Whisky, Chocolate, Beer, Cocktails, Champagne and so much more
Some nights it is great to be me, and Wednesday 11th June was one of those nights! I was very lucky to attend the Pommery Champagne Café Bar event, at the simply stunning Signet Library. Now before I tell you about the night itself, let me tell you why the event was arranged. This event was created as an opportunity to showcase the Pommery Champagne Café Bar’s exciting and varied Festival schedule for this year.
Back for the fourth year in a row, The Signet Library (owned by the Writers to the Signet), will once again play host to the much acclaimed and exclusive Pommery Champagne Café Bar, this breath taking venue is usually off limits to the public, but through their partnership with Pommery Champagne Café Bar and Edinburgh’s creative caterers Heritage Portfolio from 1st August to 25th August members of the public will have the opportunity to partake in any one of a number of exclusive events.
If you think that the incredibly exclusive and acclaimed Pommery Champagne Café is for Champagne only, (although I am not sure champagne and only should ever be used in a sentence), well think again, this year’s jam packed schedule of events has something for everyone!
Of course there is the same great pop-up bar, which is always a haven of elegance and calm, and is one of my favourite places to take in the festival, a chance to get away from the maddening crowd if you will, serving several Pommery champagnes and stunning cocktails. Not to mention the sumptuous food which is always a highlight. Think locally sourced seafood, sharing platters providing great value and a great chance to socialise. There is a return of the much favoured whole roast lobster with hand cut chunky fries a return of the “famous” Pommery Burger. The pop up is open daily from 12 noon until late.
The atmosphere is fantastic and is the place to see and be seen. If you haven’t visited the pop up bar before now then you have really been missing out, it’s more than a venue to have a glass of champagne or a bite to eat, it’s an experience, a bit of luxury, a treat for either yourself or a loved one. The champagne afternoon teas would delight all ages!
The events listing is both sophisticated, elegant and fun, with a distinct Scottish feel.
Royal Military Tattoo
One of the highlights being the much sought after Royal Edinburgh Tattoo. The Tattoo is always a Festival highlight and this year is no exception with most of the tickets already sold out. Pommery are offering a simply superb package, comprising a pre-dinner Pommery Champagne Cocktail, three course meal and ticket to the Royal Tattoo. If that’s not enough to tempt you either, you will be taken to your seats at the Tattoo and avoid all the queuing. No rushing, no queues and no hassle! This is superb value at £75 per person, and I highly recommend you book early to avoid disappointment and to make that even easier for you (I think of everything) here’s the link
Champagne Tutored Tasting
This ever popular event is bigger and better than ever, catering for both experts, novices and those who just love fizz! Sara Hicks, UK Ambassador for Pommery Champagne takes you through four seasonal glasses of champagne, explaining all the subtle nuances in a fun, energetic and engaging way. And if four glasses of champagne isn’t enough for you then you will have a further glass in the bar and enjoying some sharing platters too! Proving that not everything that sounds too good to be true is. This event is held twice a day 5.30 & 7pm 13th, 14th, 15th August.
Chocolate, Whiskies and Cocktails
Fancy something with a little more whisky involved? Then you are in luck, the always fantastic, energetic, passionate, knowledgeable and fun Annabel Meikle (@thewhiskybelle) takes you through the most wonderful of parings, whisky, chocolate and cocktails with, “Chocolate, Whiskies and Cocktails” held 2pm on 3rd,10th ,17th & 24th August. Spend an indulgent afternoon with this fun introduction to whisky. Be prepared to get involved and learn along the way. Featuring two whiskies and two whisky cocktails showcasing The Famous Grouse family, paired with the most decadent chocolates from exclusive chocolatier The Highland Chocolatier.
Four Beers and a Burger
The Pommery Bar serves some brilliant artisan beers from local brewers Knops Brewery. Don’t just sample the fantastic range of beers but meet the genius behind them too. Hear the stories behind the beer and top it off with one of the superb Pommery Burgers too with the Meet the Brewer – Knops Beer Company Ltd event held 7pm 4th, 11th & 18th August.
Single Malt Sundays
Want your whisky a little more in depth? Then take in Single Malt Sundays with Annabel Meikle (The Whisky Belle). Journey around Scotland in the best way possible, via whisky! Sample four regional single malt whiskies all under Annabel’s expert guidance and tutelage. Each dram will be accompanied by a selected Scottish Tapas bite to perfectly complement the dram. This is a great event to attend with friends and should provide plenty of lively conversation. Held 5pm 3rd, 10th, 17th & 24th which is an ideal time for rounding off a busy day taking in the Festival or for starting your evening.
You will need to book these events fast as trust me they will be extremely popular! You can do so here.
Now on to the night itself, the pictures do not do the Signet Library justice, there are not enough words in the world to explain just how jaw dropping this venue is. The grand staircase with art work adoring the walls, then the main room itself, the windows, the ceiling, the dome, the way the light burnishes the room. I was left truly speechless, and if you know me, you know that never happens.
I met the very lovely Holly who guided me to the Pommery table, where I was handed a glass of champagne and given the opportunity to mingle and take in the room and the atmosphere.
The evening got underway, we were treated to a walk through all of the amazing array of unique, events planned for the Festival by Kirsty Hepburn, Creative Development Management for the Heritage Portfolio. Fun and hugely personable, you can’t fail to be caught up in the whirlwind of fun, excitement and genuine joy and enthusiasm that Kirsty feels for the Festival programme. Kirsty is passionate that these events should be accessible for all and that everyone should experience the luxury, glamour and exclusivity of these events. And with an amazing team behind these events this is exactly what will be delivered.
The Military Tattoo package is quite simply fantastic value, a three course meal, a champagne cocktail, a tattoo ticket and to be guided to your seats, without the hassle of queuing makes this a truly first class experience.
We were then lead through the whisky schedule of events, by none other than the always glamorous, exciting and enthusiastic Annabel Miekle, also known as The Whisky Belle. Annabel is hosting two events “Chocolates, Whiskies and Cocktails” and “Single Malt Sundays”. There was a great mix of people at this event, whisky lovers, champagne fans, foodies and fans of all things Edinburgh so there were one or two that either hadn’t tried whisky before or (shock horror) did not like whisky, or so they thought. Annabel explained how the smell of whisky contains many different aspects. To warm up our noses, we smelt three different aroma sticks to see if we could identify the different scents. The first was vanilla, Annabel explained just why vanilla is such an important smell and so appealing to humans. It’s a primal response, vanilla reminds you of your mother, and this is why it’s so uplifting and comforting. Vanilla is a note found abundantly in whisky. Our second was fresh grass, also recognised as a damp, mossy, and somewhat engine oil notes by some. The third, actually tripped me up, I was convinced it was almonds, it was supposed to be hay, for me personally that note didn’t come through right until the end, but the almonds were very present, luckily Annabel picked the almonds up too so I didn’t feel too “left field”.
Next up cocktails with Craig Bonner, who spoke much about the history of cocktails which became particularly popular during America’s prohibition and the time of the speak easy. If everyone was enjoying the alcohol just a little bit too much and become just too talkative a bell would ring and the words speak easy rang out, a sign that everyone was speak too much and that they needed to quiet down so the police didn’t hear. Most common of all were the sours, lemon juice and lime juice were all excellent ways of hiding the alcohol. We started with a mix between a French 75 and an Old Fashioned. Famous Grouse was used as the building blocks of this cocktail, giving character which worked well with the cherries and cherry liquor and the sour element.
This cocktail was fantastic, so complex, the perfect balance of sweet and sour, Craig obviously knows his stuff! Just when you think there is nothing that could make this better, enter the chocolates and not just any old chocolates, Iain Burnett Chocolates – The Highland Chocolatier (find their website here). Julie Collier – Commercial Director, talked to us about the company, their ethics and more importantly about the chocolates themselves. Passionate about the chocolate, Julie believes 100% in the importance of good quality produce, Iain Burnett is fiercely protective about the chocolates they produce, refusing to use any ingredients other than the very best, and keeping the production on a smaller scale (although don’t let that fool you into thinking they produce very small numbers, they don’t, a very famous airline take 23,000 alone for their lucky first class customers) to stay true to their beliefs. Working with the cocktail we were treated to a whole cherry enrobed in thick, smooth, creamy chocolate which complemented the cocktail perfectly. The exact cherries used are so rare that Iain won’t even tell Julie where he buys them and they are the perfect mix between sweet and savoury. To say it was superb doesn’t even come close to describing just how decedent and flavoursome this was, a match truly made in heaven.
Next up, whisky tasting we started with a Glenturret, which was gentle on the nose with both honey and lemon present. This was paired with a fantastic Lime white truffle with just a touch of cayenne pepper which gave it just a hint of chilli kick, which brought out a little of the spice in the whisky.
Cocktail number two followed, which is still the best cocktail I have ever tasted (and trust me I have tasted a lot of cocktails, all in the name of research of course).
This was called an adapted bramble/Violet bramble, this was amazing. Aside from the fact it looked beautiful, all gentle hues with a beautiful violet served a top the ice, visually stunning, and more than pleasing on the palate, think parma violets and you are almost there.
This was paired with a chocolate raspberry, heather honey and white chocolate truffle. The chocolate was so delicate, the truffle mouth meltingly soft, with honey pushing through on the palate, simply wonderful.
The final treat of the night was a Highland Park 12 paired with one of the Scottish Tapas dishes, an elegant dish of the finest smoked salmon, served on a base of pink fur potatoes, mustard butter, capers, radish and toast. An excellent marrying of fresh flavours, saltiness with a buttery softness, all of which the whisky was robust enough to hold its own against, without overpowering the dish.
So what else is there to say? The food was fantastic, the venue was jaw dropping, the champagne was delicious, the cocktail’s amazing, the company was witty and interesting. The whole evening just worked so well that I have no doubt every event will be just as efficient and enjoyable. You will learn plenty but have fun along the way too. Do not miss these events or the chance to say you were there! Treat yourself or even better, treat a loved one too.
See you there!
Kirsty Clarke (@kirstyclarke29)