I have to admit here to not being a natural whisky drinker, early experiences having put me off somewhat. Jack Daniels and Coke was what the boys and ‘cool’ girls drank but I didn’t like the heavy flavour and the other option of Southern Comfort tasted shockingly of refreshers, so I stuck to my tasteless vodka (funnily enough, I’m to this day unable to drink the orange juice I used to mix it with back then, it tastes still just horribly of vomit, although vodka’s just dandy!) These days I’ve moved on from the tasteless spirit and become slightly obsessed with the juniper enhanced deliciousness of gin, I can’t get enough of the stuff, this has opened up a whole new world of stunning, dangerous and addictive cocktails. When I recieved an invitation to an evening of cocktails to celebrate the re-launch of Monkey Shoulder and learn a little bit more the brand I decided this was the perfect oportunity to challenge my taste buds again.
Held at Callooh Calley, the stage was set for a magical evening as we entered through a giant wardrobe, Lion, Witch and Wardrobe style, through a curtain and up a narrow staircase emerging at the intimate and secret JubJub bar. What followed was an evening learning more about the drink and of course tasting it in various cocktails. I would suggest it’s actually a very good place to start if, like me, you’re not much of a whisky drinker; the flavour is mellow and malty with a hint of spice. It’s non aggressiveness making it a particularly good whisky to use in cocktails; I’m rather taken with the Malt Jockey, a twist on the Manhattan, which combines Monkey Shoulder with sweet vermouth, Maraschino and chocolate bitters, finished with an orange twist. We’re invited to try the cocktail with a range of different chocolate bitters (who knew there were so many?!) which leads us onto a rather intriguing discussion of whisky and chocolate pairing that leads me nicely to their latest event…..
This weekend only Monkey Shoulder have joined forces with the Anonymous Artists and set up a pop up bar on Soho’s Broadwick Street to host their Chocolate Trail, I popped in on Thursday to take a look around. The small bar has been decked out with foliage and garden themed curiosities along with a very cool sound system that means the music changes depending on where you sit. Amongst the bottles and plants are concealed lots of little wooden eggs for a very grown up take on an Easter egg hunt. Each egg is painted a different colour, this is then exchanged for a specific cocktail on the menu, which is then paired with a chocolate to compliment.
The chocolates are made by none other than talented Hackney based chocolatier Niko B, who is famous for his unnusual flavours and use of spices. I manage to try three of the cocktails; a Banana Fix is more fruity than I’d normally go for but goes perfectly with the sublime coffee and cardomom truffle. The Malt Jockey makes another appearance here coming with a simple dark chocolate flavoured with orange, playing on the orange zest in the drink. One of my favourites is the Monkey Jam Sour which is paired with an intriguing masala chai truffle; both utterly delicious.
The pop up is only there until Monday, so make sure you don’t miss out.
And if you really can’t make it, the brand have a number of very exciting sounding ‘for one night only’ events they’re planning for later on in the year.
Oh, and it seems I’ve become quite taken with whisky, I’m not drinking it neat just yet but I have purchased myself a bottle of Monkey Shoulder (it doesn’t hurt that the bottle is SO cute) and quite enjoy a whisky sour now and again….Tweet