Saturday, 2 March 2013

A Night in Liverpool

Well... What can I say about the city of Liverpool? As we arrived, We instantly noticed the typical ’Scouse’ traits. The girls dressed up with fake tan and big hair, the blokes with trendy designer labels and flawlessly styled hair. Aside from the fashion, Liverpool is famous for being the home to pop music in the UK. It was labelled by the Guinness World Records Book as being the “World Capital City of Pop". Which is understandable, the city is the birth place to bands and musicians like The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, along with many others. 

Liverpool is also known to have the best nightlife in the UK, better than rival cities, London and Manchester. So Cara and I were excited to head out and see what made Liverpool’s nightlife so great. We spent the day exploring the city, visiting places like the famous Liverpool Cathedral, the Merseyside docks and of course a walk past the “Cavern Club”, home of the Beatles. We returned to our hotel and quickly got ready to hit the town at night.  We noticed that Liverpool has a huge nightclub scene. Along with the clubs, there are also many pubs (which is a standard feature in cities throughout the UK), there seemed to be a lack of high end quality cocktail bars. However, there was one place, that all the guides and reviews online mentioned was a must see bar. This place is called “Alma de Cuba”. This was a bar which had been built inside an old cathedral. It has been said to be one of the best looking bars in the UK. As we made our way through the Cathedral’s front doors, we saw the bar, which was positioned in the centre of the building (where the aisle of the would usually be). On one side of this island style bar was a more relaxed lounge type set up. Whereas the other side of the bar was designed to be more of a stand up area, with a couple of high tables and small booths running along the churches wall.  The far end of the cathedral was a small stage where a jazz band was about to start playing. As Cara and I took found a seat in one of the booths, we were amazed by the “mish-mash” decor. Many elements of the old existing church still remained, but there was now added features such as palm trees, along with other cuban influenced details. The menu was also a combination of Cuban flair with a religious twist. The first page of the menu was a ‘tongue in cheek’ version of the 10 commandments starting with “Love thy neighbour...they may be drunk”.

When Cara and I sit down at bars, we tend to look around the room and see what other people are drinking. It’s usually a mixture of beers, wines, mixed spirits and cocktails, but at Alma de Cuba, almost everyone was holding a cocktail. This could only mean one thing... Their cocktails were good. Cara kicked it off with ordering an Alma original, a drink called a “Kingston Crush”. This tiki inspired cocktail consisted of Appleton Estate VX rum, muddled pieces of watermelon, pineapple juice, lime juice and frozen chunks of grapefruit, shaken and strained over crushed ice. It was lastly topped up with ginger beer. These types of cocktails can be dangerous. Not in the sense that it’s high in alcohol, but dangerous because it’s not. This drink was fruity, refreshing and very tasty. You could hardly taste the rum. It’s a drink that you could have half a dozen very easily. But the rum was not going to ly down with out a fight. If you were to down six of these fruity concoctions, it would hit you hard. It’s hard to go wrong with this mixture of watermelon, pineapple and lime, they are always popular ingredients.  But the use of grapefruit and the fizzing finish of ginger, makes this drink a little different then your standard tiki cocktail. It was perfect for Cara. A nice fruity, refreshing cocktail, one which would quench the thirst after an afternoon exploring Liverpool.

I decided to consult the bartender and ask him to make me his signature drink. When a bartender is asked to make their own creations, you can guarantee that little extra bit of love, care and attention will  be put into that drink. His creation was a cocktail called “Mrs Jones’s Breakfast”, a drink which was inspired by his mother. The bartender explained to me that when his mum made him breakfast throughout his childhood, she’d serve up cereal covered in pieces of grapefruit and apricots and sprinkled with sugar on top. He recreated this meal in the form of a drink by starting with Aperol,   followed by Elderflower liqueur, Caradores Blanco (Tequila), a dash of grapefruit juice and lemon juice. It was all shaken together with ice and strained over into a sugar rimmed glass. It was a simple concoction but one which was well thought through and well executed. Each ingredient complemented the other nicely. It wasn’t to sweet, or sour, or bitter.  Even the non-tequila drinkers would love this cocktail. I thanked the bartender for sharing his story. A cocktail seems to always taste better when it has a story and not just thrown together randomly.

As we made our way back to our hotel, we could see the surrounding nightclubs were getting into full swing. We were both glad we got the chance to visit Liverpool, even if it was only for a short time. We had an early start to the next day, as we were returning to a place, which now feels like our second home. We were going back to London.

“Kingston Crush”
In a shaker:
Muddle 3 - 4 chunks of watermelon
15ml Lime Juice
60ml Appleton Estate VX Rum
30ml Pineapple juice
3 - 4 Pieces of Frozen Grapefruit
Shake firmly and strain over crushed ice
Top up with Ginger Beer

"Mrs. Jones’s Breakfast”
In a shaker:
15ml Cazadores Blanco Tequila
15ml Elderflower Liqueur
30ml Aperol
15ml Grapefruit juice
15ml lemon juice
Rim short glass with white sugar
Shake and strain into the glass over ice

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