Swift in London’s Soho will serve over 240 different whiskies with an opulent 1950s-style vibe.
One of the most memorable cocktails I ever had – one that honestly gave me a ‘wow’ moment and, dear readers, a single malt-based drink – was From Dusk Till Dawn at the The Gibson in London. It was one of those concoctions featuring such exotic ingredients I expected David Attenborough to sweep through the door with a camera crew: Capuacu butter wash Craigellachie 13 Year Old, Valerian root and tamari soya, black garlic honey, millet amazake and fresh lemon. Yeah, I only recognised the whisky and the lemon juice too, and thought Valerian root was a Game of Thrones reference.
Often enough bars get carried away listing ingredients with unpronounceable names and elaborate garnishes without a thought for flavour. Not this drink. This was sublime. One of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of getting to know, and great value for money at £11.
No, journalism does not pay enough to warrant a Gibson visit very often, but on the rare occasion I do shell out for a cocktail I want a good one.
From Dusk Till Dawn: a cocktail worth parting with your money for
Now, I’ve had the fortune of drinking in some of the best bars in the world, most of them destination bars for good reason – they create cocktails worth a thousand mile trip and a £10-20 hole in my pocket. Others, unfortunately, are more like the Kardashians – beautiful to behold but lacking substance.
The price of a cocktail – or wine, whisky or beer for that matter – in a high end bar includes the pleasure of sitting in beautiful surroundings, enjoying an ’elite’ experience, but surely the quality of the drink comes into play as well?
While on my holidays last week, a friend recommended I pop into the most extravagant and historic hotel in Marrakech for a drink in their bar – named after a famous British Prime Minister, and rumoured to be an experience I wouldn’t want to miss.
Unfortunately the live jazz pianist and charms of the bartender weren’t enough to make up for the poor quality of the drinks: an eggy and unbalanced ‘Lapsang Souchong-smoked’ sour made with Laphroaig 10 Year Old and a watery Old Fashioned (made Pendennis Club-style) with Luxardo maraschino liqueur instead of a cherry. At £20 each, these were more expensive than most London bars. More so than a cocktail at London’s Artesian, the luxurious hotel bar voted the world’s best by Drinks International several times over.
Now I understand Marrakech is hardly London or New York – the two great cocktail capitals of the world – and this is hardly the first time I’ve been disappointed by an excessively-priced drink in a five-star hotel, but some perspective must be heeded where pricing is concerned. That, or bartenders need to up their game.
Bars needn’t be elaborate with their drinks to gain favour – simple classic cocktails executed with precision are enough to put a smile on my face, despite a high price tag. I’d happily hand over a tenner for a sumptuous Old Fashioned (made with Scotch, of course), down my local boozer, so long as it was made well.
Incidentally, you can still try From Dusk Till Dawn at The Gibson (and I recommend you do). Meanwhile, my ‘friend’ with less trustworthy recommendations will be buying the next round.
- Macallan’s new distillery: the story so far
- Tomatin unveils first Scotch barrel-aged tea
- Distillery cats: Scotch’s legendary mousers
- Bladnoch distillery restarts in Lowlands
- New whisky reviews: Batch 105
- New whisky tasting notes: Batch 104
- Whisky’s age of uncertainty
- How to make whisky ice cream
- Polar explorer bottles Arctic iceberg whisky
- Glenallachie sold to Billy Walker
From Our Correspondent 05 September 2016
Scotch whisky faces a host of challenges in India, but there are signs that habits are changing.
Festivals and events 13 October 2016
A must-attend show for the bar industry – but is Scotch doing enough to cash in on its success?
Cocktails 27 October 2016
It may be an Irish pub in New York, but what does the World’s Best Bar have to offer Scotch fans?
From the editors 06 July 2016
Does Scotch single malt’s absence from a leading bar show speak volumes about cocktail snobbery?