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The Barman - A cocktail of events

My personal experience with cocktails is solely derived from the welcome drinks at hotels when we have been abroad, such as Planter’s Punch in the Caribbean, Pisco Sour in Chile and Caipirinha in Brazil.

Although I enjoyed then, it was back to the beer in the bar after we had settled in.

Sometimes I glance through the list of the cocktails available in the more up market pubs I visit, perhaps in search of a little snigger at the names loaded with sexual innuendo.

However, things are about to change and Lynn is taking cocktails seriously. I have previously advocated Lynn developing an ale trail to encourage customers to visit local pubs, and at last there is an event coming up, except it’s not beer but cocktails that are on the menu.

From February 23 to March 4, Lynn’s first cocktail festival is taking place. You can purchase your wristband for a fiver and during the week visit a number of different place to receive special cocktail related offers around town.

These include discounted drinks, 2 for one offers, specially designed cocktails and more. As I understand it, the participating establishments are Goldings, Archers, The Bank House, Bar and Beyond, Dr Thirsty’s, Marriots, The Nip and Growler, Massey and Co, The Rathskeller and the Soul Kitchen.

On Saturday, March 3, there is a walk with Dr Paul Richards through three hundred years of the history of drink in Kings Lynn, starting at 3pm at the Duke’s Head and making its way to the Hanse House on the South Quay.

Goldings are to host ‘The History of Gin’ and there will be live music at the Rathskeller. The organisers have even contacted me and invited me to participate by giving a talk.

What do I know about cocktails? Not much, but a quick internet search revealed some of the fascinating history of cocktails. I found that the origin of the name, first recorded in 1852 is obscure, and that they were originally a mixture of spirits, sugar, water and bitters.

As the 19th century progressed, more complex recipes were developed, and the name ‘Old Fashioned’ was used to refer to those with the original ingredients.

Highballs were those which contained only a distilled spirit and mixer, while the first cocktail party was held in 1917 at a mansion in St Louis which is now the residence of the Archbishop.

Interesting, but perhaps not enough for a talk, so instead I have decided that I will offer to repeat my presentation to the Civic Society last year, so as I write, the plan is for me speak at True’s Yard on Monday, February 26, at 6pm and you can come along and hear all about the ‘Decline of the English Pub’.

Meanwhile, I salute the organiser’s ambition and hope the cocktail week goes well. I doubt that I personally will be converted from beer, but hope to support some of the events and at least watch others sampling the exotic delights with a pint in my hand.

There is no doubt that pubs have been declining, so it’s good to see a bit of co-operation between different venues and I hope that this is just the beginning of some exciting events.

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