Try Suffolk ‘speakeasy’ bar’s Disco Negroni and Boogie Nights cocktails
- Credit: Archant
The Stillery’s artisanal drinks can now be delivered to your door
Have you visited Suffolk’s most hidden bar yet? The Stillery is probably one of the county’s best-kept secrets. Tucked down Short Brackland Street in Bury St Edmunds, you need to press the intercom (speakeasy style) to get into the first-floor establishment, named the UK’s Best Spirit Bar in 2019.
The Stillery is operated by foodies Mel Evans of Forage Kitchen and Tim Blake, formerly of Benson Blakes, and during the height of lockdown, cocktail maker extraordinaire Tim has been surrounding himself with potions and concoctions as he crafted a range of truly artisanal drinks to deliver to the connoisseurs of Suffolk.
The result? A range of nine (and growing) resealable pouches of cocktails to either mix with fizz, shake with crushed ice or simply pour.
Some use the bar’s own London Dry gin, St (also the branding of the cocktails), with the others imagined from premium spirits and homemade tonics, sodas, shrubs and infusions created in The Stillery’s kitchen.
“Tim’s very much a foodie and he knows what he’s doing,” says Mel. “A lot of work went into product development and we’ve been making our own flavours and spirits for these. Last week, for example, we developed an espresso martini, but the components that have gone into it are really unique. It’s not about following a recipe and putting it in a pack. These are very much our own.”
Initially delivering the 500ml and 750ml pouches in and around Bury St Edmunds, a new national network has been set up for the products, taking them from Aldeburgh to Aberdeen, with Mel adding they’ve had considerable interest from cocktail lovers outside of the region.
Describing the drinks themselves, Tim says: “We have tried to challenge consumers with new flavours in familiar settings. The challenge of doing ready-to-drink cocktails is in adapting seemingly simple things like citrus and juice, into something that will maintain its flavour and texture over a long period of time. There is quite a bit of extra process on top of normal cocktail work, but after a bit of testing (maybe a lot) we feel we have cracked it.”
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The Add-Fizz pouches (750ml), Tim says need bubbles to ‘wake them up’, in the same way you’d serve a gin and tonic or Aperol spritz. They’re designed to be served up one part mix, two parts tonic, ginger ale, prosecco – or Champagne if you want to be decadent.
Hedgerow Spritz: Ideal for lovers of the Bramble, made with gin, Aperol, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, with rosehip, fresh elderflower and hibiscus.
Buck Rogers: Cask-aged rum with Velvet Falernum (a Bajan liqueur made with sugar cane, lime, almond and cloves), star anise and homemade pineapple shrub (a kind of cordial). “The inspiration comes from the ‘buck’ family of drinks, which essentially is a highball with ginger.” Tim says cocktail drinkers who usually go for a Dark and Stormy or Moscow Mule will appreciate this one.
Dove from Above: Based on a Mexican Paloma cocktail. This is made with citrus blanco tequila, manzanilla sherry, grapefruit, tarragon and seasoning.
The Pour range (500ml) are what Tim describes as “small punchy cocktails which have elegant flavours but hold a bit of a sting in the tail.”
Disco Negroni: A favourite with bartenders. This one’s crafted with gin, Campari, vermouth, summer berries, coconut water and rhubarb.
Monkey Nuts: The Stillery’s take on a classic Sour cocktail which Tim describes as “fully bonkers”. “We’ve taken a sour and given it a tiki/tropical twist.” The drink blends spicy aged rum washed with peanut butter, with lime, banana and Velvet Falernum.
Old Fashioned Tea Party: “The Old Fashioned was first referenced in an American newspaper in 1806 – or the recipe of distilled booze, sugar and bitters was. We have brought the oldest of all cocktails bang up to date. The milk chocolate and dark sugar notes of Keemun black tea from India (via the Rare Tea Co) really shine through Kentucky straight bourbon with a hint of sweet from the muscovado sugar and spice from the bitters.”
The Shake range (500ml) Tim says need the most work. “But not that much. You will need some sort of receptacle to shake it with – a shaker or even a jar with a lid will do. Fill it with ice and some cocktail and shake it like a Polaroid picture.”
Espresso Martini: “We thought we would give Dick Bradsell’s creation our own spin. Firstly we infused our vodka with bittersweet cocoa nibs. We then created our own cold brew coffee with the help of local coffee roaster Butterworths. We used the Latino blend for the caramelised sugar and toffee notes and buttery finish. It’s mixed with vanilla syrup and punchy espresso liqueur from Italy to give it some guts.”
Boogie Nights: “The Pornstar Martini has taken the cocktail world by storm in recent years so it seemed sensible to put our own spin on the modern classic. We created our own kaffir lime vodka, mixed it with fresh passion fruit and passion fruit liqueur and citrus cordial. Rather than serving with a shot of Champagne we have made a prosecco and vanilla syrup to give it some fresh sweetness. The best way to describe it is a boozy Solero.”
Coming soon, the bar is hoping to launch its own version of a fruit cup (Pimms), combining gin, vermouth and curacao steeped with black tea, strawberries, apricot, cherries, apple, hibiscus and lemon verbena.