New revamped Cinnabar is stirring things up nicely in Stevenage!
PUBLISHED: 10:01 04 November 2016
Danny Loo Photography 2016
When your news editor calls you and says he's got a story which needs to be covered, you immediately think the worst and steel yourself to visit a crime scene. So when the question was asked if I'd like to head to a Stevenage bar to write a 'gin-based' feature you can imagine my response.
So it was I found myself in the newly revamped Cinnabar in the Old Town meeting the charismatic manager, and – purely in the interests of thorough journalistic research you understand – tasting some of the superb gin cocktails on offer. As I tweeted at the time: “I’ve had worse days”.
As someone who has an ever-so slight reputation for visiting pubs it’s always interesting when you meet people in bars with a genuinely fascinating backstory. And Cinnabar’s manager and ‘gin expert’ Igor L’eman certainly fits into that category.
Norweigan-born Igor, who has lived in Krakow in Poland and Paris, and speaks four impressively eclectic languages – English, Norwegian, Polish and French – is passionate about making high quality gin cocktails.
Having worked in a busy Parisian nightclub only yards from the world famous Moulin Rouge he certainly knows how to make sure revellers have a good time. But having also served in top London nightspots he is the perfect man to mix a gin cocktail.
As the Comet casually sipped a drink Igor had made earlier – a Larios Rose Gin cocktail – a striking pink version of Mediterranean gin with an intense strawberry aroma full of soft strawberry flavours which combined perfectly with a high quality aromatic tonic water – he explained what the new Cinnabar offers.
He said: “We are essentially a one-stop shop which is completely unique in the whole of Stevenage.
“During the morning we are a stylish and relaxed coffee house. We also serve high quality food for lunch and dinner, and we are also a late night venue offering superb cocktails including our superb Gin Menu.
“Quite simply our ethos is to provide fantastic service, great quality food produce in a warm and friendly atmosphere where you can while away the hours with great food, fine wine or perfect cocktails.”
As my drink slipped down very nicely I wasn’t going to disagree with him – certainly not when I found out he’s a second row rugby player for nearby Weston RFC. “I started playing rugby when I came to North Herts. It’s a great game,” Igor tells me before adding: “We are a local family-owned business and I am local too now.
“If you look at Hitchin, there are many quality places where you can enjoy great coffee, great food and great drink. We want to replicate that in Stevenage. We want to be a one-stop shop for coffee, food, drink and nightlife.”
Igor then mixes me a Halloween gin and tonic. He expertly talks through the process which involves using orange peel, high-quality copperhead gin infused with juniper, coriander and cardamon. He combines it with Fever Tree tonic water – “it brings out the full flavour of the gin and has no fat in” Igor assures me.
For his piece de resistance he lights it. I eagerly taste this sumptuous treat.
The balance is perfect. I can taste juniper and coriander, while the orange is not overpowering, with cardamom becoming a perfect compliment to the palate. Quite simply it is a taste sensation.
This gin expert who has also spent time in New York perfecting his art stares at my evident joy. “It is good?” he asks me, knowing the answer. I nod.
Igor laughs and says: “We don’t want to be Cinnabar to be the best place in North Herts – we want to be the best place in the universe!”
Cinnabar is available for private hire and business meetings. Or why not hold your staff Christmas party. They can also assist in finding the right DJ.
For more information visit www.cinnabarcafe.co.uk/stevenage/. And don’t forget to ask for the Gin Menu.