Opening today, my colleague, Karla Sinclair, and I got a preview of what will be on offer at Aberdeen’s latest cocktail and wine bar to hit the city.
From some of their creative cocktails to a selection of small plates, we thought we’d head over in advance of opening to try some of the drinks and dishes and point you in the direction of what to order.
Based at Golden Square in the former Granite Park and Miro’s Bar venue, the entrepreneurs behind Olive Alexanders, Hayley Fisher and Emily Hailstones, have opened Barbelow and are looking to bring something different to the city centre.
Barbelow is located on the basement level of the building and the duo will open their Olive Alexanders bistro and delicatessen on the ground floor in the next month or so.
In the meantime though, there are plenty of small plates and drinks to try out at the modern and edgy bar which features some standout neon signage, too.
There are 16 cocktails on the menu and as ambitious as we are, there was no chance we were going to be able to try them all. So, we selected two each to show off the variety that is on offer.
Emily, who is also the head chef, cooked us up three dishes including a taster of their cheeseboard.
Did the drinks and the small plates complement the modern interiors and live up to the high-quality offering we had been sold?
We tucked into these first as we figured we’d work from the lightest dish to the heaviest.
There were heirloom carrots, radish, cucumber, candy beets and white bean puree. Neither Karla or I had high hopes for the puree but it turned out to be our favourite of the dish. I initially thought I picked up the sharp taste of horseradish, but it was in fact a whole lot of garlic hitting my tongue.
Karla also loved the puree and was incredibly complimentary of the candy beets. The carrots were also very nice and crunchy.
When I got whiff that Karla hadn’t tried blue cheese before I was keen to see what her reaction was. I tried it first just to try and ease her worries about it being super strong and smelly, and I too was pleasantly surprised at how light and creamy it was. It was nothing like the pungent blues I have had in my time.
Other cheeses were a comté and brie, which we both enjoyed. But it was the fruit on the plate including the rhubarb with sugar on top, the sharp jelly, the chopped pear and thinly sliced apple that really made these cheeses sing.
This cheeseboard was a small example of what will be available at Barbelow.
Spiced chicken wings with jalapeno sour cream
The first thing Karla and I noted was the intense smell of the lime rind that had been grated on top of the chicken wings and the sauce.
The wings were huge with the whole thing intact. They were beautifully fried and the chicken was so succulent and moist inside while the outer batter was lovely and crispy.
Karla isn’t the biggest fan of spice, but actually, the jalapeño wasn’t overpowering at all and the sauce was super creamy which we both really enjoyed.
I tucked in with my fingers and came across more of the small, thinly sliced pieces of jalapeno that were in the sauce. Karla didn’t notice them so much with her knife which maybe wasn’t a bad thing with her not liking spice as much. This one got a definite “will order again” from us.
Watermelon Jalapeno Margarita
This was by far my favourite drink we tried. Slightly spicy with a bit of a warming punch meets refreshing watermelon. And do you know what? The two work so well together.
The brainchild of Alex Hailstones who is the bar manager, this drink packs a punch and is oh-so moreish. I was loving the pepperiness and the sweetness of this drink and could have happily sat there and ordered a few more.
First things first, this cocktail was certainly a looker.
Boasting an enticing baby pink colour and topped with fresh raspberries, one question that entered Karla’s mind when she caught a glimpse of it was “would it taste as good as it looked?” That, it did.
Refreshing and fruity, the spirit (Edinburgh Gin strawberry and pink pepper) shone through without being overpowering, which a solid cocktail should do.
It had a nice texture to it and is definitely one for those that love a creamy tipple.
I’ve got a Golden Ticket, or at least I had one, however what I will say is this one most certainly wasn’t golden.
Baby blue was the hue of this one in fact, and I’m pretty sure it tasted even better than the Wonka Bar Charlie tucked into to get his.
A dessert in a glass, this cocktail with vodka, creme de cacao, blue curacao and milk was deliciously sweet. The team described it as “Cocoa Pops milk in a glass” and the more I drank, the more it tasted like it!
Peach for the Sky
Karla selected this one out of her sheer love of peach. And the Peach for the Sky didn’t disappoint.
It was far lighter on the palate than The Aztec with her saying she would happily sip away at it alongside the small plates available at the venue.
There were hints of raspberry, peach and pineapple, in particular. It’s a tipple that transports you abroad without having to leave the Granite City.
There was a lot to like at Barbelow but the stand out dish was most certainly the chicken wings. We both loved them and could have tucked in to many more if given the opportunity.
The drink we’d recommend the most out of the four we tried is the watermelon jalapeno margarita. It really stood out because it was different to the others and was something we’d both certainly order again.
Can you think of any local venues or dishes you would like the Drive-Thru Diners to try?
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