Liam Rudden: Christmas cocktails at the Hilton Carlton

The Nineteen Hundred Bar and Lounge in the Hilton Carlton Hotel, North Bridge
The Nineteen Hundred Bar and Lounge in the Hilton Carlton Hotel, North Bridge
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DON’T underestimate the impact of the free wifi at the Hilton Carlton Hotel, North Bridge.

General manager Claire Livingston knows what people want - at the Carlton, one click is all it takes to get connected.

I discovered this while pinging images to Instagram from the hotel’s new Nineteen Hundred Bar and Lounge during a 1920’s Christmas Cocktail Masterclass, courtesy of Edinburgh Gin.

Arriving at the hotel, food and beverage manager Colin Brand was on hand to welcome us to the newly refurbished bar, a welcome sanctuary and an oasis of calm, far removed from the festive madness and freezing temperatures of Princes Street.

As we settled at the end of the bar, Kyle Jamieson, our master mixologist, talked us through the process of making a Bees Knees, a fresh festive drink, set to be added to the hotel’s cocktail menu for December.

Want to make your own? Simple: Take two tsp honey and two tsp water stirred until dissolved, pour into 50ml Edinburgh Christmas Gin, add 15ml lemon juice and shake over ice, garnish with a lemon twist.

Of course, Christmas and cocktails are a dangerous combination, thankfully head chef Stewart Jarvie was on hand with nibbles. Actually, with quite spectacular nibbles.

Along with a basket of roasted fennel and walnut bread came the most delicious freshly made ham hock terrine, served with crostini and whole grain mustard chutney.

Heaven, and ideal before trying Kyle’s next creation, a Cannonball Rickey, which packed a subtle punch, but then Edinburgh Gin’s Navy strength Cannonball Gin is 57.2% proof.

Mixed with 15ml sugar syrup, 15ml Lime Juice, and topped with crushed ice, soda and a drizzle with raspberry liqueur, it proved eminently drinkable.

Stewart was once again on hand, this time with a Charcuterie sharing platter comprising sun dried tomatoes, olives, breads, apple and fig chutney, chorizo, smoked Scottish venison and Iberico ham. Excellent.

The Elderflower Sour, ‘a flip’ cocktail, should have been the last of the day. Here’s how; 50ml Edinburgh Gin, 15ml lemon juice, 25ml Elderflower Liqueur and 15ml simple syrup, shaken and served over ice cubes, garnished with a cherry and lemon twist.

That should have been the last but, as I’d passed on dessert, head barman Ricky who’d discoverd my love of Edinburgh Gin’s Rhubarb and Ginger Liquer, produced a Rhubarb Fizz. It would have been rude to refuse.

You too can experience the Hilton Carlton’s Cocktail Masterclass and Pairing Menu. It’s available for groups at £25 a head, which includes three cocktails and a grazing menu.

Perfect for a very merry Christmas night out with friends, contact the hotel on 0131-472 300 or edinburghcarlton.info@hilton.com to book. Bottoms up!