That Beer Place

The indoor market in Chester has had a confident resurgence in recent times.  Still the home of many familiar local traders and stalls, the market has now grown to accommodate a whole new and vibrant concept.

A number of excellent eateries have sprung up, offering food of a wide variety of styles.  To compliment this, That Beer Place has also established itself as a central attraction for beer lovers.

I wanted to write a brief appreciation of That Beer Place – and spread the word if possible – for a fantastic enterprise that deserves success.

There’s a huge selection of beer to choose from, both on tap and in bottles or cans.  Whether traditional or unusual, local or from a far flung locale, there’s so much variety that there’s sure to be a drink to suit all tastes.

Staff are helpful and able to advise, if the magnitude of choice threatens to confound.  There are vegan, gluten free and more options; plus cider, gin, wine and non-alcoholic beverages too.  It’s easy and fun to experiment and discover a new favourite.  I’ve been doing it for a while…

Whilst never raucous, there’s definitely a buzz about That Beer Place that makes it a great place to visit.  It’s friendly and welcoming, with a cool vibe that makes it a crucial part of the revamped market.

Good luck to That Beer Place and Chester Market too (not forgetting another favourite,  Death by Tacos!) – make sure you pay them a visit next time you’re in town.

That Beer Place

Unit A19, Chester Market, Chester, Cheshire
01244 941990
Find That Beer Place on Facebook and Twitter.

Cocktail Time: Blue Hawaiian

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It’s that time again!  Time to chill in the Virtual Hot Tub with a refreshing cocktail, letting the week’s stresses flow away.  And what a great cocktail I have to share with you this time!

The Blue Hawaiian is a classic cocktail, simply delicious and full of summer excitement.  There’s plenty of time till summer, so get your kit together and practice making this tipple ready for those warm evenings.  I highly recommend a blender is used for this recipe, rather than just shaking. IMG_20160213_180025383

Blue Hawaiian

  • White rum
  • Blue curacao
  • Coconut cream
  • Pineapple juice
  • Ice

First of all, get that blender prepped and ready.  Pour in 2 measures of the white rum and one measure of the blue curacao (for one person).  Add 3 tablespoons of the coconut milk and a few ice cubes.  Give the mixture a quick 30 second mix in the blender, to get the colour even.

Then pour in the pineapple juice.  The recommended amount is 3 tablespoons, but I would experiment here and add a more if required.  Now give the mixture a full blitz in the blender until it’s frothy, man.

Now you can pour the mixture into your glass, and garnish the hell out of it.  Umbrellas, straws, slices of pineapple – go for it with whatever you can find. IMG_20160213_181643659

The result is a beautifully fruity cocktail that is ideal to sip and chill out with.  I highly recommend some Hawaiian music (on wax, of course) to complete the mood.

Enjoy!

Soundtrack: Hawaiian tunes (see photo); Arthur Lyman’s “Hawaiian Nights”; Les Baxter; Martin Denny; Elvis.

Iron Maiden Trooper Beer

Heavy Metal and beer go together like strippers and payday.  Whether you’re at a gig, a club or just banging your head at home with headphones on – rocking and a good beer is a great combination.

So it comes as no surprise that the Robinson’s brewery have teamed up with metal titans Iron Maiden to create Trooper Beer.  Apparently vocalist Bruce Dickinson is a real ale aficionado, and was very keen to collaborate with the well respected brewer.  The resulting beer is named after the famous (and very mighty in its own right) Maiden tune “The Trooper”.

I’ve tried a few bottles(!), and can happily report that Trooper is a very fine beverage indeed.  It’s a rich golden colour, well crafted and full of flavour.  It’s available in boozers and supermarkets and I would definitely recommend snapping some up if/when you see it!

This doesn’t really require pointing out, but the artwork on the label is awesome.  Iron Maiden have always had great album covers, posters and son on; this label is no disappointment.  Mascot Eddie is shown as per the single cover in iconic pose.  I don’t want to throw the empties away…

Maybe we’ll get variations in the future.  “Run to the Pils(ner)” anyone?  Sorry…

Check out the Iron Maiden beer website here.

Seasonal drink: Snowball

If you’re still in a party mood – and who isn’t, with New Year’s Eve on the way? – here’s a recipe for a seasonal cocktail that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.  The festive season may be coming to an end, but this tipple is still a top recommendation.

The Snowball is well known, and can be made to your particular taste.  You may know the ingredients already, so consider this a reminder of a winter classic.

Why not pull up a chair at the Virtual Tiki Bar and ask Veronica, our Virtual Bar Attendant, to concoct one of these for you?  Made just how you like it. IMG_2740

Snowball

  • Advocaat
  • Vodka
  • Lime juice (cordial)
  • Lemonade
  • Ice

The amounts required for this drink depend on the drinker’s taste, and the size of glass used.  Experiment and adjust to your preference.

Add ice at first, then pour a small amount of lime cordial.  Throw in a shot of vodka – this can be substituted by brandy, if desired.

Pour in a big old dose of the Advocaat, then top up with lemonade.  Veronica was a bit sketchy on the measures, so just play around.  Mix with a stirrer and enjoy.

Drink responsibly!

Soundtrack: Christmas with the Rat Pack, or Ultra Lounge Christmas Cocktails (Vol I and II).

Food Quest: Quay Fine Dining

Quay Fine Dining, Connah’s Quay

A family gathering provided a recent opportunity for my second trip to Quay Fine Dining.  The restaurant is located at the top of Connah’s Quay near Morrison’s supermarket, on the site of what was once known as the Top Kwiks.

Also, incidentally, very near where a young Platinum Al (only aluminium in those days) spent some of his childhood years.

The casual bigot may be confused at the idea of “fine dining” in Connah’s Quay.  However I will proudly declare that this town deserves some respect, and indeed a quality restaurant.  The first thing that strikes the eager food lover when entering Quay Fine Dining is just how smart the interior is: up to date, modern, clean and luxurious.  It’s really quite spell binding.

The menu is largely Indian, with Thai and Greek options available also.  On this particular visit, I opted to stick to an Indian theme.  This began with the classic, if obvious, couple of popadoms (together with the usual chutney accompaniments).

Before taking this gastronomical journey any further, I should point out that Quay Fine Dining is not a licensed restaurant.  But you can take along your own booze (which the staff will very kindly keep cool for you if desired).  This means that the night out can work out reasonably cheaply, but you must plan this well!  More on this later…

For our starters, Mrs Platinum Al chose chicken chaat puri, which was “lovely”.  I tried some and can confirm that is was very good indeed!  My own choice was chicken pakora, not something I have had very often.  I made a good choice, it was excellent.

There was quite a wait between courses, unfortunately.  As we were the only group in there at the time, I’m not sure why this was.  This also meant that I ran out of drink before my main course arrived.  Yes, I had somewhat underestimated the amount of booze required; though regardless the time between courses was a bit much.

Eventually the main courses arrived, and Mrs Platinum Al was very happy with her choice of chicken tikka shahi.  This is one of my favourite Indian dishes, though I had picked something different.

My choice was chicken shashlik, a dish I have enjoyed elsewhere in the past, but not ordered for a very long time.  I just felt that this would be a good choice.  I wasn’t disappointed.  It’s an impressive meal, brought sizzling to the table.  The side salad/garnish was a bit limp and superfluous, but the dish was very tasty and highly recommended.  My only mistake was ordering keema rice to go with the meal, there was plenty enough to eat without it (the dish is also served with a very nice curry sauce).

In conclusion, Quay Fine Dining not only offered a wide variety on the menu, it was also able to deliver a superb standard of food.  Plan your drink right and you’ll be rewarded with a very fine dining experience indeed.

Food Quest Test

  • Food: a massive choice, and from experience – great quality food without being over faced.
  • Drink: not licensed, so take your own.  No problems if you plan ahead.
  • Service: slow between courses, but the staff are exceptionally helpful and friendly.
  • Environment: visually impressive, modern and – dare I say it – extremely elegant.  Classy.
  • Cost: regardless of whether you save a few quid with the drink situation, the meals are very good value.

Quay Fine Dining, Ffordd Llanarth, Deeside Shopping Centre, Connah’s Quay CH5 4UP

01244 836565

The Quay Fine Dining website is here.

Drink of the Week: Monkey Wrench

Better hurry and mix this drink while you can – it’s an ideal summer refresher and there ain’t much summer left…

The Monkey Wrench is a popular warm weather tipple here at the Virtual Hot Tub.  Ask Veronica, the Virtual Barmaid, to throw one of these together for you – and join me in the tub for a soak. IMG_3137

Monkey Wrench

  • White rum
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Lemonade
  • Ice

Crush the ice and add to a tall glass.  Add two measures of white rum, then pour in the grapefruit juice.  Finally top up with lemonade and give it a stir.

Grapefruit juice can be a little sharp, but don’t worry if you’re not a fan – the lemonade can take the edge off.  Experiment with the quantities to achieve a taste you like.

Enjoy!

Soundtrack: “Monkey Wrench” by Foo Fighters.

Drink of the Week #3

Lemon, Lime & Bitters

This is another cocktail that may be of interest to anyone trying to be good and cut down on the booze at this time of year.  Technically this isn’t an alcohol free drink, as there is alcohol in Angostura bitters.  But you’ll only be using a tiny amount of that ingredient in this drink.

Lemon, Lime & Bitters 

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  • Lemonade
  • Lime cordial
  • Angostura bitters
  • Ice

Take a tall glass and pour in some lime cordial, enough as though you were making just a lime and water drink.  Then add the ice.

Next add the Angostura bitters – just add drop by drop.  Aim for a half to one full teaspoon full of bitters, and play around to see how you like the taste.  The bitters will affect both the taste and colour, so experimentation is key.

Finally, top the glass up with lemonade and stir.

Drink of the Week #2

Shirley Temple

Are you being good after indulging during Christmas?  Have you sworn off alcohol for a while, maybe even the whole of January?  If you have, but you’re after something more than a cup of tea, this one’s for you.

The Shirley Temple is a non-alcoholic cocktail, or mocktail, if you will.  The legend is that it was concocted in a Hollywood hotel for the then child star, and of course is alcohol free.  It’s a great drink to enjoy if you’re staying off the booze – the ritual of mixing a drink makes it seem special.  Plus it’s easy to make.

Shirley Temple IMG_2583

  • Grenadine
  • Sprite or 7Up
  • Ice

Pour a small measure of grenadine syrup into a glass.  Think of it as if you were making a cordial drink: the grenadine is the cordial which you will add to.  Of course you can experiment with the amount of grenadine to achieve the taste you like.  Add ice and pour in the Sprite/7Up.

Don’t forget – you could use diet versions of the Sprite or 7Up if you want a slightly healthier version…

Grenadine is easily available in supermarkets.  It’s not expensive and is a common ingredient in many other cocktails, so useful to have in your cupboard.

Soundtrack: The Aquabats! – “Hi-Five Soup!”

Drink of the Week

I refuse to accept the summer is over.  With some warm weather over the last few days, it’s been quite easy to pretend that summer will go on.  Here’s a drink that’s great for warm evenings, with a melon taste that oozes mellow.  

Midori & leomonade

Midori & lemonade

And what a fantastic colour!

Come on over to the Virtual Hot Tub, take a dip in the virtual water and don’t forget to pick up one of these drinks from the Virtual Tiki Bar.

Midori & Lemonade

  • Midori
  • Lemonade
  • Ice

I don’t really need to tell you how to make this, do I?  Take your glass, add midori, ice and top up with lemonade.  Enjoy.

Soundtrack: “Green Hell” by The Misfits.