Turtle Bay Bath Cocktail Masterclass
If you love a cracking cocktail then you are in luck as I have just the recommendation for you! Be ready to dream of tropical climes and drum your fingers to the sound of reggae though, because we are about to head to Turtle Bay Bath!
I was recently invited to attend Turtle Bay Bath for a 'VIP Rum Cocktail Masterclass'. I couldn't think of a more fun and fabulous way to spend a dreary, bitterly cold Thursday evening in January. Into the warmth I ventured, soon spotting the group of cocktail enthusiasts invited to take part in the event too. After introductions were made, our knowledgeable bartender for the evening, Adam, kindly handed out delicious personalised cocktails. Hammered silver tumblers stacked full of French fries and sweet potato chips arrived to the table to accompany our drinks.
Adam began the evening by hosting a rum tasting and educating us on some of Turtle Bay's extensive rum collection. There are over 40 at the bar, all of which are sourced from across the Caribbean. Fortunately we were sampling just a small selection of rums picked out by Adam, otherwise my account of the evening could have been very hazy indeed! To start, we were introduced to sweet flavoured rums, moving on to harsher, more fiery flavoured rums towards the end of the tasting. First up, we took a sip of 'Old J'; golden in colour, smooth and creamy to taste with sweet vanilla and lime notes.
From there we tried a shot of amber coloured 'Pyrat Rum' which is still sweet to taste, but packs more of a citrusy punch.
One of my favourite tipples of the night was 'Koko Kanu' - a Jamaican spiced rum bursting with exotic hints of coconut and lemon. The smell leads you to believe this will be a very sweet tasting rum, but once it hits your tastebuds it packs more of an alcoholic punch!
The flavour isn't quite as smooth as Old J, and is a little cloudy in appearance.
We then ventured away from sweet to smokey flavoured rums. First, a Bajan rum which Turtle Bay Bath introduced to their bar menu last November. 'Mount Gay' - richer and darker in colouring and noticeably more smokey and warming to taste!
Adam educated us on the importance of rum and citrus, suggesting we add a wedge of fresh lime to awaken our liqueur and take the harsh edge off of it.
Last up, Adam saved the strongest tipple till last! 'Wray & Nephew' - a white Overproof Jamaican rum (over 50%) which seriously lived up to its reputation! We were asked if we could identify hints of banana or even toasted hazelnut towards the end of our sips, but all I could taste was fire!
As soon as you take a sip it hits the back of your throat. Not one I would reach for in a hurry, but perhaps would consider adding a dash or two to a hot toddy if a cold came on! I am pretty confident it would fight off a sore throat in next to no time.
After our tasting, we moved over to the bar to take our seats as Adam began to demonstrate the art of cocktail making...
Four fabulous rum infused cocktails which would be sure to cure any January blues (to be enjoyed in moderation of course)!
Kickstarting the masterclass with a 'Bahama Mama' (all cocktails are 2-4-1 during Happy Hour). First up? 3 shots of Koko Kanu, or, 3 "counts" as Adam taught us.
Then went in 2 counts of banana liqueur, a couple dashes of Angostura bitters for seasoning (this adds botanical/hibiscus/floral flavour notes) followed by a generous glug of pineapple juice. Adam then infused the flavours together by using a twisted mixing spoon...
... before finishing off with a drizzle of grenadine to create that perfect "sunrise" appearance.
From elegant cocktail glasses to trendy tumblers. Adam showcased the art of creating a 'Reggae Rum Punch'. In went a heap of cubed ice, which we learnt is key to keeping cocktails cold, "ice keeps ice cold" as Adam quite rightly pointed out! In went 3 counts of Wray & Nephew...
... swiftly followed by 2 counts of strawberry liqueur and lime juice, adding a dash of grenadine to heighten the flavour, and, a touch of Angostura bitters for extra seasoning. The rum punch was finished with orange and pineapple juice to help create that gorgeous blood orange glow.
Next up, Turtle Bay Bath's 'Mojito'. In went 4 fresh lime wedges topped with 2 counts of sugar...
Muddling the cocktail at this stage is key to ensuring the essential oils from the skin of the lime wedges are released. Next in, mint leaves. Adam advised us that the best way to add this herb is by "clapping" the leaves between your hands before placing in the glass.
Crushed ice was topped all the way to the brim of the glass and then 5 counts of Blackwell rum went in. Finally, 2 counts of Velvet Falernum (a Bajan clove-spiced liqueur) to enhance the sweetness and spice of the mojito, and, a splash of soda water. Yum!
Our final cocktail making demonstration of the evening was the ever popular 'Mai Tai,' which simply translates as 'The Best!" Adam was leaving the best until last and I was excited to step behind the bar and give the cocktail a whirl under Adam's helpful guidance! If you like your cocktails sweet, fresh and fruity, this will be just the tipple for you...
Into the Mai Tai went Appleton Special Rum, ice cubes, orange rum liqueur, apricot brandy, 2 counts of lime juice and 3 of pineapple juice. The glass was then scooped up into a metal cup, secured in place and then shaken for 10 seconds.
Hands down, Adam certainly had the best cocktail shaking/making moves in the house!
This apricot based cocktail simply personifies sunshine in a glass!
Once we had had our share of cocktail tasting and cocktail making, it was time to retreat to our tables for a wonderfully exotic 'Beach Food Platter' (£12.95 for a sharing platter). A tasty selection of Turtle Bay's spicy jerk chicken wings, pepper roti, sweet corn fritters, plus garlic and herb flatbreads. Just the ticket after a couple of hours sipping on rum!
Who needs to head to the Caribbean when you have Turtle Bay Bath on your doorstep?! Thank you so much to the team at Turtle Bay Bath, especially to Maya for kindly inviting me and Adam and Karla for your generous hospitality on the night!
For all the details you need regarding your first (or next) visit to Turtle Bay Bath, please check out their website. For those further afield, you can find out if there's a Turtle Bay near you!