I love cocktails, the way that bartenders can skilfully turn harsh liquors into beautiful tasting drinks with a flick of their cocktail magic wand.
A recent visit to Mint Leaf’s cocktail master class changed my mind about being a bystander in this process. It was time to roll up my sleeves and get into the action!
We met up with the lovely bar staff team at Mint Leaf, a modern Indian restaurant with lush surroundings in the heart of West End (pre-theatre menus anyone?) and also just a short walk away from Trafalgar Square.
We were welcomed with a refreshing peachy-flavoured bellini before taking our seats at the swanky Long Bar.
The head bartender started us off with tasting of various type of rum, and my most memorable one was probably this Chairman’s Reserve – smooth but also a strong tingly sensation as the dark amber liquid made its way down my taste bud. Delicious but dangerous. A fine specimen of St. Lucia, where else?
Next, we were onto shaking up our very own Mojitos. Lesson 1, no messing about with the mint, otherwise it will be mushy by the time your concoction is completed. A few swiggle of lime pressing action later, we witnessed the making process of this gorgeous Mojito. I could barely taste the rum, which made this a very easy tipple to have a couple more. Another round anyone?!
Search #fitspo and #eatclean on Instagram and you’ll see a flood of photos taken of mason jars. Well, Mint Leaf made sure they were on trend with this light concoction of dry thyme, vanilla, gin, and agave syrup, called Mean Thyme. Apparently, this is the cocktail with the lowest calories on the drinks menu, so you won’t need to worry about your personal trainer finding out!
Before we dived into crafting our own recipes, we were introduced to a contraption that looked as if it belonged more to the Sherlock Holmes era. Named Woody Haleine, it is a rum cask served in a ‘dipping dog’ with homemade oakwood syrup and peychaud bitters. This cutely named ‘dipping dog’ got its name from being stored down the worker’s trouser leg and being dipped into casks and filled with whisky when the Exciseman’s back was turned. The ‘dog’ part was derived from the fact that they are known to be a man’s best friend. We were able to drink from it and it was a surprisingly pleasant experience.
Then, it was time to step up to the bar. We each took turns making a cocktail from the menu and I was given the lucky break to serve my drink in this hard-to-find tikky mug. And here was my Tikky Takka, with a generous serving of chilli syrup, spiced rum, Frangelico, banana liqueur, lime juice, and pineapple juice. Refreshing and zingy!
Just as my belly was about to rumble and the cocktails finished a little bit quickly on an empty stomach, the Head Chef Rajinder Pandey sent over some modern Indian bar snacks for us to munch on. The paneer tikka, seekh kebab, tiger prawns in spiced yogurt went down like a treat with a side of generous servings of garlic naan bread. Shortly after, these devil chocolate mousse brownies made their appearance and I couldn’t say no.
I had such a great time hanging out with some familiar faces (Tracey, Connie, and Michelle) and met Frankie for the first time. Thanks to Tracey and the Mint Leaf team for a wonderful evening of cocktail education and cheers to our new found skills!
Mint Leaf Restaurant & Bar
Suffolk Pl, Haymarket
London SW1Y 4HX
Disclosure: New York Meets London was invited with other bloggers for a complimentary evening at Mint Leaf Restaurant & Bar. But as always, I keep it real and opinions are my own.