Big chain hotels have a general reputation for quality, consistency, and high price points. Having been spoiled with my mom's great employer benefits, I have become accustomed to all those previously mentioned - minus the priceyness. So when one of my friends mentioned the prospect of joining him in reviewing the local cocktail lounge at the Westin in Dublin, I jumped at the chance! - Thanks Yann:) be sure to check out #totallydublin in print to dabble in more wit & drink.
To begin, the hotel is located on one of the busiest central streets of Dublin (Westmoreland Street). The lounge was tucked away, past the concierge and downstairs. So it seems to cater to the guests of the hotel, as it is very out of sight. The Mint Bar is one of two in the hotel, it is a dimmly lit, classically furnished bar with arch vaulted ceilings separating the space with large stone pillars.
After combing the menus, we decided to start with more traditional drinks. The Aviation & Sacerac.
The aviation (Plymouth Gin, Violet Piquet, Marachino Piquet, Fresh lemon juice) was new to me, and was a refreshing but strong start to the evening. We found it slightly underwhelming as the violet liquor did not come out as clean and floral as some. Sazerac (Sazerac 5 year old rye whiskey, simple syrup, Peychaud bitters and an absinthe rinse), I enjoyed this drink for my first go. Flavours were slightly muddled, but still a refreshing whiskey cocktail.
Love-Hate Menu (Available until March 30 ONLY!)
After some discussion with the bartender, we learned that the menu was derived from the staff discussions surrounding the Irish TV series 'Love-Hate' and the idea was that the drinks would all be something that customers would either Love or Hate. Not much choice for spectrum here, just extremes please. Love-Hate highlighted the bar's progressive flare, introducing flavours or ingredients that would be unexpected to the traditional cocktail.
All cocktails on the limited-time menu were priced forgivingly, so as to encourage a more friendly and inviting atmosphere for risk-takers.
We were ready to delve into the dirty business of risk-taking!
Smokin' Marzipan Martini (Glenmorangie 10 year old Scotch whisky infused with Cohiba No 2 cigars, Disaronno Amaretto, Martini Rosso, Angostura aromatic bitters and an orange zest.)
Tasting: smoky on the nose, cinnamon and almond from the amaretto. This drink was very sweet and candy-like true to the name of marzipan.
Octopus' Garden (Bombay Sapphire gin, Martini extra dry vermouth, served with a smoked baby octopus.)
Tasting: Bombay Sapphire was fresh and herbaceous, what we have come to expect.
We dissected the drink in discussion; the first half of the drink was gin martini as per usual, except that the baby octopus was staring us square in the face; the second half was interesting, as the octopus slowly infused some notes of sea and salt into the drink; final third, we waited too long! The drink had warmed and in my words, there were pronounced sea-like bits in the end. Of course, against my mother's recommendation, she warns of this every time! I can hear her saying "Vania, stop talking or your drink will get warm"
Aged Manhattan (Crown Royal rye whisky, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters)
Tasting: these barrel aged cocktails were left for at least 6 weeks to age in new white oak, imparting a dry smoky flavour to the manhattan; otherwise, a usually clean but strong and quite sweet
Hemingway Sour (Woodford Reserve bourbon, Drambuie, pasteurized egg white, fresh lemon juice and simple syrup)
Tasting: This was the fave of the evening, perfect citric pucker balanced with roundness of drambuie and bourbon.
Corpse Reviver #2 (Martin Miller’s gin, Cointreau, Lillet blanc, fresh lemon juice and an Absinte rinse)
Tasting: Super fresh and acidic - lots of lemon
After getting unexpectedly sloshed on a caffeinated stomach, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the cocktails and new experiences in Dublin. The service was professional and warm, and the cocktails were true to tradition and aesthetically pleasing. Love-hate menu is just one of many featured specials at the Mint, with some other more popular menus like the skinny cocktails menu, the bar wanted to push a more risqué face.
Service: Professional and warm, decent knowledge of cocktails and liquors.
Likelihood to return: 3.5/5
Food/Coffee: Drinks 4/5, no food or coffee
Chillness: 4 chill chairs
Highlights: Hemingway Sour, but hey! We had a smoked octopus staring us in the face.