What is your go-to drink when you want to treat yourself to a tipple? Do you always go for a trusty wine or beer? Or does a new cocktail menu get your mouth watering?
According to Martin Farmer, director of Monkey Bars which has Orchid and Ninety-Nine in Aberdeen, more and more people are opting for the latter.
“We have seen a huge transition in the way people are drinking,” he said.
“In Orchid, we are 85 to 90% cocktails now when it used to be a pretty even split between cocktails and spirits and beers. People are more willing now to push themselves and try something new.”
What is Aberdeen Cocktail Week?
With more people in the north-east ordering cocktails, and more venues getting creative with them, entrepreneur Gregor Sey had an idea. “I knew Aberdeen was punching above its weight in terms of cocktails so I thought there was a need for something to showcase that,” he said.
“I started researching on a Friday, was in my head over the weekend, then three months later we held our first Aberdeen Cocktail Week.”
Aberdeen Cocktail Week is an opportunity for locals and visitors to Aberdeen to enjoy the city’s thriving cocktail scene. After the success of the inaugural event last year, the second starts on October 18.
Organiser Gregor said: “It’s as simple as this; it’s an excuse to get into the city, discover bars you haven’t been to before and streets you haven’t been down in years.
“I think Aberdeen is on the cusp of a tourism boom. The event plays into that, and what I want to do with it is create something that people want to come up here for. It’s not just about drinks, it’s about getting a taste for the area.”
Keeping things affordable
More than 30 venues including The Spiritualist, Resident X and The Ivy Lounge have carefully curated a number of cocktails exclusive to wristband holders at the event. Each will have at least one £5 cocktail on offer.
The £5 cocktails are just one of the ways in which Gregor tries to make sure Aberdeen Cocktail Week is accessible to as many people as possible. Martin said this aspect of the event means people who might not usually be coming into his bars can do so with ease.
“A big job of ours has been trying to break down the pretentiousness of cocktails,” he said. “People used to think you had to be in a nice hotel or on holiday on the beach and that they are really expensive.
“Having Aberdeen Cocktail Week opens up people’s minds and enables them to go and try new bars they might not normally. Orchid is an expensive venue, I know that, and people might not usually be able to come, especially with the cost of living.”
To make sure the city’s talented bartenders get the credit they deserve, a Cocktail of the Year award will be announced in November, voted for by those who attended. Last year, the most popular included Barbelow’s Golden Ticket and Banana Mama from Under the Hammer.
A trip down memory lane
Gregor has his eye on one cocktail in particular from this year’s line-up. He said: “There is a bar called Siberia using cornflake-infused milk. The thought takes me back to being a young man drinking milk from my cereal bowl before heading off to primary school, so I am excited to try that one.”
Martin shared a little of what Orchid has up its sleeve. “For years we have played on a classic cocktail called a Milk Punch, it’s a way of clarifying cocktails,” he said. “You put all the ingredients in one jar, leave them to macerate for four to five hours then pour it through milk and citrus.
“It comes out through a muslin cloth and you get this really clear product that has a creamy flavour. It messes with your mind, it’s delicious. We’re doing that with Chambord, vanilla, cranberry, citrus then these creamy notes.”
Trying something new
There is more to Aberdeen Cocktail Week than simply enjoying a cocktail or two, with venues also conjuring up cocktail-inspired food and masterclasses for budding bartenders. Non-alcoholic offerings will also be aplenty, with Martin saying the industry needs to adapt to the fact that more and more people are choosing not to drink.
Gregor hopes the event encourages people to try something new. “These are places that are here already, we are just shining a light on them,” he said.
“I’m guilty of always going to the same places too, and it’s great to love your local but it can mean you put your blinkers on and forget there’s more available.”
Go to aberdeencocktailweek.com for more information and to buy your wristband.