BY AINSLEY STARK
It was another glorious weekend in the West End, but this one had a twist…it was also shaken, on the rocks and garnished with a raspberry. The first Glasgow Cocktail Weekend took place over a four-day weekend (9TH- 12TH August 2018) and it was delicious. A range of signature cocktails and incredible DJs at some of the best venues in Glasgow. What more could you want? The only suggestion I would make is to have the GCW every weekend.
Moir Media, a Scottish communications consultancy, organised the Glasgow Cocktail Weekend to showcase some great independent restaurants and bars for both locals and visitors to enjoy. It was a fantastic set up: buy your day ticket for £10 online which would give you access to over 100 different drinks from £5 at one of the 30 participating venues of the Glasgow Cocktail Weekend. There was really no excuse to stay at home last weekend.
On Saturday a friend and I, who did not need much persuasion, sampled some of the incredible cocktails, included in the GCW, at bars and restaurants in the West End. Our first stop was The Butchershop on Sauchiehall Street. We propped ourselves up at the bar and decided to sample a bit of both worlds, The Smoking Grouse and Caribbean Sunset – a smoky and a sweet. A short walk away, we headed to The Finnieston and enjoyed their two cocktails on the set Glasgow Cocktail Weekend menu. We sat at a window seat and watched the world (well, just the West End) go by.
The third stop on our cocktail crawl was Lebowskis. It is now a staple of the West End and hardly needs more recognition…but we’re going to shout about it anyway. We decided to go for a Parisian Punk and a Decade and Counting from the GCW menu. Glasgow is bursting with music and boasts some of the best venues in the country, so you’re never pushed to find somewhere with great tunes. The cocktails we had were made better as we sipped them to the stylings of We Should Hang Out More (#WSHOM), a well-known duo in Glasgow, who put on a great set in Lebowskis as part of the GCW.
Reluctant to leave the great music, our fourth stop was the Pickled Ginger where we tried some Japanese inspired cocktails that were like nothing we ever had ever tasted. We sat at the bar and sampled the Honda and the Macha Mojito, two very different cocktails which are also available on their regular menu to enjoy on your next visit. From there headed to Nonya, a Southeast Asian restaurant which opened in March of this year. We were shown downstairs to their separate bar and enjoyed an Unholy Trinity and a High Fashion. A set of cocktails that we wouldn’t have had the guts to try unless it was on a special offer, and we were glad we did. The service was exceptional, and we will be sure to go back and enjoy a meal there in the near future.
Our sixth stop was Rioja, a little bit of Spain in the middle of Glasgow. This Tapas restaurant had a good vibe which you could feel as soon as you stepped in. The interior was stylish and inviting, something caught your eye everywhere you looked. We ordered a Boudoir and a Rumbutcha which went down a treat. By this point we’re 12 cocktails down and so decide that the next bar will be our last. Our seventh and final stop was the Kelvingrove Café. This bar takes you back in time with its traditional bar set up; marbled tables, mirrored wall, soft and friendly staff. It gives you a great flavour of Old Glasgow Style.
The GCW is an ingenious way to sample different cocktails. Most of us would be less inclined to risk it and spend money on a drink that we might not like. But the way the GCW was designed meant that you could explore your palate and spend only £5 doing so. My friend and I took advantage of this opportunity and found that we really enjoy whisky cocktails (and maybe a little too much).
Although we only got a glimpse of one day of the Glasgow Cocktail Weekend, ask anyone and they’ll agree, it was a huge success. You don’t need an excuse such as the GCW to go out and enjoy what the West End has to offer, but it certainly greases the wheels. Make Finnieston the destination for your next cocktail crawl and you won’t be disappointed. We can’t wait to see what the next Glasgow Cocktail Weekend has in store for us.