Last week I was invited along to a new bar that’s opening up in Newcastle and it’s safe to say, it’s already made a big impression on me! With over 50 different beers and ciders, over 45 cocktails on their impressive menu and live music every night, it’s exactly what Newcastle has been missing.
The Botanist already has bars in Manchester, Alderly Edge, Chester and Leeds and it’s definitely the trick Newcastle’s been missing. Aaron, the cocktail wizard, gave us bloggers a masterclass in making cocktails, what The Botanist offers on their drinks menu and a little history to bring us up to date. The Botanist is one of a few bar chains in the UK that have a free pouring licence and finding out the length’s the owner went to in order to achieve the licence was astounding.
Carly and I had a go at making the Apricot and Mint Daiquiri under the watchful hands of Aaron. I couldn’t even tell you how we made it now, just threw a load of fresh ingredients together, shook it all up and double sieved it into martini glasses and that’s it!
All the ingredients used in cocktails at The Botanist are fresh and the effort that goes into making them really shows. Aaron is so passionate about what he makes and that really shines through along with his knowledge. I wouldn’t be able to remember how to make one cocktail nevermind every one on the menu – though I suppose the one’s he’s created will be easiest!
My favourite cocktail of the night (and it’s a close call) has to be the Rose Mai Tai which you can see above. With dried pink rose buds, rum, almond and rose syrup as the main ingredients (plus a little bit of lime juice and rose liquer) it’s sweet and pink – what more could I ask for?! All the cocktails I tasted were great though. I’d probably pass on the mojito though – but that’s only cause they’re not to my taste. I’m more of a fruity, floral flavour than lots of mint.
Once we’d all had a go at making cocktails we were shown to the private dining room where Warren educated all 10 of us about the ales available at The Botanist.
I’m not really an ale or beer kinda girl, but the 4 he’d selected for us to taste were all pretty good. Nutty Black was our first to ease us in. At 3.9% it wasn’t too strong, but had a rich chocolately flavour to it, which I quite liked. Sorachi was next and had a citrus flavour and scent with a hint of coconut. Radgy Gadgy was a funny one, and yes it’s brewed locally with a name like that. It had a more harsh taste but a hint of caramel to soften it slightly. My favourite had to be the last one we tasted; Einstock, a white ale that’s from Iceland. It’s light and fresh and I think I could happily order a bottle. Warren, our ale guru, then brought one of his favourites out for us to try, ladykiller, or by its’ proper name: Schneider Aventinus, from Germany. At 8.2% it’s the strongest of the bunch we tasted, but it was sweet and had a creamy banana flavour and texture.
It’s worth noting that the private dining room we had our ale tasting in, can be booked out so if you’ve got a friend’s birthday and you want a little more privacy, or you fancy a family meal it’d be a great place to go. I’m already hoping I can persuade family to go along for a meal sometime.
The whole venue has such a friendly atmosphere and all the little touches make it so special. A lot of thought has gone in to the decor, just look at that giant sycamore that rises up towards the Monument Mall dome. The lights hanging off give it a cosy, out in the woods kind of feel and The Botanist have really considered their roots (no pun intended) when selecting every trinket and decoration you see in the bar/restaurant.
After we’d finished tasting the ales and I’d stopped scribbling little notes in the back of the almanacs we were given – each drink has been sketched and there’s information about them all, such a great little guide, especially if you’re not too clued up on ales – we headed to the roof to see the view. The Botanist is in a great location, completely in the centre of Newcastle with a great view of Grey’s Monument. In the summer there’ll be a bar upstairs on the terrace and I’m sure it’s going to have a great atmosphere. Just being all wrapped up, looking at the view was lovely so imagine when it’s a bit warmer!
A huge thank you to The Botanist for being so welcoming. I already can’t wait to return and sample more cocktails and the food! The Botanist officially opened on Monday 15th December and you can book tables online now. Maybe I’ll see you there?