Friday, 29 March 2013

Discovering Bath & Bristol

Well it’s getting towards the end of our UK adventure, but before we depart we had time for one last trip. We decided to visit the city of Bristol and the near by town of Bath. These places had been highly recommended to us by many friends. I’d also read a lot about Bristol’s cocktail culture. Several articles have said that some of the bars in Bristol rival the top places in London. So we jumped on a train and headed west towards Bristol. 

When I researched what there was to see in Bristol, I was impressed with the many museums and galleries that seemed to be on offer. Over the past couple of years, Cara and I have had our fare share exploring museums, so we decided to do something a little different. I’d heard about Bristol’s famous “Nelson St”, before our visit. A once dark and dirty road which had been turned into a vibrant display space for street art. The project was called “See No Evil” and it is the largest outdoor street art display in the UK. The display was only opened in August 2012. It involved 45 graffiti artists, 3,500 cans of spray paint spread over 12 buildings along Nelson Street.  It was certainly an impressive site. We had to  walk down the road twice, as when you walked from the top of the road to the bottom, you only saw half of the designs. When we turned around and walked back, the street took on a whole new look, as new pieces emerged. 

As our day of exploring Bristol came to a close, It was time for us to start thinking about where we would have dinner and which of Bristols many bars we’d visit and review.  A highly recommended restaurant on Bristol’s waterfront was the “Severnshed”. This converted boat shed offered an extensive dinner menu offering many different cuisines, which suit us perfectly as we’d worked up quite an appetite during a day of walking around Bristol.  There cocktail menu was impressive too. A selection of classics, variations on classics and around 5 or 6 of the house signatures, meant we had plenty to choose from but without being to overwhelmed with choice.  Cara continued her love for gin and ordered a drink called a “Gin Honey Sour”. The variation on the classic sour, consisting of Beefeater Gin, pink grapefruit juice, a squeeze of honey, lemon juice, sugar syrup and one egg white. In the past I’ve found ‘sours’ a type of drink that can be easily made badly. Sometimes, bartenders feel the need to take the name ‘sour’ to literally and cram to much lemon juice into the drink. but it is in fact the sugar which is the secret to a good sour. Fortunately this “Gin Honey Sour”, had the perfect balance of lemon and sugar. To compliment this, was the grapefruit and the honey which gave the drink some body and changed it from just being a plan old ‘sour’, into something unique.  

After a great meal and satisfing cocktails, we ventured across to the other side of Bristol to visit a little prohibition style bar called “Hyde & Co”. This bar also was highly recommended and boasted weird and wonderful creations and unique alterations to prohibition classics.  We had a few different drinks but one which stood out to us was a cocktail called a “Confire”. This drink was made up of Chairmans Reserve Rum, Blanco Vermouth, rhubarb syrup, a dash of lemon juice, Chartreuse and a dash of egg white. Chartreuse is often a difficult spirit to use in cocktails due to it’s over powering nature. But this was subtle. What really came through strongly in this drink was the rhubarb syrup. This gave the drink a nice sweetness was balanced out well with the lemon juice and the egg white gave the cocktail a smooth, fluffy texture which made it a pleasure to drink. After a great dinner and some amazing cocktails we returned to our hotel, ready for another big day visiting the small town of Bath.  

This little town is around 15 minutes on the train outside of Bristol. By far the main tourist attraction is the Roman Baths. As Cara and I got of the train and made our way in toward the Roman Baths. We were instantly impressed with the architecture which lined the streets leading up to the baths. As we arrived, I was in photography mode as the neighbouring Bath Abbey was a site you couldn't miss. After many photos and much exploring outside the site of the baths, We entered the site of the ancient ruins, and straight away we could feel the warmth coming from the hot springs. It was a nice change from another bitterly cold british day.  We learnt that the baths were first discovered in 836 BC, but it wasn't until after the Roman invasion, around 60 AD, that construction of the temples and surrounding baths began. Over the next 300 years the Romans would gradually build the site up and around the hot springs to create a place of spiritual meaning and healing.  As we continued to explore, we noticed the many statues and figures on display, all with their own story and special meaning in Roman history. Most notably was the statue of Julus Ceasar, which was positioned at the head of the "Grand Bath".  We continued on through past the Sacred Spring and underground through the many temples to finally at the end have the chance to taste some of the (so called) fresh water which was taken from the Sacred spring. Unfortunatly this was not one of the tastiest beverages we've had on our travels. Dispite the dodgy sacred water, Cara and I both had an amazing day. We got to (as was mentioned several times on the tour) "Do as the Romans did" and enjoy walking around the beautiful hot springs.

We headed back to Bristol for the night and got our selfs ready for our last trip back to London. We are always excited to do something different on our trips, and our visit to Bristol and Bath gave us a chance to see some amazing street art in Bristol, walk in the footsteps of the Romans in Bath and have some delicious food and some quirky cocktails.

“Gin Honey Sour”

In a shaker:
45ml Beefeater gin
30ml Pink Grapefruit juice
A Teaspoon of Honey
15ml lemon juice
15ml Sugar syrup
1 Egg white
Shake hard and strain into cocktail glass


In a shaker:
30ml Chairmans Reserve Rum
15ml Blanco Vermouth
15ml Rhubard syrup
A Dash of Lemon Juice
10ml Chartreuse
Dash of egg white
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass

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