Food & Drink

Bar review: Cocktail masterclass @ Hale Grill, Altrincham

Luxury bar and restaurant Hale Grill is giving amateur Tom Cruises the chance to dabble in the art of mixology.

MM were invited to a spirit and cocktail masterclass that gave us an insight into what Hale Grill had to offer.

Just a three-minute walk away from Hale rail station, Hale Grill is easy to find and immediately stands out from other restaurants on Ashley Road.

The décor was warm, luxurious and modern – with wooden floors and leather stools instantly indicating the restaurant’s heritage as a part of the Blackhouse family.

A selection of olives greeted diners on arrival and a Portobello Road gin and Fever Tree tonic – the crème de la crème of mixers.

The drink did not disappoint – the sweetness of the gin came rising to the surface with no bitter aftertaste, which quinine can often give to a tonic.

The delicious canapés on offer – calamari and satay chicken – were some of the tasty food available.

TASTY: Canapes were on offer before the mixing master class

Dave Marsland – better known as ‘Drinks Enthusiast’ –  delivered the masterclass, explaining that MM would taste four different spirits and these were available to buy in the bar downstairs.

The drinks were delivered neat – which definitely led to some apprehension in the room.

The first spirit was French-distilled Grey Goose vodka – available in the UK in 2001 and immediately capturing the imagination of bars up and down the country.

Dave elaborated on the history behind the spirit before recommending the perfect way to sup a spirit.

The drinks guru bizarrely urged smelling the backs of your hand to neutralise the senses and become most receptive to taste and smell when sampling the drink.

To measure the quality of the vodka, swirling the spirit in the glass to study the outline – a visible rim showed on the glass and it slowly dripped down – revealed a spirit that would top any off-license stock.

Next, Dave encouraged breathing in through your nose – sharing what the spirit offered with smells from the room.

Almond and butter were amongst the smells mentioned – although it was tough to distinguish any key features – but after all I was amongst drink connoisseurs.

Now it was time for the taste, swirling the first sip around your mouth before take a second sip afterwards.

The vodka burn struck at first but after the second sip I found the spirit soothing and sweet.

VOD STAR: Grey Goose Vodka

Next up was Portobello Road gin – which has only hit the market in the last five years.

This particular gin is made up of nine different botanicals including lemon peel, liquorice, coriander seeds and nutmeg and all gins must contain juniper berries to be classified as a gin – an illuminating fact for many.

The gin had a beautiful light taste to it and you could almost taste every individual botanical.

Blended whisky Monkey Shoulder, launched in 2005, was next to tantalise the tastebuds.

Dave claimed the drink was “a fantastic drink for introducing people to whisky” .

‘Monkey shoulder’ is the name of an injury malt men used to suffer when shovelling grains.

The bottle was worth purchasing alone with a rustic label, cork bottle top and three silver monkeys engraved into the glass – it gave a nostalgic and archaic vibe.

Far from a connoisseur myself, I found it smooth and easy to drink although it lacked a strong peaty taste – it lived up to its billing as an introduction to whisky.

MONKEY BUSINESS: Monkey Shoulder is described as a perfect introduction to whisky

The final drink was Admiral Vernon’s Old J Spiced Rum – which is relatively new to the market.

It is inspired by the Navy rum ration of a pint a day, and Admiral Vernon adding lime and sugar to the usually over-proof drink more palatable to his sailors.

I wasn’t a keen rum drinker before trying this drink but I was soon easily converted.

This was a favourite with a cinnamon fudge-like taste and it went down smoothly.

READY TO RUM-BLE: Admiral Vernon’s Old J Spice Rum

To finish the masterclass off, Dave led a sneak peak at the bar downstairs and with a choice of two cocktails on offer – honey daiquiri or raspberry, mint and apple cosmopolitan.

The chance to make our own cocktails gave a rare opportunity to be on the opposite side of the bar.

It was striking to see the amount of care, luxury and quality of the ingredients that each cocktail contained and especially the price – with cocktails ranging from £6.50 to £10.00.

Cocktails that stood out on the menu were the Rosewater Collins and Ginger Sidecar, which contained Martell VS and King’s Ginger Liquor.

I opted for a Cherry and Apple Bellini and the cocktail didn’t disappoint with exceptional taste and care to detail.

The evening really captured the spirit of Hale Grill with a fascinating insight into the cool concoctions produced at Hale Grill.

If you’re interested in attending a cocktail and spirit master class – Hale Grill offers a party deal giving an opportunity to explore and learn about life on the other side of the bar.

Images courtesy of Olivia Wheeler

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