Cocktails inspired by the elements and savoury Asian donuts. Name a better duo… and you better believe I’ll wait, arms crossed and tapping my foot for full effect.
There’s surely no better synergy than cocktails and donuts under one roof? Except maybe Steve Nicks’ cover of Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty…
I mean, all three of those things in combination would be one pretty epic multi-sensory experience in my opinion but I don’t think a late nineties rendition of soppy 80’s country-rock would make the Spotify playlist at Aether.
Oh, look at me – rambling on before I’ve even formally introduced you! Drum roll please for…
Aether, Liverpool ONE (ft. Yu Donut residency)
So, yeah, as I just insinuated, if Stevie Nicks and/or Tom Petty are at one end of the spectrum, this uber trendy, luxe bar in central Liverpool is at the other end. It’s more jazz and house if we’re going to pigeon-hole it in the language of music, with the aesthetic and atmos to match too.
We parked ourselves in a gorgeous, plush velvet fuchsia booth by the window which had been reserved for us by marking the varnished oak table with a seashell the size of your hand. In front of us was an intimately lit venue, taken up mostly by the striking corrugated gold bar front and centre.
Behind us was a view of the outdoor terrace on Liverpool’s Chavasse Park, but only if we peeked through the vibrant jungle of indoor plants which bring the seductively moody décor to botanical life.
Aether is the little sister of The Alchemist – the cocktail bar and restaurant chain spread across the country, renowned for its experimental mixology and Instagram-worthy cocktails.
Just like its older sibling, this is not the neck a load of daiquiris and slut drop to Whitney Houston kind of establishment. It’s the cool and sophisticated kind of cocktail bar where you can sip signature drinks in chilled out, swanky surroundings. My favourite kind as it happens.
Aether, Liverpool cocktail menu
For those who are familiar with The Alchemist, you might be disappointed to hear that The Colour Changing One won’t be making an appearance here. The drinks menu at Aether is entirely unique and fabulous on its own merit.
Like I said the Aether drinks menu is inspired by the different elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and of course, Aether – with inspired flavours and ingredients to boot.
The drinks are pricier than your average, say, Pornstar Martini but here, you’re investing in the experience and the theatrics too – something I’m definitely an absolute sucker for. I spoke about how much I’m loving the trend towards interactive drinking and dining in my review of Manchester’s Grand Pacific so this was right up my alley.
A sterling example of this is the Whale Watcher (£8.50) – a short made with Grey Goose, citrus, lemonade syrup and dill, complete with a sprig of dill encased in a giant ice cube and your very own pair of ‘whale-watching glasses’. It tasted great too – earthy and interesting but still just the right amount of sweet.
Speaking of sweet, we also sipped our way through a couple of treats from the fizz menu and would recommend these to anybody looking for something light, easy to drink and more fruity than fiery.
I have actually since been back to Aether and really, really, really enjoyed a Smoked Rum Berry Sour (£10.50) which combines Appleton Signature, Briottet Mure, lime juice, protein bitters and a blackberry vapour which is infused in front of you at the table.
As truly exquisite as my cocktails were, you know I’m all about the edible offering so the pièce de résistance for me just has to be the savoury donuts from Yu Donut.
Yu Donut is an Asian dim sum and street food vendor which gathered a bit of a cult following after a stint in the Baltic Market. They have now set up shop in Aether for the foreseeable future, striking a bizarre but bloody wonderful collaboration.
The menu here is modest but my lord, is it mighty!
There wasn’t much we didn’t taste off the list to be honest and there wasn’t a single thing that didn’t get some serious nods of approval but there were a few standout dishes that were particularly lip-smackin’. Top of that list has to be the sticky Peking duck donut and the spicy beef donut with plum and ginger (both £6.50). What a stroke of sheer genius; stodgy but sheer genius.
The donuts come served with a crunchy Asian slaw which is a light and refreshing crunch against the soft, warm ball of dough that has been sliced down the middle and stuffed with an array of flavoursome fillings. You might think it sounds like nothing more than novelty but there is some genuinely impressive cookery and flavour combinations going on here.
Other highlights for us were the Cantonese noodles (£7.50) which came topped with a generous helping of char sui seitan – a meat substitute which is almost unbelievably close in taste and texture to the real mccoy, for those who don’t already know.
We did also dabble in the dim sum sharer (£20) – which included our two donuts – and couldn’t get enough of the steaming gyoza dumplings and sticky dip that came alongside for dunking.
It’s safe to say, after all that, we left the premises having morphed into two stuffed donuts ourselves, slightly frustrated that we didn’t have room to squeeze in even one fortune cookies & cream sweet donut.
Nevermind though because my crystal ball is telling me there will be a return trip on the cards sometime very soon…
I was very kindly invited to review Aether and Yu Donut but all words, photographs, opinions, teeth, hair, boobs and nails are my very own.