Monday, 21 November 2016

DRANK AT: Turtle Bay Rum Cocktail Masterclass, Leamington Spa

When an email from the lovely Maya popped in my inbox inviting me to a Rum Cocktail Masterclass at Turtle Bay, my eyes lit up.

It had been a very long time since I'd been to Turtle Bay and also a very long time since I'd been to any kind of cocktail-related event.

For those of you that don't know, let me tell you a little about Turtle Bay...

Turtle Bay is probably the closest you'll get to a Caribbean atmosphere (minus the sun, sea, sad and warmth) without actually going. The Caribbean lifestyle is all about being relaxed but lively (they make it work!), being soulful and all about rich, colourful flavours when it comes to their food. Turtle Bay's mission is to capture that soulful vibe in their restaurants and I really think they achieve that.

As you enter, in front of you is the beach shack style bar, the kitchen to the back which is completely open with grills at the front so you can watch the chefs work their magic and lots of seating in a veranda style to continue that relaxed atmosphere. The walls are covered in murals, reclaimed materials - repurposed shipping containers, oil drum lampshades and reclaimed wood.

The Leamington Spa restaurant and bar is a particular favourite of mine as, whether you're there simply for drinks (they have 2 for 1 cocktails for the majority of the time they're open!!), a delicious meal or for a bit of both (because 2 for 1 cocktails and tasty food are not to be turned down!), there's something for everyone.

Naturally, when it comes to the cocktail list, rum is at the heart of the menu and so is Bob Marley. The signature rum of Turtle Bay is Blackwell Rum, created by founder of Island Records Chris Blackwell -who basically launched Bob Marley's career (amongst other things, of course!) The Blackwell Rum is a favourite of many, with its dark hue and spicy kick. BUT, there are over 40 different types of rum at Turtle Bay and I would recommend branching out and trying a few different ones. You've got no excuse really when happy hour runs from 11.30am-7pm then starts again at 10pm!!

Anyway, now you've got a bit of background...onto the masterclass.

The class was hosted by the wonderful Adam. And I mean wonderful; he is perfect for the job - knowledgable, enthusiastic and a fantastic representative of what Turtle Bay is all about!

We were talked through the rums - the Blackwell, Santa Teresa, and the one that's in a number of the cocktails (I didn't catch the name!)

The Blackwell almost reminded me of the taste of brandy - I think because it was quite strong but I'd definitely say, in a drink, I found it much more enjoyable.

The Santa Tereza is a Venezuelan rum and definitely my favourite. It has an orangey taste to it and is more like a liqueur than the sharp taste of the Blackwell. I could even go as far as saying I'd drink the Santa Tereza straight with an ice cube as well as in a drink.

The other rum, which I annoyingly didn't catch the name of is the rum that goes in the Ting Ray, the Rude Boy and the Reggae Rum Punch Cocktails (which are one of the strongest on the menu!) This rum is over 50% and is called an overproof rum which means nothing is added to it. 

We got to try each of these whilst being told about them and did the whole 'smell it first', describe it, 'hold in your mouth for a minute to get a sense of the flavours' etc. So it was the real deal. Adam kindly explained to us the kinds of flavours we should be tasting. 

From here, we moved back over to the bar area where we could watch Adam make them and also have a go ourselves. The cocktails that were made were the Watermelon Rum Cocktail (which was really refreshing and one of my favourites!), the Reggae Rum Punch (a strong cocktail but a signature!), the Marley Mojito, Pina Colada (cue 'do you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain...', the Mai Tai (my favourite!) and a couple of others.

I didn't have a go at making them this time as I was pretty useless the last time I'd done it *cringes*. But it was such a great atmosphere and the group there was so lovely that everybody was watching and cheering them on.
After the cocktail making had come to an end, they provided a few sharing platters for the group to end the evening.

I really enjoyed my time at the Rum Cocktail Masterclass at Turtle Bay. The Leamington Spa staff are so friendly and Adam was a wonderful host. I definitely would recommend making your way through the cocktail menu - even the ones I liked a little less were still super tasty!

If you're in the mood for a cocktail, wanting to find somewhere a little different to go on a first date or  if you're in a couple and wanting somewhere to go on 'date night' be honest, I could find any example to encourage you to go. I definitely think this would even make a fantastic work Christmas party venue if you aren't ready for a million roast dinners throughout December.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - at Turtle Bay, there really is something for everybody.

Thanks for having me!

** I was invited by Siobhan Hanley PR to this event for free but all views and love of cocktails are my own **

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