Bamboo, 51 a West Regent Street, Glasgow, 0141 332 1067
Dick Bradsell is a bartending legend. the man in large part responsible for the cocktails revival in London. whether at Zanzibar. the Groucho Club. the eponymous Dick's Bar — once called ‘the maternity ward for the nascent cocktail craze in the mid-90s — and others.
Now he has come to Scotland. Alas. not to stay permanently but at least to train bar stall at a new venue — Bamboo — in Glasgow. While he has previously made forays north for one- day demonstrations and seminars. this is the first time he has been paid to put his imprimatur on a Scottish bar.
Mixed drinks have certainly caught on in Edinburgh. but it's a bit of a tougher sale in the west. l-lowever. Bradsell is bullish. The 864.000 question is. rightly. as he puts it: ‘Is Glasgow ready for a full-on. proper cocktail bar?‘ He's convinced Glaswegiai s will respond favourably: ‘They can appreciate a good drink when they get one.‘
We'll see. To his credit. and despite suggestions from some. he h s not “dumbed down' the mixed drinks list devised for Bamboo. He says it's just as he would have done anywhere: a combination of some 30-odd classics. fresh spins on old favourites and completely new concoctiOi s (see Russ'an Spring Punch. l:eloWl. But all are proper cocktails using premium spirits and fresh ingredients.
‘When I make a really good drink. I expect someone to order five more of them.‘ he says. But will your average punter stray from the tried and tested? That's :n the hands of the bartender and part of the training. he says. encouraging people to sample something new.
Bradsell's standards are notoriously high. There's nothing he likes l .ss than bartenders slacking under pressure. The back of the bar at Bamboo has been designed to his specifications. Everything is right where it should be. prepped and ready. No excuse to cut corners. whatever the pr .ssure. Even if the place is heaVing. he says. ‘make them right". Zen and art of mixing cocktails.
Russian Spring Punch
In a tall glass of ice. pour:
25ml good vodka
25ml fresh lemon juice
. 2 tsp sugar syrup
:3 tsp cassis
Top with champagne while ‘guelling' with vodka. Garnish with lemon and berries.
AN I HOLOGY
Choice Cuts lJonathan Cape 18.99i .0
Despite some flashes of insight and humour. t'iis overiong and occasionally tedious compendium of food writing — no dOUbt drawn together with much love and care — is proof that more can sometimes mean less. lvlark Kurlansky has proven an interesting correspondent over the years. Salt and cod (both worthy topicsi have received book- length treatments by him. He has followed strands and tangents of research to other . _ non-culinary Subjects: The Basque History of the World being most notable. I L
Alas as editor and embarrassing pen-and- a m: ink illustrator. his latest A70-plus page smorgasbord of post-war to ancient Greek and Roman era Jottings, parables. recipes and essays provides a feast that even 'levoted foodies 'night find hard to digest.
It's easy enough to graze. however. moving from Nobel prize winning Wole Soyziika's memoir of a Nigerian market to Pliny the Elder's first century take on f'iynie. But for all the diversity of sources. there is a preponderance of 20th century US authors: James Beard. MFK Fisher. AJ Leibling etc. While revered in America. they are less well known here. And curiously. no Tony Bourdain nor cgually entertaining contemporary Jeffrey Steingarten from across the pond.
Of course. Eli/abeth DaVid is present and inarvel|0us with an attack on the garlic press. It comes in the one chapter. ‘Rants'. which perhaps deserves to run 'ciiger. Yet much of Che/co Cuts isn't so palatable. Thoreau on European cranberries makes me Wish he never left Walden Pond. Elvl Forster on prunes. Neruda on f i'ench fries. Grigson on faggots and peas. For God's sake. someone pass the (.‘iaviscoii. please. lBarry Shelby)
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