Dave Marsland aka The Drinks Enthusiast visited the DesignMyNight office armed with an artillery of spirits, for an insightful masterclass in Boutique Brands.
With more drinkers ditching the Gordons and Smirnoffs of the world and becoming more discerning about which spirits they let allow to pass through their lips, Manchester's bars are noticeably upping their games and stocking a wider ranges of boutique brands. You want gin? Vodka? Tequila? At many venues in the city you'll now be spoilt for variety - so it helps to have an idea of what you're looking for.
Dave Marsland - better known as the Drinks Enthusiast - came to the DesignMyNight office recently to treat us to some after work drinks with a difference; taking the team through a range of unique, premium spirits now available in a range of Manchester bars. A horrible prospect I'm sure you'll agree, but (ever the professionals) we duly obliged.
Thing began on a designer tip, with Roberto Cavalli Vodka. That's right - Roberto Cavalli. Better known as the man who brought the world sand-blast jeans, this fashion icon has now turned his attention to getting people drinking Italian - with the creation of the first ever wholly produced Italian Vodka. Silky and smooth with hints of sweetness, the Vodka was universally agreed to be extremely drinkable - and we liked the snazzy bottle a lot. Roberto Cavalli Vodka is now being served in Epernay - so shun the Smirnoff and give it a go.
Suitably warmed up on the Vodka, Dave next turned our attention to Gin and DesignMyNight's new favourite tipple; G'Vine Gin. Having become well acquainted with this unique botanical French Gin at The Blue Pig's recent gin tasting event, we were able to impress Dave with our G'Vine swottiness and learn more about the two types of G'Vine available - the smooth, floral Floraison and the silky, spicy Nousaison. Each is crafted with 10 different botanicals including the extremely rare vine flower, which apparently only blossoms for a few weeks each year. If you haven't yet tried G'Vine, make it top of your list next time you go out. You can currently find G'Vine gin in Epernay, Liquorice, Simple, The Blue Pig, Whim Wham Cafe, Room, Odd Bar and Vega Lounge.
The evening then turned - as every good evening should - to Tequila. Little Tequila fact for you - as with Champagne, Tequila can only be called 'Tequila' if produced in the state of Jalisco in Mexico - anything else is Mezcal. With not a lemon or salt cellar in sight, we were treated to three varieties of the premium Excellia Tequila - ranging from the clear Excellia Blanco to the dark, complex and barrel aged Excellia Añejo. A Tequila to be sipped and enjoyed, Excellia is available now in Epernay, Apotheca and The Blue Pig. Try it. It'll make you happy.
We rounded our evening off by (quite appropriately) sampling a few Italian liqueurs from Sette Vie - a new drinks range that covers all Digestif bases - including Limoncello, Amaretto and Sambuca. These extremely drinkable liqueurs come from a family distillery in Abruzzo, Italy, and use traditional family recipes to offer unique and individual versions of the familiar drinks. The 'Ratafia' was a clear favourite with its warm, sherry-like flavours and festive aromas. Definitely one to bring out after Christmas dinner! Try the range of Sette Vie liqueurs in Manchester at The Blue Pig, Rosso, Epernay and Vega Lounge.
And that concluded our Boutique Brands tasting experience. An enjoyable, informal and informative evening, with Dave's expert knowledge and years of experience really offering us a unique insight into the spirits that we thought we knew. A great idea for work's parties or other events, Dave is available for private tasting classes and will tailor the experience to suit your occasion. Contact him through his blog or on twitter at @DrinksEnthusist.