Drake’s Hotel is in a brilliant location on the seafront, with incredible views of the Palace Pier and the sea from the bar area.
We settled into a table next to the window to enjoy the view while Tom, our mixologist, explained the cocktails he would be making. Friendly, passionate and extremely knowledgeable, Tom went above and beyond to make us feel welcome and to give us a taste of his breadth of knowledge about mixology. At Drake’s, the aim is to create cocktails that are both accessible and unique; drinks which are at once familiar, but contain ingredients that you wouldn’t expect from a typical cocktail bar and (as we soon discovered) burst with outstanding flavour.
The first cocktail we sampled was The Soul; inspired by Japanese flavours, this wonderfully refreshing drink is made with Japanese gin, plum sake, plum bitters, lychee liqueur, honey and sesame syrup, and the unique but wonderful addition of sushi rice to give a starchier, thicker feel. After one sip my friend decided this was her new favourite cocktail, and I don’t blame her. Strong but sweet, cold and refreshing, the strong taste of sake blends effortlessly with the sweetness of the honey and the nutty burst of the sesame oil garnish to give an absolutely delicious overall taste.
The next cocktail Tom made for us was a Cider House Sour, which was my personal favourite of the evening. Made with calvados, peach bitters, lemon juice and egg whites and garnished with bee pollen, this cocktail was an homage to traditional English cider but with a wonderful twist. The egg whites give no flavour, but serve to create a great consistency and a foamy top just like a freshly poured pint of cider. The sharp apple taste of the calvados hits first, followed by the familiarity of lemon which is reminiscent of lemon sherbet. Bee pollen when mixed with the drink also gives welcome added depth and dimension; an all-round winner!
Our final cocktail was a real treat. Tom explained his passion for experimenting with alternative service, a way to create new and interesting versions of the classic drinks everybody knows and loves.
For example, his take on a rum and coke; a frozen cola and lime reduction added to rum, so that the flavours slowly combine as you drink.
For us however, he created his alternative serve Bohemian Gin & Tonic. Not usually one for gin, this was hands down the best gin and tonic I have ever tasted. It was a spectacle to watch Tom at work, pouring Sipsmiths VJOP gin over a flaming sugar cube before adding Mediterranean tonic water and a sprig of rosemary. The glass was garnished with a lemon and rosemary infused salt and pepper rim. The whole presentation of the cocktail gave impressions of the seaside; the salt and pepper acting as sand, the rosemary as seaweed and the crystal clear liquid as the ocean. The aromas from the herbs and salt were heavenly, and the taste was astoundingly smooth (particularly given the amount of gin in it!).
All in all we had a wonderful experience at Drake’s. The cocktails we sampled will be part of their new menu launching at the end of the month, so why not treat yourself to an autumnal evening of delicious and unique cocktails by the sea?
I know I will certainly be back, and most likely staggering home after sampling that wonderful Bohemian gin and tonic again, and again, and again…