Ahh, well now this is a nice thing to do………… Monday night in London town, Soho no less, Brewer Street more precisely, a vermouth masterclass with the lovely, informative Ed at the slickly kitted out restaurant & vermouth bar that is Mele e Pere.
Mr W, a devotee of Spanish Vermut, ever growing in popularity in Catalunya, particularly in Tarragona, Barcelona and the like, had a birthday recently & was gifted a knowledge expanding evening, in the intricacies of this wonderfully aromatic, fortified wine which for so long, unfairly as it turns out, summoned up images of TV ads featuring Joan Collins.
The delicious, cleverly crafted blends of aromatics & botanicals that the Mele e Pere folk put together couldn’t be further from the bitter 70’s concoction of Cinzano & lemonade that in my youth was the sophisticates beverage of choice.
During the perfectly timed hour & a half session we tasted, white & red, small batch, bespoke, vermouths, compared them to examples produced on a larger scale, sipped cocktails using both as a base and devoured some delicious small plates, Mr W’s favoured the deep fried olives, I was greedy with the Calamari with smoked Aioli.
Then came the practical. We were given a base wine plus what looked liked the contents of an apothecary store cupboard to use in an attempt to blend our own concoction. Our first, after some over zealous action with an oregano filled pipette, went a peculiar shade, reminiscent of the mixtures you made as a kid from the remnants of your parents & their flare wearing friends drinks parties, let’s just say it didn’t have a whole lot of clarity. But the second, using a blend of wormwood, rhubarb root, lemon & gentian was marvellous, although I had sampled a fair few at this point, so my judgement may well have been as cloudy as our 1st attempt. Ed didn’t look overly impressed!
I won’t go deep into the details, I really urge you to go for yourselves. Great as a gift, to yourself or to others, you’ll have to be quick, securing a stool at this interestingly stocked bar is becoming tricky with bookings now being taken well into the New Year.
It also occurs that, this makes for an impressive, fail safe, first date. It’s the whole, remarkably well priced package. Long enough to discover whether you might be on the cusp of a lasting romance, if not, short enough to be able to make school night excuses & head off to the nearby tube at Piccadilly.
I’ll be back, the restaurant menu is delicious, the cocktails are ridiculously more-ish, notably the Down the Apples, a mix of the white house vermouth, pear liqueur, apple vodka, apple juice, ice & a slice, the slice being that of a juicy Williams Pear.