I have no reason to travel to Belfast, and that is a damn shame. If any of my readers in Northern Ireland want to do a murder mystery party, I’m willing to do it for travel expenses alone, just so I can stay at the Merchant Hotel. I stumbled across its bar menu via a Google alert for “Pegu”. You can read it for yourself here (PDF).
The basic personality of the bar is revealed through the menu, and I am in love. First off, the drinks are sorted into three sections: The evening, the afternoon, and the morning. Sure, some bars will place a few meager selections of pick-me-ups on the menu; A Mimosa here, and Bloody Mary there. But the Merchant Hotel Bar has thirty-seven cocktails it classifies as
Corpse Revivers & Picker Uppers (including the Pegu). I have a desire to visit a bar where the valiant patrons are beating back the morning hangover with Absinthe Drips and White Ladies! I am obviously not alone, as the bar proudly proclaims on the hotel website that it was named “World’s Best Hotel Bar” (as well as having the “World’s Best Drink Selection” and “World’s Best Drinks Selection”) at Tales of the Cocktail.
The menu is supplied with some wonderful, evocative quotations about cocktails that make it worth the read. It also includes a truly comprehensive array of towering drink classics to tickle every fancy, and warm a cocktailian’s heart.
Finally, they have a selection of cocktails that may benefit from a truly premium base, which they refer to as offerings from their Connoisseurs’ Club. For instance, Daiquiri’s at the Merchant range from £6.50 with Santiago de Cuba Anejo, to £195.00 with Bacardi Gold 1950s.
But the piece de resistance is the Mai Tai for £750.00….
I always had an inkling that I’d sell the first one and something told me it could be that night. I watched as a regular customer entered the room with another gentleman and two female companions. They were in high spirits, dressed for the occasion and as I approaced their table, I heard the ladies discussing cocktails. They asked me what I would recommend.
This was exactly how I hoped it would happen. I had rehearsed the scene a hundred times in my head.
“This cocktail was invented for discerning people like you — it’s an original Trader Vic’s Mai Tai. The key ingredient is extremely rare Wray and Nephew 17 year old rum from Jamaica. It has been reproduced to the exact original formula and we are theonly bar in the world that actually has a bottle to sell.”
Four sets of eyebrows raised and glances exchanged. I could see they were impressed.
“You’ll be making history by being the first person to buy this cocktail,” I continued.
Read the menu yourself to see how the story turns out.