Cocktails and Prohibition – the history and art of cocktail making at L’Ortolan Reading.

I love cocktails. So when I was invited along to Reading’s only Michelin starred restaurant, L’Ortolan, for a prohibition themed cocktail masterclass – I couldn’t say no! Any opportunity to dress up a little and enjoy some cocktails and canapes, I will always be there. 

Our lovely mixologist Jason took us through a selection of 4 cocktails, themed around history from the period, with a brief description of each one. I really appreciated the little booklet that had been put together for us. Each page highlighted the cocktail, ingredients, recipe, and the history/inspiration behind it. Opposite each page was a section for notes too – which was super handy. 

The first cocktail was the Bees Knees – which delicious! In fact it was so delicious that I didn’t take any photos of it, or remember any notes from it – but take my word it was yummy. It involved an elderflower gin, egg white powder, honey water. 

The second cocktail was the Mary Pickford, which was made with 50ml white rum, 40ml pineapple juice, 20ml grenadine and 20cl cherry liquor. This one was pretty simple – just shake all together over ice, and garnish with a maraschino cherry, or a piece of dried grapefruit and freeze dried raspberries like Jason did! I liked this one as it tasted along the lines of a cosmo, one of my all time favourites. 

With each finished cocktail we were served an accompanying set of canapes that complimented the tastes of each cocktail. My sister Izzy and I obviously don’t go to fancy places that often because we were totally fascinated by the presentation of each set of canapes and the perfection of the details. Izzy and I are both vegetarian, and all the canapes were unreal – if only there were more of them….

The canapes ranged from pea and mint arancini, to quinoa crackers with jellied apple, to crackers with peas and flowers, a heritage tomato and goats cheese gazpacho to more delights. What I loved about L’Ortolans attitude to food and produce, is that they believe in “seasonal is always best” – which I couldn’t agree more with. All their ingredients were seasonal and fresh, and all of the syrups and grenadine etc is made in house, which made each cocktail taste even more yummy. 

The third cocktail that we were treated to was the Corpse Reviver, used as a classic hangover cure and a hair of the dog concoction, this cocktail was made with 50ml cognac, 30ml calvados and 20ml sweet vermouth. Which to me personally was not a cocktail, but we did try a few sips nonetheless, and it did pain us to leave it, as we love cocktails, however it was more of an after dinner/ night cap type drink for us. Not something that I could casually enjoy, but I can certainly see how it might cure your hangover after a heavy and late one….

Which then led us onto the fourth and potentially favourite cocktail of the night, the Southside Fizz. Made with 50ml gin, 30ml lemon juice, 15ml demerara sugar and 7 very precise mint leaves, this was a delicious refreshing gin style mojito. 

Izzy and I had a lovely time at L’Ortolan testing out their themed masterclass, prices range from £40 – which for x4 cocktails and matching canapes, is a great way to mix up you date night a little! Each masterclass is themed, however there is a maximum of 6 guests per class – which means they’re super intimate and special, however does mean you need to book in advance. 

Now I need to head back to L’Ortolan to test out the dining eh!

What is your favourite cocktail?

Sophie x

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I was invited along to try out the cocktail masterclass in exchange for a blog post. All thoughts and opinions are my own .