A night out in Liverpool

We did our best to make the rounds in Liverpool – from tacos at Lucha Libre to $5 shakes at Santa Chupito to going back in time at Berry & Rye, with their perfectly executed cocktails and pre-Prohibition vibe. Our night out on the town was a raging success and we can’t wait to visit again.

Here are our highlights, so first up…

Where to drink

Volstead Act cocktail Berry and Rye Liverpool bar

The Volstead Act at Berry & Rye.

Berry & Rye
This venue isn’t easy to spot … so don’t be put off when you can’t find any signage (there isn’t any). Just knock on the black door and step back in time. While the speakeasy concept isn’t revolutionary, the team at Berry & Rye are doing it a great deal of justice: the service is friendly and the music is a genuine throwback to the days of yore. Saddle into one of the cozy tables and chew on some of their tasty nibbles presented in glass jars before you delve into the superb cocktails. The menu is hidden within a leather-bound dictionary and the short list consists of a few classics which are consistently executed. Plus there are some drinks that we wish we could see more often (think Blood and Sand: Johnnie Walker Black, Antica Formula, cherry brandy and orange juice served straight up – this is a great choice for the whisky lovers out there and for those wanting to try and ease themselves into that tier of drinking).

Maya cocktails bar liverpool

Getting religulous at Maya.

Maya

Underneath Lucha Libre is the delightfully decadent Maya. This is the boozier tequila-soaked brother of the upstairs restaurant. A fun cocktail list, intimate booths and great dirty blues music (a common theme of Liverpool) creates an atmosphere perfect for getting loose. We recommend the Valiente: Calle 23 tequila teamed with peach, lime, agave and pineapple foam.

The winter garden

The winter garden at The Kazimier

The Kazamier (Winter Garden)

Located near the end of Seel street is this wonderful winter garden. Mulled wine, big beers and simple spirit mixers are the order of the day here . A fantastic meeting spot for your first couple of sherries where you can soak up the rhythm and bluesy tunes (think Fats Domino as opposed to Craig David). We couldn’t help but notice the massive channelling of Shoreditch vibes (in the best of ways).

Alma de Cuba
Set within Liverpool’s oldest church, this bar has been a staple of Liverpool’s bar scene for nearly a decade. With stained glass windows and ornate arched ceilings – you can indulge in their rum-heavy cocktail list in the most striking of settings. Great at the weekends when they have live music and Carnival dancers (these ladies are the real deal, so be careful not to get feathers in your eye).

Salt Dog Slim’s

This is the perfect place to finish off your night: a mid to late twenties crowd munching down on tasty American-style dogs and sipping on punny cocktails: Rum For Ya Money or Salt Dog Millionaire, try the latter if you’ve got a sweet tooth. Keep an eye out for their beer pong league where you could win £100 cash, but be careful not to blow it all on more beer. And if you’re looking to spice up your night, we recommend drinking some Mexican Salt Dogs and eating a couple of Atomic Dogs (jalapenos and scotch bonnet sauce? We’re in!)

cocktails santa chupitos liverpool bar

A $5 shake and a Passionfruit Zombie.

Santa Chupitos
This raucous venue is where you head to really cut loose – so you better check your inhibitions at the door and prepare to indulge your guiltiest of pleasures. The highlight cocktail here is the signature $5 shake (we were lucky enough to snag the last one of the evening … yes folks, they do sell out). This is more dessert than cocktail, so leave room in that belly – but the delightful combination of Chambord, vodka, blueberries and vanilla ice cream served in an old milk bottle is nothing less than a treat. The crowd here is young, single and ready to mingle but this place is also for anyone with a yearning to have their own Pulp Fiction moment.

Where to eat

Lucha Libre

A very popular Mexican taco joint that consistently comes out top of the Liverpool dining scene. Very popular with locals, they specialise in proper corn tacos with rich delicious toppings such as slow cooked pork marinated in orange and achiote, prawns with mango salsa, and beer-battered fish. The Icarus wings are a must, but only for the adventurous (despite our bravado with spicy foods, this one was nearly too hot to handle … nearly. Obviously we finished it). As with any Mexican restaurant worth its chilli salt, they also serve a mean Margarita and an awesome Sangrita.

Camp and Furnace
This huge space is a festival venue, gallery space as well as a restaurant. They have caravans parked inside serving up dishes like Jerk Pork with cornbread or the Suckling Pig Sandwich with apple chutney and black pudding. Sadly we didn’t get to visit this venue but as far as the feedback goes, this is very much one of the best spots in Liverpool. Next time!

Where to stay

Hope Street Hotel

This beautiful alpine-inspired hotel will make you feel like you’ve just had a full day on the slopes (without the sore muscles). The wood-heavy interiors create an oasis of calm, boosted further by their impeccable service. Each room is individually designed, so you’re in for a one of a kind treat — plus you’ve got one of the city’s best dining spots just downstairs: The London Carriage Works. There’s no need to leave your furry friends at home either since Hope Street is dog friendly (we don’t have a pup yet, but soon enough). With underfloor heating, Egyptian cotton sheets, flat screen TVs, free WiFi and 24-hour room service — you may be tempted to stay in all day and night (we wouldn’t blame you).

Mixologist-at-home from Alexander & James

Alexander James mixologist at home cocktails

Alexander & James’ Mixologist-at-home cocktail equipment, pretty fancy right?

For those of you with a bit of cash to splash, who would like to bring the cocktail experience home but don’t necessarily have the skills – your prayers have been answered. Alexander & James are bringing a touch of world-class service right into your living room and we were lucky enough to be a part of Mixologist-at-home’s test run. The elegant affair took place on a quiet, unassuming alley just off Old Street within a highly designed flat (we weren’t jealous at all of their open-plan kitchen and green-hedged garden).

Everything about the package was slick and well thought out. Simple but well-made drinks such as Negronis and Gimlets were served alongside Spanish-style canapes. James Fowler, a recent finalist of Diageo’s World Class cocktail competition, was behind the stick doing a fine job of keeping the 20-plus crowd watered. Our favourite libation of the evening was the Vesper Martini: crisp, clean, icy cool with a simple lemon twist to highlight the citrus notes of Tanqueray Ten.

Canapes-Alexander-James-mixologist-at-home

Canapes

With the mixologist-at-home experience, you can pick the package that suits you. For example, if you want classic old school drinks you can opt for the Modern Craft Cocktail Package. Or if you’re looking for a fruitier and more festive night, then go for the Tiki Cocktail Package. With prices starting at £2,000 for up to 20 guests, this is certainly not for everyone but it’s a great idea for those wanting an expertly crafted hospitality experience at home or in the office. I mean if you think about it, 100 squids a head for the best boozy night in town ain’t bad – and you don’t even have to get a cab home.

Alexander James mixologist at home cocktails vesper martinis

James serving up some crisp and clean Vesper Martinis

Aside from the cocktail experiences,  you can also purchase booze, bar sets and bar accessories among other great gift ideas from their website. The 5-star experience was pervasive throughout, not only from their flawlessly executed event but also to their top-notch goodie bags (that we nabbed on our way out).

Alexander James Shaker Cocktail Barware Gift set Barspoon

Alexander & James gift set

We will definitely be stirring up a few at home. Thanks Alexander & James for a great night and for introducing us to the brand – we think we’re going to have some very happy people by the Christmas tree this year.

Negroniesque

I feel Sir Elton hit the nail on the head with “Cause Saturday night’s the night I like Saturday night’s alright”. However one’s interpretation of this may differ as my street is heaving with lads on tour and the rest of the usual living for the weekenders. Because of this – and the absence of Mrs Sip – I am staying in with match of the day, pizza and a homemade beverage or two.

Negroniesque

Negroniesque

I’ve decided on a Negroni variation, replacing gin with scotch and the excellent British Aperitif Kamm & Sons replacing Campari. Created by ex-Grey Goose ambassador Alex Kammerling, this spirit softens the usually bitter Negroni but adds complexity to the drink. Flavours of grapefruit peel and manuka honey really shine through. I used Dalwhinnie 15, which for a single malt is quite soft and also full of floral notes.

So all in all not a bad way to spend a Saturday – Liverpool won too!

Negroniesque
25ml Dalwhinnie 15
25ml Kamm & Sons
25ml Martini Rosso

  1. Pour all ingredients into mixing glass
  2. Stir down for 20-30 seconds
  3. Pour into ice filled rocks glass
  4. Garnish with a grapefruit twist

Kamm & Smashed

Happy Thanksgiving! We know that it’s technically a stateside holiday, but let’s be honest … everyone seems to be adopting it on this side of the pond. So while you loosen your belts to fit in all of the festive treats in store tonight (we’ll be gorging on stuffing), perhaps a lighter, fresher cocktail is in order. We give you – Kamm & Smashed. Made with Tanqueray gin, Kamm & Sons and fresh grapefruit, this light and fresh cocktail will set you up nicely for the feast ahead. Plus, grapefruit boosts your metabolism and we will all need a bit of that this evening.

kamm and smashed cocktail recipe

Kamm & Smashed cocktail.

40ml Tanqueray gin
10ml Kamm & Sons
3 wedges lime
2 wedges grapefruit
1 heaped barspoon caster sugar

1. Muddle fruit and sugar in a cocktail shaker until all of the juices are out of the fruit
2. Pour spirits into the shaker
3. Add ice to shaker and shake the bejesus out of it
4. Empty all contents of the shaker into a rocks glass (or a stemless wine glass like we did) … this is called a ‘dirty pour’
5. Garnish with a half-slice of grapefruit and a wheel of lime

Steam & Rye launch party

Steam and Rye launch party luggage room nick house club london

The Luggage Room at Steam & Rye.

Nick House is a busy boy these days: launching the Wild West meets old New York venue Steam & Rye just days before opening his ode to an Incan Temple, Chakana. Mr and Mrs Sip gladly attended the launch party for this new venue on Leadenhall street – and it was packed to the brim with people, knick-knacks and gimcracks. This place has everything: flaming drinks, taxidermy, haunted luggage rooms and occasionally Kelly Brook.

Spread out over three separate bars each with their own theme, the interior designers certainly kept busy. The Grand Central Station-esque hall can’t quite be described as intimate but it’s a venue ready made for big parties, city slickers and those on the hunt for a theatrical night out.

Steam and Rye lighting launch party nick house london club

Lighting fixture at Steam & Rye.

The cocktails are an Instagrammers dream with crazy garnishes and wild serves such as a flaming Wray and Nephew Rum cascade on top of a fire bucket. We tried a few of their signature cocktails with passers by consistently wowed by the over the top serves. Most drinks doubled up as a snack (one came with a handful of freshly popped popcorn and another with a bunch of monkey nuts). Much appreciated.

popcorn cocktail steam and rye launch party london club nick house

Cocktails double up as bar snacks at Steam & Rye.

And yes, the food. Not surprisingly the trend for indulgent American cuisine continues here and is the staple of the menu. Slow cooked pork ribs, spicy chicken wings, pulled pork sliders and the occasional lobster brioche were doing the rounds all night with Mr Sip in particular stalking the servers. The Gatsby motif was fortified by a talented two-piece jazz band.

cocktails steam and rye launch party london club nick house

Fiery cocktails at Steam & Rye – bring your own extinguishers.

Mr & Mrs Sip verdict
It’s a hard task to put on a slick show for opening night but the guys at Steam & Rye did it with gusto. The drinks were extravagant but didn’t sacrifice on taste. The food is sticking with the always popular Americana dishes and service was friendly and efficient (we feel for the barbacks who have to wash the cowboy boots and gas lantern glassware). We recommend this for the suit-wearing couple looking to cut loose after work – or for anyone who has a penchant for the dramatic.

menu steam and rye launch party nick house london club

Sneak peek at the Steam & Rye menu – who’s up for all you can eat ribs?

#GetWinterized pub quiz with Converse

Converse GetWinterized lighting artwork

Lighting artwork at #GetWinterized.

It’s winter proper and while some of you may be inclined to duck under the covers, it’s time to grab your coats and head into the cold for your entertainment. Converse put on quite a show last week with their #GetWinterized quiz night in the garden of The Mason’s Arms pub in Kensal Green. Unlike any pub quiz before it, the rounds were genuinely quirky, interactive and difficult to cheat on (so smartphones were deemed useless). Quizmaster Huw Stephens took us through the rounds: from naming the ingredients in food and drink items, to guessing celebrities sketched by street artist Andy Mil, to naming the locations of accents (from Dublin to South Africa) … and it was all brilliant fun. Between rounds, entertainment was cheerfully abundant with beatboxing performances and acoustic renditions of Nelly’s Hot in Herre.

Upon entry, everyone was handed tickets for a few drinks (think Sailor Jerry’s Hot Chuck Mule) and a portion of Mac’n’Cheese (courtesy of Anna Mae’s). And to keep those fingers from getting frosty, they gave all the gamers touchscreen gloves – it’s always the little things that make the difference, isn’t it? The garden was loaded up with heaters and blankets so no one was left out in the cold.

GetWinterized Converse Pub Quiz drinks menu

Drinks menu at #GetWinterized.

#GetWinterized isn’t over yet, with two more events coming up in the north and south: a comedy night on 22 November and a gig night on 30 November. Considering how well executed their quiz night was, you can definitely expect some serious laughs and tunes in the coming weeks. Grab your Mr or Mrs, and snuggle into some fun with #GetWinterized.

mac'n'cheese getwinterized converse

Anna Mae’s Mac ‘N’ Cheese at #GetWinterized.

Démodée (French Old Fashioned)

This is an ideal after-dinner Old Fashioned cocktail – the Démodée. Rich and full-flavoured, it has soft notes of vanilla and a tang of raspberry and citrus. Romantic and sweet, just like us … or so we like to think.

Demodee French Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe

Démodée (a French Old Fashioned).

50ml Hennessy Cognac
10ml Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur
1 barspoon vanilla syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 dash chocolate bitters

  1. Pour all ingredients into mixing glass
  2. Fill mixing glass with ice and stir down thoroughly (depending on how potent you want the flavour)
  3. Strain into rocks glass and add fresh ice
  4. Garnish with a lemon twist (give it a bit of a squeeze above the drink when twisting – and watch those delightful specks of citrus juice spray into the glass)