Since its opening last year Dr Ink’s Curiosities has raised the bar (get it…?) for cocktails in Exeter with their inventive takes on classic Victorian cocktails, spun through the eyes of Dr Ink himself and his classic cocktail based adventures.
The menu, ‘ahem’ journal, is presented in a beautiful hard back book, embossed gold lettering on the front gives the menu a steampunk-esque feel to it. The stories within are pieces of fiction written by the team and Dr Ink regulars too.
It was great to meet Paddy and Tom who are passionate about their award winning cocktail bar and we were able to sample some of the elaborate and theatrical creations that are now available to patrons.
We sampled a few cocktails throughout the launch evening, but there were a couple really stood out!
The Ceylon Julep was a lovely experience. It had a strong savoury element to it, including a carrot and coriander syrup, topped off with curry leaves. Weird? No it works so well together, it felt like an alcoholic carrot shake but with an elegance put in its place with the gin and bitters. All presented in a beautiful copper goblet.
I was also taken with one of the cocktails Lauren had – the impressively presented Iolanthes Latern which uses Apricot Infused Hayman’s Old Tom, Amontillado Sherry, Creame D’Apricot and Peach bitters all presented in a vast and wonderful hanging lantern. A tart, strong cocktail that has a grand taste and an even grander presentation!
The Baobab Daisy made from Pineapple Rum, Bitters and Lime Sherbert to mention a few of the ingredients had a wonderful tropical flavour with bitter notes. It felt like a concoction one might have in a hot country next to a nice beach, meeting an African Queen and securing a trade deal. The only thing that was lacking was a bug-eyed Monkey!
I think the overall favourite for all of us was The Tales of Space and Thyme. This was a delicate cocktail. The rim of the glass was lined with salt and thyme which created an amazing flavour upon drinking. Made with Tanquery and Pamplemousse Rose to name a few of the ingredients, it had strong overtones of grapefruit and with the bitterness of the gin, the whole thing created a lasting complex tone on the tongue. The little UFO on top was a fantastic finish!
I finished the night with the Aardvark. Unfortunately my photographic skills had declined somewhat and my phone is rubbish (wish I’d brought along the big camera!) so it is not a great representation. But the stunning photography in the journal really do the cocktails justice!
Inspired from a recipe in The American Bartender by W.H. Laid (1866) this fantastic little drink contains Flor De Cana (South American rum), Seedlip (gin), Kafir lime and lemongrass syrup and edible ants to name a few of its components.
This Dr Ink’s story is one of my favourites. Finding himself persued by a lion, he manages to escape by sacrificing his horse. He takes refuge in a termite mound and makes friends with an Anteater; he finds a bunch of gemstones that the anteater has dug up and is rescued by his companions. Of course the actual story is much better, but it makes you realise the amount of time and hard work that goes in to creating the Dr Ink’s experience.
The team are constantly experimenting and researching new drinks and this second journal is a testament to the passion and unerring devotion that these guys have to cocktails.