Pictured at the launch of Sketch are General Manager Bastien Peyraud and staff member Leah Prendergast. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Sketch a new kind of night

Lockdown has seen many businesses use the time to re-invent themselves – some through just a new menu while other have ‘pushed out the boat’ and revamped completely.

The oldest hotel in town, The Imperial, has done the latter with a total overhaul of the hotel’s restaurant which has been transformed into a slick and stylish cocktail bar called Sketch. I was delighted when I received an invite to the official opening and dragged a reluctant Mr T along who acted as my designated driver – I do love a cocktail or two!

It was our first proper outing in a long time and it couldn’t have been for a better occasion as Cork’s food lovers came out in droves and it was great to catch up with a few people. The new décor is based on ‘an illusion of a contemporary night-time garden within a city’ and gives you the feel of the time of Grace Kelly who actually has visited the hotel 60 years ago.

The interior has been designed by local graphic designer, illustrator, and interior architect Ethan Desmond and stylist Sandra Looney of To Have and To Hold.

The result is a relaxed atmosphere with a bit of old fashioned elegance that I so love and even my designated driver enjoyed.

The cocktails were innovative, delicious and sometimes even dramatic.

My favourite cocktail was Whiskey Mellow – a combination of Roe & Co Whiskey, homemade marshmallow syrup (have to figure out how to make that), bitters, ginger ale and toasted marshmallows.

Spike Island came with a smoke cloche and added a bit of va va voom to the evening as well as the lemon meringue (made with homemade lemoncello) which was flambéed at the table.

The Oriental Martini was a bit too strong for me but I love the idea - mixing Ketel One Vodka with amaretto, star anise and sesame oil while the most elegant cocktail has to be Princess Grace and is made of Ketel One Vodka, strawberries, triple sec, champagne syrup and prosecco.

The food was served in beautiful birdcage etageres and came straight from the English market, consisting of charcuterie, cheese, seacuterie (love the take on charcuterie and making it seafood), plenty of vegan options and of course a delicious selection of sweet delights.

When you order from the birdcage menu, look out for the © icon – as the hotel will donate €1 to charity when ordered. Congratulations to the Flynn Family, general manager Bastien Peyraud and the design team for creating a beautiful spot in the city.

I’d like to give a special mention to our waiter, Conor who looked so well after us.

Sketch is a great addition to Cask in McCurtain street and the River Club in the River Lee Hotel – we will be back and with the Jazz Festival this weekend, we have loads of wonderful choices now.

Sketch is open Friday to Sunday from 5pm. Call 021-4274040 for bookings.