Why have cocktails become a synonymously girly drink? I guess because they are often sweet, pink and served in delicate glasses. Or maybe just because of the reputation they have been given by familiar chic flicks and TV series. Somehow the brightly coloured filled martini glass has become the iconic girls symbol.
I feel sympathy for the Refinery, their clientele is 95% businessmen, and cocktails are definitely not top of their agenda – but I urge the men of Southwark to be a bit more daring because this restaurant’s cocktail list is worth trying.
A friend and I went along to have a one-on-one cocktail class with a fine mixologist from the bar at the Refinery. A long table had been set up with numerous glass pots and decanters, each containing a different, intriguing liquid or ingredient. In one area stood various fresh juices, another had cordials, pulps and purees, the prettiest area displayed cocktail adornments: purple flowers, edible gold dust and sprigs of fragrant mint.
I have been to cocktail classes before, but never have I experienced such a specialist and hands-on tutorial. Our expert teacher for the evening was Josh Kilpatrick. Josh made the class extra special – chatting to us about the background to certain spirits and the uses for different ingredients. It was immaculately planned and arranged, tailored to suit our needs and give us a well rounded mixological education.
We learnt how to make six of the specially designed Refinery cocktails and took turns to follow Josh’s instructions to create the perfectly mixed drinks. The reward at the end of each recipe? We got to indulge and drink it, so it was in our interest to follow instructions and make the concoctions correctly.
Princess Sparkles: We starting with the basics. A very simple Prosecco based drink that is very easy to make, flavoured with perfumed elderflower cordial and fresh sweet raspberries. Much like a Bellini, the cordial and fruit puree (any fruit can be used) is added to the champagne flute first and topped with fizzy prosecco, stirred gently with a long spoon before being garnished with a whole raspberry or two. I definitely felt a bit over-confident attempting this one… and managed to add too much raspberry and cut the fruit wrong… so it wasn’t the prettiest drink ever but tasted good.
Paris Flower: Not dissimilar to a Mojito this revitalizing cocktail is fresh and light. A blend with white wine and apple juice and jazzed up with plenty of torn fresh mint.
Marigold Martini: this is a quaint and pretty drink, a unique mix of flavours. I got to use my minimal arm muscles with some serious shaking… this cocktail, though different was very drinkable and was perhaps my favourite of the night. Ornamented with gold dust and a flower – it is a gorgeous drink to look at.
English Rose: this is a classic British concoction, refreshing and perfect for the summer months. The gin mixes beautifully with the soft rhubarb flavouring and St Germain elderflower liqueur (my new favourite spirit, it tastes and looks delicious). For this drink my friend was allowed to use one of the stunning giant cylinder ice balls which had been pre-made with a purple flower inside the ice!
After cocktail number four we paused momentarily to eat a delicious Refinery burger each and catch up on essential gossip. Josh returning with a new bucket of glistening ice was our cue to stop eating and start mixing again.
Skinny Pornstar: despite passionfruit being one of my preferred cocktail ingredients this was my least favourite drink of the night. I found the taste too sweet on the palate and not as interesting. Served with a shooter of Prosecco, the drinker can choose to drink each part separately or poured together as a longer drink… I chose to add the two together which created a fizzier fun cocktail.
Very Old Creation: This was the manly drink of the bunch, a twist on the classic Old Fashioned. This is a short and strong drink and is quite easy to make. A genius mix of Buffalo trace bourbon stirred over an ice boulder with pink grapefruit juice, angostura, rhubarb bitters and brown sugar. Despite the strong components I found I really enjoyed this drink with the sour bitter grapefruit and Bourbon balanced together beautifully.
We left the Refinery a little tipsy but with enough cocktail knowledge to start our own little bar! The men of Southwark need to swallow their pride and try these cocktails, they are worth the girly humiliation!
Visit the Refinery website here for more information.