A few Fridays ago, Sarah and I visited The Old Stocks Inn in Stow-on-the-Wold for dinner and a rather exciting sounding Cocktail Making Masterclass. We had been meaning to go for a while, especially as their head chef is Wayne Sullivan who did so brilliantly on the last season of Masterchef: The Professionals, but kept being ill and having to cancel. Luckily, this time we both kept the dreaded lurgy at bay and boy were we glad we did.
Typically, the one time we made it to The Old Stocks, Wayne was actually on a much deserved holiday. We needn’t have worried though as the rest of the team still managed to produce some delicious plates of food. To start, we were brought freshly baked bread with an unusual chicken butter which made for a light yet tasty alternative to a paté. Having come straight from work, we were a bit rushed for time and sadly only managed one course.
Sarah had spring vegetable gnocchi, packed with fresh flavours and very prettily presented, as well as a side of particularly good truffle fries. She was still talking about this meal a week later so you can assume it was pretty special. I followed my usual instincts and went for the burger; unusually the Old Stocks Inn allows you to add your toppings for free so I went all out. The meat was moist and well seasoned, and balanced well with a charcoal mayonnaise. Yes, I did say charcoal mayonnaise. Not something I have seen before but the oil is infused with charcoal and for this particular dish, it works very well and brings a novel twist to what is usually a fairly standard dish.
During the meal, we enjoyed people watching across The Square. The Old Stocks Inn has a perfect location and the decor is very comfortable and luxurious without being stuffy, so it would be a great place to while away a few hours. We were both pretty sad that we didn’t have time for the amazing sounding desserts but hey, at least we have a good excuse to come back again soon!
For the second part of the evening, we moved to a comfortable function room where we met up with our friends Roseann from Honeybourne Line and her husband, Kingsley (Leather). Our hosts for the evening were Pete, head barman at The Old Stocks Inn, and General Manager, Charlotte. They were both great fun and really welcoming, so before the cocktails got shaking we knew we were in for a good evening.
It is worth saying at this point that although we all love drinking cocktails, our attempts at making them at home are somewhat haphazard. I’m sure you are probably the same. Ingredients get thrown in, spirits are liberally poured and everything gets a good shake. Or at least I thought it was a good shake. Turns out I’ve been doing it wrong.
We began by making apple daiquiris, with Pete demonstrating the technique, then everybody having a go at their own. Whilst I could easily have followed the recipe by myself Pete’s insightful tips, such as using two different strainers to catch the large ice cubes and smaller ice shards, really made the difference and meant that we turned out 4 pretty consistent cocktails. Pete had another helpful tip for separating the two halves of the cocktail shaker; everyone had been struggling up until this point until he showed us the knack.
We then moved onto a fun tequila sunrise style mocktail. This was very simple in theory but Pete kicked it up several notches by using a whipped cream dispenser to produce a strawberry foam topping. Sarah put her cake decorating skills to good use, piping a neat foam on top, whilst mine was somewhat “artistic”. It was great fun though and we were all like little kids as we squirted foam out of the canister.
Stirred, not shaken…
Finally, we moved onto martinis which everyone thoroughly enjoyed making (and drinking). First up was a quick, easy and delicious espresso martini. We then tackled the age old question; should martinis be shaken or stirred? To answer it once and for all, we made a martini both ways. We were all rather surprising at how differently they turned out; the shaken martini is quite cloudy and is nowhere near as smooth. Sorry Mr. Bond, for all your suaveness, you’ve been ordering it wrong all these years.
Pete answered questions as we went along, even masterfully attempting to concoct a tea martini recipe for me on the spot. After the masterclass, we ended up staying to chat with Pete and Charlotte as we were having such a great time. Having experienced the masterclass, I’m confident our cocktails will now actually taste like they should. We’d definitely recommend it and can’t wait to see what other fun events The Old Stocks Inn put on. I’m already fancying their cheese and wine tasting evening in collaboration with The Cotswold Cheese Company.
Tell me more about the Old Stocks Inn
The Old Stocks Inn is a 17th century coaching inn located right in the middle of Stow-on-the-Wold on The Square. It offers boutique bedrooms, excellent food and drink, and even a ski lodge in winter. For more information, visit The Old Stocks Inn’s website or check out their social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.