Tuesday, 22 March 2016

A vermouth tasting with The Collector and Regal Rogue

Jack Adair Bevan pours a cocktail made from The Collector vermouth
Last week, me and Mr G went out on a Monday night. I know! But there were definite extenuating circumstances. We'd got wind of an event put on by Guardian Local (the members' events programme) that involved our new favourite drink - vermouth.

When I was a teenager, breaking in my tolerance for booze, my drink of choice was Martini Rosso with lemonade. Ribena with a twist, if you will, it met my only criteria: sweet and alcoholic.

Who knew I'd be so ahead of my time? According to the event marketing, vermouth is fast replacing gin as the drink most sought after in the world's best bars. But we're talking proper vermouth. Artisan vermouth. Delicious and delicate, this new incarnation is carefully crafted by connoisseurs. Two of these masters of the vermouth world led Monday's event - Mark Ward of Regal Rogue, who makes his vermouths from 100% Australian wine and indigenous botanicals, and Jack Adair Bevan from one of my very favourite restaurants,The Ethicurean, whose Collector vermouth is made from plants foraged in Somerset.

The event took place at Bellita, newly launched little sister to Bristol fave, Bell's Diner. And as well as the range of vermouth-based drinks we sipped, there were treats and nibbles from the kitchen, too. A gorgeous beetroot dip with hazelnuts and yoghurt, delicious breads, and incredible marzipan-stuffed prunes dusted with almonds.

One of the big revelations of the night for us was Jack's penchant for the reverse cocktail, in which the volume of spirit to lighter alcohol (eg whisky and vermouth) is reversed for a lighter drink. This means you don't get hammered on three drinks, instead able to continue on through the night in a more civilised fashion. I think I could subscribe to that.

Jack writes a monthly cocktail column for the Guardian, so head over there for more of his mixological magic. And if you haven't yet tried The Collector, well, you simply must. Find out where to buy it here.

And after? We trotted down the road to Bravas, for more drinks and nibbles, before tumbling down the hill and home to bed.
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