A couple of weeks ago I was invited to Épernay Champagne Bar in the centre of Leeds, along with a few other bloggers, to try out the new summer cocktail menu. I'm a huge cocktail fan and am always on the hunt for new places to try, so I was really excited when I received an invite to a bar I hadn't visited before.
It was definitely one of my favourite events, the atmosphere was really chilled and everyone got a chance to sit around the bar and chat with each other and the staff - all of whom were amazing all night! Hannah, Jenna and our cocktail expert Tom were really friendly and informative, they told us loads about how and why each of the cocktails had been developed and kept us interacting throughout the evening.
We were treated to a glass of pink fizz on arrival and given a little information booklet, including the full cocktail menu, along with some popcorn to snack on whilst we waited. Straight away I loved the vibe of the bar, small and intimate which is much more relaxing than the hustle and bustle of somewhere like the Botanist on a Friday night. I'm a sucker for fairy lights and a candle (of which there were many), they always help to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, one which was definitely achieved at Épernay.
The first cocktail Blue Glass Smash combines Zubrowka vodka with blueberry and mint - an unusual combination you may think, but it actually worked really well. All of the cocktails have been developed by the bar tenders at Épernay then tested and tweaked, by everyone in the team, to create the perfect mix of flavours. It was definitely refreshing which is perfect for summer and it's nice to know that the people behind the bar, serving you and chatting to you, are the ones who worked hard on the menu in front of you. If you like cocktails with a little sweetness but also a sharp edge then Blue Glass Smash would be a great option for you.
The second cocktail we tried was Pink Koko, a mix of Koko Kanu - a coconut flavoured spirit, Appletons rum, raspberries and sugar syrup. This was definitely my favourite of the three as it tasted like a real holiday cocktail. I love anything coconut flavoured or scented and I also really like a rum cocktail - usually a mojito, so this was the perfect combination for me.
The final cocktail we were made from the summer menu was The Morning After, with Portobello Rd gin, fresh grapefruit and Apricot Briotte it's definitely got the citrus kick you need to wake you up 'the morning after'. It claims to rid your hangover and has been trialled by the Épernay staff so it must be true. It was the most bitter of all three cocktails as it was topped with champagne but sometimes it's nice to have a change from the sweet and, more often than not, sickly choices I often opt for.
The canapés we tried throughout the night were delicious, we had a taste of what the new bottomless brunch has to offer with the smoked salmon and cream cheese baguettes. The brunch offers unlimited glasses of fizz and a selection of continental breakfast choices like croissants, smoked salmon and fresh fruit, so keep an eye on the website for the launch! I'll definitely be taking my friends one Saturday morning.
As well as serving the largest array of spirits I've seen in Leeds and a great variety of champagne, Épernay also hold cocktail making sessions and champagne master classes. Perfect for a fun evening with your friends learning how to make your favourite drinks or brushing up on your champagne knowledge. All of the information and who to email to book the classes is over on their website.
At the end of the evening we were all entered into a raffle to win some amazing prizes and I somehow managed to walk away with a free bottle of champagne on my next visit. I've already been back to claim it on a night out with my colleagues, everyone loved the vibe of the bar and we'll all be visiting again. The other prizes included a place on a cocktail making session and also a complimentary bottomless brunch so there were some very happy bloggers.
After having a good look on the website and seeing there's another Épernay bar in Manchester I think I'll try it out next time I'm there. Usually we go for dinner and drinks before any concerts at the MEN and this year I'm going to see Rihanna and Beyonce in the summer so it's the perfect chance to go for a drink.
As you all know, I'm a big fan of the Alchemist in Trinity Leeds but I'm really glad I've now found somewhere equally lovely to enjoy a few cocktails in the city centre. Especially as it's that bit quieter so you can easily get to the bar without having five people spill a drink on you. There's also the option to book a table just for drinks, so you're guaranteed a place to sit on a weekend which is a rarity. Let me know if any of you have been to Épernay, I'd love to hear if you've been to the Manchester branch and what you thought of it!