The Mailbox in Birmingham have recently launched a new Cocktail App on Facebook, which allows you to upload photos of cocktails and win some fabulous prizes along the way, including £100 to spend on cocktails!
I was invited to a special evening to celebrate the launch of the app last week, and what an evening it was! I have to admit to not knowing an awful lot about cocktails before last week and not much experience of drinking them either, aside from the inevitable pitchers of Blue Lagoon at Wetherspoons in my more youthful days.
The evening began, not with cocktails in fact, but with a subject close to my heart: wine. Wines of Argentina was hosted by Bournville College at their pop up shop in the Mailbox.
We got to try four different wines along with some canapes, and got some lessons in wine tasting and wine/food pairing. I'm normally a red drinker, but, unusually, I think I preferred the whites that we tried.
Once we had all had quite a lot of wine, it was off to Bar Epernay for our first cocktails of the evening. We settled into the Champagne Library and were (fittingly) given some champagne cocktails to try, along with a platter of bread, olives and meats.
The first cocktail I tried was a bellini but with strawberry puree instead of peach (in the background of the above photo). It was quite nice, but not what I would have chosen myself (we were just handed a selection of cocktails). Bar Epernay has a Cocktail of the Month each month, and we were given one of these to try as well. This month's cocktail was Lemon Meringue Pie (foreground of the photo above). I wasn't sure if I liked this one. It was quite a 'heavy' drink and did taste weirdly like a pudding, but I'm not sure that is what I would look for in a cocktail. But it was very interesting at least! A champagne cocktail at Bar Epernay will set you back about £7.50.
Next we headed to Miller & Carter Steakhouse - not a name that suggests cocktails, but nevertheless, cocktails there were! We headed to the bar, where a small section had been cordoned off for us. This time we got to choose a cocktail from the menu, and I chose one of their signature cocktails called the Summer Sling.
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This cocktail contains Bombay Sapphire, elderflower, mango, mint, apple juice and lemonade. I fancied something cool and refreshing and summery to alleviate the stupidly sticky (but rainy) weather, and this absolutely did the trick. It was also dangerously drinkable. The Summer Sling costs £6.95.
We then made our way (perhaps even stumbled a little...) towards Malmaison Brasserie. I'd dined at Malmaison before, but never tried any of their cocktails. At Malmaison we were taken to a private function room and given cocktail-making demonstrations and a chance to have a go at cocktail making ourselves by bar supervisor, Julia.
This was a very informative part of the evening, as Julia told us some of the history of the cocktails she was mixing. She also tolerated, what was essentially by this point, a room of really quite drunk people very well, and I think she was very patient with us all. I wish at this point I could remember what cocktails I tried here - one of them was a Cosmopolitan, I can tell you that much, and I remember everything being very nice. Malmaison's cocktails usually retail from £6.50 to about £13, according to their menu.
I feel much more educated about cocktails now, and have perhaps even learnt to appreciate them a little better. It was also great to get a glimpse into the great food and drink retailers in the Mailbox, and I hope to be able to try some of the restaurants soon.
So, if you fancy a cocktail at the Mailbox, don't forget to check out the Cocktail App on Facebook, or upload your pictures to Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #Mailboxcocktails to be in with a chance of winning £100 to spend on cocktails!