Passing through the silly season, there's bound to be more posts featuring alcoholic beverages with 'some food' verses the usual proper restaurants that mostly focus on food. Dutch Courage Officers' Mess is a place I've wanted to try since it first opened.
Blossom and I are soul sisters when it comes to drinking. I can recall many dreary nights when I felt like my life was a mess and the only beacon of hope came from a glass of comfort at night. Wine is my poison of choice nowadays but back then, we were big on the gin and tonic. Dutch Courage is a specialist gin bar and it made a lot of sense for us to try it together and reminisce.
I have a fear of being in popular bars on weekends. There is obviously an abundance of people who enjoy the noisy atmosphere but I'm too old and too hard of hearing to tolerate crowded venues. We headed to Dutch Courage on a Thursday night, before the holiday season went into full swing. It was, in my mind, the perfect level of busy. There were numerous other patrons but at all times, we could hear each other talk and it was easy to find places to sit and chill. Aside from one instance when a Christams party office crowd bunched up at the bar, it was consistently easy for us to get drinks.
We shuffled through a series of gin based drinks that I wouldn't normally bother to write about but since this whole establishment is a gin bar, it would seem somewhat lacking if I skipped over the drink reviews completely.
Spanish-style gin and tonica
As a whole, the bar staff of the night (we interacted with two) were incredibly approachable and offered up lots of helpful suggestions on what to order. Both Blossom and I tried the 'Spanish-style gin tonica' served in a copa glass with selected garnishes to compliment the flavour profiles of our chosen gin.
Flaming cocktail, name escapes me
I progressed to cocktails and noticed that several other patrons were being handed flaming martinis. Because I looked so obviously intrigued, Blossom ordered one for me. It was delicious! And also impressive to behold.
Special cocktail creations
We eventually got to the point where we trusted our bartender entirely and I gave him free reign to create a cocktail for us. I requested 'not too sweet' and 'herby notes' and we ended up with this incredible smokey rosemary concoction.
Ordering was no trouble because I started a tab early on in the night and just directed our selection to that. I've always wanted to say 'put it on the tab' and this night it worked to utter convenience.
All this drinking and no eating would make for a dull food blogging experience (as well as two very drunk ladies) so of course, we ordered some nibblies as well. The food here is well considered to compliment your drinking experience. We eyed off some of the shared platters and ended up going for the charcuterie.
This arrived fairly promptly on a wooden board (as it should) with selection of cold cuts, crackers, marinated tomatoes and artichokes. It was simple but exactly what we were in the mood for. We were so focused on our drinks we didn't want heavy food to take the attention away from the gin creations.
Our evening at Dutch Courage Officer's Mess was the most fun I've had out in a long, long time. The atmosphere was great, service was impeccable and the gin bar specialty rings true. I can only speak from my single weeknight experience but it was pretty much my idea of a perfect bar. I imagine the weekend situation to be rather different but I'm sure there are those who prefer a bustling scene.