Samarkand – Vodka and cocktails along the Silk Road

Samarkand

Photo Credit: Samarkand

On a cold autumnal evening I was invited to the new Uzbeki restaurant Samarkand in Fitzrovia for a Silk Road Masterclass in vodka and cocktail tasting.  Mixology meets Marco Polo. Camel caravans on the windswept plains. And a bunch of bloggers on a mission. How could I ever refuse?

Samarkand

Photo Credit: Samarkand

The restaurant celebrates a part of the world where a melange of cultures produce an explosion of tantalising flavours from the Silk Road. Named after the country’s second largest city you will recognise many of the chinese and mediterranean influences on the menu.

Samarkand

The mezzanine bar is also home to a superb selection of 40 crafted vodkas, which is where my evening began. Before the masterclass started I took a closer inspection of the cabinet of ‘vodka dreams’ as that’s exactly what it represented to me. Full of flavoured vodkas from lavender, orange, cinnamon, coffee beans, rosehip and honeycomb to name a few.

Samarkand

They are all carefully created in-house by Fabio and his team with the use of natural ingredients. It’s a labour of love and you can definitely taste it in the many flavours on offer.

Samarkand

Our first drink was an Akkum Desert described as a bitter yet bubbly concoction with D1 vodka, aperol, campari bitter, americana cocchi and pu-her tea, balanced with tuaca liqueur and prosecco.  A mouthful of ingredients, some of which to be honest I’d never heard of. Served in a dainty glass you could only take sips (to maintain the classy lady look of course). It was a good job as it’s all I could manage given the high potency levels.

Samarkand

However, I was soon swept up into the world of vodka with Fabio enthusiastically talking about the origins and different varieties available and the Akkum Desert was no more.

Samarkand

We were lucky to taste an array of  vodkas from around the globe, one of them being the rarest Polish potato-based Vestal, it was by far the best for me with a very clean and crisp taste. Closely followed by Black Cow distilled in Dorset and made entirely from milk. Yes you heard correct, milk! And as expected with any milk product it did have a creamy, smooth taste. All I could think of whilst sipping away was how great a lovely truckle of cheddar would taste alongside it.

Samarkand

It was a timely thought as a selection of food arrived from the restaurant. The first being a Plov, the national dish of Uzbekistan. Made of beef short rib slowly cooked together with carrots, onions, chickpeas, barberries and rice. By the oohs and ahhs emitting from the carnivorous bloggers in attendance I took it as a big thumbs up for the dish.

Samarkand

I held out for the veggie version of the Somsa, hand-made pastry parcels filled with pumpkin which were delicious. They also had a beef and lamb version. With ample sampling of alcohol taking place the tasty food was a welcome respite – a great way to line one’s stomach.

Samarkand

We were then ushered towards the cabinet of ‘vodka dreams’ to pick out a flavour to try. I went straight in for the lavender. The sweet floral infusion was spot on. I’m not usually one for neat vodka, but this was one I could get used to very easily.

Samarkand

The evening ended with a Berry Shampanski. It was another cocktail with an extensive list of ingredients – Russian caravan tea, vestal vodka, blackberry wine, beetroot syrup, rosehip jam, lemon, mandarin, pink grapefruit and topped with gunnamatta earl grey foam. It was deliciously fruity and tangy and again didn’t last long. A common theme with me and cocktails, ahem.

Samarkand

Photo credit: Samarkand

The subterranean restaurant with its geometric blue tiled walls, hand carved wooden columns and hexagonal tables all adds to its Eastern promise. Samarkand definitely puts Uzbeki food on London’s gastronomy trail.

There is also a 2 for 1 offer from its cocktail menu between 5 – 8pm. Giving you plenty of time to acquaint yourself with the amazing tipples from the bar.

Samarkand

It was a great showcase of the drinks and food Samarkand has to offer. I even came away learning a few things about my favourite tipple. Did you know that vodka means ‘little water’ in Russian? See. Know you’ve learnt something too!

And with the 2 for 1 offer I know I’ll certainly be back to work my way through the intriguing cocktail menu.

Do you drink vodka and have a favourite? Would love to know your favourite tipple or cocktail. Let me know in the comments box below.

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Samarkand | 33 Charlotte Street | London | W1T 3RR

www.samarkand.london

 

 

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9 Comments

  1. 23rd October 2016 / 7:00 pm

    This looks like such a good activity to do with some friends, we’d all love it. The glasses you got the drinks in loo so classy too!

  2. 23rd October 2016 / 7:09 pm

    That sounds like an amazing event. I love vodka so this sounds like just my kind of bar!

  3. Monisha
    23rd October 2016 / 7:37 pm

    Your blog makes me want to go there now!!!

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      25th October 2016 / 2:04 pm

      Let’s go for dinner. I’d like to taste more of their food x

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      25th October 2016 / 2:04 pm

      Let’s go for dinner. I’d like to taste more of their food x

  4. 24th October 2016 / 9:53 am

    What a fabulous evening Sima! I’ve never been to an Uzbeki restaurant before so in definitely going to take advantage of the 2 for 1 offer! Loving the look of the Berry Shampanski! xx

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      25th October 2016 / 2:00 pm

      It was my first time too Maggie. This evening was all about the drinking (never a bad thing!). Next time I’d like to go for dinner and sample more of their food.

  5. 28th October 2016 / 3:29 pm

    I’m not generally a fan of vodka based cocktails (I’m more of a rum girl) but these do look pretty divine. Would love to actually travel the Silk Road one day but for now this may have to be my substitute!

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      28th October 2016 / 3:49 pm

      I’m totally with you with travelling the Silk Road Ayla. And you’re right its as close as I’ll get to it for the moment too. You should def check to out x

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