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Monday, 1 October 2012

The Thrill of the Chase at The Liquorists: Local Man Runs Amok at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival

A few weeks ago, pretty much the unthinkable happened: Mr Liz was not only allowed out unsupervised, but was also allowed to write about it, here on these very pages. And, turns out you LIKED him, although not as much as he liked himself - he has, it seems, got quite a taste for seeing his words in print. So, due to popular demand (and me having a stomach bug over the weekend), here's Mr Liz's report on his visit to The Liquorists' Thrill of the Chase...

Now it has been said that I am a man of simple tastes. Food, drink and some form of sporting event is usually enough to keep me happy. And this year I have been a happy man indeed, what with the Olympics, the Paralympics, the Champions League, the Ryder Cup, Andy Murray actually winning something that matters - twice (not Wimbledon though) and the most tightly fought Premiership season for many a year.

Unfortunately due to the combination of a great summer of sport and my love of food and drink, I have recently found my waist reaching a level where it was just too uncomfortable shoehorning myself into airline seats. This has led to serious attempts to lose weight, which is why the annual Manchester Food and Drink Festival has come around at exactly the wrong time for me: a plethora of enticing food and drink events, that I am simply not allowed to visit upon pain of an overly tight pair of trousers.

What can I say other than I am weak. On what was one of the wettest Sunday evenings I can remember, where I had every reason to stay home and batten down the hatches, I surrendered to my base desires and turned up at the Green Quarter HQ of The Liquorists for an evening of Chase Vodka.

For both readers of the blog who haven't heard of The Liquorists, they are a fairly recent addition to the Manchester Food and Drink scene whose mission is to give you an education in inebriation. As any veteran of their Whisky, Rum and Gin trails knows the format is straight forward. Top quality alcohol, followed by cocktails made from the self-same alcohol and a small snackeral of food designed to complement the drink interspersed with the story of the drink.

You're not drinking; you're learning...which makes it OK.

At this stage I must admit that the educational elements have occasionally passed me by, but I did manage to note down some snippets of information that stuck in my mind:

1. Chase Vodka is made from potatoes, which is apparently unusual because it's difficult to make and adds to the cost of the spirit, but tastes particularly nice. So potato based Vodka = good.

2. Apparently all of the ingredients of the Vodka (and Gin) that was on offer is sourced from the same farm. This means that the food miles associated with the distillery are in the single digits, which means you can sit down and enjoy your drink while thinking of how much good you are doing for the environment. Probably.

Now, Vodka is the base for some absolutely iconic drinks, such as the Bloody Mary or the Vodka Martini. And I like both of them, but I’ve never been too convinced with Vodka as a neat drink. But if there were ever a bunch of guys who can convince me otherwise, their name is The Liquorists.

And so onto the drinks.

In order of drinking they were: Chase Vodka, John Collins, Chase Gin, a cocktail with no name, Smoked Vodka, a Vesper based cocktail (this containing Chip Dry White Port in place of Kina Lillet - which is substantially better tasting than the name would suggest), Marmalade Vodka, Marmalade Bagliato (which was a mix of prosecco and Marmalade Vodka) and finished off with a bonus Apple Vodka. All served with a variety of canap├ęs specially chosen to complement the drinks and enhance the flavour.

Now that is a great selection of drinks, all of which were very much enjoyed. Yet if I were to rank them in order of preference, the Vodkas with the more intense flavours won out over the base Vodka every time, with a particular mention going to the Smoked Vodka and the Marmalade Vodka.

Even after all of this I’m still not convinced about Vodka on its own. I drank some neat Vodka that was substantially better than the majority that have passed my lips over the years, yet the cocktails were also improved by a similar margin. Sorry guys, but my neat tipple of choice will remain the Whisky until further notice.

Obviously, just to be on the safe side, I may have to sample some more Vodka at a later date*. I know I’ve got a bottle of Marmalade Vodka occupying shelf space at home right now and I suspect that this won't be the case for much longer.

So great evening, great company, great food, great Liquor, not so great weather. Well you can't have everything. I can't personally wait until the Tequila trails hit Manchester later this year: perhaps someone can tell me what the point of the worm in the bottle is.

* For Educational purposes, so that makes it alright

So, thanks to selfless Mr Liz, although I feel duty bound to remind him that the bottle of Chase Marmalade Vodka at home is MINE, and offer in passing the casual observation that, judging from his photos, he doesn't seem to have moved from the bar all evening. You can find out more about the lovely Liquorists here, and the delicious Chase Distillery here.

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