Mid-range, good cocktails are hard to find outside of the US.
In the UK and Europe, there are two classes of cocktails:
- pub cocktails
- bespoke cocktails
Pub cocktails are basic cocktails like Captain Morgan and Coke or gin and tonic. A bloody mary at a pub will include plain tomato juice, Tabasco, Worcestershire, vodka, a lemon slice, and salt and pepper. If you’re lucky, some pubs serve slightly more complex cocktails like cosmopolitans and mojitos but pub cocktails do not go beyond this level of complexity.
Pubs sound like a good idea and some look really cool and cozy but they always seem to disappoint.
The other end of the cocktail spectrum is bespoke cocktails. These are served in high-end cocktail bars who sometimes refer to themselves in fancier terms like “a speakeasy.” These establishments offer over-the-top cocktail creations that usually taste horrible and cost a small fortune. They use ridiculous ingredients like elderflower, fig leaf syrup, hay, and smoked tea.
What you won’t find very often are mid-range cocktail bars that serve somewhat bespoke cocktails but ones that have ingredients that you don’t have to Google to figure out what the fuck they are. When we are in the mood for cocktails, we want mid-range cocktails served by a bartender who can concoct a simple but great-tasting cocktail based on our likes and dislikes.
In our four years of travel, there are only three establishments we can recall that fit the bill when it comes to mid-range cocktails. They are:
- Big Liver Place in St. Petersburg, Russia
- Candelaria in Paris, France
- The Huxley in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Dear mid-range cocktails, I miss you. I hope to reunite with you soon.