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There’s something in the water at Orchid Cocktails

Work of art: The Pink Orchid is the bar's signature drink and contains vanilla vodka, lime, Braemble Gin Liqueur, cranberry, and egg white.

After months of relentless practice, perfecting and rehearsals, it’s time to step out in front of the judges for the moment of truth.

No this isn’t a TV reality singing show, this is the real world of cocktail making.

Far from just shaking around a few drinks in a metal container, the meticulous mixing process at Orchid Cocktails is a work of art that stirs up something much stronger than just the spirits in the martini glass.

From Russia with love: The white Russian milk punch is a seductive mix of vodka, vanilla, cross-brew, coffee, milk, pineapple, bitters and garnished with dehydrated pineapple.

“It’s so much more than just making drinks,” said Martin Farmer, who is the operations director at the Langstane Place cocktail lounge as well as Ninety-Nine in Back Wynd.

“A lot goes on back of house, we put months in to the preparation of putting out a cocktail menu.

“Firstly the cocktails are divided up into families, for example, one bar tender will be asked to work on a new cocktail using bourbon, so they’ll go away and come up with the essential flavours for the cocktail, then we’ll sit down as a team to make sure that not everyone has made the same drink.

Shaken not stirred: The Banana’s in Pajamas cocktail is a a mix of vodka, vanilla, white rum, banana, lime and bitters.

“Then we’ll do a tasting session so everyone comes in and makes their drink, discussing their inspiration behind their cocktail and the reason why they paired these flavours together.

“We taste the cocktails and the team will say yes this is good or we feel that it’s not balanced well.”

Unpretentious

Striving for perfection while remaining unpretentious is perhaps the key ingredient to Orchid Cocktail’s success, having been named as the best cocktail bar in Scotland three times, an accolade they hope to retain for the fourth time at the competition next week.

But for Martin, it’s really about their incredible team who put their heart and soul into everything they do.

Stylish sipping: The ‘Matcha The Day’ cocktail is the perfect blend of gin, Vermouth, watermelon, apple, matcha, lemon, and egg white.

“Our menu has about 15 drinks on it but the guys can make anything,” said Martin, 33, who lives just outside Aberdeen.

“There’s 100 classic cocktails that they need to know before they get on the bar and they will know about drinks that are doing well in other cities, so even if it’s not on our cocktail list they’ll understand how to make things.

“We have an excellent team of staff, they go above and beyond on everything.”

Cocktail leaders

It was the intoxicating mix of meeting new people coupled with the busy buzz in the bar that led Martin into the hospitality industry.

“While I was at college doing sports coaching I ended up getting a job at a bar,” said Martin.

“I quite enjoyed making cocktails in the two bars I worked before and then coming to Orchid it was a different level and very innovative and it still is to this day.

“I fell in love with the whole cocktail scene and the industry as a whole.”

Stamp of approval: Even the ice is elegant at Orchid Cocktails.

Late licence

Life for Martin changed when he first stepped behind the bar at Orchid Cocktails 10-years-ago.

“At the time, Orchid was a well-established bar in town and it was the first late licence cocktail bar in Aberdeen (open until 3am),” said Martin.

“There were nightclubs open later but Orchid was definitely the leader in the city’s industry in terms of cocktails.

“It’s not the highest paying industry in the world but you meet some amazing people in it and you make lifelong friends.”

Cocktail Connoisseur: Martin Farmer fell in love with the hospitality industry.

Signature cocktail

Spirited and sophisticated yet cosy and relaxed, a visit to Orchid Cocktails is an experience like no other.

And that’s even before the drinks are flowing.

One of the bar’s most popular orders is the Pink Orchid, a blend of vanilla vodka, Braemble Gin Liqueur, egg white, lime, cranberry and sugar.

“It’s too easy to drink, quipped Martin.

“It’s a modern classic and is very refreshing.”

Blooming beautiful: The Pink Orchid is the bar’s trademark drink.

Pornstar martini

Also popular is the bar’s sophisticated take on the classic pornstar martini, created by their bar manager Ryan Mackie, where white wine, passion fruit, vanilla and vodka are carbonated in a bottle.

“We’ve created this unbelievable bellini style of drink,” said Martin.

“You would serve that in a flute and sip away at it.

“It’s a very delicate and elegant style of drink so that does really well.”

Work of art: The cocktails are almost too pretty to drink.

Old fashioned

Good old fashioned sipping drinks is also what Orchid does best.

“We’ve got one drink that sits in a solera vat ( a style of maceration) behind the bar, said Martin.

“In there we have Glenfiddoch 15-year-old but we top it up so it’s constantly ageing in that vat.

“We’ve had that on the menu for five years or so.

“It’s got a nice chocolate taste to it and it’s quite rich so it’s stirred down over some bitter and a big chunk of ice.

“If you had a fire, you would be sitting in front of the fire sipping on something like that.”

Best bar none: Martin Farmer and the team at Orchid Cocktails always go above and beyond.

Cocktail delivery and monthly subscription

During lockdown, Orchid Cocktails launched an online cocktail takeaway service which has since delivered about 90,000 cocktails across the UK and even abroad to places like New Zealand.

“The first weekend was a baptism of fire, it was phenomenal,” said Martin.

“So that Saturday we did 30 or 40 orders and then we grew it as we did 180 orders in one Saturday in May so that was over 1,000 cocktails went out.”

The cocktail delivery is still very much in-demand alongside their latest offering, a monthly cocktail subscription service.

“People can pay monthly and on the third week of the month they’re sent four cocktails which are all super accessible drinks.”

Glass half full: Orchid Cocktails is positively blooming.

Famous customers

As leaders in the industry, it’s no surprise that famous faces including Scottish golfer Colin Montgomerie and reality TV star Jamie Laing have visited the bar.

“The Aberdeen football players come in as well, they’re always exceptional, really polite and good people,” said Martin.

To Martin, one of the best things about working at Orchid Cocktails is the fact that it can open up a world of travel to people.

“If you’re good enough at making drinks, then you can travel the world for free,” said Martin.

“We’ve got former staff now working in Columbia and New Zealand.”

Drink of decadence: The Pink Orchid is perfection in a glass.

Award winning

Driven and highly motivated, Martin is proud of the journey Orchid Cocktails has taken him on over the past 10 years.

But nothing makes him prouder than being a husband to his “amazing” wife Charlotte, dad to five-year-old Darcy and soon to be dad again.

“To wind down I love spending time with my family, they are grounding, said Martin.

“We’ve got a wee boy due in December so it might be a Christmas baby.”

Video

 

Next week, (18th November), the team at Orchid, who have featured in a list of the UK’s top 50 cocktail bars, will find out whether they have won the  best cocktail bar in Scotland at the Scottish Licenced Trade News Awards for the fourth time.

Bar tender Charlie Wilson is also in the running for “mixologist of the year”.

For more information about Orchid Cocktails check out their Facebook page, Instagram or website

 

A round of questions with Martin Farmer

Martin Farmer, the operations director at Orchid Cocktails.

It’s the end of the day, what do you pour yourself?

Porter’s tropical gin and ginger ale.

 

If you were a drink, what would you be and why?

Aperol spritz – You either love it or loathe it. (This is a tough question)

 

Most unusual drink you’ve ever tried?

Deep fried mars bar old fashioned (delicious!).

 

What’s the most under-rated drink?

Classic Daiquiri.

 

What’s in your drinks cabinet at home?

A better question would be what’s not in my drinks cabinet at home.

 

 Best food and drink pairing

Fruity cider and a burger.

 

If you were stuck on a desert island, what three drinks would be there with you?

Pre sugar tax Irn Bru, Rio and port.

 

You have to make a drink to represent Aberdeen. What would that be?

Probably a daiquiri again, the city is underrated. Aberdeen has an unreal amount of talent within it.

 

You have to serve your favourite superhero or celebrity a drink. Who is it and what do you serve?

It has to be a some Courvoisier with my main 2Pac.

 

Tell us a secret trick of the trade?

When you hear bar staff shout random numbers they are speaking in code.

 

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