Who said anything about #hurricanebawbag? It takes more than 90mph gale-force winds and a storm to keep Yelp Elites from an evening of bourbon imbibing, cocktails and Christmas cheer (complete with one Scrooge). There were no sparkly red shoes and Toto was left at home, but the Edinburgh Elites braved the storm for a night of bourbon tasting with Maker's Maker at The Bon Vivant's Companion!
It didn't take Louise C long to get into the spirit: 'What is better to warm you up after being brave enough to leave your nice, sheltered, dry flat than a nice wee welcome glass of port, and then several lovely bourbons?!' Making their way to The Bon Vivant's Companion, the yelpers tripped down the cobbled, romantic and wonderful Thistle Street, full of some of Edinburgh's best kept secret restaurants and bars. The Companion is the relatively new sister-store of The Bon Vivant, selling a whole range of unusual and specially sourced wines, beers, champagne and spirits.
Greeted upstairs with a complimentary taste of some Malbec port or white wine from the Companion staff, downstairs May was busy laying out the delectable nibbles and cocktails in the cosy, cave-like tasting rooms whilst Jane set up the School of Yelp Bourbon Tasting classroom. It was Gillian M's first proper Yelp Event, and first time in The Bon Vivant too – 'but it won't be my last. It was lovely to come in and be greeted by the manager with a glass of wine. The shop looks amazing and I'm keen to go back for a better look at what they have.'
Making their way down the spiral staircase to the tasting rooms below, they were treated to an Old Fashioned and some nibbles. The Bon Vivant bar next door serve bar bites from £1 for any slightly pekish customers. With a daily changing menu, testament to the freshness of the produce, that night it was haggis bon bons with a green pesto, hot smoked salmon, haloumi and sweet potato skewers, croquettes and a few others that disappeared faster than you could say "nom".
Soon after the yelpers took their seats next door. Did you know if you put an iron nail in a bottle of bourbon it'll go black? Or tap-water containing iron in the bourbon has much the same effect? (Teenage children stealing their parents alcohol, take note). Or that there's a panel of Maker's Mark employees who make up the taste testing panel and if only 2 of them can tell the difference between a stock and new batch, the new batch is binned? Bourbon distilling at Maker's Mark is no light matter.
To Kerrin R's 'enchantment, Jane Conner, the chosen ghost of Bourbon Christmas, spared no words in the exposition of past faults of American Bourbon, present exploits of Maker's Mark, and future delights of the Bourbon industry.' It was quite an evening of education. Tasting four different ages of Maker's Mark, the yelpers all had their personal favourites. From the 'tequila-like' white dog 1-year-old to the 'creme brulée-like' Maker's Mark itself, through to the much darker over-aged bourbon.
But there was also much merriment-making! Never one to miss an opportunity to get festive, yelpers came dressed in their finest Christmas sweaters and tinsel, with our resident Scrooge looking suitably glum for the majority of the evening. That is, until the Maker's Mark Christmas Cocktail was shaken and served. As Kerrin 'Scrooge' R recounts: 'Four shots of Marker's Mark in various maturation stages later, and Scrooge began to forget his grumpy state. To complete this transformation a Christmas Cocktail made with Marker's Mark, sugar syrup, half and half, and nutmeg was served with festive enthusiasm.'
As the yelpers compared reactions to the aged bourbons, sipped merrily on their creamy, Christmas cocktails and decided whether or not to buy the Malbec port upstairs (they did, quite a few bottles of it) it felt like Christmas had come just a little bit early. The Bon Vivant's Companion host many regular tasting and events, and after last night Louise C advises 'if you get the chance to go to one of these nights, it's not one to miss! Although if you are as easily tempted as I am don't spend too much time looking round the shop or you will end up spending all your Christmas money, the selection is that good!'
There were Christmas sweaters, there were Christmas cocktails and amidst all the imbibing, nibbles, cocktails and good ol' laughs we even managed to make Scrooge crack a smile.
A big thank you to Jane Conner from Maker's Mark for the fascinating and delicious tasting of Maker's Mark, and sharing her mom's favourite Christmas cocktail recipe; to Stu and May at The Bon Vivant and staff at the Companion for hosting and all the welcome wines; to all the yelpers who came despite the storm and brough the festive cheer; and to Robin M for the photies!
Have a peek at the rest of the photies, read the reviews and if you were there write your own, follow The Bon Vivant's Companion on Twitter and Facebook, find The Bon Vivant on Facebook, read about Maker's Mark youselves and find out more about Yelp Edinburgh and the Elite Squad here!
Until 2012, have yourselves a merry little Christmas!
Jenny L & (some of) the Yelp Edinburgh Family Christmas Portrait
Yelp Edinburgh Community Manager