Cocktails in Kettering

Cocktails have always been one of those beverages that a gentleman would find difficult to order at a bar, I would imagine many other gents like myself found themselves looking over at the lady standing at the bar with a beautifully presented fruity & colourful contraption that you would love to be drinking yourself but were too embarrassed to order, so instead you just found yourself ordering a pint instead. But that’s not the case anymore, cocktails have exploded in the UK these past few years , defiantly the trend starting in London and spreading like wild fire to the rest of the Country. Bars and restaurants everywhere are creating and developing large ranges of delicious sounding cocktails on their drinks menus to keep up with high demand of people wanting to try new recipes each time.

I’m going to visit 3 Establishments in Kettering to find the most gentlemanly cocktail they have to offer on their menu. I’m keeping it as simple as possible, every place I visit I’m just going to ask for the most gentlemanly cocktail they have on their menu, so each place has the same information given as the last.

I am hoping this will help you chaps gain a better knowledge on the more appropriately suited cocktails these bars have to offer in our modern day and age.

I’m going to be reviewing certain things about each cocktail.

-The Ingredients

-The Presentation

-The Taste

-The Strength

-The Price

-The Time Taken To Make

I believe each of these points are really valid when It comes to buying a cocktail and it’s more then likely each individual cocktail will not always be perfect on each point, but that’s to be expected, as most of the time things are compromised, you’re not going to get a strong cocktail for cheap and your not going to get the best presented cocktail in 60 seconds.

Kettering Park Hotel & Spa

Located just off the A14 the Kettering Park Hotel & Spa is renowned in the area for it’s attention to detail, whether it’s for its fine dinning, fabulous weddings or its luxurious spa, it has defiantly brought, delivered and kept to its 4 star class since it was built and opened its doors in 1993.

If you haven’t been before you really wouldn’t feel like you were sitting in a 23 year old building next to the A14. The warm feeling you get the second you walk through the door instantly provides a true sense of homely pleasure. I think it’s location would be perfectly suited for a business meeting or maybe even a 3rd date (extremely specific but why not )

The member of the team who served me was a chap called Grant and he is the bar manager at the hotel and showed a great deal of knowledge and passion during the whole process of the cocktail making and indeed alcohol in general.

I started by asking him for the most gentlemanly cocktail available to purchase on the menu, not a second of hesitation was spared when he told me the perfect cocktail would be ‘An Old Fashioned’.

The ingredients were simple

-3x 25ml  Bourbon , Woodford Reserve 43.2% was his choice

-A dash of water

-A Brown sugar cube

-An orange peel

-3/4 drops of Angostura Bitter

A large whisky tumbler was placed on the bar with the sugar lump being inserted in straight after, he then took the bottle of Angostura Bitter supplying 3/4 dashes onto the sugar cube, then he began to crush and combine them both together with a large stemmed spoon, whilst doing this he told me an interesting fact about Angostura Bitter, as you can see by the picture above, the white paper label does not seem to fit on the bottle as snug as you would think it should, he said “The reason for this was when the company established in 1824 they were not on sale to the public until 1830, so when it came to designing a label they ordered a large batch of the wrong size that didn’t fit correctly on the bottle, it was a mistake they never corrected but now just under 200 years later it makes for an interesting brand fact”.

woodford-reserve

3 ice cubes were then added alongside the 1st measure of Bourbon and a small dash of water, he then carried on stirring for a few seconds before adding the 2nd measure, I asked him why not add all 75ml at once, he replied “it’s a gradual process of slowly watering down the bourbon evenly throughout , so the strength will be the same”. The 3rd and final measure was then added with a few more ice cubes, the finishing touch was a large spiral orange peel being squeezed into the glass and around the rim. Grant then performed a straw taste test (dipping the straw into the glass and using the thumb to trap the liquid) this was to sample the cocktail to make sure all is correct whilst saying to himself “Pukka”. The making of this cocktail took around 4 minutes, which for its ingredients and relaxed bar environment was well suited.

orange-spiral

The final presentation was simple yet so elegant, the orange spiral sitting so proudly on this mountain of ice made it look very appealing and I couldn’t wait to dive in.

I already knew before trying it that this was going to be one strong cocktail and boy was it strong, well the contents that make up this drink are 95% alcohol so why would it be weak? But the more I drank it the easier it became, it was incredibly smooth and that was mainly due to the process of stirring. I also thought the orange peel was mainly for decoration purposes but it certainly tickled the old taste buds. All of the small things really could be tasted in this cold bath of 75ml of Whisky. They sell the cocktail at £10 which is a reasonable price considering the generous amount of excellent quality Bourbon you get.

This cocktail is best drank without a straw and remember to gently swirl in your hand before taking each sip to keep the mix of water and Bourbon just right. I would highly recommend this as a good old fashioned night cap after a big meal, it’s certainly not a cocktail I would start the night with and not something I would have more than one of. Just that perfect end of the night drink to help see you off into slumber.

old-fashioned

THE RAJ

The Raj is an Indian restaurant located on Rockingham road in Kettering. It has been open for 25 years now and the establishment itself seems to offer a lot more then other Indian cuisine restaurants in the local area. With its stunning clean cut modern decor, Al a carte menu and Shisha lounge, this place really does offer an all over touch of class to Kettering.

When I first set foot in the restaurant I immediately felt like I wasn’t in my small hometown anymore, the restaurants smartly dressed staff with extremely welcoming faces made it feel like I was walking into high rise restaurant in Singapore, the lighting was really low which set the the mood straight away for my visit. It has a remarkable upstairs area with it’s own bar and occasionally a pianist, perfect for those intimate conversations. It’s defiantly a place really well suited for a first date, especially on a weekend when you can really get yourself dressed to the nines and drenched in aftershave.

The bartenders name was Will, I asked for the most gentlemanly cocktail on the menu and as we got chatting he told me about his experience and love for cocktails, he had the exact same view as myself, he said he is always trying to push guys mentality on cocktails, showing that the drink has come so far since that cheesy 80’s sex on the beach cocktail with its tacky straws and little umbrellas. His passion about the subject could defiantly turn any butch Stella drinker into a cocktail man.

He also talked about how his mates find him annoying when they go out for drinks as they all order simple beers whilst he spends ages talking to the person behind the bar asking them what cocktails they can make for him.

cocktail-bartender

He decided the cocktail he was going to make for me was a ‘Bramble’ , he explained it was a simple cocktail that was well balanced in its sweet and sour tones.

– 50ml Gin, Bombay Sapphire 40%

– Lemon juice

– Sugar syrup

– Blackberry liqueur, Chambord 16.5%

Firstly Will placed a tumbler onto the bar and filled with crushed ice so it would begin to chill ready for the finished product. 50ml of Bombay Sapphire gin was added to the shaker half filled with ice followed by 25ml of both lemon juice and sugar syrup.

He then shook for around 20 seconds, he straw tested the cocktail to make sure it was ready to pour, after the tumbler was 90% full he drizzled the Chambord on top which gave off a truly delightful marble effect to the drink.

chambord

It was incredibly smooth to drink, I love gin but I think even if you don’t you would enjoy this cocktail, it’s so light it’s dangerous. The Bombay complimented the lemon juice so well, but then again Bombay is one of the few gins you are supposed to drink with lemon and not lime. The small cocktails straws made it feel like it was never ending whilst drinking it, but when it did come to the end there was no reason why I couldn’t see myself ordering a few more, it was a perfect starter drink and probably a cocktail you could drink all night. The cocktail took around 3 minutes to make, the presentation was simple but crushed ice does always seems to make a drink look so much better. They charge £7.50 for this cocktail, which was well worth it for the taste and service I received alone.

cocktail-bramble

AURA

Aura is a cocktail bar for over 21’s located on Market street Kettering. The Aura brand itself is only a few years young but has already gained a great reputation for being a modern set up for the stylish crowd of Kettering and its surrounding areas. Offering over 60 types of drink, newly set up Shisha area and DJ’s playing all types of house at the weekend, it is very obvious why this place is always busy with a certain first class atmosphere not found anywhere else in the town.

This is defiantly somewhere to start your Friday and Saturday nights! forget standing in your typical pub chain with smelly carpets and cheap quality alcohol, Aura offers great quality alcohol and a clean cut fresh environment to enjoy it in.

 

The bartenders name was Frankee and the cocktail she chose to make for me was called Wrath, it’s essentially an old fashioned with a twist… The twist being that it Is infused with blood orange, The cocktail is a part of their 7 deadly sins range which has recently been introduced to the menu and has already become a very popular choice in the establishment. She was very knowledgeable and passionate about cocktails, which I think if you are in the industry it’s so important to have as it reflects in your finished product.

– Brown Sugar

– Angostura Bitter

– Solerno Blood Orange Liquor 40%

– Jack Daniels

– Grenadine

– SMOKE!

She started by mixing the brown sugar and Angostura bitter together for a minute, when the sugar was properly dissolved, a shot of Solerno blood orange liquor was added to the mix and also a generously sliced orange. As Frankee was making the cocktail she was telling me how Aura don’t just offer the standard cocktails that can be found on every menu, they like enhancing them to make them unique so people always know, taste and recognise when they are drinking an Aura made cocktail.

cocktail-brown-sugar

She grabbed a bottle of Tennessee’s finest which could only be Mr.Jack Daniels and added 2 shots into the mixer whilst continuing to stir. The colour of the drink was now beginning to show up a real treat, I couldn’t even recognise the old fashioned side to it. The most gentlemanly glass that of course is the whisky tumbler was placed onto the bar, a few cubes of frozen water were added to it shortly followed by a dash of red sugar grenadine…just for that extra boost of red.

The drink looked fantastic, but it wasn’t complete just yet, she began to prep a handheld smoking gun by adding wood chips and lighting them, as they began to burn she fired the smoke into the glass which looked amazing, I couldn’t take my eyes of it, i felt like a caveman who just discovered fire.

cocktail-smoke

My first thought on the beverage had to be “festive”, its warm winter tone and strong presence of blood orange really made me feel like i was having a cocktail with breakfast on Christmas morning (which can’t be frowned upon as you can drink from dawn till dusk on Christmas ). It was so fruity and smooth you couldn’t taste the alcohol at all, But saying that the Blood Orange Liquor really did pack a punch and I would like to see it used on more cocktails menus. The cocktail itself took just over 5 minutes to make and is priced up at £6.50 which is the cheapest one I’ve reviewed. The cocktail was very sweet, but the warm tone that was created meant that i could and would order a few before moving onto something different.

wrath-cocktail

Lead barber / Barbershop Owner