When you have a mixologist that has just won the World Class Drinks Irish Bartender of the Year from a newly opened bar and restaurant in the“Real Capital” as we were informed on Twitter you start to take notice.
We hard heard excellent reports that the Cask was fast becoming the place to be in Cork City, the brainchild of award winning chef Bryan McCarthy with a unique collaboration with the cocktail genius that is Andy Ferreira at the helm.
Situated next door to McCarthy’s other successful venture Greenes, it is hard to imagine a better location for this little hotbed of infusions. The partnership is very much a meeting of minds with McCarthy’s passion for local ingredients, foraging and growing unique herbs on the roof of Greenes complimenting Ferreira’s unique vision of “farm-to-glass cocktails”
We arrive on a jam packed Saturday and the bar is already “jointed” with happy punters sipping on a mixture of exotic looking creations all named after local Cork sayings. We are one of the lucky ones as we secured a table and a steady stream of people is building outside in the hope of grabbing any small space within.
Cask is one of those bars that seduces as soon as you pass its Victorian threshold, the heady mix of cool beats and the aromas of the delicious dishes whizzing past are proving to be highly irresistible.
Broken into two bar areas with plush green velour seating dotted throughout, Cask certainly has that Prohibition vibe in abundance. A vibe which spills out onto their enviable covered outdoor space which sits between the two venues and lends a serious amount of additional space.
The menu created by West Cork native McCarthy is based around ingredients to compliment the cocktails, with plenty of local provenance as you would expect given how much effort its put into locally sourcing at Greenes.
Here McCarthy has been allowed to deviate from his classic and elegant style, instead you will find dishes like Gubbeen Hot Dog Slider with Cotton Ball Beer Mustard, & Seaweed Salad (€6), or Chilli Beef, Arbutus Flat Bread, with Blackbean & Sweetcorn Salsa (€13.90).
Cask is a cocktail bar first and foremost so we kicked off with two impressive concoctions from Ferrreira, a “Keyser’s Lane” (€11.00), Wild Irish Rose & Woodruff, Bombay Sapphire, Aquavit, Gooseberry, Lime Sherbet Cask no.2 Bitters Poachers Ginger Ale and a cheekily named “Donkey’s Bollocks” (€11.00) ( it’s a Cork thing, we swear), a cracking take on an old fashioned, with in house blended bourbon and Cask Bitters, a seasonal syrup and a subtle hint of citrus oils all topped off with a chunk of ice that could sink the Titanic.
This is how you do cocktails; fresh, innovative inspiration with a twist on the old classics and most importantly fun. There is however a lot more to Cask than cocktails and so we order a a mixture of dishes which arrive in quick succession, there is Free Range Chicken Wings, Asian Slaw, Sesame, Blue Cheese Dip (€7.90) which were devoured in equally quick succession, a Mini Seafood Plate, Smoked & Poached Seafood, Organic Salad, Lemon Mayo (€9.90) and a final plate of Pork belly Bao Bun, Carrot & Sesame Kimchi, Cucumber, Tonkatsu & Sriracha Chili Glaze (€7.90) which is fast becoming a signature dish for Cask.
Prawn Cocktail (€12.90) also made a brief appearance at the table, what’s not to love about any seafood when you throw in some Blackwater Cask Juniper Gin and home made brown bread. Our neighbours made a delicious decision of ordering a Monkfish & Tomato Bean stew which caused serious food envy and will definitely be ordered on our return visit.
We passed on dessert, although the Tonka Panna Cotta with coconut and mango mouse almost got a look in, instead we sipped on our final creation of the evening an “Eliza Lynch” named after an infamous Cork woman who became one of the most vilified women in Latin America due to her torrid affair with the then married President of Uruguay.
Much like Eliza you can expect a tempting cocktail that sits pretty in a coupe glass filled with Mezcal Rojo, Velvet Falernum, Cocchi Amaro Agave, Egg White Hellfire Bitters, Irish Bog Oak Bitter, the perfect marriage of Irish and South American ingredients couldn’t be more apt.
This tongue in cheek theme runs through the entire menu which has been well crafted to say the least and changes every eight weeks to keep things fresh and seasonal, a common sight on food menus not so common in bars, so kudos to the team for having dedication to raise the bar consistently.
Cask has reinvented the bar scene in Cork elevating the expectations of what can be achieved with bold design, a world class mixologist and an innovative small plates menu. It has put it up to every other venue in the city that there is a new “Boi” in town and he is here to stay.
48 MacCurtain Street,
T: (021) 450 0011