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July 16, 2009

The capital’s cocktail bars have been a flurry of activity recently. Rick’s re-opened on Frederick Street last night after a £150,000 refit. The new interior takes its inspiration from 1950s Madrid and Cuba and features a new Cabinet Room where private parties can call on the services of their own, dedicated mixologist.

When Rick’s first opened in 2000, it quickly established a rep for its cocktails and part of the refurb’s remit is to try and keep the bar at the head of the cocktail competition. Mal Spence is the man with a Boston shaker at Rick’s and he has been devising new drinks and techniques to make the relaunch go with a swing.

A stickler for detail, Mal has been concentrating on the effects that different types of ice might have on different drinks. To ensure the perfect mix, Rick’s staff have apparently been busy hand-freezing blocks of ice before cutting, cracking and shaving the individual chunks to suit each drink. One imagines much the same sort of thing was happening shortly before the fall of Rome.

Another new feature is the introduction of a two foot long cocktail shaker. The cobbler shaker comes from New York and is designed to mix a gallon of drinks at a time. The plan is to pour the contents of the shaker in to a vast punchbowl into which drinkers can dip crystal goblets.

The mighty cobbler in action
The mighty cobbler in action

Also in the booze news from Edinburgh is Ryan Chetiyawardana, a bar tender from Bramble cellar bar. A couple of weeks back, Ryan beat off competition from the cream of the country’s bar tenders to take the crown at the UK leg of the World Class drinks tournament. You can read about the cocktail that scooped the prize here.

He has gone on to represent the UK at the World Class Finals which are taking place in London today. Ryan is up against seventeen other ace mixologists from around the world as they jostle to impress a judging team which includes Marco Pierre White and cocktail gurus Dale Degroff and Salvatore Calabrese. It will be a huge feather in the cap for the leisure industry in Scotland if Ryan triumphs. How cool would it be to walk into Bramble Bar and ask for the best cocktail in the world as made by the planet’s boss barman?