Bloom cocktails at One Aldwych

In the last week I have been invited to three gin events. The most memorable drinks were at One Aldwych Hotel where the nifty bartenders are creating deliciously summery Bloom cocktails. There is a select list of four special cocktails to try, each with a range of elaborate ingredients, but each using the Bloom Gin as a base.

Bloom Gin describe themselves as “a light, delicate and floral gin with a totally unique and slightly sweet taste created by a bespoke blend of 3 botanicals: honeysuckle, chamomile and pomelo.” The sweet notes of the spirit lends it well to cocktail concoctions, mixing beautifully with fruity flavours.

I’ve always loved the One Aldwych bar… it’s got a vibrant buzz about it, the environment is relaxed but fun, and the complimentary nuts they serve are among the best I’ve tasted. A warm breezy Friday evening was the perfect excuse to sample the four new Bloom cocktails:

The Lavender Cloud – Bloom Gin, rhubarb, black raspberry liqueur, honey infused with lavender and fresh lime juice. Topped with bergamot foam.

Blooming Tea – Bloom Gin, apricot brandy, ginger & lemongrass cordial, Kamm & Sons, camomile tea and fresh lemon juice.

Smoked Flower – Bloom Gin, Mezcal, grapefruit liqueur, elderflower cordial, agave nectar and fresh lemon juice.

Almond Bouquet – Bloom Gin, Amaretto liqueur, fresh pineapple juice, syrup, fresh rocket and fresh lemon juice.

I was surprised to find I really enjoyed all four drinks. Each recipe has it’s own character. The Lavender Cloud, served with a sprig of lavender, was almost perfumed in taste with a natural sweetness from the honey and a touch of exoticism from the bergamot. The Blooming Tea was perhaps my favourite, served in a impressively decorated glass and topped with pretty edible flowers. The ingredients are very well matched to create a grown up, but addictively tasty cocktail.

Smoked Flower was my least favourite, in comparison to the other drinks this cocktail is less girly with a strong smokiness to it and a touch of bitterness from the grapefruit. I also really loved the Almond Bouquet which reminded my of my Amaretto and coke teenage years. This cocktail is very sweet, but the nutty flavour softens the sugary taste and the citrus lemon cuts through as well. It is a lovely balanced drink.

The One Aldwych Bloom drinks are immaculately presented seasonal cocktails that I would be delighted to drink all year round.

The Bloom cocktails are priced at £13.50 each and are available in the Lobby Bar until 14th July. More information here.

The Gardeners Cottage, Edinburgh

The Gardener’s Cottage in Edinburgh is an idyllic place to eat and spend time. It is found up a little path surrounded by shrubs and vegetable patches. It all seems too good to be true. We creaked open the wooden door to reveal a tiny eatery with long communal tables and homely smells wafting in from the kitchen.

Sitting inside this quaint house, I felt instantly removed from the city and immersed in a countryside calm bliss. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see muddy wellies left by the door or energetic dogs waiting to be taken for a long walk. But instead we were here to enjoy a comforting seasonal brunch.

We soon learnt that this house, which was once the gardener’s cottage, dates back to 1836. The building remained deserted for a while until two chefs (Dale Maillet and Edward Murray) dedicated themselves to transforming it and the restaurant opened in 2012. The décor stylishly rugged with touches of artistic charm. Above the main table a green and white print quotes ‘watercooler watercress’.

In the evenings it is compulsory to have the daily seven course menu which costs £35, but for lunch or brunch you can choose from the reasonably priced a la carte menu. We enjoyed a late brunch here on a Sunday and I loved everything about the experience. With groups of friends and family surrounding us the atmosphere was jovial and jolly.

We tried a selection of simple dishes: Asparagus, wild garlic and bonnet quiche was divinely creamy and stuffed full of delicious asparagus. Mutton meatballs with ricotta, tomato and hazelnut maltagliati was a more generous portion size, comforting and tasty. Homemade rectangular pasta with wonderfully seasoned meatballs, tangy tomatoes and indulgent soft ricotta. I also recommend ordering a portion of the farmhouse bread and homemade butter.

A cafetiere of perfectly brewed black coffee and a slice of pressed chocolate cake with chocolate mousse and sherry ice-cream completed our meal. The Gardeners Cottage is effortlessly delightful, a gorgeous little den for eating and enjoying life’s little pleasures.

More information and book a table here.

Gastrologik, Stockholm

It has taken me a long time to write up my meal at Gastrologik as it is a challenge to put an experience like this into words. This pioneering restaurant in Stockholm opened in 2011, a labour of love from young chefs Jacob Holmstrom and Anton Bjuhr. Both men have a background of working in excellent kitchens but wanted to open their own eatery to offer diners a cuisine that celebrated the qualities of seasonal Nordic ingredients.

It was a chilly night when my mum and I stepped inside the small Stockholm restaurant. Gastrologik is located on the corner of a quiet residential street in the Ostermalm district and only seats about 30 guests in the cosy dining rooms. This is a place for keen foodies to relish and enjoy the finest Swedish cooking.

The chefs work meticulously at the open kitchen counter, using various utensils to delicately dress and arrange the dishes. We sat down at the last empty table, and observed our surroundings. The restaurant is clean and minimalist with white walls, oak floor and typically Scandinavian copper light shades, which add a touch of glamour. The menu is similarly stark, open the white menu card to reveal the cheeky message: ‘Let Today’s Produce Decide’, 1295 SEK. And just like that we gave up decision rights for the night and let the kitchen choose our food fate!

We had a vegetarian menu, approximately 13 courses of beautiful, clever and flavoursome food. First campfire bread sticks and Algae broth with lovage in a tiny glass teapot. It was magically evocative of a forest encounter. Smoky bread wrapped around thick twigs and warm comforting broth. Next came a range of intriguing bites, a touch of cheesy sweetness from Goat’s cheese from Lofsta with meringue and apple, a touch of the exotic with the Quail egg marinated in the housemade pea soy sauce. It was evident with each plate that every ingredient was carefully foraged and found from the surrounding environment. Raw mushrooms arranged into flowers with a cream of toasted yeast were exquisite in looks and taste.

Freshly made hot bread was delivered in a hemp pouch with luxuriously thick butter from Kittelberget. Every course was presented in an inventive and creative way. Root celery with nettles was an eccentric pile of contrasting textures and garden tastes. Roasted carrots with onions and truffles from Gotland is a celebration of the humble carrot, the vegetable is treated with such dignity, creating a complex caramelised dish that I loved. Baked egg with ramsons and malt was a bizarre dish, the poached egg was almost jelly-like with intensely flavoured malt sponge and ramsons (a distant relative of the chive).

The sweet courses began with a glass petri dish of circular apple specimens to cleanse and refresh the palate. Smoked beets with hay was perhaps the only course we found a little too bizarre to enjoy, and I noticed our neighbouring table pushing it around the plate too. Unless you adore the distinctive flavour of beetroot this is a tricky dish, especially paired with shards of white chocolate and the hint of hay. Celery root with caramel and whey was a more tempting dessert and we enjoyed the crunchy topping combined with the smooth caramel decadence. Just before we could mourn the end of this exceptional meal, a bowl of pine arrived in which mouthfuls of pine vodka were hidden. The powerful flavours burst in our mouths, like a gasp of tingling cold forest air.

The lovely waiter brought along a wooden box of dried ingredients so we could create our very own blend of herb tea. I didn’t choose the best combination but loved the personalised process nonetheless.

Gastrologik cannot help but inspire diners, with their innovative kitchen ethics and love of produce in the purest form, every meal here is different. The chefs told me that sometimes the menu can even change halfway through the service when one item runs out. So despite reading my detailed review, you never know what will arrive in front of you. Gastrologik offers an exhilarating experience, a culinary journey that I will never forget.

More information and book a table here.