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Alston Bar and Beef - Glasgow’s Gastro-Gin Goodness

BY: Ann Nugent | 18 Nov 2015

Knock three times, and say the secret password.

That was what immediately came to mind as I entered the unassuming dark-wood doorway of Alston Bar & Beef Glasgow’s coolest steak and gin joint, nestled underneath the city’s Central Station. Step inside however and suddenly you’re awash with a delicious soft violet-tinged light and taken on a journey down a theatrical staircase with a huge vertical drop featuring designs from seriously trendy Glaswegian style-makers Timorous Beastie - quite the tone-setter for an evening of prohibition style decadence in this hidden gem of a bar and restaurant.

Alston’s claims that it serves the best steak in Glasgow may be bold, but the meat – specially reared and hand-selected from Family Butcher John Gilmour of East Lothian – is divine.  According to Alston Glasgow’s favourite cut is the fillet – dry aged for 35 days, but there are generous options for meat-lovers including a selection of 28-35 day dry-aged steaks, including the porterhouse to share.  And while there’s little more romantic than getting in and about a juicy piece of meat with your better half, on this occasion we both opted for our own separate sirloins – ‘Joey doesn’t share food’, and neither does my beau.  

A little word of warning however, if you like your steak well-done then make your request once, twice – maybe three times.  Underline it on your server’s pad if they’ll let you.  I have a feeling that Alston’s Chef knows best and my medium-to-well-done meat came to the table with blood - only a little, but enough for an Elastoplast or two.  I swallowed my squeamish side along with the steak though, and oh mmmmmmy, it was juicy and seasoned to perfection, all salty and peppery and meaty and oily and oooooh.  Butter came on the side (tomato and basil for him, garlic for me… and him, yep – my food he shares), as did a side of battered onions (massive battered chunks of salty oniony heaven) and buttered greens.  He had man-sized steak-chips – I went for mash, but there’s also an option for sweet-potato-fries should you be inclined – and a dessert menu to follow should you have the room (we didn’t, but I’m still dreaming of the heavenly sounding pear crumble).

Alston is one of a growing handful in the city that celebrates gin – or the ‘ginaissance’ as they like to call it.  The bar has over 50 gins including a dozen or so that are produced in Scotland, including The Botanist (famous for having 31 different botanical flavours) and newly launched Edinburgh-based Daffy’s Gin – made with Lebanese mint expertly mixed with a plethora of alternative rare botanicals using innovative malt whisky techniques.  We opted for two Daffy’s Mint Gin Twists – Alston’s signature cocktail made with Daffy’s gin, Lime Juice, Apple Juice, Mint leaves – shaken (not stirred) and strained over ice and topped up with homemade ginger beer – a hazy summer evening in a glass.

Looking for an alternative night-out or gift for the gin-fan in your life, when why not sign up for Alston’s Gin and Cocktail Masterclass.  Gin is made for mixing and there are more classical cocktails made with gin than with any other spirit – Negroni, Ramos Gin Fizz, Martinez, Gin Rickey, Red Snapper, Tom Collins, White Lady, Hanky Panky, Clover Club, Alexander, French 75, Gimlet, Vesper, Singapore Sling, Silver Bronx, Pegu Club, Bee’s Knees, Southside… you get the idea.  Most classic Martinis are gin-mixed too – Bond doesn’t know what he’s missing.

Not a fan of gin or steak (who are you?) then don’t worry as Alston caters for all with wine, spirits, cocktails and beers – and chicken, chops and even a vegetarian option on its menu too.

Alston Bar & Beef hides under Central Station at 79 Gordon Street, Glasgow, G1 3SQ.

Daffy’s Gin can also be sampled at The Finnieston, The Kelvingrove Café and Gin 71 in Glasgow.

Images courtesy of Alston Bar & Beef.