Friday 10 May 2013

Cocktail Hour

Once upon a time, cocktail hour was part of the day's raison d'être - the ice bucket, the drinks cabinet, the glasses chilled to perfection - a chance to kick your shoes off and unwind at the end of a hectic day. The whole ritual seems gloriously liberating (and if I looked like Julianne Moore in 'A Single Man' at sundown so much the better), though obviously a completely impractical one to engage in on a daily basis.  Two cocktails is usually enough to render the average person completely useless, so it beats me how anyone ever managed to do anything - make dinner, bath the kids, supervise unfinished last minute homework - it doesn't really fit in with the modern day now sadly does it?

Julianne Moore in A Single Man. Photo: Eduard Grau

That said, there will always be a time and a place for a well earned Martini - say at Harry's Bar in Venice on your birthday.  Though as Dorothy Parker once said: “Ah, the Martini Cocktail.  One has me under the influence, a second has me under the table – a third has me under the host.” Quite.... I can assure you I only had the one.

A classic Martini at Harry's Bar

Mad Men Season 6 just premiered, which is as good an excuse as any to dust off your bottles of Cointreau, polish up your cocktail shaker and get mixing. The guys and gals of Madison Avenue have sashayed into the Swinging Sixties now - cue bigger hair, cat flick eyeliner and sleeker silhouettes, and whilst we can't predict what will happen to Don, Betty, Joan et al by the end of this penultimate series, one thing's for sure, they'll have downed a fair few cocktails along the way.

Poster illustration by Creative Studio Radio

This is a show that enjoys a serious drink - Don downs Old Fashioneds like they're going, well, out of fashion,

Photo: AMCTV

Silver Fox Roger Sterling's a Vodka Martini kind of a guy,

Poster illustration by Creative Studio Radio

and Betty's been known to order a Vodka Gimlet when the going gets tough.

Photo: AMCTV

So in the name of research obvs, English Gent and I headed off into downtown Geneva in search of Le Verre A Monique - a cocktail bar that calls itself a 'speakeasy' which really piqued my interest.  Speakeasies were the bars that thrived during 1930's US Prohibition, all hidden, under the counter stuff - would we find it, would we be allowed in?

Cocktail Menu at Le Verre a Monique
As it turns out, it was perfectly easy to find and whilst it's not a Speakeasy in the traditional sense, the decor makes a definite nod to the 1930's with Art Deco mirrors and sofas and a laid back atmosphere that was very conducive to sipping on a Martini. Trouble was, which one to choose - Cucumber, Lychee and Rose, Butterfly?

Cucumber Martini

In the end I went for the Cucumber Martini - made with Hendricks gin, which is one of my favourite things and it didn't disappoint. English Gent had a Negroni with Aperol (as opposed to the more traditional Campari) which was equally delicious, and whilst the barman wasn't quite throwing the bottles around à la Tom Cruise in Cocktail he definitely knew what he was doing.

Cucumber Martini & Negroni

It all felt very grown up and rather classy, to be out sipping snazzy drinks in a cool retro bar (you can tell I don't get out much) and hearking back to times past.  Aah, nostalgia, I'll drink to that.

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