It’s not everyday you are invited to a bloggers gin masterclass at a secret bar, so when we were asked to visit elusive Cardiff cocktail bar The Dead Canary [TDC], to try out their gin masterclass, how could we possibly refuse? ‘Speak Easy’ style bars that hark back to the prohibition days of 1920’s America are enjoying a come back in recent years, with ‘secret venues’ popping up around the country, often dripping in cool, shrouded in secrecy and serving up spectacular cocktails.
The Dead Canary is no exception, to locate the bar you have to find the mystery building on Barrack Lane and #RingTheBell [The bar’s own hashtag] for entry. With no obvious signage, punters will have to look for a symbol by the door so that they know they have found the right bar and not tried to gain entry to a dry cleaners.
Effortlessly cool interior awaits when you have gained access to TDC, Welsh heritage inspired decor meets candle light suave, with plush chairs and an intimate, relaxed atmosphere. We were ushered upstairs to meet with our Masterclass bar tender and gin expert, or ‘ginspert’ as I took to calling him after a few large glasses.
The set up for the masterclass is brilliant, there’s a low lit warm atmosphere with silver bowls overflowing of with ice, gorgeous glassware, an array of gin bottles and multiple candles make you feel like you’ve accidentally wandered into an 18th century apothecary. We’re handed a glass of boozy punch and given a history of gin itself, learning that it was originally created as a medicine in Holland in the 17th century. I’ve frankly long believed in the healing properties of a G&T.
We sample several gins as the night goes on including ‘Star of Bombay’, the super-premium variant of Bombay Sapphire, ‘Death’s door’, an American gin that uses juniper berries that grow wild on Washington Island, ‘Ungava, a Canadian gin made using rare botanicals and one of my favourite gin’s ‘Tanqueray’, a London Dry Gin. With each tasting we were given a detailed overview of the gin brands, their various botanicals and how to pair them correctly with limes, mint and grapefruit. We had a fabulous time with our gin experimentation and were a few sheets to the wind after several ‘pairings’. Luckily there was a scrumptious cheese and canapés platter to soak up the copious amounts of gin we had been treated to.
I would highly recommend coming to TDC for a masterclass or even just for a few cocktails in classy surroundings. In a town that can feel flooded with chain bars, this is a hidden gem to seek out for an alternative to mediocrity.