My good friend Sally got tickets for a preview of Elegy at the Donmar, which is everything that Paul Taylor said in that Independent review there, and also felt very personal to me. Makes you think; makes you cry: Elegy is the perfect night out! No, really: it is!

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Amaretto Sour at Augustus Harris

Sally and I topped and tailed this challenging, intimate, compelling piece of theatre with visits to the great little Augustus Harris wine bar.  Sally knew it already. We had some lovely cheese with nice wine before the play, incidentally meeting Janie Dee and (John) Aden Gillett who had the table next to us, and were really nice, normal people, which is always a great thing to be able to say about people you meet who are off the telly/stage.

We fell in love with the staff team and decided to go back there after the play,  We had fabulous cocktails.  Sally had a negroni to start and I had a very pleasant rosemary flavoured gin thing.  In due course we agreed we could handle one more and our lovely Milanese cocktail maker invited us to go off-menu so as to allow him to exert his creativity.  Sally challenged him to stay with the Campari base, which resulted in an intense orangey bitter cocktail which, for me, explained Campari better than anything I’ve ever imbibed before, including things I have tried beside the beautiful lake Maggiore.

I got this amaretto sour, pictured to the right.  Gorgeous. The Milanese mixologist heard my request for a cocktail that was not too sweet, so he put more lemon juice in the mix.  But the biggest difference is in using freshly squeezed orange juice.  I won’t name the place where I tried an “amaretto sour” a few days later, last Friday.  It was an OK drink by the way, but it used off the shelf, concentrated orange juice.  Such a difference. This Augustus Harris Amaretto Sour gets prizes: limpid, fresh, light, and with that nutty thing. Freshly-squeezed orange juice is crucial!

IMG_4966Only a few days later I meet with some other good friends: Sarah and Roy.  A great day that involved much catching up and mutual appreciation (we have been very good friends for IMG_4971a very long time, but only meet once a year if we’re lucky) and also a good deal of drinking!  The Waldorf Hilton has a stunning cocktail bar (although I can’t believe that I’m putting their url online without some sort of click through pay-back!). It is where we start our rare meet-ups and I have had some of my best cocktails there.  I do like what they do with bitters.

Sarah’s drink, to the north of this photo to the left, involves actual gold leaf! The pic to the right gives half a hint of half an idea of what it looks like to see that gorgeous drink being stirred.

My drink (to the south of the photo to the left) is a complex mix of rum, apple juice, lime juice, sugar, egg white, basil and celery, and utterly wonderful.

I feel extraordinarily lucky to be in the tiny minority of the world’s population to be able occasionally to experience such pleasant sensations.