Quintessentially British Cocktails @ Her Majesty’s Secret Service

posted in: Other Drams, Shop Reviews | 0

Economics is not a subject that interests me, it’s difficult to say why exactly, but maybe it is all the unfeasibly large numbers and inexorably complex theory, which seems ultimately to end in the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. However one aspect of economics that does puzzle, intrigue and interest me is just how do seaside gift shops manage to not only continually exist, but in fact expand in number in an almost unstoppable way?

After many years of research I have realised that there is a typically British conspiracy underway.

As British people, we instinctively know that Britain is an interesting, cultural diverse country with a huge history and dynamic future, but that overwhelms us, so we seek to return to imagined simpler, better times. One way of doing this is visiting the many British seaside towns that seem to be stuck firmly in the past. All around the country, casually dotted between dynamic interesting places, are those seaside towns that just got lost. In each and every one, you will find a version of “Forever Summer”, where you can purchase all the essential items needed on a British Summer Holiday:

Comedy Umbrella, with a baking themed decoration – British Sunshine only lasts for between 3.7 and 4.5 hours per summer, so it is essential to prepare for all the seasons in one day. We find that wearing thermal underwear, shorts, a waterproof jacket and sun hat means that you are well served.

A decorative name plate, made with only the finest seashells – This is in case the general ennui associated with a British holiday, allows your mind to drift off so far that you forget not only where you are, but what your name is and whether you even existed in the first place.

Postcards with offensive slogan that sticks it to the modern “PC culture” – An essential part of a British holiday is sending a swathe of lies about how much you are enjoying time with your family, how good the weather is and what a fantastic place you are visiting to your family who are back at home enjoying their lives.

Nautical themed wooden decorative item, preferably made of drift wood – Nothing says “We had a fantastic holiday” more than bedecking your bathroom in bits of wood that should actually be burnt in a fire.

If when you get back from your holiday, you still need to explore more of Britain, then Bristol has the cocktail bar for you.

Review: Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Clifton Down

Booze Type: Modern British Cocktails

Time and Day Visited: Thursday about 8pm

With: The Dram Team aka Messrs Chris and Jamie

Cost: ££ out of £££££

Staff: Incredibly welcoming, relaxed and super passionate about what they do, which shows in what they serve.

Venue: Relaxed cocktail bar, with a secret speak easy type vibe, although defiantly less pretentious and more fun than some that I have been to in the past. Seating is small booth type desks and there are some tables for larger groups. Definitely somewhere to book, so that you avoid missing out.

Glassware: Bespoke to each cocktail, as you can see in the photos.

Thoughts: I love a good cocktail and we are so well served by fantastic cocktail bars in Bristol that you could go to a new one at least every night of the week, so to stand out from the crowd, whilst still accommodating a big enough audience is a very difficult balance to strike. What I think stands out, even from my very poorly taken photos, is the level of skill, attention to detail and the effervescent levels of fun that you encounter at HMSS. It is a cool venue, bedecked out in all the usual decor of a cool bar, but it isn’t in anyway stuffy. The staff all made us feel welcome, explained things clearly and spoke with passion about each drink that they presented to us. They clearly love their booze and this shows in what they serve. Each of the cocktails that we had was tasty, booze led, but well balanced and the lovely little touches in each drink really make it a riot of fun and colour.

The new menu imbues the experience with pathos, drawing your memory to typically British things and locations, which makes the drinking new and ever so off the wall drinks accessible to even the most new of cocktail drinkers.

On the evening I tried the following cocktails:

Angel of Mercy

Aroma: Black treacle and ginger nuts.

Flavour: Creamy, nutty and velvet sweet. Tastes like a pint of mild in an elegant glass. The Billy Elliot of cocktails!

There is a hidden treat, but I won’t ruin it by telling you what to expect. Just look carefully is all I will say!

Pen & Ink

Aroma: Strawberry Jelly Cubes as they dissolve into freshly boiled water.

Flavour: Syrupy sweet strawberries, gently warming, oaken tannins and rich, but light red wine spices. This is the cocktail that mulled wine wishes it was.


Aroma: Lime, lemon and floral honey.

Flavour: Creamy, boozy coconuts, which give way to an oaken, nutty whisky and a rich, thick heart.

If I can sum up the night in one sentence, it would be; As soon as we stood up to leave, I was planning my return.

Perfect for… enjoying with friends, on a date and pretty much any occasion that you need cheering up!

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