A couple of weeks ago, Nicola shared a tweet with me that she had spotted on Twitter where luxury vodka brand, Grey Goose, were running a competition which would give people the opportunity to spend a little time inside the most intimate bar in the world.
Who would have thought that a week later that I would be receiving a call from the marketing people for Grey Goose to arrange our very own 1-2-1 appointment. The prize venue was at Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh and as we both had the Glasgow Fair Monday booked off as a holiday, we were able to make the trip along the M8 to claim our prize.
The prize was a personalise martini consultation with a representative of Grey Goose but before we were shown into the 'mini bar', we were taken up to the champagne bar on the fourth floor where we were treated to one of Grey Goose's signature cocktails, the Grey Goose Le Fizz. Grey Goose vodka, St Germain elderflower liqueur and lime juice are shaken over ice before being topped with chilled soda water to create a wonderfully refreshing drink. We both enjoyed our pre-appointment cocktail and I have added elderflower liqueur to my shopping list because the 'Le Fizz' is a drink that we could both get very used to.
Once we had finished our drink, we were escorted back downstairs to the Grey Goose Camionette for the main event. Grey Goose have loving restored a vintage Citröen delivery truck and turned it into a quirky yet intimate personal drinks bar.
Inside, the bar measures about 1.5 square metres with room for just two guests and the bartender, with all of the available space cunningly used to create a cosy drinking environment. The mirrored gantry, stacked with vodka laden shelves, helps give the illusion of space whilst mini fridges are hidden away under the marble topped bar. On the other side of the bar there were two comfy bar stools that myself and Nicola plonked ourselves onto as we waited on the show to start.
Our personalised martini consultation was presented by Oli Blackburn who is the Grey Goose UK Brand Ambassador. With bar management experience from both Claridge's and The Gilbert Scott, Oli is no stranger to the providing high end clients with luxury service so looking after myself and Nicola would be a piece of cake. I'm not one to believe in coincidence but as we chatted with Oli, it turned out that he was the bartender who had created the 1873, the fantastic the signature cocktail that I had at Marcus Wareing's 'The Gilbert Scott' when myself and Nicola were in London earlier this year.
The traditional Martini was made by mixing gin and vermouth with ice before serving straight up with either a lemon twist or olive as garnish. Initially being prepared using six parts gin to one part vermouth, the martini was a potent aperitif, although over the years the ratios have been changed to suit personal taste, whilst it is now not unusual to see the gin replaced with vodka.
Oli explained that everyone can have their own perfect martini as long as the bartender has a good understanding of the flavours and tastes best suit the individual. Working around the five basic tastes of Salt, Bitter, Sweet, Sour and Umami, Oli questioned myself and Nicola about our favourite meals and food memories. Armed with collective information he was then set about creating our own individual and personalised martini.
With the raspberry and rhubarb being high up on Nicola's list of favourite flavours, Oli expertly mixed 50ml of Grey Goose Vodka, 10ml Noilly Prat, 5ml lime juice, 15ml rhubarb liqueur, and 5ml raspberry liqueur with ice before straining into a chilled martini glass and garnished with an orange twist. The rich fruit flavours of rhubarb and raspberry were balance perfectly by the Grey Goose vodka and Noilly Prat resulting in Nicola being hugely impressed by Oli's handiwork.
My own personalised martini was a more adult affair as my drink was influenced by my fondness for lemon and basil flavours. Oli mixed 50ml Grey Goose Le Citron with 10ml Noilly Prat, 15ml Apple Brandy liqueur, a few drops of orange bitters and basil leaves over ice before straining and pouring into a chilled martini glass and garnishing with a lemon twist. The Camionette was now beginning to fill with the heady notes of basil and lemon and I made short work of my own personalise martini. I have to be honest and stat that I actually preferred Nicola's drink but maybe that just goes to show that my gorgeous wife has great taste.
As our consultation came to an end we finished of our drinks and thanked Oli for looking after us before heading back out onto the sunny Edinburgh streets.
As they say in France 'A votre sante!'