Tag Archives: cocktails

Lantana Cafe, Shoreditch

I’ve openly declared my love of brunch plenty of times here, in particular the boozy variety, but where did it all start….well a trip to Dublin where friends introduced us to the past-time at one of their favourite haunts Dillinger’s started the love affair and the rest is history. A couple of weekends ago we had a long overdue catch up but without crossing the Irish Sea, as they now live in London which is great for us! Being within easy driving distance we arrived at their flat in the Hoxton area of the city and deliberately hadn’t eaten all morning in readiness for late Saturday brunch and an ensuing all day session. A spot of research pointed me in the direction of Lantana Cafe on City Road and we arrived during what seemed peak time – just before 12pm, joining the back of a queue 5/6 deep.

After waiting around 10/15 minutes a member of staff looked at the queue and proceeded talking to the front half taking note of party numbers, whilst ignoring the rest of us! Pretty poor form, the issue was they hadn’t got an overall view of numbers they could’ve seated customers much more effectively with the tables they had remaining. Unfortunately they didn’t, so when it was our turn to be seated next, staff hadn’t accounted for our party of five and the next available tables only accommodated couples or a group of four. Basically meaning people who’d literally just walked in got seated straight away, we’d been waiting at least 25/30 minutes by then. All that without any form of apology whatsoever, we’d hoped for a better start. Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand how it can be when a place is busy and staff are trying their best to please everyone. I’ve worked in restaurants and been in the same situation, but the basics should be paramount.

After one further wait we sat down, we quickly perused the food menu and briskly got our drinks order while we had the attention from a staff member – all zoning in on cocktails. The waitress asked if we’d wanted any coffees, we and simply replied ‘oh no, cocktails please!!’ A few Bloody Mary’s, an Aperol Spritz and mimosa ordered, it took a little while to get them so in the meantime we nabbed a staff member to take our food order. Aperol Spritz and mimosa are hard to get wrong and as it turned out were thirst quenchingly refreshing, however the Bloody Mary’s were very much on the tame side, lacked kick and were due a couple of twists of cracked black pepper, tabasco and some celery salt.

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The food looked great, but it didn’t arrive at the same time, with one of us having a sizeable wait (actually the whole table, because we didn’t want to be rude and start eating) and once again no apology when it was brought over.

Service aside, my breakfast burger was just what I needed with a really tasty meaty/herby sausage patty, crisp streaky bacon, a perfect fried egg with compulsory runny yolk, avocado and a little kick from a chilli ketchup. Supposedly there was some smoked cheese in the mix – the cheese element was definitely apparent, the smokiness not so much, whether it actually needed it was another question. On paper it sounded a lot, but in reality it wasn’t too large, I didn’t feel overfaced and if I’m honest was a bit relieved, especially knowing full well how all day sessions with these lot pan out.

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There was a similar feeling about the food across the table – we couldn’t grumble on portion size, the food cooked well, was tasty and did what a good brunch does and set us up nicely for the day ahead. There was spicy chorizo, runny poached eggs, silky scrambled eggs, salty crispy bacon and charred halloumi there to please. It was the niggles with service that made our experience really frustrating, and it was a shame because for me, having great service is so important! Apart from the initial wait, trying time after time to get the attention of waiting staff, and it wasn’t if we weren’t making it plainly obvious, while staff wandered past us countless times, without even an acknowledgment to the point where we just gave up. 

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Corn fritters stacked with streaky bacon, fresh spinach, roast tomatoes, smashed avocado, lemon crème fraiche with extra chorizo and halloumi cheese
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Poached eggs and pork and leek sausages on toast
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The Full Lantana – poached eggs with fried potato bread, bacon, roasted mushrooms, house baked beans and extra black pudding

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Scrambled eggs with streaky bacon on toast

Overall the food at Lantana was great, the Bloody Mary and their service needs work. 

Lantana Cafe

Unit 2

1 Oliver’s Yard

55 City Rd

London

EC1Y 1HQ

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Jamaican Rum Tings @ Belgrave Music Hall

On the 22nd August, Belgrave Music Hall will be hosting a Wray & Nephew takeover as they bring Jamaica Rum Tings celebration of Jamaican culture to the city’s Northern Quarter. Sounds like it’ll be a great event – it is supposed to be summer after all!! The event will be doing its best to mimic the country’s well known relaxed party vibe with music from DJ’s Toddla T and Daddy G (Massive Attack) playing exclusive Reggae sets with support from MC Serocee, Manchester Sound System Dub Smuggler, London’s Rompa’s & Shepdog and Leeds’ own Reggae Roots & Bass!

There’ll be plenty on offer in terms of liquid refreshments, Wray & Nephew will be bringing along Overproof Rum for their thirst quenching Reggae Rum Punch and there’ll be a Jerk BBQ to satisfy hungry stomachs.

As part of the celebration there’ll be fun and games with Wray’s Drinks Trolley Free Pour Challenge – watching guests try pour a perfect 25ml measure, also a Reggae Rum Punch Relay Race, where teams try and make a Reggae Rum Punch faster than the Jamaican 4x100m relay team’s world record; of course there’s prizes for winners courtesy of Wray & Nephew.

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Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum presents: Jamaica Rum Tings – Carnival Warm-Up Party Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds Saturday 22nd August 2015 Rooftop/bar entry 12pm-2am, Gig, 7pm-2am

Advanced ticket prices excluding booking fee: £4 Early Bird, £5 General, £15 Group of 4.

Tickets guarantee entry before 7pm and are available from RA, Ticketweb & Skiddle. Tickets cost more on the door.

http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/event/184783

http://www.residentadvisor.net/event.aspx?729387

http://www.skiddle.com/e/12460953

Have a nosey at their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter to find out more:

http://www.facebook.com/wrayandnephewoverproofrumuk

Twitter: @wrayandnephewuk

INSTAGRAM: @wrayandnephewuk 
#WRAYRUMTINGS

https://www.facebook.com/events/1431415533850209/

Cabana Cocktails!

Whatever the weather a few cocktails are always a great way of spending a few hours I reckon, but especially in the summer even though it can’t seem to make its mind up at the moment! Cabana in Trinity may be better known for Brazilian influenced food, but they’ve also got a range of cocktails to quench the thirst. We all know that cocktails can cost a pretty penny, so to get more for your money they’re offering 2 for 1 on cocktails between 12 – 7pm and 10pm – close. I was invited last week to try out some complimentary drinks and snacks and here’s my round up of the ones we tried:

Mango and passion fruit Batida.

Batida cocktails made with cachaça and condensed milk they were very smooth and creamy, reminding me of an Indian Lassi. From a pair of mango and passionfruit Batida, my favourite was definitely the mango as I found the passionfruit version too sharp.

Ipanema iced tea 

I really liked the Ipanema iced tea, it was definitely a bit of a favourite amongst us especially because it had lots of zingy ginger!

Spicy malagueta kick caipirinha

The spicy malagueta kick caipirinha split the vote between us, I really liked it packed with raspberries and a smack of heat from the chilli giving a punch of background heat.

Selection of snacks and nibbles

The tortilla chips with decent guacamole had enough chilli to liven it up a touch. From the nibbles selection of toasted corn nuts, chilli coconut chips, plantain chips and malagueta pork scratchings, my fave were definitely the last two!! We couldn’t really get our heads around the chilli coconut chips – they looked a bit like finger nails which was off putting, maybe eating them our eyes closed would’ve done the trick?!

Frozen strawberry caipirinha

The frozen strawberry caipirinha was like a grown up slush puppy with lots of fruit and of course some cachaça!

Blueberry and acai caipirinha was nice and fruity, not too sour and refreshing

Blueberry and acai caipirinha was nice and fruity, refreshing and not too sour.

Snacks – chilli coconut chips, plantain chips and Malagueta pork scratchings

So it could be another option for people in town who’d like a few cocktails; their summery, refreshing, taste good and are 2 for 1! 

Cabana

Trinity Leeds

Albion St

Leeds

LS1 5AT

http://www.cabana-brasil.com

A couple of pop-ups

What’s happened to the weather? All of a sudden it’s turned a bit miserable again, from what seemed like a glorious summer with lots of sunshine and warmth it’s now turned into showers and a down turn in temperatures. Well anyway, even though the weather may not be up to much, there are a couple of pop-ups on at the moment which Leeds folk may be interested in.

Here are a couple of spots I was asked to have a nosey at and try out for free:

Rum Shack’s a pop-up run by three Leeds bartenders with a wealth of experience, with a beach bar feel selling rum based cocktails. If you went to Leeds Feast, you may’ve noticed them and enjoyed a thirst quenching reggae rum punch off them. If that’s your kind of thing then it’s easily found in the Northern Quarter, as it’s in-between the Belgrave Music Hall, Blind Tyger and Sandinista so you can’t miss it! Every few weeks they’ll be changing their cocktail menu, it’s a bit of fun and great way of using the space. I can imagine it could be a good way to start off the night -enjoy some rum punch, a piña colada or whatever they’ve got on their menu that sounds appealing, then nip into the Belgrave for a slice of Dough Boys pizza or Patty Smith’s for one of their legendary burgers and then wherever the evening takes you.

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Ice Bar – found upstairs in Bierkeller off the Headrow, the whole Ice Bar experience is something I’ve had before, but on a far more impressive scale in LapLand’s Ice Hotel. This is quite a small affair and for a fiver you get 25 minutes in the bar and whilst your sipping on either wine, Coor’s Light (the sponsors) or a small selection of spirits and mixers, you may want to have a game on the mini curling or take some selfies next to the polar bear ice sculpture if that floats your boat. 

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Havana Club Mojito masterclass!! 

Love cocktails? I do, who doesn’t?! Recently an email popped into my inbox about a Havana Club Mojito masterclass, what a great idea and apart from the obvious wanting to drink Mojitos, the opportunity to learn more about the drink and it’s history. Cuba brings back a tonne of amazing memories from a holiday that the best mate and I had there four years ago, part of that was of course sampling lots of Mojitos! In fact it was the first drink we had when we arrived at our hotel.

Havana Club UK recently began a certification programme and have been on a quest to find the best, most authentic Cuban Mojitos in the UK, searching the length and breadth of the country. Leeds has some great independent cocktails bars and three have been singled out – The Maven, Viva Cuba and Call Lane Social, using the freshest of ingredients and Havana Club Añejo 3 Años rum and been awards with a certified badge, because they feel these bars stays true to the Havana Club tradition, work with same ethos as the brand and are passionate about what they do.

Having Havana Club UK’s global ambassador Meimi Sanchez there to explain more about the drinks origins was a treat, as from our trip there’d always been something I wanted to know – why mojitos in Cuba tasted slightly different to ones I’d drank here. They weren’t as sharp and zingy for some reason, Meimi explained that Cuban ‘limes’ are slightly different, it’s more of a fusion between lime and lemon, with sweetness and more of a softer citrus. In the UK, Brazilian limes are often used which are more tangy, and also Cuban mint is more aromatic, softer on the nose, whereas here the mint is much more course and more punchy. All makes more sense now!!

With a passion for her native Cuba and the drink it was fascinating chatting to Meimi and listening to her describe number of theories to how the Mojito was first created – 

Firstly, in the 15/16th century sailors were rationed on rum, maybe hard to believe but true, as water was unhygienic, so when Sir Francis Drake got to Havana his crew were suffering from scurvy and dysentery, knowing that the locals had some sort of medicinal drink that could get rid of this he got the ingredients for making it. This being aguardiente de caña made from the syrup which is extracted from sugar cane (guarapa) )which means fire water (76%), combining that with lime (stops scurvy), sugar and mint (improves taste). Who knew that Mojitos were good for you?!

Another possible theory comes from the idea that the slave trade was instrumental in the invention of the drink, as slaves worked in the sugar cane plantations, so had direct access to grape the syrup extracted from sugar cane.

Regardless of how the Mojito originated in Cuba, the drink is still made in the same way and classically uses five ingredients. La Bodeguita del Medio, a famous restaurant/bar in Old Havana, opened in1949, lays claim to having invented to Mojito and the place is well known for being a regular haunt of many creatives, including writer Ernest Hemingway. The same recipe has been used since then, with speedy bartenders make them in seconds.

I’ve never made a Mojito at home, probably because I thought I’d need to use fancy equipment so just gave up, but with a little thought, basics that you’d have in any kitchen would be more than adequate. Meimi quickly demonstrated the steps to make one, also explaining the reasons for doing specific things with ingredients. Then I had a little go myself – it was so simple and of course with a little bit of tweaking made to my own taste too!!

Thanks Havana Club UK, I had a great time, not just for the obvious, but because I learned a lot about Cuba and can relate to it only adds to the fantastic experience I had over there.

With Leeds Loves Cocktails week starting on the 1st June, I thought this ties in beautifully in with the Havana Club masterclass. Many of Leeds’ best bars involved, holding events, demonstrations, talks on cocktails and their history. If you’re a lover of cocktails, I may see you there.