Hi all, it’s FRIDAY! What plans have you got for the weekend? I’m catching up on cookery TV. I’ve yet to properly watch Nigella’s second episode (blog on that coming soon), plus reviewing a restaurant and meeting up with Gal Pal L for a pow-wow power lunch. What have you got planned?

I am very excited to launch my latest feature, #DishDrinkoftheWeek’. In it, I’ll be writing about (in my humble opinion) my favourite drink or dish that I’ve sipped or supped on my travels that week.

I was in Manchester last weekend and had the good fortune to check out Epernay, a cosily swish and quaint Champagne bar in the heart of the city centre.

It’s a gorgeous space and what with Hurricane Abigail threatening to make an appearance, Épernay is also the perfect place to hole up on a cold winter’s evening. Last Friday, I ordered the Bellini, but fellow Gal Pal H ordered the ‘March Across The Belts’ cocktail. I had three sips and fell in love. Which isn’t great, because I am now craving that tipple and I’m approximately 1 hour 55 minutes away from Épernay (trust me, I’ve Google-mapped it).

 

What was so great about this drink? It was pretty to look at, whilst being delicious and highly moreish. It took me by surprise because I wasn’t expecting to taste the whisper of pepper on the inhale, which worked really well with the Cassis Liqueur. It looks like a Cosmo, but the frothy egg white gives it a chic edge, whilst the sprinkling of crushed ants was that innovative twist that elevated this drink into the realms of ‘Must Drink NOW’.

Epernay

The ingredients for ‘March Across The Belts’are Cariel Vanilla Vodka, Cherry Heering, Graham’s Port, Ant & Cassis Liqueur, Egg White, Black Pepper & Toy Ant Garnish in a Coupette Glass.

So how did this delectable confection come to be?

Lewis Cooke, Bar Manager at Épernay said: “The reasoning behind this cocktail is that I wanted to use Cariel Vanilla Vodka and Cherry Heering in one cocktail. Cariel being Swedish & Cherry Heering coming from Denmark, I did some research into Swedish and Danish history as inspiration. I stumbled upon a battle they had in the 17th century named “March Across the Belts”. I also wanted to use ants in this drink as it’s a good balancing agent, rather than using lemon or lime juice. The ants also represent the ‘March’ part of the name of the drink very well.

“The rest of the drink was to tie these elements in, so the flavours work and it fits on our Autumn & Winter menu. It’s in essence a twist on a French Martini but with the volume turned right up, with an interesting twist.”

But how safe are these ants? Lewis said reassuringly that they purchase ants for consumption from their specialist supplier and infuse with Cassis Liqueur after cooking them off.

Are there any drinks or dishes that you just LOVE? I’d love to know, so do hit me up!

To check out the wonderfully inventive ‘March Across The Belts’, hop on over to Épernay at Unit 1a, Great Northern Tower, Watson St, Manchester, Lancashire M3 4EE or call 0161 834 8802 now.

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