Last week I attended the launch of The Botanist’s new summer cocktail menu, up on their fabulous rooftop terrace. The Botanist has long been one of my favourite bars in Newcastle ever since it opened, and I think the reason I like it so much is that it just ticks all the boxes whatever the reason is for stopping by. A night time venue, a relaxed day drink with some food, a quick pit stop as part of a shopping trip, date night, literally everything, whoever you’re with. The Botanist summer cocktail menu will only entice you in further, and I really enjoyed learning about the background behind them.
We were joined on the evening by the guys from Northern Wild’s, who are foraging experts from Northumberland. They were there to educate us on how wild plants and flowers that can be foraged, are turned into the cocktails we see on the menu. Together with the head barman of the Botanist they talked us through some of the processes, from foraging in the Northumberland fells, to finishing up in a fancy cocktail glass.
They had with them some of this seasons most popular ingredients, elderflower being the one that seems to be cropping up everywhere you turn, but others such as sweet woodruff and sweet Sicili seed pods. The guys talked us through the different ways of transforming the raw ingredients into cocktail essentials, for example creating syrup infusions by putting the plants in hot water, or drying them out until they’re fragrant and can be mixed among other ingredients, or used as sweeteners or essence to give cocktails a more powerful taste and smell.
It was all very fascinating, but I’m sure if you’re like me you’ll want to leave the foraging and the meddling to the professionals, and prefer to have your cocktails served straight up ready made for drinking! So, what’s new on the Botanist summer cocktail menu for us to enjoy?
Rum featuring Cherry and Thyme Watering Can. £25.95
You’re bound to have seen the watering cans if you’ve seen anything about The Botanist. Well this new addition to the watering can selection is Jamaican rum, with cherry syrup, lime, vanilla, and thyme leaves, topped up with apple juice. It was fruity and fresh and very easy to drink. They were actually surprisingly full as well, as I sometimes think novelty cocktail sharers like this can be heavy on the ice and light on the alcohol, but we got at least two drinks each out of them and I’d absolutely order them again.
Raspberry Disaronno Sours from the Pots and Planters Collection. £7.50
One that could be mistaken for a novelty cocktail, with more showmanship than substance, this one was actually my favourite of the night, and not just because of the beautiful plant pot presentation, complete with billowing smoke from dry ice. This gives it an extra fabulous flair, but for people concerned with actual value for money this one really did provide both.
Made from raspberry puree, disaronno, raspberry liqueur and pomegranate juice, it felt like it was never ending and with all those flavours I wasn’t complaining. The plant pots are bigger than they look, and were delicious, easily drinkable, and very moreish. For all of £7.50 I think this is an absolute steal. Disaronno isn’t to everyones taste, but don’t worry as there are four or five others under this section of the menu for you to choose from.
Pimms Tea Cup. £7.50
A poppy liqueur and Pimm’s creation, with a bit of lemon and a whole heap of dry ice causing your tea pot to steam, this one was probably the least favourite of the night. Pimm’s makes me think of summer days at the races, but I didn’t really get that from this cocktail. It was very sweet, and while the steam was blowing a Mrs. Potts-esque display that might sound amazing, by the time we could drink it there wasn’t much left. I think for this one too much thought has gone in to the presentation than the actual drink.
This for me is the mistake the Alchemist have made with the majority of their menu, and I’d be sad if The Botanist went this way too. They really don’t need to, as overall there aren’t many of their cocktails that I’ve not enjoyed, and I’ve worked my way through a good proportion of the menu so feel like I’m making an informed decision, based on my tastes of course. I’m very glad all the old favourites are still on the menu too, especially the signature ‘Botanist cocktail’ which is one of my favourite drinks ever.
The last feature of the new Botanist summer cocktail menu that I was very pleased to see on the menu were the gin carafe’s. With Tanqueray, Hendricks and Brockmans Gin based carafe’s to choose from, these really are a wonderful addition as a sharing option for gin lovers. We tried the Brockmans one, fused with orange, mint and tonic and it was delicious. Brockmans is one of my favourite gins as I find Hendrick’s too overpowering with cucumber, and this has been made to perfection.
Whatever your taste though I can see both these and the new cocktails being a big hit throughout the summer, especially if you’re sipping them in the sun on the Botanist roof terrace overlooking Grey Street. Isn’t that just the perfect summer picture for a drink out in Newcastle?
Disclaimer: This was a blogger event so drinks and nibbles were complimentary in exchange for an honest opinion.