Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Drink: The Vanguard

Style: Cocktail bar     Price: ££ (Around £8.50 a cocktail)  Location: Jewellery Quarter   

The Venue

1000 Trades is a lovely craft ale bar in the Jewellery Quarter. While selling a great range of beers, ciders and wines, they've also had a number of restaurants and street food vendors come in to do pop-ups. When I first heard of The Vanguard, I thought it was a similar concept; a cocktail bar pop-up.

However, it's actually a different business, using 1000 Trade's top floor. Separate but complimentary: 1000 Trades don't sell cocktails and The Vanguard doesn't sell beer or wine.

Head into 1000 Trades and follow the signs to the top floor. Keep your eyes open for the bee sign. At the top of the building you'll find The Vanguard: a sweet, cosy bar nestled into what is essentially a corridor. They've done a splendid job of making it comfortable and intimate, with old-fashioned aperitif adverts on the walls and plenty of seating. It was beautifully lit in the afternoon when I was there, I imagine it would be rather romantic in the evening.


Have you heard of The Vanguard as a Game of Thrones themed bar? Well, it isn't. It does, however, have a good selection of mead, one of the oldest alcoholic beverages known.

When I visited The Vanguard with a group of bloggers, we met Sam the owner, who gave us a talk through some different types of mead. Mead is created by fermenting honey, but there's not many guidelines for making it at the moment. Sam has been visiting and working with producers to ensure the mead he sells is of the highest quality.

Garden Mead from Lyme Bay Winery. If you've tried mead before, I reckon it was this brand. I learnt something new while sipping this. The taste of the honey in the mead depends on what flowers the bees have access to around their hives. Garden Mead is made using honey from bees with lots of different plants and flowers. You get a fresh, herby, minty taste, very easy to drink and not too sweet. 

Yore Sparkling Mead. Also from Lyme Bay, but with a modern outlook. This has a lower percentage, is sparkling and can be enjoyed as a long drink. It's got the deep, rich sweetness of burnt caramel but it's refreshing because of the bubbles. I really loved this. It's a brilliant alternative to beer or cider. 

Gosnells Citra Sea Mead. Similarly to Yore, Gosnells are working to modernise mead by making it a sparkling, lower percentage long drink. Sam gave us their Citra Sea Mead so we could try a flavoured mead. The honey is fermented alongside lemon peel and tarragon and finished off with sea water, giving it an unusual, tangy flavour. They are aiming this at craft beer drinkers and it's definitely interesting. 


As well as Mead, Sam is keen to showcase other drinks such as brandy and an usual digestif named Fernet-Branca. This won't be for everyone- it's quite herbally and tastes a bit like cough medicine to be honest- but you can give it a go in a cocktail.

For my cocktail, I chose the 3.14 Cherry Pi (£9). A twist on a Martinez (gin, vermouth, cherry bitters) this one has the flavours of spiced winter fruits too. I like that the menu is written based on the flavour profile of the drink rather than just the spirits used, encouraging us to step out of our comfort zones and try something new.

If you choose the same cocktail as me, you'll get a slight syrupy mouthfeel, with chocolate and spice notes. Look at those maraschino cherries too- DO NOT LEAVE THESE. They are beautiful, magical, delicious and expensive. Eat them up.

Head along to The Vanguard for a cosy, welcoming atmosphere, some unusual new favourites to discover and an educational chat with Sam. I love a dose of facts with my alcoholic beverage and I'm looking forward to heading back soon.

The Vanguard At the top of 1000 Trades, Frederick Street

Drinks were complimentary for review purposes.

Photos by Helen. 

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