COMMENT: The Forum (Bloggers Cocktail Evening), Sheffield

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The Forum, 129 Devonshire Street, Sheffield, S3 7SB

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In the vast, saturated world of blogging, I would be hard-pressed to describe myself as anything more than a beginner – my toe having only tentatively entered the water a couple of months ago. So, when I made contact regarding an exclusive Bloggers invitation to the Forum Sheffield to sample their all new cocktail menu, I was a little sceptical regarding my credentials.  However, a quick reference of my website by the powers that be and a confirmed invite was swiftly forthcoming, complete with a +1 for Mrs Hangry (bringing many brownie points along with it). It was time to start the excitement in anticipation of my first bloggers meeting – Blogging just got real!

The Forum itself has always stayed the right side of trendy and, if I can remember as far back to the time when I used to actually go out into town regularly, it was always perfectly positioned as a meeting point for a jaunt in the big city. Now I’m the wrong side of 30 though, trendy does not come nearly as naturally as it once did (who am I kidding, it was always a struggle!), so my excitement of the event was tempered somewhat by the risk of being the old codger, working the armchair in the corner! I needn’t had worried. Our host, Miles, made the fascinatingly diverse blogger crowd welcome in the lower bar area and we were straight into the swing of it with a Gin & Elderflower fizz.

Before we get deep into the booze however, a little bit of chatter about our new found blogger friendly establishment. Our kind proprietors had gathered us as guinea pigs for their new cocktail menu which is due to go live on Thursday (and who are we to argue!). Running over 25 different concoctions on their current menu, the new menu of just 10 has a clear move toward seasonality and a focus on quality. The menu in the main reads like a who’s who of classic cocktails (Espresso Martini, Zombie, Mojito) all with their own Forum twist plus a number of sweet, fruity, summer numbers perfect for enjoying on the Devonshire Green (when the sun eventually decides to show its face this summer). All this, plus a shift into beer brewing, gin distillery and coffee grinding on site in their own micro-brewery, and their artisanal focus is a clear one.

But back to the gin. Gin is always welcome in our household, as is fizz and elderflower for that matter – so this was always going to be a winner! Fresh, fruity and a perfect aperitif, the flavours unexpectedly lifted by addition of a rosemary sprig to the rim of the glass – adding its earthy aroma to each sip. Closely following was a Polish Espresso Martini. Now, previous experiences of Espresso Martinis have left me wary of their unbridled coffee taste that has a tendency to smack you in the mouth and say, ‘You won’t sleep for a week after this!’, so naturally, I was a little wary. The honey vodka used in the Forum’s version however, allayed all my fears – the natural sweetness taming the normally overbearing coffee essence. An inclusion of mint leaves too, bringing a welcome freshness and overall balance to the drink.

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After a double shot of espresso, what better way to celebrate than let the bloggers loose behind the bar to make their own? Visions of broken glasses, smashed mixers and trips to A&E were suppressed as we were given over to the capable hands of the Forum’s very own cocktail master. The end result, a not half bad replica of the Espresso Martini that we just tasted, another cocktail to drink and a further couple of hours added to our evening before we could even consider trying to go to sleep.

Next up, a Candy Martini. Very similar in composition to the sister cocktail above, the main component of this particular martini being Licor 43 – a bit of a mysterious Spanish drink with, you guessed it, 43 different herbs, spices and fruit juices which are kept to a secret recipe. The end result is a drink of definite sweetness which, when combined with fresh raspberries and pineapple juice is something that you could drink about half a dozen of in no time at all. If you try only one of the cocktails at the Forum, make it this one!

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Time was getting on for a school night (did I mention I was the wrong side of 30?) as the final cocktail was presented to us – a take on Lemon Cheesecake based on Limoncello, vodka, cream and amaretti biscuits. Quite simply, a dessert in a glass. A good whiff of lemon and alcohol was a great way to end the evening – a palate cleanser for sure, if a little heavy for anything more than just the one.

Cynically, it could be pointed out that with an evening of making and drinking free cocktails in the offing, I was always going to gush over the wares that were on offer. However, I will always try and be honest about my experiences, otherwise what is the point? My evening at The Forum was enjoyable for several reasons; yes, the cocktail were absolutely wonderful but I also got a tour of the on-site brewery – a chance to see the inner workings and obvious ambition behind the owners, The True North Brew Co. Similarly and probably most importantly, it was a chance to meet likeminded people in a relaxed environment and view the different channels and media outlets I can explore to further my blogging. It’s quite inspiring to see such a diverse group of people at all different stages of their blogging careers and the ways in which they operate.

I will be back at The Forum again next Wednesday to pick up some more blogging tips but more tellingly, Mrs Hangry and I will be there on Friday, as paying customers, to try some more of those wonderful cocktails!
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