Showing posts with label Cask. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cask. Show all posts

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Summertime Lift-off at Cask. Cocktail Champ. Music. Food. New Elevator


Summertime Lift-off at Cask
Cocktail Champ. Music. Food. New Elevator
A cup of punch to welcome the sun.

The start of the summer season in Cork’s leading cocktail venue, Cask, was well celebrated in the McCurtain Street venue on Wednesday evening. Guests galore were on hand for the evening. And the sun came too!


Owner Richard Evans and Arthur Little made us all feel welcome. And the biggest welcome, well the biggest applause, was reserved for Carl d’Alton who, earlier the week, was crowned the Irish World Class Cocktail Champion in Dublin, taking over the title from Andy Ferreira, his mentor in Cask.

Cask, as you probably know, is situated across the lane-cum-courtyard from its big sister Greene's and their hotel Isaac’s. Arthur is MD of the busy complex and had another reason to be happy on Wednesday as their new outdoor lift was unveiled for the first time. The glass walled structure has quite a low visual impact on the old architecture of the place and I’m told there is a quite a view from the top.

With the short speeches over, it was time for Karen Underwood and her talented backing musicians and they played long and played well as the food came in waves. No shortage of drinks either. Cask were launching their summertime menu under both headings and again renewed their commitment to local and seasonal. 

Sustainability in bars is about a lot more than paper straws and using up your manky lime wedges. It’s about creating an environment where every possible product you use is produced close to you, or at least the majority of them. 

The reality is though in a world where everyone claims to have ‘small batch, artisan’ products, you still need to be super fussy about what you use. In Cask, if we’re putting an ingredient in our cocktail, it’s because we believe it’s the best possible option to make the drink absolutely banging!”

So if you want Beet, Black & Blue, then this is the cocktail for you: Jameson Black Barrel, Beetroot, Ardbeg, PX sherry, and Orange bitters.

Fancy the Ball ’N Chain? The mix here is Beefeater, Elderflower Pisco, Pine-berry Shrub, Apple water, and Poachers Wild Tonic. Driving tonight? Check out the Fine & Dandy made with Dandelion Jam, Spent Citrus Sherbet, Lilac Soda, Raspberry and Elderflower Sorbet.
A bao, with chicken

Like the titles? I do. Here are a few more: The Whole Shebang, The Udder Wan, Made in Mayfield, Cheeky Sheri’s Cherry Sherry. No shortage of other drinks of course, including sparkling wines, and quite a selection of whites and reds (including a few organic) and all available by the glass. 

And Cask has been getting excellent notices about its food offering, under the wing of top chef Bryan McCarthy (the head chef at Green’s). Start with the Light. About six choices including House Marinated Olives with garlic parsley and also Guacamole, sour cream, Tomato salsa, Lime, Mexican crackers.
World Class Carl

Feel like something from the More. A Tuna Ceviche sounds good to me. Maybe the Salad Caprese? And then there’s the Ballyhoura Mushrooms on toast. And more.

Speaking of more, there’s even A Little More, everything from crispy aromatic Peking Duck to Philly Steak Sandwich to Nordic Bread Pizza. And there are cheese and charcuterie boards to share. Even desserts.

No shortage of choices in Cask. And there is another one. You may dine and drink inside in the bar or outside in the courtyard under the waterfall. And you can be sure that the outside space will be even more popular in summertime. Have a happy one!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Ornabrak, a ‘distinctive and rare’ Single Malt Gin


Origin Spirits launches a ‘distinctive and rare’ Single Malt Gin 

100% Irish Malted Barley | Five botanicals | Five times pot distilled | 43% Alc.


Ornabrak is the name of the new Irish gin launched at Cask on Monday evening by creator Patrick Shelly. The name ‘Ornabrak’ is derived from the Gaelic ‘Eorna Braiche’ meaning Malted Barley. And the malted barley is a major key here.

Patrick, creator of the successful Kalak vodka, admitted to initially being "not keen to do gin", his personal preferences tending towards whiskey or wine. But then he began to think: "What can we do with it? Most gins have a base spirit of 95% alcohol, a highly industrialised one." 

Patrick and his company, Origin Spirts, were determined to make their own base spirit and so they turned to Irish malted barley, explaining that Ireland is one of the best places in the world for malted barley. They had followed much the same approach with the Kalak vodka, "bringing bright flavours and terroir. It is now one of top ten vodkas in the world so we must be doing something right."

The gin base of 100% Irish Malted Barley is copper pot distilled no less than four times. Then the botanicals are added and it is distilled again, all at the West Cork Distillery in Skibbereen. "Very few drinks are distilled five times," said Patrick.

"So we had this beautiful base spirit. How do we get botanicals to match? We started with a palate of 30 and gradually narrowed it down to five, chosen to complement rather than overpower."

The process was meticulously carried out over 36 distillation trials over 12 months, and with input from some of the world’s best bartenders. And the five selected to create a complex and floral single malt gin were Juniper Berry, Douglas Fir Needles, Garden Angelica Root, Lemon Verbena Leaf and Lemon Peel(a little). The pine needles come from West Cork and are used instead of the more normal coriander.


Now Patrick is happy with his gin:, “Ornabrak is one of very few Single Malt Gin’s being produced around the world and its creation was slightly more complex as we needed the malted barley’s richness and creaminess to shine through, while creating a harmonious balance with the botanicals .  

Well that was the talk. Time now to walk the walk. In truth, we had been appreciating the new gin even before the talk, thanks to Andy and his team at Cask. Patrick reminded us that "a lot of our markets like it neat. It’s not G&T everywhere".

I did sample it neat but mostly we were mixing, and mixing with the best, staying Irish as the tonic was the Classic Poachers. Oisin was there on behalf of the County Wexford company who have established themselves as a leading tonic (other mixers too) in a short space of time. "I love your gin,” he said to Patrick. "And have been fortunate to work on your cocktails since you presented your single malt approach to gin and the execution has been excellent." 

Vesper time
And I think we all agreed as we enjoyed the smooth and complex flavours, the long and persistent finish. And we weren't quite finished as the Kalak Vodka and the Ornabrack made a joint appearance in a James Bond style Martini. You can make your own Vesper, recipe below. Well worth the effort as it is a stunning combination, just sip and enjoy the aromas and flavours.

 Cocktail: The Single Malt Vesper

An Irish take on the Classic Vesper Martini

40ml Ornabrak Single Malt Gin,
10ml Kalak Single Malt Vodka,
5ml Lillet Blanc

Stir with ice and garnish with a lemon peel swirl.


The Bottle
The Ornabrak bottle was inspired by vintage apothecary and perfume bottles, and the label by Victorian botanical illustrations. Each botanical was custom illustrated for Ornabrak by one of Ireland’s leading botanical artists, Lynn Stringer. Lynn is a former gold medal winner at Bloom, has exhibited her works at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Botanical Art show in London and has provided illustrations to the acclaimed Curtis’s Botanical Magazine. Lynn is currently chair of the Irish Society of Botanical Artists

About Origin Spirits

Origin Spirits was founded by Patrick Shelley in 2013 and its has since launched Kalak Single Malt Vodka and Kalak Peat Cask Single Malt Vodka. Ornabrak is the first gin produced by the company. Patrick previously worked in the international luxury goods market, holding senior positions with LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) in France, UK, Germany, Austria, South East Asia, and Russia where he had the opportunity to represent some of the world’s top wine & spirits brands, such as Hennessy, Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon, Veuve Clicquot, Ruinart, Krug, Glenmorangie, Ardbeg and Belvedere.


To Buy
Ornabrak Single Malt Gin (43% alc.) will be available in independent off licences throughout Ireland from 28th May. RSP: ca. 49€.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Oysters Galore on the Cork Gourmet Trail


Oysters Galore on the Cork Gourmet Trail
How many did you eat?


“I had nineteen oysters last night,” claimed a London visitor to the weekend’s Cork Oyster Festival. And that “last night” was just the official launch. I’m still wondering how many she managed during the Gourmet Trail on the following day. 

The trail visited five venues and some had up to three restaurants combining. There were so many opportunities to indulge in the delicious crustaceans she must surely have doubled the tally from the previous night!
Gin cocktail in a cup at Cask

And there were even more plates of the tasty oysters available at the after party as the various groups found their way back to the ballroom at the Metropole Hotel, the Festival’s headquarters. Oysters, more drinks and music. Well done to instigator/organiser Sandra Murphy and her crew.

Sandra was with our group on the trail and our be-hatted leaders were Kylie from the International Hotel and James from the Imperial. We were last to leave but our intrepid guides had us back good and early to join the after party.
Sushi at The Met

Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald had opened the festival on Friday night and the oyster event added to the terrific buzz around town as Culture Night drew the crowds. Guests at the launch were treated to oysters (included cooked versions) by Haven Shellfish and there was also some tempting sushi available with bubbles and wine and, of course, Murphy’s Stout from the sponsors.

On Saturday at noon, the ballroom was full but, after a Kinsale Gin and Tonic, we were divided into groups, met our leaders and headed off on the trail. More gin, part of a cocktail in a cup, at our first stop, the stunning Cask, just across the road. Lots of tasty bites here too and time also to begin to get to know our fellow trailers.
Cornstore were displaying their Himalayan salt (used to age their famous steaks).

Next stop was the Oyster Tavern, another lovely venue where I enjoyed an excellent meal recently. The oysters here were provided by the Electric Fish Bar, great spot to visit. The Oyster Tavern themselves came up with delicious sliders and bowls of chips. 

Amicus were also feeding us with Tom Durcan beef, including carpaccio and teriyaki versions, and more, though their seasonal desserts, Kitchen Garden Rhubarb Fool and the Foraged Blackberry Fool, were irresistible.

Down the stairs then and out into the lane for another group photo before winding up Patrick St and visiting the Bodega where Rachel’s and Cornstore were also lining up with their offerings. The Bodega sushi (one pickled vegetable, another was smoked salmon) went down a treat. 
Sandra rallies her troops as the rain arrives

Mike Ryan of the Cornstore - terrific dinner there recently - was the oyster “supplier” and he had a welcome variation called Angels on Horseback (the dish is typically prepared by rolling shucked oysters in bacon and baking them in an oven). 

That was excellent though I noticed quite few voicing a preference for the battered prawn version! Rachel’s had a couple (at least) of show stoppers, including a shot of Tomato Water and a shot glass packed full of lobster.

So back to the Imperial Hotel (for the second time in a  couple of days) and they had help from Jacques and Arthur Mayne’s.
Imperial desserts

Loved that Medjool Date from Jacques plus the superb desserts by the hotel itself. The savoury bites by Arthur Mayne’s (Avocado mousse with prawn, Caprese Bites, and the Chorizo and Chickpea Ragu) were outstanding.
Caprese minis by Olivo

One more stop and soon we were enjoying Margherita time at the newly opened Tequila Jacks. The drinks were eagerly awaited and easily downed. Food too, of course, hot stuff by our hosts and some cooler bits from Olivo, the Italian restaurant at the Cork Airport Hotel.
Margarita?

Tacos Mechados, Roasted Chicken taquitos and Shrimp Rellanos were among the Jacks offerings while the cool bites from Olivo included a lovely mini Caprese and also a Parma wrapped asparagus. 

More food anyone? No! A second round of Margaritas was coming to its conclusion and, suitably fortified,  it was time to brave the rain and the wind that had arrived midway though the trail and traipse back to the Metropole. 

And if you did wanted to increase you oyster headcount, there were trayfuls of opportunity to do. I did see the visiting London couple but didn't get a chance to check her final oyster tally! 

The Prosecco and wine flowed (enjoyed a Rioja blanco, well maybe two!), and then a final chat or two before saying goodbye and heading to the taxi. 
Tasty dips at Tequila Jacks

Once again, well done to Sandra and the crew and here’s to seeing you all and more in 2018!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Cask’s Andy Ferreira: Top of the Cocktail World


Cask’s Andy Ferreira: Top of the Cocktail World

Andy Ferreira of Cask (Cork) was one of the 55 bartenders who competed in the recent World Class Bartender of the Year in Mexico City, a competition geared to “change the way you drink in 2018”. Kaitlyn Stewart from Canada emerged as the overall winner.

Andy, who won the Irish competition, didn’t make the final round but won’t be looking back with self-pity, far from it as you can gather from his reflections after his exit. “So my World class adventure has come to an end. Incredible two days competing and I gave it everything. No regrets, which is great. Can't wait to see the top 10 in action tonight. Thanks for all the love y'all. The support was unreal.”

Andy’s road to Mexico involved a number of varied challenges. Nial Molloy, World Class Ireland Brand Ambassador, told me all about it: "Andy was first selected for the final 12 from over 40 top calibre entrants from all over the island of Ireland. He then went through an in bar judging stage which whittled the competition down to a final six. Andy then won out the Ireland leg of the competition in a live final which involved a number of challenges such as creating sustainable and signature cocktails for Industry leading judges followed by a speed round in front of over 200 of Irelands top industry professionals.  

In Mexico Andy competed brilliantly. Keeping his signature style and Irish charm consistent across the four challenges set for him.  He was particularly well received in his Mex Eco and Signature Cocktail challenges where he got to showcase his style of bartending to some the World’s leading talents and judges. As Ambassador for World Class Ireland, I personally couldn’t be prouder of his efforts and achievements there. And needless to say he was much loved by judges and competitors alike. The competition boasts an extremely high calibre of Bartenders, with many coming from the Top Fifty bars in the world, a place I have no doubt Andy will bring Cask to in the not too distant future."

Hospitality is in Andy’s blood. His parents owned a successful restaurant which gave him exposure to the fast-paced industry from a young age. After furthering his trade in Dublin, he’s spent time in the USA, Australia, Africa and Asia. 

He’s managed venues in the Thai mountains and rural Ireland, has won several awards and even set up a consultancy! His drinks programmes have introduced nature to his customers, using local produce. 

Cask is the bar he manages in Cork and hopes to make it the best cocktail bar in Ireland! Indeed, while he was in Mexico for the finals, Cask was voted the "Best cocktail bar in Ireland”.

The organisers’ press release (from here down) say Cocktail culture is skyrocketing internationally. Almost 9 out of 10 younger drinkers (88%) now enjoy cocktails on a night out. With Asia, the Middle East and Latin America now represented on the World's 50 Best Bar list, the people leading this revolution are from across the globe. They are bringing new ideas, techniques and cultural influences, leading to a dynamic fast-paced industry where new trends are emerging, inspiring people to drink better the world over.
The World Class Bartender of the Year Finals is the world's biggest bartending competition. Nearly 10,000 bartenders from 57 countries have taken part to win the crown of best bartender in the world.
In between judging the finalists, leading lights from the food and drinks industry got together to uncover the main trends they expect to see next year.

Diageo Global Cocktailian Lauren Mote led a discussion including mixology legend Dre Masso; Australian MasterChef host & judge Matt Preston; Alex Kratena (formerly of Artesian - three time winner of World's Best Bar) and the WORLD CLASS BARTENDER OF THE YEAR 2014, Charles Joly.

Made in Cask! Home of the champs!
The trend panel predicted a rise in sustainability, signature serves, the link between mixed drinks and fine cuisine, and the increase in crafting cocktails at home. Some spectacular cocktail serves were produced as examples at the event.

Sustainable Serves - In a recent consumer poll, nearly one in two customers expressed a willingness to pay a 10% premium for socially responsible and environmentally friendly goods. So as well as helping the environment, going down this route could also make sound business sense for bar owners. 
Dre Masso commented: "Sustainable and re-useable methods and ingredients are becoming increasingly important. The mixologists who embrace this new reality are the ones who will flourish.” Read more about sustainability in the cocktail bar here

Signature Serves - One of the original cocktail innovators, Giuseppe Cipriani, created the Bellini in Venice in the 1930s, and today the home of the Bellini - Harry's Bar - is a must-visit. So with people now spending 5% more on luxury experiences than luxury goods[3], bar owners and mixologists who tap into this desire can thrive in 2018.

Alex Kratena said: "I expect to see more switched-on bar operators and bartenders creating unique drink experiences that go beyond 'what's expected' and push signature serves to become the answer to what tasting menus are in the restaurant world.'

Culinary Cocktails - This trend can be seen in some of the world's top bars with occasionally eyebrow-raising results, whether it's a foie gras and salted caramel infused Manhattan; or even a 'Margherita' pizza cocktail.

Matt Preston said: "With the rise of celebrity chefs and the increased interest in cuisine, the most enlightened mixologists will explore and experiment with flavours, textures, ingredients and techniques borrowed from their peers in the world of fine dining.

"From shock cuisine and hard core fermentation to extreme locality and the growth of restless "palate syndrome" there is so much the culinary and bartending worlds can learn from each other."

Cocktails at Home - Research indicates that 73% of younger drinkers enjoy cocktails at home on special occasions. They are switching-up the ingredients they keep in their kitchen cupboards for more adventurous cocktail-making.

Charles Joly said: "Rather than just cracking open a bottle of wine when guests arrive, it's the logical next step for cocktail lovers to be able to craft beautiful cocktails at home when entertaining friends."
Lauren Mote added: "The aim of WORLD CLASS is not just to find the best bartender in the world, we also want to inspire cocktail enthusiasts around the world to drink better, to give 'home bartenders' to the courage to explore what's possible, creating their own signature cocktails in their kitchen."


Lauren brought the four trends to life at the session with the following recipes:
Sustainable Serves: Café Cantata 
Ketel One Vodka, Banana, Vermouth, Cold Brew Mexican Espresso, Tea Leaves & Flowers, Bittered Sling Arabica Coffee Bitters
Signature Serve cocktail: Juniper Cream Soda 
Tanqueray No. TEN Gin, Campari and Manzanilla Sherry, Clarified Watermelon Juice, Mexican Vanilla Bean, locally-made Kombucha, Bittered Sling Plum & Rootbeer Bitters (entire mix should be carbonated, bottled and capped)
Culinary Cocktail: Kernel Horchata 
Ron Zacapa 23 YO Rum, Calvados and Oloroso Sherry, Starchy Rice and Almond Milks, Cacao, Mexican Spices, Bittered Sling Moondog Latin American Bitters
Cocktails at Home Cocktail: Pantry Punch 
Johnnie Walker Black Label, Red Vermouth, Mango & Black Pepper Shrub, Cold Brewed Ceylon Black Tea, Bittered Sling Kensington Aromatic Bitters

Visit Diageo Reserve makeitworldclass.com for the latest trends and recipes.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Cask. Another Gem in McCurtain Street. Find out where the ugly strawberries go.

Cask. Another Gem in McCurtain Street
Find out where the ugly strawberries go
McCurtain Street has another new gorgeous drink and eat venue. It is called Cask, a brand new bar with a menu of very tasty bites indeed. The menu, in the care of renowned Greene's chef Bryan McCarthy, will change every eight weeks.

It is a new venture for Greene’s, at the other side of the arch, with its own entrance from the street. And it is not Greene’s lite by the way. While many of the same outstanding producers will feature in Cask, their produce will be in new “disguises”.

Blow-torched monkfish
 Take Skeaghanore Duck for instance, one of our dishes on Tuesday night. Skeaghanore Confit Duck, Smoked Sausage, Butter Bean, Sauerkraut, with Arbutus on the side, is reminiscent of a Cassoulet from the heart of France, a warming delight on a wintry night. 
The Cork Cassoulet
The hearty dish comes under the heading of A Little More and costs €12.90. You can start with Light, and progress to More or A Little More. There are Cheese and Charcuterie plates for sharing (perhaps!), Extras if want want to top up your More and you may finish with Sweet.


You may start wth a cocktail (or any drink of your choice) from the well stocked bar. Indeed you may pop in just for a drink. The cocktails are being described as seasonal so you can presume they'll be changing too. 


Hummus
I'm sure the Katty Barry (Gorse Flower infused Bombay, Woodruff, Irish Pears and Prosecco) will go down well. Watch out too for the Man of Arran (Connemara Peated Whiskey, Smoked Wakame Syrup, Cocchi Americano, and Grapefruit Oils); this was very well received at the recent Four Hands dinner in the main restaurant.

No shortage of wines either and our pick for the evening visit was Il Bucco, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, with its sweet dark fruits but well balanced and with a smooth finish.

Frangipane Tart
 So let us go back to the beginning, at the Lights. You can have various nibbles, including olives and almonds, but CL went for the Hummus, Medjoul dates, Fennel pollen and crispy toasts (looked a lot like a well-known local medieval loaf, with dates inserted here too). Excellent starter, and so was mine which was Gubbeen Hot Dog Slider, Cotton Ball Beer Mustard, Seaweed salad, balsamic onions. This dog had a good bite! Each “starter” cost €5.90.

Rings Farm free range chickens were among the items that featured on the More section, all of these costing 7.90. But, like CL, I resisted the temptation of the Chicken Lollipops and other temptations and moved up to A Little More and my pick here was superb.

Yuzu
While CL was on the Skeaghanore I was enjoying Blow-torched medallions of monkfish, tomato bean stew with chorizo, lemon and seaweed (14.50). Inspiration from a warmer clime, perfectly executed and well presented, to warm the bones on a chilly night.

We were on a roll now and up for dessert. A short list but we got two good ones! And also found out where the ugly strawberries go.

Well they may have been ugly when they went in but they were oh so beautiful in Cask. The Bushby’s Preserved Strawberry Frangipane Tart with a dollop of cream was just perfect. The berries are judged not good enough to be out on their own on a plate but certainly shine as part of this lovely dessert (5.50).

I had to beg for a couple of bites of that one but I had a good bartering bait in my Yuzu Cheesecake, again with cream and also 5.50. The fragrant Yuzu with its acidic citrus juice brought my very enjoyable evening, helped by a friendly and efficient staff, at Cask to a delicious end. Guess I'll have to go back for A Little More!