We’ve all felt the effects of the mid-week slump, when the weekend feels so far away that it may never come. If you’re like me, Wednesday rolls around and I am in need of a serious pick me up. More often than not, this pick-me-up will come in the form of food and drink!
A fellow Team Taste member and I were both feeling the effects of the mid-week and decided a treat was in order. In an effort to get over our humpday blues, we popped into The Cellar Bar in The Merrion Hotel.
The Merrion is one of the country’s most luxurious five-star hotels and the five-star service extends to The Cellar Bar also. While it retains that same stellar service, the Merrion is renowned for The Cellar Bar is a little more intimate and relaxed.
This basement bar is truly a hidden gem. The decor is cosy and welcoming, with plenty of nooks and crannies to find a chair in.
There are beautiful stained glass windows giving the bar a grand feeling. Behind the bar, there are brightly coloured bottles, with liquids of every colour and plenty of beers on tap. You’d be hard pressed not to find your favourite beverage.
The gastro-style menu has food to suit all tastes, whether you’re looking for a light salad or a sumptuous seafood tower. In particular, the Ploughman’s Board sounds like the perfect pairing for any tipple. This tempting dish is full of treats such as Limerick ham, Crozier blue cheese, celeriac remoulade, piccalilli and sourdough.
Today we were feeling cocktails and lucky for us, The Cellar Bar serves up some of the finest in the city. The menu focuses on the classics, staying as true to the original recipes as possible. On hand to make us some tempting tipples is beverage manager, Martin Pramuka.
First up on the agenda is the Clover Club (€15.50). This ‘pretty in pink’ drink is made with Bombay Sapphire Gin, Lemon Juice, Sugar, Fresh Raspberries and Egg Whites. It is the perfect blend of sweet and sour and so easy to drink that I could happily sip away on it all evening.
Our next drink is the Bramble (€15.50), made with Bombay Sapphire Gin, Lemon Juice, Sugar and Créme de Mure. When it comes to cocktails I stay away from the sweeter sips, preferring a zesty and fresh taste instead. The Bramble, however, is just right with the blackberry flavour from the créme de mure giving a hint of sweetness, while the lemon juice gives it that bitter kick I crave.
We couldn’t talk classic cocktails without a Whiskey Sour (€15.50). Made with Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Lemon Juice, Sugar, Egg White and Angostura Bitters, it is beloved by many. The American bourbon used here is delicious and gives a wonderful warmth to the drink.
Our next cocktail is the Dark & Stormy (€15.50), a delicious blend of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, Lime Juice, Angostura Bitters and Ginger Beer. I love the spicy kick from the ginger beer and can see this cocktail being a hit during the autumn months when our tastes change from their summery counterparts.
To finish off our afternoon, we enjoyed a Martinez (€18.00), an expertly blended mixture of Herno Old Tom Gin, Antica Formula, Maraschino Liquor and Orange Bitters. This cocktail is not for the faint-hearted as it definitely packs a punch. It’s the sort of cocktail you could nurse over whilst sitting by the fire.
This cocktail is the precursor to the much-loved Martini and a great example of what the Cellar Bar do; pay homage to the classic tipples.
The Cellar Bar is a refreshing change to my usual haunts, it is a snug and mellow bar with exceptional service, melding the charm of a traditional Irish pub with the elegance of a five-star hotel – they even have live trad music sessions every Thursday.
If you’re looking for grown-up cocktails in an informal setting then The Cellar Bar should be the next stop on your list.
The Cellar Bar
Upper Merrion Street
T: +353 (01) 603 0600
REVIEW BY SINÉAD SMYTH