Shaking Things Up

The Bon Vivant, Thistle Street, Edinburgh, cocktails and food 1 (2)

This week was all about cocktails in my world. Whilst one of my favourite Edinburgh haunts earned an incredible title – the best bar in the world, I spent some time honing my French Martini making skills. More on that later, first up, let me tell you about this gem of place…

The Bon Vivant on Thistle Street picked up the glittering title of Best International Restaurant Bar, at the Tales of the Cocktail 2014 Spirited Awards. I already knew, from lots of sampling of cocktails, that I was lucky to have this kooky, little bar on my doorstep, but what I did not realise is that this is the first time a Scottish bar/restaurant has scooped this impressive award.

You’ll find this stylish bar on Thistle Street, a beautiful cobbled street in itself oozing cool restaurants, bars and upmarket boutiques, bang in the middle of Edinburgh’s main shopping distinct.

On entering, to the left you have the bar, manned by some of Edinburgh’s finest bar staff, often sporting impressive beards and bow ties – these guys look like they know how to mix you a good cocktail. At the back is the dining area where the walls are covered in french inspired prints and posters, and wax candles in bottles on the tables create a cosy atmosphere. Finally in front of the bar is a collection of mismatched tables, chairs and stools – my favourite being the giant champagne cork stool.

The food offering is almost tapas style, with lots of little “bites”, “middles” and “sides” on the menu – my kind of dining. We usually go for a selection of bites to start, giving you a chance to try everything from hand dived scallops, to haggis bon bons to grilled halloumi – these are just some of the delights on the menu last time I was there.

And of course, they mix a reeealllly good cocktail! You just need to take one look at their instagram feed to see what treats they have in store for you.

It’s well worth a visit, even if it’s just so you can say you’ve been to the best bar in the world. If you can’t make it to Thistle Street, you can visit them in Stockbridge as well, and they have an excellent sister bar and restaurant in the Old Town – read my review of The Devil’s Advocate here.

Now, let me tell you all about these French Martinis! An easy peasy summer cocktail you can make at home with friends. Whilst I love a good cocktail, I’ve never actually been taught how to make one, and I was dubious my efforts would pay off. I have decided to start with a French Martini, mainly because I already had the ingredients to hand.

French Martini ingredients

Chambord and Vodka

All you need is a cocktail shaker, measuring device, Chambord, Vodka and pineapple juice. At first I followed this recipe, but it didn’t give me the bright pink colour I was after. So I adapted to this:

Serves  2 and bit for tasting…or if like me, you’re not great at cocktails yet, spilling:

30ml/2fl oz vodka
30ml/½fl oz raspberry liqueur
50ml/ pineapple juice

Now the fun part – pour all the ingredients in your cocktail shaker with ice and go for it. Just shake, shake shake, pour, and sip immediately! The result will be delicious…

Cocktail shaker

French Martinis

Cocktails

And a close up of that froth…

Froth close up

A fresh raspberry or two would have finished these ice cool cocktails off perfectly. Now that I’ve mastered this one, I have a valid excuse to have some fun hunting down some proper cocktail glasses – roll on a fun summer of cocktail making.

The Honours, Edinburgh

GalleryOn Friday evening I was treated to dinner at The Honours, one of Martin Wishart’s restaurants in Edinburgh. Located on North Castle Street, there are plenty of nearby options for pre dinner drinks, and we decided to go to Tonic, a cocktail bar a few doors along from The Honours.

Some of the cocktails on the menu
Some of the cocktails on the menu

Take a peek online at their cocktail menu, I think you’ll like it as there are lots of fun combinations to try. On this occassion I opted for a Rasberry Kiss. Made up of tanquery gin, grapefruit, homemade rasberry syrup topped with prosecco, it was yummy! The Haribo lips sweetie on top, is a good reflection on the sweetness of the drink!

wpid-IMG_20140131_194725.jpg
Raspberry Kiss – tanquery gin, grapefruit, homemade raspberry syrup and prosecco

After a couple drinks I only had to totter a few steps down the hill in my heels to arrive at The Honours. Unfortunately I don’t have any of my own pictures of the meal, so hopefully we descriptions will do the dishes justice! You can take a look at the menu online here, and I’ll try and talk you through the yumminess!

To start I opted for the crab cappuccino, and I’ll admit I was not quite sure what the expect. I was greeted with frothy and intense crab soup. It came in a large shallow bowl and had lovely pieces of soft crab and garlic through it. I’m a huge garlic fan, the more the better, so this was right up my street. The size of the dish was deceiving and due to the richness of the cream based soup I wasn’t able to finish it which is extremely unlike me!

For my main course I enjoyed the fillet steak, which the waitress informed me was cooked on the bone. A technique,  she told us, used to hold in the flavour and juices from the meat when cooking. I had never tried fillet on the bone before, so that was quite exciting. The steaks are are served with vine tomatoes and choice of sauces, I went for a bearnaise sauce and ordered a side of potato dauphinoise (see, garlic again!) and shared some green beans. The steak was cooked to perfection – I like it medium and it melted in my mouth. Absolutely delicious and totally worth the special occasion price tag (£32).

Dinner was washed down with a bottle of Fleurie. This wine, in my opinion, (and I have to say I’m no wine expert, at all) is a really light red wine – perfect for those who are eating red meat but aren’t wild about red wine!

The dessert menu was extensive, and after two very filling courses all I could manage was a scoop of passion fruit sorbet. All the ice creams and sorbets on the menu are offers as a whole dish or simply a single scoop. A really nice touch for those who aren’t quite finished but can’t manage a whole dessert.

After coffees and a desert wine we decided to call it a night. I mentioned that our trip to The Honours was a treat, and I’d love to say I’ll be back in a flash, but the prices simply don’t allow for that. However at the end of the day we were looking for a special evening we would remember, and that was exactly what The Honours gave us. So, thank you!