I've been to two other Cocktail XChange Events (Gin and Absinthe) and enjoyed both, particularly the Absinthe. They both had quite a focus on the history of the spirit and its inclusion in cocktails. This Halloween event with Reyka vodka was focused on food pairings and also had a Halloween twist.
The event was held at Malmaison Hotel at The Mailbox, in one of their function rooms. We sat at large round tables in mixed groups. I was lucky enough to be sat with someone I know- Chloe from The Gastronomic Gorman but it was great to chat to the other people at the table too.
We had a sample of Reyka vodka, who were sponsoring the event. Made from Arctic spring water and filtered through lava rocks in Iceland, this genuinely was one of the purest vodkas I've ever tried.
Our first cocktail was 'The Return'- Vodka, Elderflower and Grapefruit juice, topped up with Prosecco. With those flavours, it's hard to go wrong and it's nice to have a bit of fizz to start the evening. This was a real crowd pleaser.
The cocktail was served with our starter- Vodka cured salmon, pumpkin blini, pickled cucumber and herb creme fraiche. Fizz and cured salmon are a natural pairing and I loved the cute nods to Halloween and that vodka was used in the cooking. I've had gin cured salmon, but not vodka and it worked well. Naturally there wasn't a taste of vodka as it is such a clean spirit.
The second cocktail was a bit controversial! The Revenge was made with pepper infused vodka, lime and apple juice, lemonade and a splash of tabasco. This was a very spicy and unusual drink and the organisers ended up swapping a lot of people's for one made with just normal vodka. This is excellent customer service, of course. I go to these events to try something I wouldn't usually go for. I enjoy being challenged but I appreciate that not everyone else does.
However, I do wish that they had asked people to wait until they had their main course to try the drink, because once I'd tried them together it all made sense.
The main was a Bloody Mary chicken breast with parmentier potatoes, chorizo and vegetables. This worked very cleverly with the cocktail. The pepper in the cocktail added heat to the chicken, but the tomato sauce calmed the spice down. A perfect pairing. My only improvement would be to have had more chorizo!
Finally, our last cocktail- The Resurrection. This was a twist on an Espresso Martini with vodka, chocolate port, espresso and nutmeg. It was rich, unusual and super to end the meal on.
To go with it, the strawberry vodka cheesecake. I loved the blood-like sauce! Of course, it didn't taste of blood- it was a sweet strawberry sauce. This wasn't the world's most inspired cheesecake but it was a tasty, sweet dessert. I was happy with all the food I ate, but the starter and main were the stand outs.
I don't love Halloween as a holiday but I'm really pleased I went along to the event. The vodka and the cocktails were fantastic and the food was really cleverly matched. Well done to Malmaison and Cocktail XChange for putting on a super evening.
Malmaison, The Mailbox
Photos by me and Edd
We paid for our tickets ourselves.