What do I love about Edinburgh? It’s a gorgeous city, cosmopolitan* you might say. With beautiful buildings, arts festivals a-plenty and an outstanding food and drinks scene, there’s nothing quite like it, particularly on a sunny summer’s day. When an invitation came in from Grey Goose to visit their little Boulangerie François camionette on its stop-over in the city came through, it was just the kind of mini-event that puts this city firmly under the ‘destination’ category.
What’s all this with the little blue bakery van then? Well, as part of Grey Goose’s Fly Beyond campaign, they’ve trussed up a cute little Citroen wagon, ostensibly selling les pains et baguettes made from the same wheat used to make Grey Goose vodka. But wait, hovver around the back door long enough and you might be invited into the world’s smallest martini lounge. Dinky didn’t quite cover it – I’d bet most of the folks who visited for their personalised martini consultation fancied having one of these little things parked in their driveway.
The devil is in the detail, and it seemed the designers had gone to town on this wee thing. Marble, brass and all the kit and caboodle any class bartender would need to expertly mix your dream martini. Mum and I pulled up a seat (taking the capacity from ‘empty’ to ‘full’ in one go) and after a welcome from Oli their brand ambassador, sat down for a civilised hour’s entertainment with Warren the bartender.
I have to admit, my drinks focus has shifted away from vodka-based drinks in recent years. There’s been such a strong movement towards boutique gins in the bar-world, and particularly here in Edinburgh with several independent distilleries on our doorstep, that yes, it’s been a while since vodka had been on my radar. For me, vodka really is about the perfectly served martini. I have no interest in ordering a vodka & coke or tonic in a bar, and for that reason a premium spirit is needed.
If I’d spent some time away from thinking about vodka as spirit of choice, Warren did his best to re-introduce us to it. We learned about François Thibault, The Matire de Chai or cellar master, who trained and became an expert in wine and spirits in the Cognac region. He developed the recipe for Grey Goose, and the spirit has won numerous awards since including the world’s best tasting vodka.
In our little martini lounge à deux, Warren led us through a mini-adventure for our palates. Asking us about our favourite flavours, tastes, textures and things in general. Mum went down the sweeter route, and her final drink recipe was:
50ml Grey Goose, rhubarb syrup, Somerset cider brandy, Martini Lusso, rhubarb liqueur and a dash of rose water and a grapefruit twist.
The drink had a summery perfumed touch, sweet but not too sweet and was deemed ‘delicious’.
I decided to go for a slightly more aromatic flavour profile, and our star on the bar came up with this beauty:
50ml Grey Goose Vodka, lemon thyme, velvet falernum, Martini Lusso, lemon twist.
This was right up my street, the drink had a great balance of tartness and and zing from the herbal element and lime-y falernum, but still a good dash of sweetness from the Martini Lusso. It’s a 10/10 kind of a drink.
Sadly, we couldn’t hang around for hours and enjoy more conversation and libations; this was just the reintroduction to vodka I needed!
*intentional drinks pun!
Many thanks to Selena at APR Communications for the invitation and to Oli and Warren for looking after us on the day.