Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Monday, August 7, 2017

[Opinion] A tale of two cocktails

The incredible growth and creativity that the Irish cocktail scene has exhibited in the past few years is a wonderful cause for celebration. The parallel explosion in the Irish spirits industry, including whiskey, gin and vodka, has given Irish bartenders expanded access to top quality ingredients for their creations. 

Many bars and hotels now have a cocktail programme of one form or another, which can range from the pedestrian but decent, to the original and highly creative. From a business sense, cocktails and premium drinks can offer an attractive profit margin which makes it worth while to invest in staff training and inventory. But in order for a cocktail programme to be successful and gain a solid reputation, bartenders need to exhibit consistency and adherence to quality standards. 

Let me illustrate with an example...
Stitch & Bear - A tale of two cocktails
The original on the left, the second on the right

I recently visited a hotel which had beautiful stylish contemporary interiors in the reception area and bistro. The bar offered a very attractive cocktail menu, and I ordered a whiskey-based cocktail, made with egg white and grenadine (amongst other ingredients). I am focussing on the egg white and grenadine for reasons I shall elaborate on below.

When my cocktail arrived, it looked really well with a dusky peachy colour, and a nice solid foam layer from the egg white. On tasting, the whiskey dominated with the grenadine lurking very nicely in the background. A solidly well-made drink, and one that I personally would be happy to recommend on my social media channels and in person. 

Then Himself arrived into the bar and, having tasted mine, decided to order the same cocktail. When his arrived, the colour was noticeably pinker and had a much weaker foam layer that was already disintegrating in the glass. The photo above shows the difference with my original drink (with foam still solidly intact) on the left and his on the right. On tasting, the second cocktail was weaker and far too sweet from grenadine with very little whiskey flavours showing. 

I also feel a little personally let down by this. Why? As a blogger, I try to recommend places, dishes and drinks that I feel are worth showcasing. If I had recommended based solely on my drink, and someone subsequently ordered and received the second drink, then that would not reflect well on me.

What a difference a bartender can have in the making of a drink. My little example above really illustrates the importance of having all bartenders trained in the making of cocktails and basic techniques. If a bar cannot do this, then why bother with a cocktail menu at all? 

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