The Salt Room Delivers The Goods for Brighton Cocktail Weekend

Did you know it was Brighton Cocktail Week from 18th-28th May? I foolishly didn’t until yesterday when I opened a card revealing a delightful pre-birthday present from my awesome older sister.

the-salt-room-restaurantShe, along with many people who have the questionable pleasure of knowing me, are aware that I do love a drink! As a result of this borderline addiction to the strong stuff  I was pleased to discover I would be attending The Salt Room that evening for a ‘Craft of The Modern Cocktail’ event.

It was put on for this gloriously boozy week that focuses on the many impressive bars, venues, mixologists and bartenders that Brighton has to offer.

I’ve been to tastings and drink events before (you may recall this dandy review ) but never one as magnificent as The Salt Room’s COTMC.

As I sipped a perfectly made Dirty Gibson waiting to be taken through to the private dining room (and yes it is hidden behind an arras!) I had a brief chat with award winning Bar Manager, Matt Ottley. He would be our guide on this fascinating tour of modern cocktail making.

18670881_10158828105835232_3891306729699438606_nI was hugely impressed with Matt, who has worked in Le Gavroche under Michel Roux Jr. This is a guy who’s not only very knowledgeable but extremely passionate about what he does. He is one of those few people in life who I genuinely believe loves his work and rightly sees it as an art form.

As our group was taken behind the arras (a word I rarely get to use unless I’m chatting about Hamlet… which is like never by the way, so you will see it being overused to my heart’s desire) we were seated in the intimate and decadently decorated area overlooking Brighton beach.

We began with a glass of prosecco and munched on in-house marinated nocellara olives and candied nuts throughout the evening.

18557077_10158828107830232_8913495388776884308_nThe following 5 cocktails were available for tasting, which are all available at the reduced price of £5 with your Brighton Cocktail Week wristband :

1: Bananegroni (My favourite of the evening.)

2: Tokyo to New York

3: Complex Cuban

4: Season’s Collins

5: Salted Happiness

I recommend trying every last one of these as they will blow the mind and tickle the taste buds of any cocktail lover. Be ye a novice or liver withered veteran there is something for everyone on this list of modernised classics.

Over the 3 hour experience Matt made an example cocktail from scratch, explained the rich history of the industry, the cocktails origins and gave a comedic telling of his career.

Although this was a special event for Brighton Cocktail Week Salt Room regularly hosts well priced, value for money cocktail experiences and supper clubs in a professional yet entertaining manner.

Overall this was a wonderful experience and ended with an unexpected flourish as I moved tipsily back through the arras. Matt answered all the groups questions and personally introduced me to new mezcals, tips and twists on classic cocktails.

To top it all off I bumped into none other than comedic legend and actor, Mr Steve Coogan of Alan Partridge fame!

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If the rest of Brighton Cocktail Weekend is anything to go by then this city is in for one hell of a treat.

 

How The Duke of York’s made me think Eurovision isn’t Garbage!

I’ve always felt the Eurovision Song Contest was a pile of piss. Countries voting politically for seemingly pointless points as ninnys and wrong’uns belt out ‘tunes’ that would make any person lobotomise themselves!

18486232_10158777036715232_2932529391906583555_nHowever this year I had the pleasure of seeing an old chum and her family who invited me to the Duke of York’s, Brighton, Eurovision Song Contest Party. Of course I was sceptical and dreading sitting through 3+ hours of Graham Norton making ‘jokes’ and explaining the unnecessarily complex voting system.

However in a strange turn of events, that probably had a large part to do with the 2 bottles of wine, delightful company and I forgot Norton is actually hilarious, I am now hooked!

As we all took our seats and began what can only be described as a booze-filled-cinema-picnic a flamboyantly camp and enigmatic MC took to the stage to explain the evening’s itinerary. Myself and the 100+ other audience moments would indeed be watching all of the contest, however we could vote ourselves and make notes as an audience, get up and take to a dance floor set up in front of the screen but most importantly not take the thing seriously at all.

Unlike any other cinematic experience I have witnessed you became fully immersed in the showmanship, idiocy, piss-takery and tongue in cheek fun that is Eurovision.

From start to finish there was cheering, booing, ridiculous puns on ‘chicken kiev’ (it was set in Kiev by the way) and some great costumes as we all banded together to watch the contest.

nintchdbpict0003090296941Why Portugal (pictured yonder) won and not Moldova I have no idea and began to wonder if there had been some political, economic or natural disaster there I was unaware of; but that’s neither here nor there. What really stood out amongst the ballads, pyrotechnics and plagiarism was how there was a diverse community of people from all over the world all in this grand cinema to have a bloody good time!

Even I, as phenomenal a dancer as I am, couldn’t help but get up and dance among the many different people all celebrating diversity, this years theme, (despite the show being hosted by 3 seemingly affluent Caucasians- a point Norton made rather amusingly at the start).

I have it on good authority that Duke of York’s will be hosting the party again in 2018 and really recommend you get a group of people to attend and just see it for yourself. It was hilarious yet incredibly moving.

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Although we didn’t win, the unity and support for our very own Lucie Jones and her impressive effort was lovely.

So, well done Duke of York’s for turning my Eurovision frown upside down with an event that is just sooooo Brighton it damn near brings a tear to your eye. I will certainly be back with a spring in my step… as long as fucking Jedward never make an appearance-pretty sure they were the ones that ruined it for me in the first place.

Bring on Eurovision ’18!

Josh McGovern + Support- A Review

On Thursday 30th March BOAB was delighted to review more of Brighton’s ever diverse music scene.  This time I had the pleasure of reviewing a Josh McGovern + Support gig presented by Redwing Events at The Hope & Ruin on Queen’s Road. Accompanying me, as guest reviewer and evening chum, was actor and children’s entertainer Mr Jonathan Craze.

Hope & Ruin’s upstairs venue space proved to be an excellent arena for this 4 act gig and although proceedings started with a smaller audience than expected it soon became rammed with music lovers of every kind listening hypnotised to each performance or moving their feet pint o’ lager in hand.

fileWe thoroughly recommend you check out all the links to these brilliantly talented musicians. but let’s begin with Lec, a young Brighton based songwriter and guitarist with a melodic alternative folk feel to his sound.

This young man had a wonderful voice which bordered on the angelic when often hitting an impressive falsetto.

His guitar work was superb and clean cut making him a very talented solo artist, who offered up an array of soporific and mesmerising original material. If I had one ‘fault’ it was that perhaps he could have done with a band or another instrument to add further depth to a clearly beautiful sound. Lec kicked things off with confidence and true skill.

file1Up next was a band that blew the audience away- 80s pop and soul inspired 4 piece, Burnz. They had a marvellous rapport with the audience and each other, offering a relaxed yet professional set of original songs that gave you the tingles. Their sound was predominantly punchy, loud, cleverly crafted and well-executed as each band member added another layer to a rich hubbub.

Although an original sound, in as much one can create these days, there was a charming almost nostalgic feel to Burnz that had hints of the Stone Roses, Mike & The Mechanics and The Darkness. They managed to build an enjoyable suspense and anticipation leaving all of us wanting more. These guys are special and stood out in Mr Craze’s mind especially.

file2Charlie and the Villas created a dream like ambience that we could only describe as the humid calm before a storm. Clearly lead singer Charlie and the band are talented and very able but there was a slightly disinterested feel to them that the audience couldn’t shake.

They are certainly a good, even great, band and took clear inspiration from Sampha, City and Colour, The Beatles and The Style Council.

Sadly though the increased volume of the band and an eventual decision to lower the harmonies volume meant that poor Charlie’s subtle, yet beautiful voice and original lyrics were sometimes lost to its instrumental counterparts.  I would very much like to see these guys again as they’re clearly onto something and their recorded sessions are very impressive. I believe they will be ones to watch as their confidence increases.

file3Now where does one begin when speaking about Josh McGovern? This young man who is soon to release his debut EP commanded the stage with the support of an awe-inspiring 6 piece band. Each part of the original music and lyrics was carefully crafted and designed to produce this raw, powerful, sexy and deep sound that reminded us of Hozier or Rag’n’Boneman. You can see why Josh and his band were headlining!

Of course, everyone who performed was worth watching in many respects, but something about the the confident feel of this band and their passionate, skillful delivery of a heavy, day-dreaming Americana, filtered through a distinctly English folk sensibility was sublime.

The earthy voice of McGovern mixed with haunting female and male backing vocals (pleased to see the lead singer of Burnz reappear to pick up that mantle), amazing guitar riffs and some essential drumming support culminated in a show stopping, otherworldly feel that transcended the venue itself.

I cannot speak highly enough about Josh and the band, they filled the room with a palpable buzz and tied all the musical elements of the evening together. If you get the chance to see this lot live don’t hesitate for a second as you will regret not being able to say ‘I watched those guys for a fiver in the Hope & Ruin before they were ridiculously famous and went platinum and now all their tickets for the O2 have sold out…” 

It was a smashing evening that bought together a mix of musical talents, styles and people of all ages.

As always BOAB readers keep checking out this fair cities musical delights, as lots of these musicians will be performing in a variety of venues either for free or at very reasonable prices over the coming weeks.

Huge thanks to Mr Craze, Tiggy Saucell, Redwing and The Hope & Ruin.

Gorran Kendall at Patterns- A Review

It feels that life of late, with its many arseholeries, has been getting in the way of me exploring more of Brighton’s effervescent music scene and presenting it to fine BOAB readers like yourself. So, I was thrilled when invited to Patterns on Marine Parade last night to bear witness to some impressive live music ripe for the reviewing.

Presented by QM Records, an independent label founded by the famous Normanton Street, the night would feature music across 2 floors with the following main acts: Hava, The Upside Down, Gorran Kendall, Sami James & Matt Murphy.

I was attending predominantly to review Gorran Kendall and his band who I’ve seen busking around Brighton. However the night turned out to be rather special, with all acts I managed to catch bringing something fresh, inventive and entertaining to the table.

Gorran, who swaggered enigmatically into the spotlight has an impressive stage presence and obvious crowd pleasing charisma that reminded me of characters forged from the mind of literary iconoclast Jack Kerouac. The Brighton based lad was surrounded by an enviably nomadic aura further confirmed by his current situation of “getting by busking and playing gigs for a living.”

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He plays and write songs both acoustically and with a full band. His style incorporates both the contemporary and popular with obvious roots in folk, country and rock music. He clearly takes inspiration from The Sex Pistols, David Bowie and Bob Dylan to create poignant, punchy and at times hard hitting songs.

The set was predominantly fast, loud and made you want to move, but what stuck in my mind as I sat, classic can of red stripe in hand, gazing up at this striking musical titan was just how little anything seemed to matter. This gravelly powerful voice, stream of raw guitar riffs and heavy drum beats were providing a form of musical escapism for everyone in the club.

The mundane aforementioned arseholerie (this will catch on as a phrase btw) was pushed from thought as I tapped my tootsies to the sound of the band and the ever increasing buzz of the Patterns crowd.

Gorran and the 4 other band members not only sounded the part, showcasing original material, but looked and acted it too. They dressed well, in that wonderfully carefree look only thinner people over 6ft can achieve and had an amazing rapport with the crowd. A highlight for me was Gorran playing his guitar with such vigour he took a string off the thing. However with professionalism and bit of tongue in cheek humour cracked on and the band jammed away while he fixed the issue.

Overall it was a fun, carefree evening of sublime music and one that will stick with me for sometime.

All the bands I saw were insanely talented but I thoroughly recommend you check you Gorran’s SoundCloud, Facebook and YouTube pages to get a full range of his and the band’s talent, and any upcoming gigs.

Go Globalls, Brighton

Do you like dinosaurs? Do you like golf? Do you like UV shizzle?

If you answered yes to all three questions, or yes to the first two and a tentative maybe to the third, then we have the perfect attraction for you…

The brilliantly named, Globalls, is a crazy golf experience like no other! Instead of the usual mini-windmills or clown face obscuring your hole (not like that), they have dinosaurs. Big bloody dinosaurs that not only try and prevent your shot but are covered in an array of UV paint patterns.

Although not strictly accurate in their size and colour, completing 18 holes of golf surrounded by a variety of triceratops and velociraptors is a heck load of fun, and an experience not enough people have enjoyed.

For just £5 per person you get your neon ball, scorecard, clipboard and glowing ended club and can pay a little extra for UV glasses, which we did of course!

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It’s a trippy yet very fun affair from the get go. While waiting in the little reception the staff let you know what to expect and how it all works. This is done in a very polite, fun, succinct manner devoid of patronisation; which you do want as a 26 year old adult going crazy golfing. The whole thing just makes you think ‘why has no one mixed the Jurassic era and golfing before now?’

Globalls is understandably a very popular haunt, being one of the better Brighton Marina attractions, but people are pretty patient if you’re taking your time on a hole, or you can just stop after 11 shots of twatting an Iguanodon in the face with your ball.

The Ninny and I went with my sister and brother-in-law but there were people of all ages laughing, admiring the oddly realistic neon creations and pictures are an absolute must, in fact staff encourage it. How often do you get to stand side on in front of a velociraptor using a club as a rifle and whisper “clever girl” before pretending to be attacked?

Anyway, shoddy Jurassic Park re-enactments aside, Globalls is a bargain, so much fun and actually quite challenging in parts. Overall it gets my rawr-ing approval!  

The Perfect Saturday in Brighton

Brighton newcomer and trainee journalist, Lucy Maddox looks at our city through fresh eyes…

Being somewhat of a newbie to Brighton, having only moved here in September, I did not feel fully confident at playing host to some guests at the weekend.

However, from what I know of this city so far, I should have realised that Brighton would do all the hard work for me, all my guests and I needed to do was show up.

Let’s get cultural…

I have seen the ornate and impressive pavilion from the outside many times since moving here and I thought it was about time to have a look inside.

My first thought (as a poor student) was ‘I bet it costs a lot to get in’, but actually we managed to get reasonable prices.
Both my guests qualified for a concession, so got in for £10.50 instead of £12.30, and lucky little me, as a B&H resident I got in for the bargain price of £6.15! (If you are a resident, make sure you have some proof of this).

The experience was a little surreal, and pretty chilly (I think they need to turn the heating on) but interesting nonetheless.

The pavilion was built for King George IV who was fascinated by the orient (despite the fact he had never been). It was designed to look like India from the outside and China on the inside, which seems a little out of place by the English seaside, but hey, it’s quirky and the building has become an icon of the city.

The interior seemed very over-the-top in its opulence and certainly not to my taste, but like any historic building it is interesting to glimpse into the homes and party pads of the rich and famous and get a sense of how they lived.

Definitely worth a visit.

Let’s eat…

Time now for a spot of lunch.

I had been keen for a long time to check out Foodilic, both because I had walked past several times and been tempted by the scrummy looking salads in the window, and I had heard rave reviews about this place.

We ambled up North Street from the pavilion and arrived at our destination.

Satisfied with the signage outside that informed us we could enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet for £6.95, we headed in.

Guided to a table tucked away in a cosy corner up in the roof, we were given a drinks menu filled with a great selection of smoothies, juices and hot beverages and told we could help ourselves to as much food as we wanted downstairs – ideal.

Having ordered our drinks (I opted for a carrot & orange juice – yummy and good for you, a no brainer) we could then head down and pile our plates high with a selection of beef stew, chicken wings, mashed potato, sauteed potatoes, sweet potatoes and an array of ‘super food’ salads- what a dream – on a cold wintery day, this is just what the doctor ordered.

Let’s browse the Lanes…

After this leisurely (and extremely filling) lunch, we were ready to head out and check out some of Brighton’s quirky shopping centre.

The Lanes may be narrow and crowded but there is always a nice buzz and a vast selection of shops to browse from the sublime (jewellers upon jewellers) to the ridiculous (a doggy dressing up shop).
There is a little something for everyone — a chocolate lovers dream to stumble upon Choccywoccydoodah and a bakers heaven to come across Angel Food Bakery…but that’s just me, in case you couldn’t tell I love food!

Let’s get sophisticated…

As we emerged from the crowds into the open space of Brighton Place we were drawn into Artique Galleries as it appeared to be a hive of activity.

As it turned out, there was a special exhibition of work by Sherree Valentine, with Ms Valentine herself in attendance.

We were greeted with sparkling wine and encouraged to stay and enjoy the art.

So we did.

It was very much my cup of tea, gorgeous oil paintings full of texture – not unlike Jack Vettriano in style, but softer and more feminine.

We were told that the gallery had been waiting for this exhibition for a couple of years now, with Sherree Valentine being an up and coming impressionistic artist, and the pieces were selling fast.

I gave myself a pat on the back, imagining that I had set up this event especially for my guests.

In reality Brighton had pulled it out of the bag for me and given us this extra special treat for our day out, but no-one needs to know that, right?

We have to check out the Pier…

Always good for a spot of sea air, we headed to Brighton’s famous pier.

As we walked along – stopping off for an obligatory photo where you stick you face in the hole so it looks like you are a fat lady in a bikini – we were serenaded by the Happy Birthday song blasting out of the speakers for about 10 minutes (I am assuming someone was having a birthday party in the arcade!!?) before being given yet more free entertainment when we saw a small murmuration of starlings.

My guests happen to be bird lovers, so once again I passed this off as a special treat just for them – cheers, Brighton.

Shot of tea anyone?

The day was drawing to a close now, getting dark as it does at about 4.30pm, so we headed back into town to grab a shot of tea.

I love Whittards because I love tea and I love hot chocolate.

Every time you visit this fine establishment they are offering samples of different flavoured teas and I always enjoy trying them all.

Plus they also have samples of their utterly delectable Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate! If you have not done so already, get down there and try some.

And now goodbye…

…it was time for my guests to head home after a thrifty day full of unconventional ways of wining and dining.

A good time was had by all.

Brighton, I thank you!

Spreading MODness in Brighton

We have recently joined the MOD revolution and are getting behind our new favourite pizza joint on their quest to spread MODness (definition: (v) The ripple effect of simply doing the right thing).

Over the next week, MOD Pizza will be donating £1 of every pizza purchased across all its UK and US restaurants to a local charity partner.

In Brighton, the ‘MOD Squad’ are teaming up with Rocking horse, a charity dedicated to making life better for sick children in Sussex.

MOD is passionate about giving back to the communities that have welcomed its super fresh, super tasty, super fast pizzas into their ever expanding bellies – and this is just one of the reasons we’re behind MOD.

Now, Brighton all you need to do is shimmy on down to the Marina, maybe get your golf on alongside some glowing dinosaurs, get yourself nice and hungry and then chow down in the smug knowledge that you’re doing something right.

Do the right thing, guys. And share your pizza pics with us over on Twitter while you’re at it using the hashtag #SpreadingMODness!

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