A great mixologist keeps all of your senses engaged and enthralled, while the trendy ones seem like they raided a shop in Brooklyn and dumped 5 weird bottles of bitters into a vessel. The great ones keep beautiful presentation in mind, while the trendy ones recreate the drinks of a century ago that look like dishwater in a coupe glass. After a long day of touring and lighter dinner, I felt like having a relaxing nightcap at the Quinta da Marinha’s Trent Jones Bar. Honestly, I was shocked at how special it was!
A luxury golf resort’s bar has to have quality stock — fresh beers, top shelf spirits — but, they’re not usually known for their mixed drinks. The bar, complete with live piano music, is on the garden level of the hotel. It appears to be patronized mostly by golfers there, which is a bit of a shame: everyone should go there!
Ricardo Cardim presides as impressario over young, but eager to learn junior bartenders and bar backs. His gentle reminders to the staff, “smiles, smiles” as I took their photos gave me a Ricardo Montalban on Fantasy Island flashback.
He has several cocktails that’s he’s invented, along with twists on classics. Drinks run from about $12-$16. My first drink, I think (it was one of those days), was the Fraise D’or: vodka, strawberry shrub, vanilla syrup and mint. The bartender bruleed aromatics like cinnamon stick and blossom alongside. Drinking vessels are placed on interesting trays for each individual. The flavors are harmonious and the alcohol level is in perfect proportion for enjoyment.
The Undercover (so many spies used to live in the area during WWII!) has mystery flavors, but I sussed out that they incorporated a couple of things from other drinks on the menu — smoked pine, Old Brandy, spices — and ingeniously served with pine nuts and golden raisins to munch on.
I noticed that some golfers were ordering the bar’s version of a Mule and they looked refreshing in their traditional copper drinking mug. Even simple tonic drinks looked good.
I took a close look at the liquor selection; it’s interesting to see what different parts of the world go for. This is not a bourbon place. But I did spot a couple of old school liquors and remembered a drink that I had sipped out of my dad’s glass, as it turns out, almost exactly 40 years before.
What would have been his 90th birthday had just passed. On his 50th birthday, my grandmother took all of us out and my dad ordered a Grasshopper. I don’t know why people aren’t ordering this all of the time now . . . calories, I suppose.
When I was a little girl trying the dregs of the cocktail, I vowed that when I was a grownup I would drink it, like, every day. I don’t think I grasped the concept of alcohol. I figured the folks at this bar could handle the drink and boy, I was not disappointed! They used heavy cream and shaved dark chocolate over it.