Tag Archives: drinks

The Milk Thistle and a taste of the high life

14 Jun

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When a friend insisted on taking me to The Milk Thistle, I was initially slightly ambivalent about the idea. On one hand, I loved the name (it reminded me of one of my favourite Conor Oberst songs, for a start) and I’m a sucker for a good cocktail; on the other, the bar’s website features a list of ‘house rules’ and I am at heart a small-scale scruffbag who gets intimidated by the idea of having to be approved just to enter a drinking establishment.

I needn’t have worried. Behind the unassuming central Bristol façade – you genuinely wouldn’t suspect there was anything there from the outside – was a cosy space reminiscent of a country house library. Complete with taxidermied badger sporting a necktie above the bar. The menus were glued into the pages of hardback novels (ambivalence? What? Where? Menus in books!), and the service was charm personified.

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I ordered a Mermaid’s Tears, involving rum, crème de violet, lime and rock salt, among other ingredients (sadly it’s not listed on the website’s menu, so I can’t be more specific). It tasted like someone had crossed a seriously decent Margarita with a Parma Violet, and had just the right delicate, salty twist at the end. I’m easily sold on anything involving salt, so I was veritably giddy with joy.

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My friend went for a Foux-Roux, which alas I can only be vaguer still about the contents of. It incorporated ginger, but was subtle and layered, rather than overpoweringly fiery.

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And oh, the bar snacks… I’m pretty sure that when Felicity Cloake wrote her recent Guardian Word of Mouth blog post about the perfect Scotch egg, she in no way involved confit duck. Judging by the Scotch quail’s eggs (served with grain mustard mayo) we had, she really should have. Meaty and dense, they were a delight. The same goes for the pork scratchings – elegantly presented in a teacup and not too greasy, lifting them out of the realm of ‘shamefully guilty pleasure’ – and the cutely named ‘wasabi pea shooter’.

While it’s not cheap – two cocktails and some nibbles came to just under £23 – it was definitely an experience I’d like to repeat. Although there is one thing I feel justified in my ambivalence about: I’ll never be content with a humble packet of Scampi Fries again. Sigh.