Believe it or not, there’s more to do in Nottingham than lectures, clubbing and societies, and Impact is determined to experience as much of it as possible. From heated political rallies to teeth chattering ghost walks, we’ll be there. This week, Emily took Will along to try a cocktail masterclass. 

When you’ve been a student for some time, you almost forget that there is a world of alcohol outside Frosty Jacks and cheap wine. Well here’s a secret for you: it exists, it’s affordable and it’s in the centre of town.

It’s in the Lace Market actually, in the form of The Lace House. The bar has only been running  for about 18 months and specialises in cocktails and rum. Boasting 64 varieties of rum, it has the biggest selection in the East Midlands and some aren’t even available elsewhere in the UK. So, when we were offered the chance to sample one of their cocktail masterclasses, we couldn’t wait to learn how to make proper drinks. Too long had we been concocting dubious student alcoholic mixtures in an old orange squash bottle.

We couldn’t wait to learn how to make proper drinks- too long had we been concocting dubious student alcoholic mixtures in an old orange squash bottle.

Sach, the owner, was on hand to greet us with an easy, confident manner, reflecting the chilled vibe of the place. It’s definitely not a student bar so to say, considering the varied age of drinkers who were there on a Wednesday night- but its blend of timeless sophistication and lace heritage features means its atmosphere doesn’t feel too far from Coco Tang or Tilt.

Its blend of timeless sophistication and lace heritage features means its atmosphere doesn’t feel too far from Coco Tang or Tilt.

panorama 1

Soon enough, we were invited behind the main bar, a position envied (I’m sure) by many students. We were asked what cocktail we wanted to make and were immediately introduced to the venue’s interesting ethos- none of the classic cocktails are on the menu, or if they are they have a twist. If a customer wanted a Cosmopolitan or Mojito, the bar staff would know how to make one, but generally it seems you would come here if you fancied something a bit different.

Taste, not speed, is the priority here- the slower you mix the cocktail, the better the taste.

This turned out to be the theme of our masterclass. Will made his cocktail first, a twist of a favourite classic: the Old Fashioned, with rum instead of whisky . You may have had an Old Fashioned before and you may watched them throw the cocktail together in gob-smacking speed. But Sach explained that taste, not speed, is the priority here. The slower you mix the cocktail, the better the taste.

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Taste definitely benefits from stirring the cocktail for about ten minutes. When we finally got to try the Old Fashioned (after some delay with orange peel and a lighter for the garnish – Sach had to do it for us), it was undeniably smooth.

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Then it was my turn. To be honest, I am slightly guilty of upholding a gender stereotype in the cocktails I drink- I like them pink and I like them fruity. So, when Sach said ‘let’s come up with your own cocktail’, of course mine was going to be packed with lots of pink fruit (strawberries, raspberries etc), fruit juice and most definitely a fair amount of rum.

cocktail

Again, what was most striking about the process was the care undertaken. After I shook my cocktail with a traditional cocktail shaker, I then had to carefully strain the mixture into a jam jar very slowly. It’s a more precise art then you think. I enjoyed every moment of that cocktail- hipster connotations and all.

jam jar

With cocktails beginning at £6.50,  you may wonder if it’s the right venue for cash strapped students. Sach seems keen though to reach out to the student demographic with a more student oriented bar and plans of a mini prohibition-style cinema in the basement. He also told us of the bar’s new wristband scheme. Priced at £5 each and made of a silky material similar to festival wristbands, it’s a ticket for plentiful 2 for 1 drinks before 9pm. This means if you turn up to the bar wearing the band, a bottled beer would only cost £1.80.

What was most striking about the process was the care undertaken.

We went away that night with a new appreciation of cocktail making- it’s actually quite a skill. It’s good to know that students can have a bit of affordable class in their drinking if they get tired of VKs and jagerbombs.

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Emily Shackleton

Images: Header and first image courtesy of The Lacehouse.

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