Since my last post…

If you are still signed up to receive my updates, thank you, hello and apologies for not updating this blog in over two years.

In 2016 I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stemming from a couple of intense episodes in my life.

I am now on the cusp of completing what has been an enlightening but difficult period of psychological treatment, courtesy of our under-supported but incredible National Health Service (NHS).

I had been using martinis as a self-medication crutch (a sadly common issue with PTSD sufferers) and realised I was no longer enjoying them the same way I used to.

I have also spent the last few years working very hard to transition my career away from the world of intelligence to something more tech based, so I’ve been busy learning new coding languages and building digital platforms.

One of these platforms is a travel advice website called Starling Safety.

It contains safety reports on countries around the world. Users can also leave safety comments and reviews for one another on locations that they know. It’s like a TripAdvisor equivalent but for risk and safety related issues.

It’s free to use and you are more than welcome to have a look whenever you want to know how safe somewhere is before you visit.

I would be delighted if you could also please register and leave some comments on locations that you know. The more information everyone contributes to the site the better it will be for us all

In a bid to build up my fitness I’ve also started running a half marathon every weekend. This has been tough but rewarding (it’s also part of my treatment).

If you’re interested in the links between trauma, therapy and running (or other exercise) I thoroughly recommend my friend Caroline’s podcast “Of Mountains and Minds” where she interviews some truly inspiring people who have overcome major adversity in their lives.

Needless to say, the last few years have been interesting – but tough – indeed for many of us.

Now it’s time to get some fun back into my life again. I thought a return to the blog would be a positive step. I’ve missed reviewing bars. I’ve missed experimenting. And I’ve really missed connecting with fellow martini enthusiasts from around the world.

So I’m back in the blogging game again and I’m looking forward to updating you all with my return to the martiniverse.

It truly is the most elegant drink around.

And if any of you would like to talk about mental health issues, please get in touch.

Chin chin (up).

Our Second Pop Up Martini Bar


Thank you to everyone who came to our martini pop up bar at the end of October.


We held it in ‘the Gallery’ on the Main Street of Tobermory, Isle of Mull.


At the end of the tourist season I hoped that it was a chance for locals to relax and try something different. It was also a bit of a send off for us and our staff, including our manageress Catriona who celebrated her 21st birthday on the night.


Unlike our pop up bar in July, the night was dark and it was too cold to be outside, so we went inside and set up the tables, switched on the heaters and lit all the candles, then hoped it would all work out.


We were only open for a short while: 17:00 to 20:00 with last orders at 19:30 to allow everyone to finish their last martini at a leisurely pace.


The week before we also held a Facebook competition. Whoever liked and shared the pop up bar announcement would enter a prize draw for a free martini and a martini-related gift.


We put together a large martini glass filled with champagne truffles from the Tobermory Chocolate Factory (you can order online here and they deliver anywhere in the world) and awarded it to one lucky winner who happened to be my former teacher.


I wasn’t as nervous as before the last pop up bar we did because I knew the concept worked in principle. I also had all my equipment lined up in order. However, it was darker and colder than during our summer event so I was worried that it wouldn’t be as comfortable or warm enough in our giant old church.


I also thought that because the tourist season was over, no-one would turn up.


However, in the end, the atmosphere was nice, it was warm enough, and the venue was full. I made dozens of martinis and was happy to see people enjoying themselves, especially after a long summer.


Our excellent chef also cooked up some amazing blini, which we served on platters with smoked salmon, sour cream, fish roe and miniature croque-monsieurs. Absolutely delicious and the perfect accompaniment to a cold martini.


So, all-in-all, a fun night. And now we’re ready for winter. Thank you to everyone who came, and thank you to all our amazing colleagues who made it happen.

Damage Assessment

    
The sign of a good night…

    
…is having to examine your lemons the next day to see how many strips were taken off…

  
In order to work out how many martinis you made.

   

If it’s more than two per person it will explain why your kitchen is destroyed and everyone in your household is hungover.

  
It could be time to take some action.

  
A detox breakfast perhaps? You could use the leftover lemon in a smoothie for example.

  
Alternatively you could also use the lemon with some hot water. Apparently this is good for the liver.

And let’s be honest, your liver probably deserves some tlc.

  
Maybe try some exercise?

Otherwise, I’m giving dry-January a go. The festive period was fairly intense.

I’ll see you on the other side.

Happy New Year!

A martini for Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday)

Today was a good day.

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For a start, it was the first day I left the office this year and it was still daylight for my walk home.

However, more importantly…

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Today is Pancake Day! My favourite saint’s day of all.

Valentine’s Day is a horrible endurance of emotional intensity and commercially enforced feelings of low self-worth if you’re single.

St Patrick’s Day might have been a favourite but (a) I normally don’t remember celebrating it and (b) it was meant to be my birthday but I was late (probably sipping on an amniotic fluid martini…).

Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras is for indulging in all those wordly things you want to abstain from or cut down on during Lent, so that’s things like carbs, fat and alcohol. It’s a day I always enjoyed as a child, and unlike other faux-Christian traditions such as Christmas, I continue to enjoy it greatly as an adult.

Except now I can imbibe in an alcoholic beverage at the same time.

So which one would I recommend? A Lemon Drop Martini with Foam would work nicely, especially if you like your pancakes like I do (with sugar and lemon juice).

For a perfect pre-abstinence extravaganza I followed this recipe from the Telegraph.

And after a bit of mixing and frying, the results were as follows (and it’s a pretty easy recipe to follow):

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I managed to make about 6 pancakes.

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You can serve it with lemon juice and sugar like my childhood, or with maple syrup perhaps, or a thin spread of cold, salty butter.

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Perhaps you could also serve it with a lemon drop martini or two. You might as well if you’re going to be cutting out all this frivolity for Lent. Here’s the recipe again if you want to try it