October 2, 2010
Cocktails have never really been my thing. I’ve had too many that were overpriced or over liquered. So they aren’t usually on my drinks radar, unless I find myself at a time or in a place where a beer just isn’t appropriate (yes there are such times), and importantly the Bartenders know what they’re doing. Not some Tom Cruise obsessive who’s practiced their bottle tossing more than their mixing; and certaonly not someone who refers to themselves as a Mixologist. After a day of historic Oxford colleges and pubs we made our way to Raoul’s, raising a birthday toast to Lou’s sister Elise.
The cocktail list is vast but Lou goes for her regular of an Old Fashioned. Elise and middle sister Jerry go for some sweet concoction. Col seems set on his choice which could be anything from a Dirty Martini to a Donn Beach Zombie, such is his eagerness to give anything a go (this includes Channel Swimming and Richard Gere impressions). Lee AKA Ho Ho Ho Green Giant asks for something to knock him over which is a decision he may have later regretted. Being a relative novice, but knowing what I like (and more importantly what I don’t), I ask a few questions. The bartender knows his stuff and sells me on the Aviation. It’s in the Forgotten Cocktails section, served in a Martini glass and the main constituent is gin. Its right on the mark for me. Its dry, fresh and not an umbrella in sight. Its one of those classic drinks that makes me think of an age of elegant air travel. The days before bodily swabs and Easyjet snack packs, when people were more likely to light a cigar than their shoes.
I was so impressed that I had a look into the ingredients and method to recreate at home; something that you cannot do with a pint without a decent amount of expertise, patience and brewing equipment (one day perhaps). Who better to take guidance from than Erik Lorincz of the Connaught, recipient of International Bartender of the Year.
So its predominantly Gin; about 2 shots of something decent (Bombay Sapphire, Tanquray, Hendricks). Raouls adhere to one of the original recipes which uses Maraschino (1/3 shot) and Violet (1/8 shot) liqueurs; though some dispense of the Crème de Violette. A shot of lemon finishes the mix.
Pour into a ice filled shaker (a pint glass if you need to improvise). Shake and strain to a chilled glass. Garnish would traditionally be a flamed lemon peel but I think you could be forgiven as with the Crème de Violette for not adhering fully at home! Retire to the terrace to the strains of Frank, Dean or Sammy and enjoy.
32 Walton Street,
01865 553 732
September 30, 2010
The Old Bookbinders is tucked away in the residential streets of Jericho. No snap happy tourists here unless you count the snap happy blogger and his iPhone. On a drizzly Sunday afternoon, there is just a handful of locals at the bar and a friendly but bored barman. Our arrival more than doubles the occupancy and draws some stares which confirms that this could be pigeon holed as a “local”; or just the normal reaction to 5 Aussies and a Northerner.
The pub has a jumble sale aesthetic, which looks like its slowly crept through the pub, with vinyl, beermats and rows of spent lighters clustered on walls. I imagine it to be great for a proper session with its dimly lit back room and corners to occupy.
I opt for the seat without a lethal looking ice skate dangling above and have a pint of Bath Ales, Gem, accompanied by free monkey nuts scooped from a large barrel. I am happy. Easily pleased perhaps but the simple pleasure of cracking shells, supping the the rich malty Gem and good company is what Sundays are all about.
17-18 Victor St
01865 553 549
September 28, 2010
As far as statements go, We Love Sundays is pretty unequivocal; and taken next to a £7.95 price tag the Roast at Jude the Obscure in Jericho seemed like a good option. Now I’m not expecting gastro pub fare, just the hope of some wholesome pub grub. I can’t tell you where it came on the scale between boil in the bag heap and my Peasant benchmark as Jude’s relationship with Sunday seems to be an on off one; Roasts only being available November onwards. The thinking perhaps being that no one eats Sunday Roast in Autumn? The suggested alternative to the Roast is, as a Yorkshireman, quite shocking. In fact I think this would bring a grimace to the face of even the most ardent Lancastrian.
Yorkshire Pudding is something that really shouldn’t be messed with too much; as it simply doesn’t need to be. A Roast Beef Yorkshire Pudding Wrap therefore is something of an abomination, ranking up there with the Lasangwich. There are doubtless pud-purists out there that object to Toad in the Hole as unecessary. This concoction would finish them off. On the assumption that a Yorkshire Pudding should be light, crisp and risen after being cooked in oil or fat; then preparing a pancake like batter wrap surely makes it something else other than a pudding? But then Soggy Beef and Batter Pancake Wrap doesn’t really have the same ring I suppose.
Lou, ordered the Wrap, though bearing in mind that she hasn’t had a proper Yorkshire Pudding she cannot be held accountable; and it at least allowed me a guilt free taste; albeit a small one. With a consistency of pancake rather than Yorkshire pudding I loaded it with horseradish and chewed; and chewed. Recent bids to endow the humble Yorkshire Pud with European protection would put pay to not the dish but the passing off as a Yorkshire Pudding; perhaps we could have the start of the Yorkshire Pancake? Which could almost be bearable.