A STRONG Saturday night atmosphere does not materialise out of nowhere - but the crackling energy found at Smith’s Bar in Colchester is explainable by both its distinctive appearance and extremely charming staff.

After an amazing – but child-friendly - pantomime at Mercury Theatre, Smith’s Bar between the theatre and East Hill was a tempting sight.

Having noticed the stand-alone building several times before, jutting out into the street with its outside seating, Smith’s seemed transformed by the early Christmas period when I visited. It felt like the busiest tavern in the area.

Inside, my friend and I were quickly served by young men with crisp haircuts who were impeccably dressed in waistcoats and white shirts.

More impressive was the way they managed to make us feel at ease and not rushed by giving us menus and time to decide, while serving others in the very busy bar.

Gazette: Sip - The best thing about the £9 Cosmopolitan was how well it suited being savoured due to its almost velvety and textured tasteSip - The best thing about the £9 Cosmopolitan was how well it suited being savoured due to its almost velvety and textured taste (Image: Newsquest)

Choosing a table in-front of the window and next to the bar, we were treated to a front-row performance: one of the senior bartenders teaching a younger employee how to make two classic Cosmopolitans.

With very chilled glasses, the cocktails were quickly and carefully made with each individual step getting examined at every stage.

A slice of orange was added at the end, before being set aflame, making for a fruitful and sweet smell.

Gazette: Boozer - Smith's Bar in Colchester Boozer - Smith's Bar in Colchester (Image: Google Maps)
Both flaming Cosmopolitans passed with flying colours and in our opinion were worth their individual £9 price-tag, thanks to their presentation, balanced rich taste and the fact that they were suited for being sipped.

The Cosmopolitan was truly so good that getting another drink felt like setting yourself up for disappointment.

But I endeavoured, asking another young bartender to make me his favourite drink.

Gazette: Strong - The 'Old Fashioned' drink before it was made slightly weakerStrong - The 'Old Fashioned' drink before it was made slightly weaker (Image: Newsquest)

Politely, the bartender explained clearly how The Old Fashioned, also £9, may not be for everyone and throughout ensured he could make it weaker for me after it was made if needed. Both skilled and kind of him.

Perhaps it was the weather, (it was the then coldest night of the year), or my persistent cold, but the Old Fashioned felt not that dissimilar to a Hot Toddy: medicinal in a boozy, festive way.

I did end up weakening my drink – although it was still very strong for myself – but what I really liked about this drink, and Smith's, was they did exactly as said, on the gin tin.

Fancy drinks - which are very worthwhile but admittedly at the top of my budget - served by truly valuable bartenders.

Rating: 4 ½ stars