Thursday, 29 November 2012

Our visit to the “Blue Dog"

Every city we go too, we get recommendations and ideas of places and bars we “need” to visit. So far almost every person we’ve spoken to in Glasgow has recommended one bar, the “Blue Dog” bar. It’s safe to say that Glasgow has not got a massive cocktail scene. The Scot’s are more into their pubs. So after hearing all the glowing reports on this cocktail bar, Cara and I had to check it out and see if it was worth all the hype.

The Blue Dog opened it’s doors in 2003. It instantly became Glasgow’s home to great cocktails. They complement their large cocktail menu with an array of live entertainment act’s playing piano and jazz classic’s all night long... so it certainly sets the scene and the mood for a great night out.  The Blue Dog instantly reminded us of many of the cocktail bars in London. It’s low ceilings, cosy lounges and with the sound of jazz music lightly playing in the background. This bar was right up our alley.

As we looked over the menu, we noticed that the Blue Dog were offering many concoctions. Certainly lots to choose from. But none of which jumped off the page like some of the drinks we’d seen and tried in London. This is to be expected though. Trying to sell cocktails to locals who are not big cocktail drinkers is always going to be tough. So the Blue Dog’s menu, despite being vast, is still very simple. It consists of many classics which have been slightly tweaked to make them more interesting.  However the drinks are still basic and they are not confusing punters with weird and wild creations.

As per usual, I always order the house signature cocktail. I believe that a bars signature cocktail is the drink that the staff are most proud of. It’s a drink that defines the style and standard of the bar. No surprises that the Blue Dog’s signature cocktail, was a drink called “A Blue Dog”. A fruity creation consisting of apple vodka, blue curacao, fresh passion fruit, lime juice, apple juice and pineapple juice. This was a very nice refreshing drink, but I feel for a house signature, it’s a little too safe. It’s hard to go wrong when mixing fruit juices together. I was hoping for something a more creative from the Blue dog team, but as I mentioned, things can’t get to crazy when trying to appeal to a "pub-type" crowd.

All in all, Cara and I had a great night. Listening to jazz and sipping our cocktails. Cara was drinking original daiquiris, a drink which has been her favourite for some time now. She’s managed to test out the original daiquiri all over the world.

This won’t be our one and only visit to the Blue Dog. We’ll definitely be back to see what other drinks they have to offer.

“A Blue Dog”
In a shaker:
30ml Apple Vodka
30ml Blue Curacao
Dash of Passionfruit pulp
15ml Lime Juice
30ml Apple Juice
30ml Pineapple juice
Add ice and shake
Strain over crushed ice
Serve in a tall glass
Garnish: 1/2 Passionfruit

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Drinking at the Pot Still

One of the things which I’ve really enjoyed during our travels so far, is scratching below the surface of cities and discovering it’s icons which are only well known to the local people. Glasgow is full of iconic places which are not famous world wide, but places that the Glaswegian's know and love. In my last post I wrote about the story of the oldest pub in Glasgow, The Scotia.  After visiting this pub, I got put on to another place, which was a “must-visit” during our time here, a place called “The Pot Still”.  Scotland is famous for it’s whiskies, and the Pot still boasts a collection of over 460 whiskies on offer, making it Scotland’s premier whisky bar. 

The premises of the Pot Still has been operating since 1867, but it wasn’t until 1981, when John Waterson took over the existing pub and rebranded it “The Pot Still”. The aim was to create a pub which was heavily focused on whisky and themed around stocking rare hard to find malts.  The bar was an instant hit. It has been known, that businessmen from London, would fly to Glasgow for the day, just so they could drink their favourite whisky, because the Pot Still was the only place they could find it.  Today the bar is owned by whisky enthusiast, Frank Murphy. Frank began working in his Dad’s pub many years ago, and now he and his Dad both run the Pot Still.  I had the pleasure of speaking to Frank’s dad, during my visit. He described his son’s passion and love for all things whisky and how he is now happy to now take a step back and let his boy run the majority of the pub. He also went on to say that Frank is constantly trying and sampling new and different whiskies. They are hoping to have the collection up to 500 before the end of the year. 

So of course a visit to the Pot Still would not be complete with out trying some of the collection. I decided to try one of the bosses recommendations, the Benromach 10 year old. It was recommended because it’s matured in a sherry cask and has a sweet chocolate and fruity sultana flavour which I love so much in some of the Australian fortified wines. This malt also had a spicy after taste which on further investigation, I discover was cinnamon.  It was light in smokey peat flavour too. Many malts can taste to smokey, almost burnt, but this wasn’t. The sweetness of the sherry cask took centre stage and the peat smoke taste lingered in the background. 

I’m definitely guilty of sometimes letting the complex world of cocktails and mixology take over,  causing me to forget about the raw spirits. When you are always trying to push the boundaries and create new tastes and flavours, you sometimes forget that the most satisfying drinks are the ones which are raw and pure.  Sitting at the Pot Still sipping on my whisky and water, it was great to have the chance to talk to people who don’t care about cocktails, they just care about whisky.