 15 litre serve yourself keg table, outdoor games and cosy covered areas with Wi-Fi and individual power sockets, the Hop House Garden has something for everyone to enjoy this summer season.
The arrival of the all new pizza oven shack offers a mouth-watering new menu, bringing everything from classic margherita and pepperoni choices, to spicy slices for the more adventurous types, including Thai Me Up, a creation covered in Siracha Thai chicken, red onion, red chilli and crispy beansprouts.
In line with the new garden and pizza menu, Brewhouse & Kitchen will also be tapping its first Hop House Garden beer, a welcome addition to an already impressive selection of on-site brews.
To celebrate the launch, Brewhouse & Kitchen will be running an exclusive competition on their Facebook page from this week, giving lucky diners the chance to win a seat at the Keg Table and pizzas for up to 10 people each week for four weeks. Customers can check Facebook for details on how to enter.
Melvin Symmons, General Manager at Brewhouse & Kitchen Sutton Coldfield, comments: “We’re so excited to be opening our Hop House Garden and launching our new menu!
“There’s nothing quite like this in Sutton, and we can’t wait for customers to come and enjoy the delights of the new pizza shack, cosy up next to the outdoor fire pit, and pour themselves a pint of our brand new beer from the Keg Table!”
The launch of the Hop House Garden will be taking place on Friday 18 August from 5pm, giving customers a first glance at the garden with free pizza, live music from Electric Pollen, beer tasters and much more to enjoy.
My photography skills seem to have forgotten about anything but food and drink this year but it was a similar set up to last year, with the stage next to the Town Hall and a central seating area with the stalls looping around it.
Wifey and I went both days (of course!) and we tried a fairly decent selection, photos below:
My first dish of the day (prior to Wifey’s arrival) was the Slow Cooked Ox Cheeks from Purnell’s Restaurant accompanied with watercress puree, pickled shallots and wasabi crumble.
Chicken Katsu Curry, breaded chicken, mild katsu curry sauce and sticky rice from the lovely chaps at Chung Ying Central.
We tried both dishes fromNosh & Quaff , usually found on their starters list, TheRib Tips (a very popular dish for the festival), deep fried lumps of pork belly tossed in their house BBQ sauce, and their BuffaloWings, Free-Range Cotswold Chicken Wings with a smoked butter and Habanero sauce.
After that much food, it was time for a beverage so we popped over to the cocktail maestro from Purnell’s Bistro, Gary Anderson (on what we learnt was our last time getting a cocktail from him, prior to his move to The Meat Shack as their new GM). We had a Strawberry Feels, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Elderflower, Lemon, Apple & Mint, and Pineapple & Sage Daiquiri, Bacardi Rum, Lime, Pineapple, Sage & Pink Peppercorn.
And that was the end of Day 1
After a fun day in the radio studio (for Geeky Brummie, it’s worth a listen, I promise!), it was time for more food and booze!
First stop of the day was Opus / Bar Opus Wifey had the Pork Belly with spiced cherries and I had a Parma Violet with gin, creme de violette, lemonade and parma crystals.
Next it was time for our now traditional Colmore Food Festival must-have from Jojolapa, the Momo’s (chicken dumplings).
My next stop was Gauchoand their Beef Empanada and (not pictured) Vacio (bavette) steak which came accompanied with Humita Saltena (creamed sweetcorn).
Then it was a return to Purnell’s Bistro, and another Strawberry Feels, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Elderflower, Lemon, Apple & Mint, the third variety of cocktail we had was their Summer Lovin with Grey Goose Vodka Peach, cranberry, Orange and Lime.
Wifey also popped to Purnell’s Restaurant, with the Ox Cheek swapped out for Beef Blade accompanied by watercress puree, pickled shallots and wasabi crumble.
The final dish of the day was Black Forest Cake from The Bureau, and some Tom Collins from The Jekyll & Hyde (not pictured) we were pretty much done for the year. and with that, it’s on until waiting for 2018’s Food Festival!
I like gin and I’m very glad it’s currently having a revival. It’s a curious spirit, being made from another (vodka, if you didn’t know) and steeped with a variety of botanicals.
So you can imagine how happy I was when this appeared through the post from the people at Chase Distillery. There was also an invite to sample their wares at their #GBTour, part of the 10th anniversary of Chase Distillery, which highlights the crisp and dry Williams GB Gin. The Birmingham stop involved a supper at The High Field, an offer I couldn’t refuse!
Arriving at The High Field in glorious sunshine, I saw their transportation for the evening (a lovely Land Rover Defender 90, if I’m correct; why did they ever stop making them?). After a few snaps, it was inside to have a quick globe of G&T on The High Field’s terrace, before settling upstairs (happily seated next to the estimable Paul Fulford).
The evening promised to be a celebration of gin with a ‘Ginfused’ three course meal tied with three cocktails, each a different take on how to use gin.
Our first course was Gin Cured Salmon with Cucumber Salad and Lime Mayonnaise accompanied by a Gin Twist (GB Gin, Cucumber, Lime, Elderflower Liqueur, Tonic), served chilled than the traditional hot cocktail.
The salmon was light with juniper notes, and the zesty lime mayo perked up the dish remarkably. The Gin Twist reminded me of cucumber water cut with lime cordial. It was very refreshing and took the edge off the heat.
Our second course was Braised Lamb Shank, Rosemary Gnocchi, Broad beans, Peas and Juniper Jus, accompanied by a GB Fruit Twist (GB Gin, Red Vermouth, Chase Blackcurrant Liqueur).
The lamb, braised for 24 hours, was tender as you’d expect and fell off the bone. The greens delicious, with a crisp al dente bite. The rosemary gnocchi was a tad disappointing. I know they can come baked, boiled or fried (fried in this case), but as flavoursome as they were, I found them a tad cloying to the roof of my mouth. I hankered for a roast potato or two, especially to go with the wonderful lamb and tart juniper jus.
The GB Fruit Twist was a nice cooler with the vermouth giving a red wine vibrancy, undercut with fruits, and a dry finish coming from the gin.
Our final course was a Gin & Raspberry Summer Pudding with Clotted Cream, accompanied by Rasberrilicious GB (GB Gin, Lemon Juice, Raspberry Juice).
The summer pudding really cheered me up, as Bill Bryson says
“It’s a funny thing about English diners, They’ll let you dazzle them with piddly duxelles of this and fancy little noisettes of that but don’t f#ck with their puddings, which is my thinking exactly.”
Mine too Bill, mine too! This was a lively example of a proper British dessert, thick carb-olicious bread, stuffed with fruit (and a not inconsiderate amount of gin) and unctuous, glossy, rich clotted cream, evoking memories of happy Sunday lunches at my Nan’s. The plate was polished back to the ceramic!
The cocktail, on the other hand, was a touch too tart for my tastes with lemon and raspberry juices giving an acidic edge. As an dessert, this could have done with a touch of sweetness
And the evening came to a close, all gin heavy but hangover free the next day (wonderful!). Goody bag in hand with a miniature G&T to make at home and a summer pudding recipe (inserted below), I stepped out into a sweet summer twilight as my carriage in the form of my long suffering Wifey awaited.
Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of the wonderful team at The High Field & Chase Distillery (who also sent me a natty bottle and book), this provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.
I’m no stranger to The High Field, so on hearing they’re having a very spacial musical guest next month, I thought I’d let you know, especially as there’s only 250 tickets so likely to sell out soon!
On Saturday 15th July 2017, The High Field will be hosting a very special evening in aid of charity when Belinda Carlisle, one of the biggest selling female global artists of all time, makes a one-off appearance at the Edgbaston venue.
This exclusive event, which is limited to just 250 guests, will feature a short acoustic set of songs from Belinda as well as drinks and dinner in a glorious garden setting. It will raise money for Belinda’s own co-founded charity ’Animal People Alliance‘ and the UK Charity Branch of ’Her Future‘.
Tickets for this special event are now on sale and include fizz and canapés on arrival, followed by a three course vegetarian or vegan dinner with a menu created for the night by The High Field’s head chef Ian Meek.
After enjoying good food and drink in the stylish surroundings of The High Field, which was named the Best Gastro Pub in Birmingham at the inaugural Birmingham Food Drink & Hospitality Awards, guests will enjoy a short acoustic performance of Belinda’s songs. There will also be a silent auction with some brilliant prizes to be won, special guests and even the opportunity to win breakfast with Belinda herself at a secret location the next morning.
All the proceeds from ticket sales will be given to the two charities close to Belinda’s heart to support the vital work they undertake. Animal People Alliance’s mission is to offer high quality care to street animals in need, alongside robust employment opportunities to survivors of human rights abuses and other vulnerable populations in South Asia. Her Future UK provides shelter, education and high-wage employment to survivors of human trafficking and extreme abuse so that they may remain forever free; since 2005, the charity has helped thousands of women and children to build a bright and independent future.
Launching the evening, Sarah Robinson, General Manager of The High Field, says, “This is a fantastic opportunity to support these two amazing charities whilst enjoying good food and drink in a unique venue. “We are thrilled to be joined by Belinda Carlisle and to have this unmissable opportunity to listen to her music in such an intimate setting,” says Sarah. “As lead singer of the Go-Go’s, the most successful female band of all time, and one of the world’s biggest selling female artists, she is a true pop icon, and we are honoured that she will be performing here in support of these two great charities.
“It’s going to be a wonderful evening full of excitement and surprises, and we hope that as many existing and new guests will join us to help raise as much money as possible for charity,” she says.
Belinda Carlisle, says, “Animal People Alliance is a charity, based in Kolkata India, I co-founded with Paul Suit in 2014. Whilst still in the early days, we are starting to have a real impact, with our mission to provide quality care for India’s street animals, employment for survivors of human rights abuses and other vulnerable populations. We want to change the future generation’s consciousness towards animals, and raise awareness of the need to treat animals humanely.
“I’ve always dreamed of having an animal sanctuary and I have such a love of India. I had an idea on how great it would be to combine both with the invaluable help of Her Future, of which I’ve seen first-hand the work they do, and I’m humbled even to be in the same room as Sarah Symons (the co-founder of Her Future Coalition and inspiration of Her Future UK), as she does the work of angels.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of the charity evening at The High Field, and grateful to all the generous people and businesses who are making this event happen. I will be performing a short acoustic set of my hits as music is still a big part of my life, as is Animal People Alliance,” she says.
There are just 100 tickets for this special evening costing £150 each, to include fizz and canapés followed by a three-course vegetarian or vegan meal, and a further 150 tickets at £75 each for those not wishing to dine, with a silent auction and some amazing raffle prices from sponsors. To book, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request tickets. Full payment will be required by 11th June 2017. For updates on Animal People Alliance follow us on Facebook @animalpeoplealliance
The charity evening at The High Field with Belinda Carlisle takes place on Saturday 15th July 2017 from 5pm until midnight.
The High Field is at 22 Highfield Road, Edgbaston, B15 3DP. Tel: 0121 227 7068.
Davenports. that’s a name a lot of Brummies will remember (and a hell of a lot wont…). For nearly two centuries until the late 1980’s Davenports was the brewery of Birmingham, just off Broad Street, and their ‘Beer at Home’ slogan was known across the country.
It’s great to see the name come back (alongside sister brand Dares), with a planned 6 venues across Birmingham & The Black Country. The closest of which to me is The Bulls Head, just off Broad Street itself.
People may remember this pub as The City Tavern, but it’s been converted into a beautiful traditional pub, with plenty of classic features and nods to the history of the Davenports name across the venue.
Anyway, back on subject. The reason for this evening’s visit was an invite from Gerard, the Manager, who had invited myself and a colleague down for a bourbon or four in the company of Bulleit and Buffalo Trace Bourbon.
Before that, time for Mint Julep (mint leaf, bourbon (Buffalo Trace), sugar syrup, and crushed ice), a nice, clean and simple palate cleanser to prep the taste-buds, whilst we ensconced ourselves at the rear of the bar.
Out hosts for the evening were Gavin Jones and Matt East, covering Bulleit and Buffalo Trace bourbons respectively. and taking us on a journey through how Bourbon came to be, the rules around producing and the distinctiveness of each of the bourbons for tasting.
First up we were told both tales of how Ireland and Scotland both claim to have invented the oaky spirit. The Irish claiming to have learned it via the spice road and the distilling of perfume for men, whilst the Scots claim to have made it via accidentally fermenting grain in horse saddlebags. Whoever made it first is lost in the annals of history and much grumbling.
We then learnt about its birth in the US with the frontiersmen making moonshine through to the categories we know today. We also learned their varied categories of whisk(e)y such as Rye (at least 51% rye), Malt (at least 51% malted barley), Bourbon (at least 51% corn / maize), and Corn (at least 80% corn / maize), with bourbon and corn both requiring virgin oak barrels.
Our first neat drop of the evening was Bulleit Bourbon (65% corn 28% rye, 4% malted barley). revived in 1987, by Thomas E. Bulleit, Jr. Inspired by his great-great-grandfather Augustus Bulleit, who made a high-rye whiskey between 1830-1860. It has a high Rye content compared to most bourbons, allowing for a spicier finish than most bourbons, there was heady wood-smoke and peppery to begin then descending into an almost marmalade flavour, a very agreeable drop.
Next to taste, the Buffalo Trace, a Kentucky straight bourbon, and a well regarded, well rounded one at that. It’s aged 8 years, a rarity for a US bourbon, and rigorously checked by 14 tasters at the distillery (what a great job to have). The flavour could be described as smooth, and went down like velvet.
As we were mid way through it was time for a food breather:
Our sharing platter had spicy lamb burgers, bourbon glazed chicken wings, asian slaw and sweet potato fries. The lamb burgers were absolutely delicious, made with the same meat as their lamb koftas. The wings were slathered in a rich, sticky glaze and were deliciously tender inside. They were served with a refreshing mint and cucumber dip which i couldn’t stop dipping the crunchy (yes actually crunchy for a change) Sweet Potato Fries. It was a great sampler of their street food inspired menu , one which I’ll be back to revisit.
Back to the whisk(e)y. Our next dram was a Bulleit Rye. This ‘frontier’ whiskey is made with a 95% rye and 5% malted barley mash, and a winner of many gold medals. This whiskey pulled no punches in flavour,. deceptively soft to begin with it hits with an exceptionally oaky flavour and descends into a toffee / caramel flavour.
Our final neat whisk(e)y of the evening was an Eagle Rare, a premium blend from Buffalo Trace, aged 10 years, from carefully selected barrels. A very very complex, enigmatic and expressive flavour which I struggled to pull any individual notes out of, but overall, slightly sweet and spicy.
To round out the night we had a Buffalo Trace Old Fashioned, one of the most classic of whisk(e)y cocktails, and one that will earn your the wrath of many a bartender on a busy night if ordered in great quantities. Muddled in bitters and that zesty orange citrus burst, always a lovely way to take your whisk(e)y.
Post all this lovely Bourbon, Gerard was nice enough to have a sneaky peek at the upstairs suite, in the final touches currently. It’ll be hosting live music and relaxed dining and looks to be a gem of a location, and one I’ll be revisiting, I mean it’s almost a local…
Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of Gerard and Davenports, this provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.
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