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.

Swedish akvavit

It’s Christmas time and last night I decided to have a non-martini drink. I’ve previously mentioned my liking for akvavit for midsommar, but I also like it during the winter (to keep warm).
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I put some miniature bottles of akvavit (from Ikea) in the freezer for a day, then served them in heavy glasses and a single spherical ice cube. I like all the different infusions, as it adds a bit of variety to my normal gin diet.

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Skål och god jul!

A Demerara and dark rum ‘spiky coffee’

This isn’t a martini, but it’s a nice drink that we occasionally partake of in my family, especially in winter. It’s comparable to an Irish coffee, but we haven’t traditionally called it that here and we use rum, not whisky/whiskey.

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It’s particularly good after a long cold day of outdoors activity.

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Make yourself some coffee. Pour a cup and add milk to taste if that’s how you have it (we do as a family).

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Add a lump or two of Demerara sugar.

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Add a shot of dark rum. Given the strong naval connections of my family we prefer Wood’s Old Navy Rum (57%). It’s strong and has a very distinctive taste and aroma.

It’s a lovely, warming pick-me-up. It’s great after a long hike, or a day’s work outdoors in winter.

The Canadian Martini

Canada is one of Britain’s closest allies. It was only a matter of time before I wrote about the country. Have you ever heard of Five Eyes? It’s an intelligence term. I will let someone else give you the details, or you can read about it here. It’s basically an intelligence-sharing arrangement between five key countries – the United States, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Canada.

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To be brief, I am extremely pro-Canadian (moderately concerned by Quebecois secession attempts but that’s another matter) and I regularly attend celebratory events on the 1st of July.

Perhaps more importantly, I’m also a fan of maple syrup. So here is an appropriate martini recipe:

Put 1-2 teaspoons of maple syrup in a martini glass (one for dry, two for sweet).

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Pour in a measure of vermouth and mix well.

Top up with gin or vodka and stir until the drink is a consistent golden/amber colour.

Serve cold. If you’re not in Canada this is a lovely winter drink. If you are in Canada this means it’s a lovely drink all throughout the year except June, July and August. And even then it’s still quite nice.

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The Japanese Pickled Ginger Martini

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Get ready for winter with this ice-cold Japanese-Russian-British infusion. If Moscow cuts off Europe’s gas supplies this is how to stay warm!

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I love gari (Japanese pickled ginger) and wanted to incorporate it into a drink for ages. Similar to making Limoncello the aim is to infuse clear spirit and add it to a classic martini.

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Take 1 small pile of gari slices (as in the picture above – the same amount you would be served with a dish in a Japanese restaurant) per 100ml clear spirit. Fill a container with the required ginger and clear spirit.

Add 1 tablespoon of sugar per 100ml, shake/stir until it has dissolved and leave for at least a week to infuse. For this recipe I used 340ml and the equivalent of 3-4 small piles of gari to infuse the spirit. I used Russian vodka but Polish or any other varieties are all fine (depending on your taste and/or national affiliations). Actually it doesn’t harm to use poorer quality vodkas for this recipe. Save good quality vodka for tasting in its own right.

When the time comes to pour, take a chilled martini glass and mix with the following measures:

Add 1 measure of sweet vermouth (or to taste)
Add 2 measures of the infused ginger vodka
Add 3-4 measures of chilled gin

Garnish with a slice of pickled ginger. If you have pink slices these are more visually attractive (I didn’t have any to hand for my latest attempts). When you finish the drink and eat the garnish it sends a bitter-warming-spicy chill down your spine.

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The ginger adds a nice warming quality to the drink. This makes it perfect for a cold evening, be it a clear day when you can wrap up warm and watch the early sunset outside, or for sipping indoors in front of a fire.

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You can also serve the ginger vodka straight up in a frozen shot glass if you want. Again, garnish with a slice of pickled ginger.

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Winter is the perfect time for this!