It’s official I am now an English resident (again) and my first assignment brought me to the beautiful university city of Cambridge. I had been there many moons ago so I was quite excited when the opportunity to visit The Tamburlaine came about.
The Tamburlaine opened early 2017 and although this section of the city has been working on redeveloping a more modern feel to its residents, the hotel has kept to the feel of the traditional culture of Cambridge. The hotel is named after one of the plays by Christopher Marlowe, who was an alumnus of Cambridge University, and is situated only a few minutes walk from the train station making it easily reachable from London. The closeness of the train station is perfect for those who want to be trouble free from finding parking, and commute by train, but for those that chose to drive note there is no on site parking.
Andy, who took a few minutes to put my mind at ease about parking my car, welcomed me; I could then start to enjoy my stay at this luxurious accommodation. It did not stop there; he also assisted me in taking my luggage up to my room, while I sat downstairs waiting to meet my host for the evening. After a long stressful drive, Andy’s hospitality just made the evening so much nicer and I was put at ease from his warm smile and his professionalism to make me feel welcomed to the hotel.
I sat in the foyer on one of the large sofas by the fireplace and waited for my host to arrive; Ashley Briggs, Bar Manager, who would be giving me a cocktail masterclass. I was very excited, although I had no time to eat, so was a bit weary about how long I would last through this experience, time would tell. Ash brought over a few champagne glasses with a bottle of Taittinger, though not my beloved Prosecco, I could definitely enjoy a small glass of bubbly to wash away the long drive. Ash informed that another journalist would be joining us for the event so this was my cue to excuse myself to freshen up.
I opened the door to my suite and was immediately impressed with the decor and space in the room. The Scholar Bedroom had floor to ceiling windows and a separate seating area. A touch of Persian characteristics throughout and the colours were stunning, it was a visually pleasing and comforting room situated on the upper floors of the hotel. The hotel also houses stunning event spaces including an inviting library up a set of extraordinary spiral stairs. When you reach the top, you will find warmth from another fireplace and luxury armchairs, a perfect place to step out of time to relax and get lost in your favourite books that filled the many shelves in the area.
After a quick Supergirl change of clothes and application of make up, I returned down to the lobby, we were then taken to the Colonial Style Garden room to where the cocktail tour would take place.
Ash began our lesson …
These cocktails were beyond the traditional “let’s get drunk and have fun drinking” sugary alcoholic drinks, each one had been given great thought in preparation. The ethos was to re-use, recycle and no waste. The descriptions at first were a bit eye opening and mind boggling, but once tasted, you could appreciate the creativity and uniqueness of the unusual combinations of ingredients. Ash dissected each drink giving us a very detailed reasoning behind their choice of liquors, the result of the combination and what we would expect for the taste.
Italicus Bergamotto, Prosecco, Persian pickled olive
Introductory aperitif with the bergamot based Rosolio. Long, refreshing, citrusy.
Our version was made with Taittinger. It was a refreshing start. Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto is a blend of bergamot peel, Cedro lemons, chamomile, lavender, gentian, yellow roses and Melissa balm; an aromatic and lightly spicy liqueur, which balances the honeyed sweetness with rooty bitterness. I have a weakness for olives so I immediately fell in love with the combination of flavours. He spoke to us about using a wider aperture glass to be able to appreciate the smells and flavours of the drink.
Verbena and kaffir leaf, Reyka Icelandic vodka, Tamburlaine triple-sec, Italian sweet vermouth, raspberry and hibiscus shrub, peach, lime, crystallised rose
Complex, sweet & sour, inspired by the botanical gardens, edible rose petal basket.
An amazing re-invented version of the Cosmopolitan; when you have one of these you would not look back at the tart cranberry and orange liqueur staple drink.
Passionfruit, El Jimador Blanco Tequila, cacao, amaretto, lime curd, egg white, Tamburlaine’s ‘Pornish ice cream’
Inspired by the seaside. Twist on a Pornstar Martini. Our way of reintroducing guests to tequila. Served with Champagne ice cream foam in a cone with popping candy.
Fizz! Yes…in a form of foam…come again? This super cute cocktail served in an ice cream cone was the most visually creative cocktail at the event. The popping candy was a fun finish to the drink.
Verbena, pea shoot, black ants, Reyka Icelandic vodka, German dry vermouth, English white wine, chicory
Savoury, complex and bitter/sweet with spiced notes from chicory. Ants provide a nuttiness.
OK with the Jungle fever of I’m a Celebrity coming to the close we were now really getting into the cryptic concepts of what quirkiness we would expect from a drink. What on earth would be in a drink inspired by an English Allotment? Black Ants!?! The drink was gently iced with their signature “ice”, which I learned that the bigger the ice the more it cools without leaving a drink full of water which we all seem to complain about when we go out to bars.
Cinnamon, spiced pear, Pisco, apple, ginger, lemon oleo, egg white, Chartreuse, dill
Inspired by a Christmas market. Spiced, smooth, citrusy and very moreish.
Not sure if it was because of now being on drink number four and the lack of food but I was not too keen on this drink. But the next drink caught my attention.
FROM MEXICO WITH LOVE
Roasted cauliflower, Mezcal, curry leaf, sweetcorn juice, green chili, lime, blood orange, agave
Inspired by the streets of Mexico and served in a traditional Cantarita terracotta vessel. Savoury, spiced and thought provoking. Our way of showing that cocktails do not always have to be based around fruits and how the flavour profile of something like cauliflower can be equally as interesting and complex.
When this drink arrived to the table I loved the look. It was served in a typical Latin ceramic style mini jug with little sprigs of thyme and a crunchy tortilla edging out of the top of the glass. It was like a meal and a drink all in one!
LAY THEE DOWN
Cork, avocado oil, Gin Mare, German dry Vermouth infused with avocado skin, caper distillate, Rosolio, olive
Inspired by the champagne houses of France. A zero waste example of a dirty martini but remains the smoothest example I have tasted. We used cork to add an extra depth of flavour to the cocktail, which usually would have been discarded after the champagne had been opened.
Ash and his team created an amazing twist to the Martini with this drink. If you love olives this is your go-to cocktail on their menu. The Avocado oil in the drink was unusual but it made the drink very smooth and actually left my lips feeling very soft.
Remember that the objective behind these “grown up” cocktails are to re-use and be aware of our carbon footprint. The next drink is quite special in this way. The way this drink has been invented and created is definitely a “thinking outside the box” creation.
FROM THE GROUND UP
Wasted ground coffee, Brioche, Reyka Icelandic Vodka, cacao, peppermint tea, espresso, vanilla
Inspired by a café, we use any left over pastries and coffee to make a zero waste coffee liqueur. We also use some of the peppermint tea leaves from the Deli too, to make a very balanced yet interesting twist on an espresso martini.
The drink was served to us in a simple takeaway coffee cup and perfectly refreshing. Even though it has a base of pastries it was an incredibly light and fresh drink. Very easy going down and was a great way to end the evening…. I even took the cup to bed with me as the night as a nightcap. Funnily, I woke up the next morning feeling confused with a fresh smell of coffee in the air!
The hotel bar’s intention of re-using ingredients to create these cocktails takes visiting a bar to another level. A night out of drinking cocktails just became a search for Michelin starred beverages. After this masterclass I can appreciate a cocktail a lot more, it’s not just a drink, it should be an experience.
As Ash commented “It is important to know that all of our cocktails are mixed with the finest ingredients, we use hand cut ice which we cut each day and we are very aware of our carbon footprint. We aim to make environmentally friendly cocktails that reduce waste where possible, without sacrificing flavour. Our cocktails, like the hotel, are inspired by Christopher Marlow’s play – the Tamburlaine, hence why each drink has a visual or sensory Persian influence.”
With the tales behind these drinks it just adds more value and luxury to the tastebuds. Cocktails are not just for getting drunk, now you can add them to the list of enjoying a fine bottle of wine, whiskey or champagne!
So in conclusion I managed to get through seven cocktails and still be pretty sane and functional. I finally retired to my room with my mandatory end of the night glass of Prosecco and curled up into the glorious bed in my room. I am small so I literally got lost within this handmade King Koil bed. The thick duck down topper hugged me into its softness and warmth; I do not think I have ever felt this snug solo?!? The slumber was wonderful and I woke up feeling absolutely refreshed, despite the alcohol consumption the night before.
I made my way to the dining room for breakfast, from being healthy and having avocados to being naughty and selecting the American Pancakes, I was spoiled for choice. I decided to meet in the middle and ordered the English breakfast with Cumberland sausages, grilled back bacon, plum tomato, field mushroom, black pudding and choice of eggs. The time between ordering and being served was swift and I enjoyed every morsel and was ready for my journey back home. With more knowledge than ever before on how to craft the perfect cocktail and help the environment while doing so I am now more conscious when ordering at the bar, for what is better than being able to enjoy life’s libations but also reduce ones carbon footprint?
The cocktails mentioned in this article will be available at the hotel from March, ranging from £9-£11.
27-29 Station Road