5 things to look out for in one of Newcastle's amazing cocktail venues / by Kian West

Even in spite of Newcastle's ridiculous alcohol restrictions (a debate for another time) we have still managed to begin to see a wave of brilliant cocktail culture and small bars willing to serve a well-made beverage along with the spaces that also manage to offer some of the most delicious food offerings (5Sawyers we are looking at your pattie melt). 

But what if you don't normally go for a cocktail? What should a punter do when they are stuck in the awkward moment of trying to impress their peers with advanced cocktail knowledge when we all just want to say "Make me something Delicious!"

Well, now you can and also look like you know what you are talking about. 

Mixologist supplied image: Hayden Poutney

Mixologist supplied image: Hayden Poutney

5 quick things to look for when at the bar

  • Can the staff make recommendations? I'm not suggesting you ask the bartender what "drinks they enjoy making" because that is the worst, but if you're having a hard time deciding between two beverages, they should be able to guide you with descriptions of the drinks on their menu.
  • How do they make a martini? It's one thing to ask if you would like your martini "shaken or stirred" — though really, they should always be stirred — it is quite another to default to shaking. A watery martini is unacceptable and a good cocktail bar won't serve you one.
  • Are they straining drinks onto new ice? Though there may be ice in the shaker, your chilled and diluted beverage should always be poured over fresh ice. Shook ice will not only look sad in the glass, but it's already half melted which means it won't keep your drink chilled as long, and it will dilute it too quickly.
  • What's the garnish and juice situation like? If you're shelling out the big bucks for a juicy drink, that juice had better be real and — in my opinion — fresh. Same goes for the garnishes. Though it's OK to prep wedges, rounds and strips of zest a few hours before they will be used, nothing should look dried out and your cherry-containing cocktails better come with those good, dark cherries.
  • Were you greeted? As my favourite bartender likes to say: "You're hosting a party" and you should feel like you're a welcome guest, not a burden. Good bar staff will greet you as quick as they can, get you a menu and if they can't get to you right away, at least give you a friendly "I'll be right with you!"

Now walk into Koutetsu, Coal & Cedar, 5Sawyers, Blind Monk, Moneypenny or any of a dozen more including some weirder spots for a cocktail (Finnegan's Hotel are doing cool stuff along with their new Jamaican restaurant) so check out these things and you'll be safe. 


*Dot points and inspiration originally published by Lifehacker