Where There’s a Grill, There’s Smoke(y Old Fashioneds): Drink-testing at Grill on the Market, Smithfield

When I got an e-mail alerting me of the opening of Grill on the Market in Smithfield, it wasn’t the cuts of meat that attracted me. As a vegetarian, the Grill on the Market’s food menu, is, frankly, a bit of a let-down.

But as someone who is a total boozehound, the cocktail menu for the restaurant’s bar was highly intriguing. Particularly the Smokey Old Fashioned, featuring Woodford Reserve (one of my favourite bourbons) and sweetened with maple syrup and further flavoured with oak smoke from a smoker–one of those things I saw Tim Anderson use in Delicious by DS5I want one so I can smoke every edible thing I have.

And, apparently, you can use it to smoke your drinks as well. It’s magic! I want one!!

Anyway, because of this enticing smoky cocktail, I inquired about the possibility of reviewing Grill on the Market not as a diner, but as a drinker. Apparently, this was okay.

grill on the market cocktail menu

So, one December evening, I was a guest of Grill on the Market to put their bar through its paces. I grabbed another intrepid booze-taster for two drinks each from the bar.

The Grill on the Market is separated into two areas, the casual bar area and the dining area. The casual bar area is not actually a place with table service, as I found out belatedly, but the staff seemed fairly accommodating to my misunderstanding. There were quite a few people who were waiting in the bar area to eventually be seated in the dining area, but just as many people who were settled in the bar area to meet with friends or have after-work drinks.

grill on the market bar space

Plus, there’s some nice nibbles to have at the bar. We were provided with some lovely olives and bread with roasted garlic to rub on. I love olives, and I love garlic, so this was fantastic.

olive plate nibbles

rubbing on the garlic

decimated garlic

My companion for this cocktail evening at the Grill on the Market and I agreed to have different cocktails, so we could compare. For our first round of drinks, I opted for the Orange and Cinnamon Manhattan, with Woodford Reserve, Monin Cinnamon and Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge. My boozing companion went for something a bit more tropical–the Serious Zombie, with Bacardi Superior, Bacardi Oro, absinthe, orange liqueur “and a bunch of fruit flavours.”

The Manhattan I had was quite nice, and a wonderful take on the classic cocktail. Served in a well-chilled martini glass, it was nicely flavourful with the orange and cinnamon, but not overwhelming to the point where it ruined the exquisite taste of Woodford Reserve.

orange and cinnamon manhattan at grill on the market

Have I mentioned Woodford Reserve is one of my favourite bourbons? Ah, nevermind, it’s past Christmas now, isn’t it?

The Serious Zombie came with a serious amount of fruit garnishes–enough for at least one of your five a day, I reckon. Cocktail drinking can have some wonderful health benefits, as you can see.

Note: I’m not a doctor, and any claims or suggestions I make about things having health benefits are purely facetious.

serious zombie

Whether or not it counted as a serving of fruit or veg, the Serious Zombie was enjoyed by my drinking companion. Served in a hurricane glass, it seemed like something you would see poolside or beachside in Miami, rather than in a bar in a rainy, chilly London. The zombie cocktail was invented in a Hollywood restaurant called Don the Beachcomber (according to Wikipedia), and it’s a great representative of the retro Tiki craze. The Serious Zombie of Grill on the Market looked to be properly Tiki, and its fruity, punchy taste completely masked the heavy amount of alcohol it contained.

Our next and final round saw the moment of reckoning. I ordered the Smokey Old Fashioned with great anticipation, while my boozing companion ordered a Long Island Iced Tea. I should make a note that my companion chose all his own drinks. I wasn’t encouraging him to get the drinks that had the most amount of alcohol on the menu, by any means. That was his own choice, not mine.

(I’m mostly putting that caveat in just in case his mother is reading.)

(Hi, Jean.)

long island iced tea

The Long Island Iced Tea ordered by my partner in booze looked wonderful, but according to him, it wasn’t particularly impressive. Not bad, apparently, but not that amazing, either. I had a taste, and I thought it was all right, but it would have benefitted with a bit more lemon, maybe. It lacked something to make it really stand out, in my opinion, but then again, I’m not a real expert on Long Island Iced Teas, as it’s not a drink I normally order.

Meanwhile, my Smokey Old Fashioned arrived.

smokey old fashioned at grill on the market

Awesome.

I was informed by our drink supplier that the longer I left the smoke in the bottle, and the longer I waited to pour my drink, the stronger the smoke flavour would be. As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. My old fashioned was richly smoky and flavourfully sweetened by the maple syrup without being cloying. Also, the big ice ball in the glass was a nice touch, as one huge block of ice will melt slower than a bunch of small ones, as I learned in Happiness Forgets one evening when I had my old fashioned there.

Did I enjoy my drink?

me and the smokey old fashioned

You can say that.

If you are into meaty noms, the Grill on the Market would happily sort you out with all sort of steaks, ribs, burgers and other hoo and hah. There is a vegetarian fajita on their food menu, so a veggie like me isn’t completely adrift. But if you’re in the area and you fancy a cocktail, I recommend their bourbon-based drinks, and the Serious Zombie was a serious fruit basket of alcohol. Some other picks that looked enticing on the cocktail menu were the Champagne Mojito with its Bacardi Superior topped with Mumm NV, and the English Martini with Bombay Sapphire, apple juice and honey. It’s a fine way to start an evening, whether you continue and dine at the Grill, or move on elsewhere.

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