It’s an unusual prospect to be getting ready for cocktails on a Saturday afternoon – but keeping it 100, I would be the absolute last person to turn down such an opportunity! My expectations were high after the brilliant gelato cocktail event at Swoon on Friday 6th April and I was excited to see what this Wolf of Wall Street Brunch themed event would have to offer. Milk Thistle is the ideal venue: a high class bespoke cocktail bar with its discreet door entrance and distinct air of old time wealth and luxury. The venue looked quite different in this context, though. It felt a little odd to see the bar without its dimmed lights and candlelit tables – I have to admit the place lost a little of its regal feel when exposed to the harsh light of a spring afternoon. Regardless, we were warmly greeted by the host, a smiley and approachable woman in a stunning black dress who ushered us into the main bar area where Fresh by Kool and the Gang was playing. As a fan of funky mid 80s cuts, this did a lot to get me in the mood for the subsequent festivities.
The place soon filled up with our fellow guests who were all impressively trussed up in 80s attire. It was nice to see people honouring the theme and with the soundtrack of classic 80s pop pumping from the speakers my excitement started to peak. The first cocktail arrived about thirty minutes later: a Vodka Gibson. I will acknowledge that I have the taste in alcohol of a fourteen year old girl – I like my drinks sweet, bubbly and ideally a pretty colour. This meant that this first drink wasn’t at all to my taste – it was a neat cocktail with nothing in the way of mixer to offset or cut through the harshness of the vodka and vermouth. The cocktail was dressed with a single pickled onion, which I was apprehensive about but actually helped to cut through the severity of the drink with its welcome sweetness. It was clear that the cocktail was well made and faithful to the recipe of the Gibson, but I’d have preferred something a little fruitier. No doubt for fans of a stiff grown up drink, this cocktail would have been a hit.
Bearing in mind that the event was from noon until four, the thought of food was starting to prey on my mind at this point. Delicious canapes had been promised in the advertising for the event and one would assume that in keeping with the brunch theme there’d be a healthy selection of tasty bits for us. The canapes that arrived were, in a word, scrumptious. There was a playfully deconstructed take on the BLT in the form of bacon, sundried tomato and garlic mayo on a dainty lettuce leaf, some lovely smoked salmon on crispread and mini pancakes with cream and berry coulis that were indecently tasty. However, these canapes were tiny and there was only enough for each guest to have one of each thing so I was left hankering for more. Understandably the cocktails are the main focus of these events, but I must say that it was these sadly few but brilliant canapes that were the highlight of the afternoon. Personally, I’d have happily had two cocktails instead of three and a proper big girl portion of those divine pancakes to tuck into.
The second cocktail was a Reverse Martini which was gin based. I love gin, but again the drink tasted very strongly of alcohol and not much else. Luckily, the third and final cocktail was right up my alley with a zingy lemon flavour that was especially tasty after the first two cocktails we had. My friend and I sipped on the third cocktail quietly hoping that more canapes would emerge: unfortunately, this didn’t happen. However, we were offered some chilli rice cracker snacks by the host who diligently ran around talking with the guests and attending to our needs.
Throughout the afternoon, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something lacking in the atmosphere of the event. Even though the hosting was great, our fellow guests were warm and chatty and the music was excellent, it felt like we were all waiting for something to occur. Perhaps this could have come in the shape of some fun games, some tricks from the mixologists at the bar or even some more decoration in line with the theme in the room. It’s easy for things to become gimmicky if you throw too much into an event, but I certainly felt that something more was needed to really give the afternoon a sense of occasion. This event didn’t have quite the same sense of fun as the gelato evening, but I still take my hat off to the excellent hosting skills of both the Foozie and Milk Thistle staff. Not to worry, though, dear reader: I haven’t written off afternoon cocktails entirely. It may just be that sitting in the park in the sun sipping a fruity number with an umbrella in it is a bit more my scene.