Take a look at Ipswich bar's incredible cocktails
- Credit: David Chatfield
In lockdown many of us went nuts for cocktails. If we weren't building bars and pubs in our back gardens, we were stocking up our spirit collection indoors, attending Zoom mixing classes, or ordering pre-made, premium drinks.
If you're keen to go 'out out' for cocktails again, the owners of The Forge Kitchen, a restaurant and bar close to Ipswich Waterfront, think they've got some of the most interesting, theatrical and delicious in the town on their current menu - including one served smoking inside a lantern!
"We refresh our offering seasonally," says Robyn, "and we really love pushing the boundaries a little further each time in terms of imagination. Being independent, there are quite literally no limits to the weird and wacky ideas we can come up with.
"Our drinks are built around a story, and the concept of a somewhat mysterious Mr Bertram Black - an eccentric, curious, rather intriguing, other-worldly blacksmith extraordinaire. We’ve had some real fun developing our leading man and drinks that tie into his peculiar world, hopefully bringing a real experience when guests visit. Something a little different they'll remember."
Robyn and Grant's background is in theatre and performance, so offering immersive drinks that 'take customers somewhere else' is, say the couple, really rewarding.
And it's a family affair too.
The metal cocktail holders and vessels at the restaurant are individually hand-crafted by brother-in-law Joshua DeLisle, a highly respected blacksmith and luxury metalwork artist.
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Eight must-try drinks include:
Twilight Tincture - Gin, apple and pink peppercorn tincture, lime, sugar and tonic, served in a flickering, smoking lantern.
Like a Moth to a Flame - Hibiscus-infused gin, burnt grapefruit syrup, Aperol, lemon, lime and prosecco, served in a glass held by a lit metal moth.
The Smoking Teapot - Prosecco, light rum, elderflower, pomegranate and cucumber shrub, apple and lime. Served in a smoking teapot.
Forager's Find - Tequila, basil and thyme-infused orange liqueur, lime, apple and cucumber bitters.
Pop Goes the Weasel - Lychee-infused vodka, lemon, lime, coconut and sugar with a poppable scented smoke bubble.
Rosemary-Smoked Manhattan - Bourbon, sweet vermouth, bitters and rosemary smoke.
Last Leaf - Cognac, Port and dark chocolate bitters
If the Hat Fits - Spiced rum, dark rum and overproof rum with banana liqueur, lime, pineapple, orange and blackberries - served in a smoking metal top hat with feather and 'Bertram's' playing cards.
Robyn says the bar team 'don't skimp' on spirits in the concoctions, and adds that many of the tinctures and spirits have been blended in-house. "We pore over our drinks for weeks before we launch them so we achieve not only fun and theatre elements, but also nail the perfect blend and flavour balance to do justice to the skill and quality of the mixology craft that's gone into each one. They can be a bit on the boozy side...but we've had no complaints so far!"
Pair your cocktails with a bite from the menu - from home-smoked meat, fish and vegetables to tapas-style small bites, handmade pizzas and burgers, 28-day dry-aged steaks and sharing cuts.
It's five years in business for The Forge Kitchen in 2022, and Robyn says they're feeling positive. "Despite what has been a really trying couple of years for so many, for us and the hospitality sector as a whole, we are excited about the future and continue to be blown away by, and are so grateful for, the support we have had.
"The cogs never stop whirring of course so you can expect the next batch of new and equally curious craft cocktail creations relatively soon as we head towards the spring. We can’t wait to welcome more of the wonderful people of Ipswich and Suffolk for a try of an intriguing tipple or two."