Orchid is one of Aberdeen's best known, and well loved, cocktail bars. Home to the creative genius behind Porter's Gin, Orchid plays host to many an award winning bartender and has established itself as one of the most popular haunts in the Granite City for those who truly appreciate a well made cocktail! Classic, contemporary, unique... whatever your style, the guys at Orchid will cater for your individual tastebuds.
Surprisingly it's the only bar on Langstane Place I hadn't had the pleasure of visiting, until now.
I was invited along to try out the new winter menu, launching mid-November and I have to say - I'm impressed! A glass case proudly boasts Porters memorabilia at the entrance, alongside a collection of awards. Candlelight creates a cosy, intimate feel to the stylish bar, which features comfy seating by the window, stools along the bar area and some large, invitingly warm leather booths up a couple of steps at the back. The deceptive layout hides the unexpected space, which appears quite small on first impressions.
Our evening started off with a gin tasting session. Sean talked us through the story of gin, from the Genever days in Holland at the very beginning, to the Old Tom era of London Dry, before moving onto modern day gin tales with a taste of Orchid's very own Porter's Gin. The first gin to be distilled in Aberdeen in over 100 years!
Modern distillation techniques have allowed them to create a well balanced tipple with delicate botanicals - the refreshing citrus notes of Buddhas hand and pink peppercorn as two of the main, unique flavours. According to the guys at Porters there's no such thing as a perfect serve - it's all down to personal preference - but you should choose one that compliments the already present flavours of the gin. That sounds like a good excuse for another taste test to me!
You can buy a bottle of Porters Gin from local stores (including The Whisky Shop, Rye & Soda, Borsalino's!), online, in Harvey Nics or from Orchid itself.
Nickintroduced us to the exciting new menu concept that Orchid are launching next month. The cocktail list will feature 8 drinks, each one associated with a different location in Aberdeen. Inspired by a cocktail adventure in New Orleans (and an aversion to the idea that there's nothing to do in the Granity City) the menu creates a sort of treasure hunt, to encourage people to get out and explore, and appreciate what's on offer in the local area. Each drink will be served with a badge and customers will be encouraged to snap a selfie in that location with the badge. Anyone who completes all eight will have their name featured on the next menu, and might even have a chance of winning a prize! The team have a few tricks up their sleeve on this one - you may have to rely on word of mouth rather than google maps!
Onto the drinks... We were lucky enough to taste three cocktails from the new menu, each one completely different and delicious in it's own way.
Religious Robbery is a gin martini/pina colada inspired drink, stolen from a bartender friend on London's Worship Street. The mixture of Porter's gin, pineapple and coconut juice makes for one silky, smooth cocktail which is, naturally, associated with the Porters Gin lockup.
Honey Rider is an old fashioned style beverage, flavoured with mango infused rum and linked with Fittie for it's pirate credentials. (Rum/Sea... Get it?)
The Beerlinni, was one of the most intriguing drinks of the preview. The combination of Camden Hells lager and grapefruit sherbet makes for some unexpected flavours and as a non-beer drinker I found myself surprisingly enjoying it! The idea of beers in the park with friends has connected this one to Duthie Park.
Other locations include the Music Hall, the beach and 13 King Street for it's place in Chivas Regal history - you'll have to check out the menu to find the rest for yourself!
Our next port of call was a mini mixology lesson! Creating a perfect cocktail can be a real challenge but these guys have it down to an artform at Orchid. Matthew started by shaking up a classic daiquiri and telling us a little about the history of this well known drink. It's a dry, refreshing and simple cocktail, ideal to cleanse your palette. These days, most bars will feature some sort of daiquiri, strawberry being one of the most popular! But no matter the flavour, the structure of the drink is always the same. Combining a base, a modifier, and a mixer - usually sweet and sour to create a balanced flavour profile.
The girls got to try their hand at making the bar's signature cocktail - the Pink Orchid! Combining vanilla vodka, raspberry Chambord, lime, sugar, cranberry and egg white. Yes - egg white! A little bartenders trick that gives the drink that foamy texture we all love. Iga, Julia and Claire did a fab job and I enjoyed sipping on one of their masterpieces!
Our Beauregarde Sours
Next was the chance to come up with our very own cocktail. With a little help from Matt we invented the Beauregarde Sours! A mixture of Porters gin as our base (of course), a violet liqueur as our modifier, lemon as our sour and agave syrup as our sweetener. Think Parma Violets in a cup! We tried our best to get it featured on the new menu... We could even have the Cruickshank Botanic Gardens as our "place" for the challenge!
We'd been split into three groups for the evenings events and each had made their own cocktail. Unfortunately the Beauregarde Sours was disregarded and another team won with their strawberry and peach concoction, taking home a mini bottle of Porters each!
My first experience at Orchid was fab and let me tell you, it will not be my last - I fully intend on completing that selfie challenge!
Look out for the new menu launching soon!
If you fancy trying your hand at bartending, a mixology lesson can be booked by contacting Orchid on Facebook. If gin is more your thing, check out this epic half price Gin Tasting deal currently available at Itison!
*I'd like to thank Fraser Media & Orchid for the invitation to this event. As always, all views are 100% genuine.