I was walking to my seminar this morning with some friends and one asked how long the blog had been going for now. Wanting to pin the age of Tiny Kitchen Tests down to the exact day, I had a look to see when my first post was, and turns out it was October 6th, 2015 – exactly one year ago today.
TINY KITCHEN TESTS IS A YEAR OLD.
A WHOLE YEAR.
I am literally astounded. I’ve been typing out my completely aimless, unrelated musings on my laptop from my bed at unusual hours in the day/night for 365 whole days, and you still have the persistence to read them. For this, I cannot thank you all enough. And to those who have actually scrolled down enough to read the recipes attached to my posts and actually make them, I cannot thank you enough even more. Without this support I most definitely would have tired of writing and cooking and, embarrassed that I’d tried and failed, swiftly deleted any evidence that I’d attempted to make a food blog in the first place (this is exactly what happened to my shitty little Tumblr from when I was 15).
Due to lack of time, I can’t make a huge cake to celebrate my first blog birthday (blirthday? blorthday?) so instead I’m going to share a review of Oddfellow’s Speakeasy Cocktail Lounge in Exeter; because birthday cake is nice, but free cocktails are nicer. The review of the restaurant area within the gastropub/bar will be coming soon too.
It’s a strange place, is Oddfellows pub/bar/restaurant/cocktail bar in Exeter. You walk in and the immediate vibe suggests a relaxed, modern style bar, with old paintings and photographs dotted over the walls and some quite interesting carved wood furniture that looks, if anything, just a bit uncomfortable to sit in. As you walk towards the back of the building, you’re suddenly in what reminds me of the classic modern gastropubs now overwhelming the South, with an open plan kitchen and leather seats – all this is juxtaposed by the strange electro-alternative music nagging in the background. However, go upstairs and it’s a completely different atmosphere altogether.
The speakeasy themed bar is dimly lit, the walls lined with old liquor bottles, decorative little antique port glasses and mismatching furniture, making it far more cosy and inviting that the downstairs bar. Also noticed was the much more well-suited choice of music – an electro-swing style that added to the Jazz Age motif. Head barman, Beth, talked us through the pretty impressively expansive cocktail menu (presented as a little pocket diary, which I thought was a great touch), enquiring as to what our favourite spirits are so she could recommend a couple of favourites. Alex and I opted for whiskey, whilst Ben, being the more feminine of the three of us, asked for something fruity and gin-based. Get the Brooklyn (whiskey, bitters, antica formula – no, I have no idea what that is either), I implore you. It was damn dreamy, and the favourite amongst them all. Equally impressive was the Smokey Joe, which used bourbon smoked right in front of us using oak from old whiskey barrels – if you love the smell of bonfire night as much as I do then it’s a treat for the nose and the mouth. I’d also strongly recommend the Drugstore Cowboy (with fresh nutmeg grated on top), the Clover Club and the Georgian Mint Julep – if you can stay sober enough to make your way through these. I couldn’t – I had to go home and crash in front of Bake Off, slurring my words slightly.
One of the really impressive things about this bar is its dedication to sourcing products locally and making everything fresh; it has an ever-changing range of spirits to keep things interesting, and banishes the use of pre-made syrups, purees and mixes. Considering all of this, I would be more than happy to pay the pretty reasonable £7 average for a cocktail here; not every week, of course, but birthdays no longer need to be spent buying a pretty crap standard mojito from Bills before dinner. Come here instead, grab a cocktail (or in our case, 6), feel classy as you sip from your champagne saucer, thank me later.