Do not adjust your device! We haven't lost sight of our core values.. This is still a post about booze, but with a slightly fresh approach. It's not so much a drinks review, but more a review about drinking on a plane.
Last month Mrs LiquorJunky and I hopped on board a big shiny Aer Lingus Airbus A330, bound for the big apple. If that wasn't reason enough to raise a glass early on a Saturday morning, we found ourselves turning left at the door and being shown to two brand new posh seats up the front!
Aer Lingus offer, like a number of other airlines, a bidding system for certain passengers who book an economy class ticket on a number of routes! So Having booked return flights from Dublin to New York's JFK airport for Mrs Liquor Junky's recent birthday, I received one of the bidding emails and set about working out a figure! The online bid allows you to select an amount, per person, by adjusting a sliding scale.
Obviously the airline values their product, so offering $10 each and hoping for the best, isn't an option! On this particular flight the minimum offer was set at €330 and the maximum somewhere around €990! While I am not going to divulge how much I paid for the upgrade, as I don't want to increase my competition on future flights, I will confirm that we flew in the fancy seats for around half the price of a straight business class ticket!
The business class product includes more than just the seat, so after priority check in and fast track security, we settled into the Aer Lingus Lounge
The lounge was spacious and airy with floor to ceiling windows with a view of the apron, food was limited to cereal, pastries and butters plus some cheese. So not a great choice, especially as something hot would have been welcome for breakfast. This is the only place the business class product was slightly disappointing.
To drink, there was a good range from the help yourself bar, I stuck to coffee though, not because it was only 9am and didn't want to look like a, well, like myself any other trip, at the public airport bar, but mainly because the beer choice was limited to Heineken..... Nothing against the Dutch brew, it actually tastes pretty good. Unfortunately even looking at a bottle is enough to give me a harsh hangover.. But enough of that, before we knew it, it was time to board and time to drink.... Thanks to Aer Lingus for the pic of the posh seats below
By far the comfiest bar stool I have ever occupied. With more gadgets than a Swiss Army knife, the seat included a massage function, recline option and of course the option to lie flat! It genuinely does turn into a bed in the sky, with ample room for even the tallest of folk to sleep their way across the Atlantic! At 6'5" I was able to lie comfortably. .
On boarding we were warmly welcomed by the business cabin crew and while settling into our seats, the crew came round to offer pre flight drinks, we both choose Champagne, of course. Neither of us drink much champers, but I managed to get through two glasses, before the safety video. I wasn't drinking to get drunk, but I did want to make the most of the occasion. The bubbly was wet and refreshing, that's about the limit of my Champagne knowledge.. For those conissuers we were served some delicious Jean Pernet Tradition Brut NV
soon after take off the real fun began and the bar service commenced. With a wide choice of movies, both classics and new releases, along with tv shows and quite an impressive music collection to keep us entertained while we sipped, I began to mull over my choices. I had been eyeing up the wine list, but with lunch in the near future decided to start with a classic, A Jack and Coke at 35000 feet! Served in a proper glass over ice, the friendly crew member made conversation as he prepped our drinks. I considered ordering two, only to save him having to come back, but decided against it as didn't want to seem overly keen or overly alcoholic! No cause for alarm as he left an extra little bottle beside my canapés. If Aer Lingus ran a bar....
It is amazing at how excited you can get over a little plate of finger food. With nibbles in hand, The chair gave me a back rub while I made small talk with JD. Mrs Liquorjunky went for a glass of white, which appeared to be well received.
Although we were sat together, the layout of the seat means you can't see your companion unless you both sit forward. So with 6 hours of peace and quiet I had nothing else to do but get lost in my own little world and wait for the red wine to make an appearance. The onboard wifi is complimentary for business class travellers, so I wasted an hour trying to get a stream of the Ireland v Canada Rugby game, it didn't work out, but at no fault of the wifi, which was faster than I expected
my choice for lunch was beef so I paired that with a glass of Rioja. By the end of the flight I had paired it with the whole bottle, as the stewardess kept appearing to top it up.. Don't be fooled that I have a knowledge of wine or what way to drink it. The wine list gave me a steer in the right direction and it was a good advice, I have been trying to source a bottle of since we landed in New York. Lunch started with a salmon appetiser and ended with a cheese board, which went very well with the wine. The wine I choose was Conde Valdemar Gran Reserva from Spain
my only complaint about the whole experience was the Captains announcement that we would soon be landing. I have never wanted a flight to last longer, but seduced by great food, free booze and excellent service. Not to mention the incredible seat with all its gadgets, we were very sad when the wheels touched down at JFK.. Top Marks to Aer Lingus, their service is excellent.. We arrived in New York in good booze spirits, yet refreshed and relaxed ready to hit the bars..
With a Brewery that can be traced back to 1595, This is the story of the dysfunctional first family of Irish Brewing, the McGargles
McGargles Fancy Frank Lager
A clean, full flavoured and somewhat fruity lager. With a slightly floral aroma, the initial taste of a clean, crisp lagers follows with a hoppy, Slightly smoky after taste from the Saaz hops that have been late hopped in the brew house
Surprisingly (for me anyway) Uncarbonated on initial pour, not much, if any head. Reasonable Lager smell. Have to admit I was quite Looking forward to sampling these four bottles, this one didn’t impress much to be honest.
I found it had nothing to set it apart from Any other lager in the same category, and personally I didn’t like it as much as some of the big brewery labels from the states
It doesnt really offend, but it doesn’t impress either. Its drinkable but that is about it
McGargles Granny Mary’s Red
As fiery and strong as her malt-driven red ale. A balanced irish Red that’s winning over customers. Brewed with earthy fuggles Hops and a Combination Vienna and Cara Munich Malt. It has a deep colour and rich aromatic flavour
Well, It is definetley Red. I have never tried Red Ale before this so didn’t know what to expect. I was hoping for a lot after the disappointment that the Lager brought. There wasn’t much on the nose, but it delivered on my palate. I enjoyed this, but find it hard to pinpoint what it was I tasted.
McGargles Uncle Jim’s Stout
A smooth, well rounded stout. The aroma gives off a subtle coffee and chocolate nose which balance perfectly. The flavour of chocolate carries into the taste and balances impeccably with the bitterness from the Herkules Hops
Woo Hoo… Serious stuff, dark with a creamy full head. The head may leave before the party starts but the rich depth on the nose sticks around. I am not a stout expert but found this starts with a slight carbonated Guinness tatse. That might be suprising, but I did enjoy that. It does however settle down into its own taste. It is lighter than Guinness.
I find this to be refreshingly light for a stout and its my favourite of the McGargle family
Knock Knock Ned’s IPA
An IPA with a perfect balance of sweetness and bitter hops. With initial tones of citrus like fruit followed with a caramelised pallet this IPA is considered strong and hoppy. Ned’s IPA is however balanced with three types of speciality malts. Rich hops, Cascade, Targer and Hallertau give this IPA a distinct And unique flavour
Starts off with a strong crimson colouring, it is much better than the lager with a deep rich flavour. Well brewed with a greatly satisfying aftertaste.
So Stout wins, with IPA a close second… Every family has a black sheep and for this one that’s the Lager… I asked the guys at McGargles which order I should drink the sampler pack in. Lager.. Red… IPA then Stout was the official advice.. To be honest We may have mixed that up in our excitement
They did tell me that their new American IPA would soon be slotting in to the Sampler pack… Not sure who is losing their place, I have a suggestion though
Also available – Gravy Maevey’s Pilsner
Cousin Rosie’s Pale Al
“Once upon a time there was a man called Davy Uprichard, who had an idea”…. And we are so glad he did..
This is how the Bio begins on the Tempted? Irish Craft Cider website. .
Some six years ago, Davy Uprichard constructed a purpose built cidery at his home, outside Lisburn, a city a few miles to the south of Belfast, Northern Ireland.
He carefully blended Armagh Apples and left some of It to ferment, the rest as they say, is history, living history
Thanks to a 3 for £6 offer in a local liquor store, we came by three of the four variations that Tempted? Currently Offer. Summer sweet, Strawberry and Dry. The flavoured offerings come in 500ml bottles at 5.0%, while the dry Is 5.7% in the same size serving.
Tempted? Summer sweet
“Introducing a significant proportion of Tipperary bittersweet cider apples to the medium sweet made from Armagh’s crop.
A generous measure of in-house pure pressed apple juice is added to round off the brew”
This is an interesting and delicious variation on the Tempted? Dry. Summer Sweet is perfectly flavoured and the taste is not
Overpowering, yet it doesn’t lack the flavourings like some other brands! This one is firmly subtle
“Davy’s Original Cider is made from Bramley and Desert Apples, giving it a light taste due to the lack of specific cider Apples”.
I found this more traditional cider to be smooth and very refreshing. It is effortlessly drinkable and unlike many Brews, didn’t seem to get old in taste the more you drank.
I think this is my favourite of the Tempted? Ciders, albeit I haven’t found a bottle of Special Reserve as yet. A case of this would be great for a summer afternoon in a beer garden, or any garden for that matter. In fact sunshine isn’t even required.
A blend of sweet cider, apple juice and strawberry wine. With almost enough juice in the bottle to qualify as one of your 5 a day.
Let’s confess now, I am not really a fan of straight fruit cider variations. I like apple cider and some fruit mixes, but Pear Cider, Strawberry Or any other single fruit has never really appealed. I have tried a few and while I didn’t hate one or two, there not high on my list.
Tempted? Strawberry must be good then, as I would put it top of the list for single fruit variations.
It is light and with the strawberry wine, the fruit flavouring feels more natural than many of the overly sweet, strawberry syrup type
Brands I have tasted. It is my least favourite of the three I tried, but that is all to do with personal preference and palate.
My own personal preference stops this trip getting a gold star! Maybe that's harsh but then it's all about what I like
I do really like tempted cider so 4.5/5 for all three isn't to be sniffed at..
Hopefully the liquor store deal is still on and they have dry in stock
Having some special reserve on the shelf would make this a great day though! It's is defiantly on the booze bucket list
Magners Irish whisky
Magners have released a few different flavours this year, and while we have sampled their other two offerings we will leave them for another post!
Their Irish Whisky flavour is attention grabbing from the off! Not only is it an escape from the usual flavoured offerings, but it is so out there we just had to get some! That in itself wasn't easy! The folks at Magners only supplied us the name of one stockist, which it turned out doesn't operate in these parts. With persereverance and dedication to our booze we managed to track some down and eagerly gave it a go
To begin with, as interesting as it sounds, This does sound terrible.. It shouldn't work, it just can't work! Whisky and cider! Cider with a whisky chaser is one thing, but no one would ever think to put them in the same glass!
I admit I was apprehensive about the first few sips! But it surprises.. It tastes like a perfect mix of Magners and whiskey.. The Whisky does overpower the cider taste, but the fact the cider is there makes it refreshing and palatable. Kudos to Magners on breaking from the norm, it's a bold move and a refreshing change!
Definitely worth a try! Would be interested to know what whisky they used to make this