I’m back home in Loughborough for Christmas, and it seemed only natural to catch up with my best friend Hayley over some pre-Christmas cocktails. Having practically lived in it’s next-door neighbour and fellow cocktail bar The Kelso over the summer, and having tried just about everything off their menu, we decided to go to The Orange Tree for a change. It’s part of the independent group of pubs The Orange Tree Group, which has venues in Loughborough, Leicester and Nottingham.
There was a lively atmosphere when we arrived and it was busy and full with a mixed clientele of students, couples, post-work drinkers, and larger groups. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the pre-Christmas celebrations, and the occasional Christmas song only enhanced this mood. The Orange Tree is unfussy and unpretentious; choose from one of the old, comfy sofas to enjoy your cocktail on for a laid back, chilled evening.
The Orange Tree offer an extensive cocktail menu, with prices ranging starting at £4.95 and the most expensive at only £5.95, so we were spoilt for choice on what to have. I started off with a Fruit Pastille – Midori mixed with Blackcurrant Teichenne, layered with Orange and Cranberry Juice. It looked impressive served in a tall glass with three distinct layers; I believe this is achieved by pouring each layer slowly onto an ice cube, requiring precision and patience, suggesting the staff here are well trained in cocktail making. I can’t resist a fruity flavoured cocktail, and I was happy to find that this once delivered. It was fruity, sweet and refreshing, without being too strong with alcohol.
Moving on, I decided to go for a classic Piña Colada – Havana 3 year old Rum, Malibu and Coconut Syrup, shaken with Pineapple Juice and a splash of Cream. The barmaid made too much so gave me the extra in a small glass, which was a nice added bonus! It’s recently become one of my favourite cocktails, and I’ve found that I now judge a cocktail bar on how good it’s Pina Colada is. The Orange Tree delivered a coconutty, creamy cocktail that tasted nice, but unfortunately I couldn’t finish it all because it became quite rich and sickly by the end of the first glass! So I’m still to find a Pina Colada in the same league as the one I had last week at The Lost and Found.
The Orange Tree have a Happy Hour between 8pm-10pm from Sunday to Thursday which is the perfect time for cocktails, particularly as a first stop on a night out. Keen to make the most of this offer, we decided to order two cocktails each before the Happy Hour ended! The first out of these was Bay of Passion – Absolut Vodka shaken with Pineapple Juice, layered over Passoa and Cranberry Juice. It sported another cool layered effect and contained one of my favourite drinks Passoa, a passion fruit liqueur. Again it was another fruity sweet success, served with lots of crushed ice, and I really enjoyed it.
However, the second cocktail I chose Caribbean Cooler [Appleton estate VX rum, Grand Marnier, Grenadine and Fresh Lime served over crushed ice] was very disappointed. It was completely undrinkable as it was just too strong, and I only managed a sip!
Hayley also had the Refresher – Stones Ginger Wine, Cointreau, Raspberry Teichenne and Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum shaken with Fresh Lime and topped with Lemonade. It was another great cocktail and tasted just like lemonade despite the high alcohol content; this is a bonus for taste, but it means you don’t realise how much you’re drinking!!
I really enjoyed the cocktails at The Orange Tree and (apart from the Caribbean Cooler) they were all of excellent. Although the staff were highly trained in cocktail making and delivered quick and efficient service, I thought that they were less friendly than staff at other cocktail bars that I’ve visited.
As well as cocktails, The Orange Tree also offer a tempting food menu which they update regularly with new exciting offerings. I’ve eaten lunch here before and the food has always been great, and you can read my review of the Lunch and Mocktails at The Orange Tree here.