A Rum Do -Prohibition Bristol, Milk Thistle, Bristol

Redbrick, limestone with terracotta flourishes, Quay Head House stands at the edge of the old city overlooking the cenotaph. Once the offices for the Trustees of Bristol Municipal Charities; the various crests and scrolls of the benefactors adorn its frieze. Now shuttered, little gives away its current guise. Look carefully though, and you will see a panel of frosted glass with a shield bearing a Milk Thistle.

Inside, chequer board floors, dark wood panelling and cases of curios bear resemblance to a Victorian gentleman's club crossed with a page from an Alan Moore graphic novel. Home to one of Bristol's best speakeasy cocktail bars, it is one of my favourite places to enjoy a well crafted drink. So, when I was invited by Prohibition Bristol to join them, and a few other Bristol bloggers at The Milk Thistle for an evening of rum cocktails, I found the invitation hard to refuse.
Prohibition Bristol create events that combine cabaret, burlesque, comedy and live music with a vintage theme. Bursting on to the scene this year with their St Valentine's Day Massacre and gin bar, their next will be a rum based 'Escape to Cuba'. Our hosts were the delightful Frankie and Meg, two of the trio behind the event. Whilst at the bar, creating our drinks, was the effervescent Ash Bovey.
Inspired by Bacardi's promotional campaign during the Prohibition years, 'Escape to Cuba' was the message sent on tantalising postcards to many an American. Tourists, celebrities and entertainers alike, flocked to Havana to bathe in rum cocktails and mingle in glamorous art deco bars and sun kissed beaches. With this in mind, our brief for the evening was to reach a consensus on the perfect welcome drink and signature cocktail for the event.

We started the evening with a twist on a Gin Rickey, the drink beloved of the Great Gatsby. Using rum as the base instead of gin, lime juice, a little sugar and soda water topped up this high-ball. A nice cooler for a hot day; the Rum Rickey lacked a little something.

Next, the El Presidente, named after the former Cuban president Gerardo Machado. Rum, dry vermouth, curacao and crème de mure instead of grenadine, I loved this drink. Bitter sweet, a little zest and triple sec gave it a fabulous orange fragrance. At the bottom of the glass, the jack pot; a sun dried maraschino cherry, intensely flavoured and boozy. 
Hemmingway's signature drink followed: a Papa Doble. Hemmingway, who lived outside Havana for over twenty years, had this drink created for him when he developed diabetes. A 'diabetic friendly' alternative to the classic Daiquiri, he would drink it as a double measure. Rum, a little maraschino liqueur and plenty of lime and grapefruit juice, this was too sharp even for my liking. A twist on the classic Daiquiri then arrived, with pineapple syrup instead of sugar. Fragrant and perfectly balanced, this was definitely a hit.

Somewhere along the line, a Clover Club was mentioned. Gin based with lemon juice and raspberry syrup; it has egg white as an emulsifier that once shaken gives it a foamy head. We tried the original and, after a few suggestions and tweaks, the Cuban Club was born. Sweet, fragrant and a frothy delight; the signature drink was found.

Our final drink, and what a drink, was a Planter's Punch. With its recipe in verse, citrussy and full of bitters and rum; it tasted like a draught of tropical sunshine. We were all agreed that this would make the perfect welcome drink.

As you can see below, we worked hard for you and, had a lovely time to boot. Tickets for 'Escape to Cuba' are on sale now. Judging by the St Valentine's Day Masscare, I think you'll be in for a swell ole time.

Please note: I was a guest of Prohibition Bristol. No fee was paid for this post and no free event tickets either.

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