Tucked down the one-way Armenian Street in George Town, Penang is 88 Armenian. The boutique luxury hotel opened in 2019 is still a reasonably new affair. Meticulously restored from an early Straits Eclectic style building, the facade of this 3-storey hotel offers a dose of old-world charm. Its interior is refreshed with style; with exposed brick wall, charred timber finishings and warm touches of copper fittings.
The ground floor housing Copper Bar & Restaurant has the bar taking pride of place just next to the entrance, and two dining spaces – a private dining room and a center dining space with a view of the modern concept kitchen. For those who appreciate that extra sense of privacy, the private room is perfect for 14 pax.
Copper Bar & Restaurant recently hosted the Whitley Neill Gin Pairing Dinner together with friends from Drinks Alliance. For RM198, guests savored a bespoke 8-course menu by chef Jamie Mason paired with Whitley Neill Gin & Tonic, Whitley Neill Rhubard & Ginger, and Marylebone London Dry.
Guests were guided on how to palette the gin with the food by Ben Ng from Drinks Alliance. “Whitley Neill is UK’s best selling gin – it is slightly more balanced, gently sweeter dry-style gin with lovely fruitiness and floral notes,” says Ben.
The evening started off with a fresh and zesty Whitley Neill Gin & Tonic, and continued with a sit-down dinner where everyone was served with the appetizer – compressed watermelon (infused with Whitley Neill Rhubard & Ginger) & Hokkaido scallops. With botanicals of the gin, the bright, sweet and fresh watermelon is a nice accompaniment to the grilled scallops.
The Whitley Neill Gin Original, with its nice and gentle finish, is inspired by the captivating flavors of South Africa. Exotic botanicals of citrus Baobab fruit and aromatic cape gooseberries give the gin the dryness and nice sweet perfumey notes.
For the Marylebone, it’s a dry gin distilled in small pot stills in The Pleasure Gardens in London. With plenty of floral overtones, gentle botanicals, and warm finish, the gin with 50.2% ABV has lots more flavor and hence paired with dishes of heavier notes.
The first dish was the roasted mushroom scallop. With the right heat, tao cheo (fermented soy bean paste) and mushroom puree, the chef transformed the humble fungi into a rich earthy dish. The earthy dark sweet flavor of the mushroom and tao cheo was complimented well by the Marylebone.
The second dish was couscous ulam in tom yam broth – an exciting dish built on traditional ingredients of the Penang Nyonya Nasi Ulam whereby the rice is replaced by couscous. Cooked with heavy spices and aromatic leaves, the dish has a lot of heavy overtones. Taking sips of the Marylebone helps to layer the different flavors of the aromatic dish.
The next spirit was Whitley Neill Rhubard & Ginger and the bottle reads ‘Inspired by the glory of the English Country Garden’. The smooth gin displays green notes of fresh rhubarb, warm ginger extract, and sweetness.
The sweetness of the gin is revealed much more when paired against the roast chicken with zucchini and beetroot in curry laksa broth with tinge of spiciness.
For a sweet finish, the dessert comes in a mess form – Eton Mess with a local twist. Copper’s rendition of this traditional English dessert prepared with cream and a mixture of berries is localized with Balinese meringue made with gula Melaka (palm sugar).
The result: it is light enough and the many ingredients made it a flavourful mess of goodness! Paired with the Whitley Neill Rhubard & Ginger, it is a win all round for both the ladies and gents.
The Petit Four comes in bite-sized artisan chocolate curated with the flavors of our local food. The laksa flavor had many sighing in pleasure.
The Whitley Neill Gin Pairing Dinner was a fun evening out at a very reasonable price. The next pairing session is happening on the coming 20th March 2020. Tickets are available now: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/88armenian/357028
Copper Bar & Restaurant opens at 9am for breakfast and brunch and closes at 2:30 pm. Light bites are available from 12noon to 2.30pm, followed by dinner from 6.30pm till 10pm. Drinks are served in the bar from 10am till midnight.
Copper Bar & Restaurant
88 Lebuh Armenian