Anyone who’s been down to Chaophraya to sample the food may well have noticed they do a mean cocktail too. In fact, the group run a brand of bars in some of their other UK venues under the moniker Palm Sugar, and whilst unfortunately Manchester doesn’t feature one of them, there’s still a well stocked bar and ample opportunity to sample all the usual classics, plus a few of their own Thai-style creations. Also, alongside their ever popular cookery courses, the restaurant have added a cocktail making masterclass to their repertoire, so I roped in a few budding bartenders and we went to go try our hand at mixology for the evening.
We were given the opportunity to choose two drinks to have a go at and plumped for a margarita, as it’s an all time classic, and the Chaophraya wild tea, one of our host’s own tempting creations. I’ve often wondered why margaritas have such a effect on my ability to hold myself vertical, but having now made one I have concluded that they have a lot of alcohol in them. I suppose I could have worked that one out for myself, but nevertheless we mixed together a whole load of Tequila, Triple Sec orange liqueur and fresh lime under the watchful eye of bartenders Nhum and James. A few shakes later and our salted rims (some more expertly adorned than others I have to say) were brimming with booze, as was our confidence.
It was time to test our metal with something a little more challenging, and our other choice of cocktail contained, amongst other things, beaten egg white, so that seemed a good place to start. Beginning with Absolut wild tea vodka, we layered up elderflower cordial, apple and lemon juice, and a dash or two of egg. The result was pretty impressive, and once garnished with a few sprinkles of loose leaf green tea, really looked the part.
Now we were beginning to believe we had the skills to mix with the best, and so it was time for the Palm Sugar challenge. We split into two groups, tasked to design a drink worthy of Chaophraya’s menu. Both teams set about the drinks cabinet, fiercely making notes then scribbling them out again. There were diagrams, measures and directions for our teachers to follow. Both drinks were made up, tasted and the winning team would toast victory with a bottle of prosecco. Up first came a concoction of tequila, raspberry vodka, vanilla syrup, egg white and lychee juice, topped with a strawberry and served in a tall glass. It looked alarming like an orange Fanta to be honest and tasted pretty rubbish. My team’s contribution was a mix of white rum, passion fruit liqueur, ginger syrup and lime juice. It probably wasn’t the toughest act to follow, but we won, although I’m not sure our invention will be gracing the menu any time soon.
Winner or loser, I think it’s fair to say we all left with the intention to get a bit more creative in kitchen with our cocktails, the furthest I’ll usually get is adding tonic to gin with maybe a bit of lime. Most importantly we had a great evening, and if brushing up on your shaking and stirring, picking up a few tips and tasting some cracking drinks sounds like your kind of thing you should definitely book yourself and a few friends in.