As part of the month-long, ‘Great Bath Feast’, The Bath Priory hotel offered an exclusive evening of decadent drinky-poos and top-notch nibbles in their luxurious surroundings. The red carpet was being dusted off upon our arrival and this certainly seemed to underpin the ethos for the evening whereby guests were warmly welcomed and treated, from the outset, to a first-rate level of service complete with complimentary hand massages (courtesy of the 'Garden Spa' team) and informative wine tasting sessions. First though, a lesson in cocktails and two concoctions created in-house by resident mixologist, Adam. The first, an Irish Flower which combined whiskey with fresh raspberries, cranberry juice and Chambord; the latter proving the dominant ingredient in an altogether enjoyable ensemble. The second was the Jalapeno Chase, which was fondly referred to as an alcoholic Lemsip; the vodka and fresh jalapenos suitably punctuating the medicinal trio of apple, honey and lemon! We were also treated to a fruity punch of lychee, passion fruit and vodka which proved simple, refreshing yet dangerously drinkable. It’s fair to say that a passion to wow guests with an innovative line-up of cocktails was overwhelmingly apparent; a finding which will no doubt secure a return visit from yours truly given my love of experimental cocktails and twists on the classics.
Next, we sampled two white wine and two red wines with the hotel’s head sommelier, Alex. The official tasting notes were as follows, along with my own rather amateur conclusions:
White 1: Etna Bianco Sicily Planeta, Italy – 'an extraordinary wine which appears almost clear, with slight lime green reflections. The initial nose is laden with the rich, warm mineral scents of mica, granite and flint against a cool backdrop of green apple, acacia honey, kumquats , fennel, raw almonds and wild flowers...with notes suggesting wet river rocks [and] stone-fruit pits, there is a fresh purity here that is beyond compare'.
Verdict:This was certainly a unique tipple; though despite its impressive origins and apparent clarity, I wasn't overly keen on its flavour which was simply too subtle for my liking!
White 2: Chenin Blanc Kleine Zalza, South Africa – 'Strong citrus notes, plus lychee and guava aromas on the nose with ripe pineapple and peach flavours that follow through on the palate. These are complemented with a long, clean, crisp after-taste'.
Verdict: A classy white with a fresh, fruity finish – exactly the kind of wine I'd choose for a Friday-night with the girls.
Red 1: Douro, Quinta do Crasto, Portugal – 'Deep ruby in colour with ripened fruit aromas. Hence, very fruity on the palate with good structure and light tannins; making it a very pleasant wine'.
Verdict: My drinking companion and I referred to this as the 'cheap red'; i.e. the kind of wine you'd pick up from the supermarket to enjoy alongside a home-made plate of pasta. Yes, although ample for washing down a canapé or two, this was really rather brash on the palate; especially in light of the second red on the table. (NB. If this is, in fact, a particularly expensive wine – I'm sorry!)
Red 2: Pinot Noir, Reserva especial, Tabali, Limari Valley Chile – 'a delicious, mouthwatering yet delicate Pinot Noir with smoky plum and redcurrant, plus hints of strawberry on the nose. The palate has more smoky fresh red fruit with a clean, almost scented finish'.
Verdict: This was by far my favourite of all four wines; it was light and fruity - oh so fruity - with a touch of summertime sparkle to its overall demeanour. More please!
Meanwhile, guests were sporadically invited to descend upon a selection of canapés, designed by Michelin Starred Executive Head Chef, Sam Moody and his Team; sumptuous morsels of top-end fare which seemed to adequately demonstrate the calibre of the hotel’s restaurant. These included pulled pork pies which had been spiked with a little apricot and caraway chutney and topped with herb breadcrumbs and teeny-tiny spiced lamb burgers, neatly layered with red onion slaw and coriander mayonnaise. The parmesan and rosemary risotto balls were my personal favourite however, served with a truffle mayo which was melt-in-the-mouth delicious. A small selection of bite-sized desserts completed the bill; the warm Madeleines somewhat reminiscent of my Parisian adventures earlier in the year.
Thus, a two-tiered triumph given the success of the evening itself and how well the hotel had showcased their strengths; enticing attendees to return to further experience their excellent service and culinary expertise; factors of the evening which really set The Bath Priory aside as a first-rate hotel and restaurant.
The Bath Priory Hotel
Weston Road, Bath BA1 2XT
Tel: 01225331922 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org