Win! A five-star salon hair makeover at Rainbow Room International at Great Western Road.
Win! A five-star salon hair makeover at Rainbow Room International at Great Western Road.
BY AINSLEY STARK
It doesn’t take much convincing when you ask a Glaswegian to go for a drink, which meant the mere mention of spiced rum had us saying ‘yes’ before we had all the details. Wester Spirit Co. is the first spiced rum distillery in Scotland for over 300 years and trust us when we say it was worth the wait.
I have to admit I am a gin drinker by night, so I thought it would a good idea to bring someone along who knows their stuff. A friend of mine spent 3 months in the Caribbean this summer gathering research for her Masters degree, and although she was very studious and hit the books, she also made sure she hit the bottle in equal measure. With Emma, my rum expert by my side, we made our way to Partick.
After some banter and chit-chat with Laura and Eilidh who welcomed us into the distillery, we were able to talk to Zander McGregor and Allan Nairn who have poured their heart and soul into their business venture. Allan offered us their signature cocktail, the Coppertop, which compliments the blend of fresh and natural ingredients perfectly. Emma and I more than enjoyed the Coppertop, a simple cocktail that packs a punch; Wester Spiced Rum, Ginger Beer and Lime Oleo. We could’ve sipped on them all night, but I had to remind myself that I was working!
Allan and Zander have been friends since school who saw a gap in the market and decided to do something about it. With all the many craft gin distilleries there are, it’s about time a new trail was blazed. The first question that had to be asked was, ‘why rum?’. To which Allan answered, ‘because we like rum’. Simple, and to the point; a lot like their rum recipe. An incredible blend of aromas that create a rich flavour, including unmistakable notes of citrus and vanilla. Yum! This spirit can be enjoyed in a cocktail, with a mixer or over ice, it really is that versatile.
There is not much the boys haven’t thought of regarding their spiced rum, from the taste, to the way it is distilled, to the design of the bottle and to how it can be enjoyed; Zander and Allan have it covered. Wester Spirit Co. has parted with using conventional copper stills to make their rum and have in its place used a multi-faceted stainless steel still. The still is equipped with fully programmable technology which can increase the efficiency of the distilling process, giving the option of manual control to allow changes to the smallest details in the flavour profile. Distilling is a scientific process, but it is an artform at its core. Allan and Zander’s passion for small batch craft spiced rum along with their combined experience in business and engineering will no doubt make Wester Spirit Co. a big success.
Drinks are better when enjoyed with a friend, a belief that is exercised at Wester Spirit Co. who do not shy away from collaborations. Wester have teamed up with Drygate Beer to make a delicious spiced ale that is already pushing boundaries. They are also keen to do more collaborations for Wester to be enjoyed in as many ways as possible. Wester are not limiting themselves to what is considered normal for a rum cocktail, they let the Wester loose among bartenders in Glasgow and said, ‘have fun!’. Bartenders invented all sorts of drinks, including the Irn Bru and Wester Rum cocktail that was concocted at The Citizen Glasgow.
Wester Spirit Co. have big plans for 2019 including a tour of the distillery with the chance to meet the makers and enjoy a cocktail making class. Head over to itison to buy this deal and see the heart and hard work Zander and Allan have put into Wester Rum. Not to mention the chance to make and try this delicious spirit!
Keep an eye out for this rum, it is going places. Although I said I was gin drinker, I may have to change that to ‘I used to be a gin drinker’. Wester is a game changer for me, and I will no doubt be heading to a stockist soon to add Wester Rum to my drinks cabinet. Head over to their website to find a stockist near you, or to buy your very own bottle online.
BY AINSLEY STARK
This week we went to the launch of Glasgow’s newest bar and restaurant, The Botany. Alan Tomkins, the man behind institutions including Urban Bar & Brasserie, Vroni’s Wine Bar and Blue Dog, has chosen Maryhill as the location for his latest venture. We were extremely keen to see what The Botany had to offer as we made our way through the M8 traffic on Wednesday night. The thought of high-quality food and drink without the pretence of fine dining kept our spirits up.
We were welcomed by the lovely Ashleigh and Olivia from The Big Partnership PR Firm. We were offered a selection of delicious drinks on arrival and chose “Take it Slow”, a gin cocktail that was so smooth and easy to drink (maybe a little too easy). Warmly welcomed and drinks in our hands, we were able to wander around the restaurant while nibbling on carefully prepared canapes, and take a look at what £200,000 worth of investment and refurbishment looks like. The results are absolutely stunning. My friend and I sat down in the corner of the restaurant and watched as the sunset shone through the beautiful floor to ceiling windows. These windows look out over a small green and you almost forget that the restaurant is situated on a busy road; it is a great city escape.
Moving on to the main event, I could see a procession of servers bringing out starters. In hindsight, I must’ve looked like a child seeing their first Christmas, I was so excited to taste the starter samples. We were presented with a tempura prawn with Japanese wasabi mayo, a sweet corn fritter with spring onion, sesame and sour cream, and a haggis bon bon with pureed carrots in a whisky and peppercorn sauce. Honestly, we could’ve had four more helpings. This hit the nail on the head as high-quality food without the pretence.
At the start of the meal we were offered the choice of three mains; pan roasted chicken with barbecue and tarragon glaze, fondant potato, carrot puree, green beans and a red wine jus, a puff pastry tart with ratatouille, pesto and red pepper cream, or monkfish curry, grilled king prawns and mango with fragrant rice and coriander. Well, they had us at barbecue and tarragon glaze! We opted for the pan roasted chicken, and my taste buds are dancing at the memory of having it. I’m sure a lot of you have that same affliction as us; your eyes being are too big for your belly? Well, we are pleased to say that the portion sizes at The Botany are “just right”, whatever that exact measurement is! Our meals were not too big, but we were completely and comfortably satisfied.
As the sun finally set, the ambiance of the restaurant transformed. The candle-lit tables created intimacy, while the bustling vibe of the restaurant was kept alive by the open plan layout. As if the night could get any better, out came three desserts to share at our table. Thank goodness we didn’t have to choose between them because that would have been far too difficult. We had peach panna cotta with basil and strawberry jam with crushed meringues, white chocolate crème brulee with vanilla scented shortbread, and banana loaf with coconut ice-cream. What a way to end the night. The restaurant started to get busy with customers and it felt like The Botany had been in business for months. From what we experienced, it was a smooth operation that felt very relaxed while still maintaining a great level of professionalism. It was a privilege to be invited to the launch of The Botany and sample the great menu. It safe to say we will definitely be back to nestle ourselves at the bar and watch the world go by. If you’re looking for somewhere new to dine in the West End, make The Botany your priority.
BY AINSLEY STARK
It was another glorious weekend in the West End, but this one had a twist…it was also shaken, on the rocks and garnished with a raspberry. The first Glasgow Cocktail Weekend took place over a four-day weekend (9TH- 12TH August 2018) and it was delicious. A range of signature cocktails and incredible DJs at some of the best venues in Glasgow. What more could you want? The only suggestion I would make is to have the GCW every weekend.
Moir Media, a Scottish communications consultancy, organised the Glasgow Cocktail Weekend to showcase some great independent restaurants and bars for both locals and visitors to enjoy. It was a fantastic set up: buy your day ticket for £10 online which would give you access to over 100 different drinks from £5 at one of the 30 participating venues of the Glasgow Cocktail Weekend. There was really no excuse to stay at home last weekend.
On Saturday a friend and I, who did not need much persuasion, sampled some of the incredible cocktails, included in the GCW, at bars and restaurants in the West End. Our first stop was The Butchershop on Sauchiehall Street. We propped ourselves up at the bar and decided to sample a bit of both worlds, The Smoking Grouse and Caribbean Sunset – a smoky and a sweet. A short walk away, we headed to The Finnieston and enjoyed their two cocktails on the set Glasgow Cocktail Weekend menu. We sat at a window seat and watched the world (well, just the West End) go by.
The third stop on our cocktail crawl was Lebowskis. It is now a staple of the West End and hardly needs more recognition…but we’re going to shout about it anyway. We decided to go for a Parisian Punk and a Decade and Counting from the GCW menu. Glasgow is bursting with music and boasts some of the best venues in the country, so you’re never pushed to find somewhere with great tunes. The cocktails we had were made better as we sipped them to the stylings of We Should Hang Out More (#WSHOM), a well-known duo in Glasgow, who put on a great set in Lebowskis as part of the GCW.
Reluctant to leave the great music, our fourth stop was the Pickled Ginger where we tried some Japanese inspired cocktails that were like nothing we ever had ever tasted. We sat at the bar and sampled the Honda and the Macha Mojito, two very different cocktails which are also available on their regular menu to enjoy on your next visit. From there headed to Nonya, a Southeast Asian restaurant which opened in March of this year. We were shown downstairs to their separate bar and enjoyed an Unholy Trinity and a High Fashion. A set of cocktails that we wouldn’t have had the guts to try unless it was on a special offer, and we were glad we did. The service was exceptional, and we will be sure to go back and enjoy a meal there in the near future.
Our sixth stop was Rioja, a little bit of Spain in the middle of Glasgow. This Tapas restaurant had a good vibe which you could feel as soon as you stepped in. The interior was stylish and inviting, something caught your eye everywhere you looked. We ordered a Boudoir and a Rumbutcha which went down a treat. By this point we’re 12 cocktails down and so decide that the next bar will be our last. Our seventh and final stop was the Kelvingrove Café. This bar takes you back in time with its traditional bar set up; marbled tables, mirrored wall, soft and friendly staff. It gives you a great flavour of Old Glasgow Style.
The GCW is an ingenious way to sample different cocktails. Most of us would be less inclined to risk it and spend money on a drink that we might not like. But the way the GCW was designed meant that you could explore your palate and spend only £5 doing so. My friend and I took advantage of this opportunity and found that we really enjoy whisky cocktails (and maybe a little too much).
Although we only got a glimpse of one day of the Glasgow Cocktail Weekend, ask anyone and they’ll agree, it was a huge success. You don’t need an excuse such as the GCW to go out and enjoy what the West End has to offer, but it certainly greases the wheels. Make Finnieston the destination for your next cocktail crawl and you won’t be disappointed. We can’t wait to see what the next Glasgow Cocktail Weekend has in store for us.
Cottiers Church is a West End institution and much loved local Hyndland landmark. Personally we’ve enjoyed family pantos on Christmas Eve here followed by nibbles in the bar, and many a tipple has been enjoyed in the beer garden on a balmy summer’s day (you remember – THAT afternoon).
What we haven’t done for ages has been to journey up the turret staircase to the restaurant. Last Tuesday we corrected that oversight, and how. Recently launched as Leiper’s Attic (after the architect William Leiper who along with Daniel Cottier designed Cottiers) and specialising in showcasing Scotland’s extensive larder we had a treat of an evening.
Freshly baked bread with tomato butter and the tastiest olives were placed on our table within minutes of our being seated – along with some delicious Kir Royales. Being a seafood lover I couldn’t resist finding out what a Bowmore Mist on my starter of scallops and sea vegetables would consist of. Turns out the waiter literally sprays your scallops with whisky out of what looks for the world like a perfume atomiser, who knew? Turns out it’s also delish adding a rather tangy note to the dish.
For mains I stuck with the fishy theme and went with the succulent wild hake fillet, while the other half devoured a juicy fillet steak in a garlic butter sauce. I particularly enjoyed trying the potato Mull cheddar gratin, so much so I’m now looking for Mull cheddar everywhere I go, the bar has been raised! Alongside our mains we enjoyed a side dish of green beans, roasted shallots and crispy ox tongue that was quickly devoured. The menu isn’t extensive and that instills confidence that each dish will be executed to the highest level, and so it proved.
We both agreed the food and dining experience was of a top West End standard in a really unique setting. Neither of us can wait to return – maybe after another show in Cottiers theatre, or maybe just because the food is that good it doesn’t require a theatrical add-on to revisit.