Category Archives: General

Ron de Jeremy

Ron de Jeremy
Most spirit brands in the world will have some association with a celebrity, entrepreneur, fellow brand within a different sector, or in this case, a porn star. Define Ron Jeremy as an actor and all of a sudden the taboo goes away. After all, George Clooney and Dan Ackroyd are two who stand out as a perfect example of crafting a spirit and promoting it as such.

I’m not going to focus on the man himself though for this feature, as it’s the rum that hits the table in the form of its XO and Spiced expressions.

The XO is said to celebrate the extraordinary life of Ron Jeremy, seeing a blend of selected pot and column still based rums from Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana, aged for up to 15 years within ex-American oak bourbon barrels. It’s spiced expression uses rums from Trinidad and blended with exotic spices.

But how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Ron de Jeremy XO – 40%

Honey, toasted maple syrup and walnut come through upon the nose. Smooth offerings of sweet honeycomb, toffee and slight burnt cinnamon on the palate, leading to a lingering thick vanilla finish.

Ron de Jeremy Spiced Hardcore Edition – 47%

Rich nutmeg, toffee and fudge aromas on the nose, followed by toasted marshmellow. Soft, sweet caramel on the palate, with slight orange rind and warm cinnamon powder, resulting in a long lingering finish.

Good sipping rums, and a cracking base for something like this;

Ron de Jeremy
Cherry J Sour

Glass – 

Rocks

Ingredients – 

50 ml Ron de Jeremy Reserva
20 ml Fresh Lemon Juice
20 ml Cherry Marnier
10 ml Creme de Cacao Dark
1 Barspoon Galliano
5 Drops Plum Bitters
20 ml Egg White

Method – 

Shake all ingredients over ice and double strain over ice filled rocks glass. Top with grated chocolate.

A great talking point for your drinks cabinet, and the spirits stand up, so it’s not just the expected gimmick!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Windspiel

Windspiel
German efficiency is world-renowned within the engineering world, but the last few years has seen it up its game when dabbling into the wider world of spirits, including that of gin. Monkey 47 set the benchmark for the German style of gin, and Windspiel have decided to come across and raise it further, dabbling itself into the potato side of the spirit.

Friends Sandra Wimmeler, Denis Lönnendonker and Tobias Schwoll bought in 2008 the Weilerhof farm in Berlingen, itself within the Volcanic Eifel region of western Germany, where Tobias, with a background in agriculture and a desire to become a farmer, immediately took to tending to the land. The team initially grew Elephant Grass before moving onto potatoes and it was while feasting over the latter one evening, gin in hand, that they apparently hit upon the idea of making a spirit out of their growing supply.

With the likes of Chase Distillery proving that potatoes are a great base for a spirit, the resulting two years had the team craft and develop alongside master distiller Holger Bolchers, who creates the raw alcohol in his home town in Northern Germany.

But how is it all created?

The first step taken is the harvested potatoes by Tobias, which are then sent to Holger, who grinds them up and mixes them with drinking water. The mash (the alcohol producing mash, not the food) is then gently heated to trigger the conversion to sugar, then cooled and mixed with yeast to stimulate the conversion to alcohol. The resulting liquid is distilled twice in a large continuous still to raise the ABV and to purify the spirit. The neutral spirit is further finished in a small 150lt still to add a final dose of smoothness.

To create the gin itself, each botanical element (including juniper, lemon zest, coriander, lavender blossom, ginger and cinnamon) is added to the spirit separately and then distilled as individual components. After a few weeks of resting, the team blend these distillates together, before adding further spirit and cutting to bottling strength, producing around 800 bottles per run.

And the name itself? Here’s an extract from the Windspiel website to explain;

“. . . . . the four friends remembered a visit to a woman in the neighbouring village. At that time, they were new to the village and everyone wanted to know who these four newcomers were. Sandra, Denis, Rebecca and Tobias did not want to be impolite and were happy to take up her invitation. She told them plenty about the surrounding area, about old Mr Weiler who used to own the farm, and the later it got, the further back she went in German history. Eventually, when it was getting quite late, the lady began talking about King Frederick the Great of Prussia. According to her, he was supposed to have met Leopold Joseph Graf von Daun in 1757 and talked about the Eifel „Tartoffel“ or potato. Frederick the Great was very impressed. So impressed that he had the idea of conjuring up something special from this fine tuber – creating an exquisite liquor would have been the crowning achievement of his life‘s work. Unfortunately, it didn‘t turn out that way. As they thought about this story, the four friends simply had to laugh. But still, what if it were true? They wanted to establish the facts and researched everything they could find on Frederick the Great. The dog lover, Sandra, was particularly enthusiastic about his passion for greyhounds. He even wanted to be buried with them. Her enthusiasm was contagious and quickly spread to the others and this is how they linked one passion with another. They called their exquisite liquor: Windspiel Premium Dry Gin. Dedicated to Frederick the Great, who discovered the potato in Germany and his second great passion: the greyhound, or in German „Windspiel”.

So how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Windspiel – 47%

Fresh, subtle notes of lemon, lavender and coriander upon the nose, following onto the palate nicely as it coasts alongside the smooth potato spirit. A slight earth note, with waxy lemon peel, juniper and bark, finishing with a lingering spice freshness.

A stunning gin to drink neat or over ice, and at 47% abv, can stand up to a simple gin and tonic;

Windspiel

Highly recommended for your drinks cabinet at home, both as a talking point amongst the gin category, and the base within its own branded gin and tonic!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Zeca

Zeca

Cachaça is a criminally underrated Brazilian spirit, with most bars and restaurants stocking it out of curiosity, rather than intent. The cachaça based Caipirinha is probably the most well-known signature serve from the category, with many venues pushing flavoured variations to their customers as if the fruit were the last available.

But what about just taking a seat and enjoying the spirit for what it is? Capturing a country within its reasoning, much the same way we look at whisky from Scotland, tequila from Mexico or Armagnac from France.

With this mindset, lets take a look at Zeca, new to the UK market and recently launched into the likes of Selfridges and Harvey Nichols.

Hailing from the apparent lush green mountains of Brazil’s hidden Zona Da Mata, in Minas Gerais, Zeca has been hand-crafted by the Matos family estate for over 100 years, using only traditional methods. Utilising once-pressed sugar cane grown at high altitude, the juice is distilled in old alambiques and resulting in Zeca, itself paying homage to Joseph “Zeca” de Matos, the first of the family to be born in Brazil and son of the pioneer Antonio de Matos, who moved from Portugal in 1891 to settle in the untamed region of Minas Gerais.

Created by Marcos Matos and Tony Austin, the focus is not solely on the liquid itself, but also the aesthetics of the brand, including the bottle illustration that brings to life the diversity and beautiful abundance of the Minas Gerais gem stones producing region of Zona da Mata. The blue colour apparently stands for the gem amethyst, whilst the purple celebrates the oxidised colour of the alambique copper, the most traditional cachaça distilling apparatus that they utilise.
The Tamanduá anteater is the brand’s most lively character, a natural pest control who roams the sugar cane fields at night eating the ants.

So how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Zeca – 40%

Passionfruit and dried banana peel come through on the nose, with hints of fresh sugarcane present. Damp earth blended with rich sugarcane and flesh fruit on the palate, bringing in a slight zest spice. A long finish.

A real kick of artisan Brazil, perfect to be sipped. Although they do recommend it, if you wish to have a longer serve, with fresh ginger beer or homemade lemonade. One to add to your drinks cabinet if you wish to pack a Brazilian offering to your friends and family.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Boodles

Boodles Mulberry

Standing out in the ever-growing gin world can be hard work. Staying in can be an even harder task as the consumer trends can waiver at the drop of a hat. It’s with this that I take a look at a gin that I’ve worked with on the odd occasion over the last few years, but never really sat down to take an in-depth look.

So, here goes.

Despite only hitting the shelves since June 2013, Boodles Gin is associated with the likes of Ian Fleming and Winston Churchill due to its history stretching back to 1845. Named after the Pall Mall Gentleman’s Club called Boodles, over time it became increasingly hard to find here in the UK. Resurrected by G&J Distillers, it continues to be different in not including any citrus botanicals on the assumption that it will always be served with lemon or lime.

The gin itself? British wheat spirit base with non-citrus led botanicals including nutmeg, sage and rosemary. But it’s not the original I want to focus on today, it’s their Mulberry expression.
Paying homage to the mulberry tree, a familiar site in the English countryside, they’ve taken the opportunity to feed a fresh interpretation of the more traditional sloe gin. Made with mulberries, the Boodles gin itself and a blend of natural ingredients, Boodles Mulberry became the first ever Mulberry expression to hit America.

But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Boodles Mulberry – 30%

Thin notes of fresh raspberry and soft currents upon the nose, with a silky texture offering upon the palate. Slightly dry, the fresh kicks of soft berry create a sweet, warm finish that lasts long on the finish.

A tasty tipple on its own, a fizz concoction should not go unnoticed;

Boodles - Mulberry Fizz
Mulberry Fizz

Glass – 

Coupe / Collins

Ingredients – 

60 ml Boodles Mulberry
30 ml Lemon Juice
2 Mint Leaves
Soda Water

Method – 

Combine Mulberry gin, lemon juice and mint in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice and top with soda water.

A great variation on the berry styled gin liqueurs on the market, and one that seems to offer flexibility in how it can be consumed! One to offer a space to in your drinks cabinet. 

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

The Winning Formula: Antica Formula Launches Cocktail Competition

Antica Formula cocktails
Bartenders from across the UK will put their mixology skills to the test in a cocktail competition showcasing the versatility of Antica Formula, the original Italian vermouth.
At stake is the chance for four regional winners to enjoy an exclusive VIP trip to Milan to visit the Fratelli Branca Distillery, where Antica Formula is still made to the original 1786 recipe.

With Antica Formula a key ingredient in three much-loved cocktails – the Negroni, Americano, and Hanky Panky – entrants will need to demonstrate their knowledge of the heritage and character of the iconic red vermouth.

UK distributor Hi-Spirits is inviting bartenders to create their own aperitivo recipe based on one of the four classics. The drink must either feature on the cocktail menu or as a special at their bar. The shortlisted finalists will be invited to compete at four regional events in Scotland, London, the North West and the Midlands, where they will be asked to:

• Make three of their chosen cocktail from the Negroni, Americano and Hanky Panky; the drinks will be made individually and contestants judged on consistency;
• Make the cocktail which they originally submitted to the competition.
The four regional contests will be decided by a panel of judge headed by Nicola Branca, world ambassador for Antica Formula. Judges will be awarding points for drinks that reflect the tradition and strengths of Antica Formula, as well as the contestants’ technical skills.

Dan Bolton, managing director of Hi-Spirits, said: “Antica Formula is at the heart of some of the world’s best-loved cocktails. We’re not only inviting the UK’s top bartenders to show that they can make the classics expertly and consistently, but also that they have the skill and ingenuity to create an aperitivo of their own as a twist one of these great cocktails.”

The competition opens on 1 May, and entrants have until 31 July to enter their aperitivo recipe online at http://www.Hi-Spirits.com/competitions, where full terms and conditions can be found. The regional finals will be held between 4 and 8 September, with the winners heading to Milan later in September.

• Antica Formula is the classic Italian red Vermouth, sweet and with a subtle vanilla aroma. It was created by Antonio Benedetto Carpano, the inventor of the Vermouth category, in 1786. Made by Fratelli Branca Distillerie with a selected infusion of mountain herbs and spices, including saffron, Antica Formula is produced in limited quantities and sealed with a cork in a distinctive brown bottle which includes a reproduction of the original 1786 label. As well as an essential ingredient in many classic cocktail, Antica Formula is ideal to drink over ice with an orange wedge, both as an aperitivo or after dinner.

For more information, contact Hi-Spirits on 01932 252 100, email info@hi-spirits.com, or visit http://www.hi-spirits.com.

Old Rip Van Winkle

Pappy
A rare occurrence happened recently, where an exclusive tasting event of the Old Rip Van Winkle range, or Pappy Van Winkle as it’s more commonly known within the bar trade, came to Manchester.

Your’s truly managed to bag himself a seat at the table with 4th Generation Preston Van Winkle.

Lets dive in and check out why Old Rip Van Winkle became one of the most sought after American Whiskies.

Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle began working at W.L. Weller & Sons as a travelling whisky salesman during the latter half of the nineteenth century, before ending up as the President of Stitzel-Weller Distillery after acquiring with Alex Farnsley W.L. Weller and the A Ph Stitzel Distillery (producing Old Fitzgerald and W L Weller amongst others). Pappy’s son, Julian Jr., operated the distillery from 1964 until the family sold it in 1972, resulting in the formation of J.P. Van Winkle and Son that specialised in commemorative bourbon decanters and bottling. Julian Van Winkle Jr also created a new brand in the pre-Prohibition style, using whiskey stocks he had wisely kept by from the previous distillery. Eventually, he created the Old Rip Van Winkle label as a side venture in case his son, Julian III, wanted to come into the business.

Julian III did take over in 1981 after his father passed away, and despite a lull in bourbon business,  Julian purchased the Old Hoffman Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, for barrel storage and bottling purposes. Julian III’s son, Preston, finished his college degree and joined his dad in the distillery in 2001, doubling the size of the sales team at The Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery after realising his passion at the 1999 Kentucky Bourbon Festival.

Buffalo Trace bought the W.L. Weller label in 1999 and had been making the bourbon with nearly the same recipe as Pappy’s, resulting in an approach to Julian III, something which he wasn’t initially interested in. It wasn’t until May 2002 that a deal was reached and Buffalo Trace started to produce the Van Winkle bourbons, using Pappy’s exact recipe.

All of the bourbon sold under the Van Winkle label is distilled from a mashbill with no rye; rather, they use wheat instead.

Pappy 2
Preston Van Winkle

So with this knowledge, lets take a look at the range –

Old Rip Van Winkle 10yr – 53.5%

Bottled as close to barrel proof as possible, with a splash of Kentucky limestone well-water.
Rich, bold butterscotch aromas on the nose, mixed with caramel, dark cocoa and a slight dry corn note. Subtly sharp upon the palate, offering a warmth with butter, cream soda and a lingering corn, spice and dry raisin.

Van Winkle Special Reserve 12yr – 45.2%

Soft caramel and subtle butterscotch on the nose, with hints of straw and olive oil coming through. A balanced texture, with light honey offering up a natural sweet profile. Long finish with corn and caramel combining for an oily texture.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15yr – 53.5%

Crafted according to the exclusive family wheated recipe.
Banana leaf and mellow corn arrives on the nose, followed by a subtle Pedro Ximénez note. Soft sharpness on the palate, with lemon peel and a subtle stemmed cherry profile arriving for the short, thin finish.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20yr – 45.2%

Hazelnut, caramel and chocolate hazelnut offer up a dry oak finish on the nose. Subtle hazelnut though on the palate, resulting in a dry, light oak with butter thickening up the texture into an oily, long finish.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23yr – 47.8%

Soft notes of light butter, caramel and oak upon the nose. Subtle sweetness provided on the palate, with dry oak, straw and honey offering up a long, grass fresh finish.

A stunning range of American Whiskey, and highly sought-after for their sipping qualities. If you can find one, grab a bottle for your drinks cabinet, open, sip and enjoy.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Barceló

Barcelo
Barceló, hailing from the Dominican Republic, has a slightly unique trait in that it’s the only Dominican Rum to be manufactured directly from sugar cane juice.

A good start, but how did all it come to this?

In 1929, Julián Barceló arrived from Spain to Santo Domingo and founded Barceló & Co. where soon after he began producing one of his first rums and selling it throughout the country. After experiencing the local brands on the market, he decided to create and release in 1950 the Ron Barceló brand, and with it the Barceló Blanco and Dorado, (white and gold rums respectively), followed about 20 years later with the Ron Barceló Añejo (a mature rum).

In 1974, Don Julián Barceló handed over the reins of the business to his nephew Miguel Barceló and 6 years later, in 1980 Ron Barceló Imperial was born, becoming the most internationally awarded Dominican rum.

Following this in the 1990’s, Barceló & Co. gave a group of Spanish businessmen, themselves enjoying a long history of producing wines and spirits, the rights to export Ron Barceló. These entrepreneurs founded Ron Barceló SRL. and by 2006, had sold into 25 international markets, resulting in Ron Barceló SRL. taking over Ron Barceló completely, with the third generation Barceló’s, namely the Barceló Díaz and Garcia families, remaining on the Board of Directors and completed with a package redesign on the Ron Barceló Imperial, Gran Añejo and Añejo.

Currently, Barceló is available in over 50 countries worldwide and enjoys being the 4th largest exporter of rum in the world.

Barceló also comply with the ‘Ron Dominicano – Designation of Origin’, meaning rum producers must harvest the sugar cane, ferment, distill and age the alcohol in oak barrels for a minimum of one year, all within the Dominican Republic.

So how is the range produced? Lets take a look –

Once harvested, the sugar cane is unloaded from wagons by crane and then cut into small chunks, resulting in an easier process once it goes through the next stage, the milling. This extracts the juice from the sugar cane itself by compressing the chunks. It then heads to be fermented, which is the chemical process performed by yeast where the sugar cane transforms into predominantly ethanol and carbon dioxide, resulting in wort at around 7-8% proof that is then stored in tanks before heading to distillation.

The wort enters a column still where the vinasse and the low-grade alcohol (phlegm) are separated. The vinasse is used for fertiliser within the cane fields, and the phlegm passes through 3 more column stills where hidroselection, demethylation and rectification occur, finishing with a proof up to 95% alcohol with a balanced congener content. The resulting liquid is then stored within toasted American white oak barrels for at least one year.

All of Barceló’s rums are made by carefully selecting the lots of barrels that have completed the pre-established ageing process. These are emptied and blended in stainless steel tanks by the rum masters, before being bottled and labelled.

So, how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on my experiences so far –

Barceló Imperial – 38%

Aged for between 8 and 10 years. Heavy hints of toffee on the nose, with some intermittent hits of spice to compliment whilst on the palate, a smooth texture with a slight sweetness of vanilla and caramel. The flavours of dry fruits is also detected, although the caramel and vanilla are the dominant forces. Finishes well with a lingering after-taste of caramel.

Barceló Imperial Premium Blend – 43%

A limited edition bottling of Barceló, created in celebration of 30 years production. Every year since 1980, Miguel Barceló has set aside private reserves of his rum for two extra years of ageing, and has used these to create their Imperial Premium Blend.
Slight dry raisin upon the nose, with an orange and seasoned wood note coming through. A slight kick of butter on the palate, resulting in a ‘side-dry tongue’ that kicks up with walnut, orange rind and fresh stemmed cherry. Very long on the finish with black walnut present.

And the Barceló perfect serve?

Barceló Piña colada
Barceló Piña Colada

Glass – 

Highball

Ingredients – 

75 ml Barceló Platinum
3 tbsp Coconut Milk
3 tbsp Chopped Pineapple

Method –

Place all ingredients into blender add 2 handfuls of crushed ice and mix at high speed for 30 seconds, strain into cocktail glass.

A great choice of rums here from the Dominican Republic, with the sipping styles of the Imperial and Imperial Premium Blend highlights so far. Perfect to have one of two in your drinks cabinet.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

British Bartender Launches New Book, Bar & Art Gallery In Vietnam

Richie Fawcett, Bartender Artist

Cocktail-artist Richie Fawcett has invented a new dimension of drinking artistry which tantalizes the senses in every respect. As a self-styled ‘bartist’, he has launched his book Cocktail Art of Saigon featuring 41 original recipes. They are accompanied by his own cocktail illustrations, with fine-art street scenes of the capital Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and fascinating stories of the city’s history. He is set to open his own bar and art gallery later this Spring. The Studio Saigon will be located in the heart of downtown Old Saigon on the first floor of a 1930s residential block. Entry is through a hidden entrance that is used as a motorbike parking hall. The adventurous initiatives reflect the fast emerging bar scene in Vietnam, with many talented bartenders and an increasing clientele seeking discerning cocktail experiences with world-class standards.

British bartender Richie Fawcett moved to Vietnam in 2011. He set up numerous bars in the country and progressed to manage the city’s first rooftop destination, Shri Restaurant and Lounge, where he gained a reputation for inventive mixology. As a talented photographer and fine artist, he took inspiration from the exotic corners of old Saigon to create a portfolio of pen drawings. The energy and curiosity of his pen racing across the paper creates exuberantly detailed street scenes. His book Cocktail Art of Saigon draws ideas from the culture and idiosyncrasy of the streets and its characters. It immerses you into the city’s history, and his cocktails are inspired by everyday life, emperors and missionaries, poets and revolutionaries. For the first time, the Cultural Department of Vietnam has officially authorized the interpretation of the country’s history in this way. The lavish book serves as the cocktail menu at Shri Restaurant and Lounge, and will become the central inspiration for his new bar & gallery The Studio Saigon, where a selection of these cocktails will be served.

As a judge in the prestigious Academy for selecting the World’s 50 Best Bars, Richie has an expert’s eye for perfection. Describing his own dual venture, Richie adds, “My book is about how much I enjoy this amazing city, its warmth and its history. Each drawing is equally detailed, and the street scenes and friendly people have inspired me to create these new cocktails. My new bar is for friends and customers who I have enjoyed drinking with. The bar and the book reflects the way in which I discovered the city – hopping on a scooter or walking at random, and discovering a thrilling new experience around every corner.”

Cocktail Art of Saigon, the book / menu – drinks with a view
The hard-back book features 41 original cocktails by Richie Fawcett – to celebrate 41 years of peace after the war. His pen illustrations flow throughout, showing a tour of historic landmarks and lesser known corners of old Saigon, as the eye is drawn to the cocktails. Recipes feature ingredients from local markets, house-made specialities, local liqueurs, and premium spirits brands. Easy enough for fans of fine cocktails to savour and appreciate, they will inspire you to turn your hand to mixing yourself, even if to enjoy the heady aromas of the exotic fruits and spices. Fascinating narratives about the city keep you reading as you sip, and make the book ideal for fans of world-travel and gourmet discoveries. The book is currently available from Shri Restaurant and Lounge for VND500,000. (approx. £17.50 / US $22) and soon via Amazon.

The Studio Saigon, the bar
This curious hybrid bar-gallery is set to open in April 2017. It epitomizes so many aspects of Richie Fawcett’s admiration for the city. Even the balcony overlooking the historic street corner holds a significance – simply watching passers-by in every corner of the city inspired him to create his book and his bar.

Inside, classic white walls create a gallery space for Richie’s black and white sketches. Step in further to be surprised by a floor to ceiling panorama of the city. Walk through an invisible door cut into the picture, as if to enter Old Saigon by stepping through a frame. The bar area, in contrast to the gallery, is an intimate and cosy awakening of sensations. Enter through another door to an area which serves as Richie’s storage for traditional oriental herbals. It is decorated with tones of grey, warm orange and silver. Curios and ornaments which he has sourced from local antique markets are displayed on the many shelves. They include a collection of balance scales, which are also a symbol in his book to indicate the taste balance of the cocktails. The array of local herbs in the drawers are used in cocktails from the book for bespoke omakaze creations by Richie.

Sink into leather sofas and armchairs next to the fire and enjoy one of the cocktails from the menu, inspired by the country. As if you were in a private lounge, the open bar is like a bar in reverse. The open cabinet gives the impression you are sitting amidst the action, in the same way as at a chef’s table in a fascinating, skilled kitchen. With an additional drinks trolley for table side mixing, the mood recalls old Saigon during the height of colonial French rule, when it really was called the Pearl of the Orient.

From there, double doors open onto an intimate balcony. In early evening, as the heat of the day subsides, the sounds of the street echo into the room. The imagination drifts into the night, as calls from streets sellers grow fainter as they move past.

The cocktails
Exotic ingredients, through to simple, humble produce from local street markets, are adventurously prepared in Richie’s cocktails. Aromatic peach and vanilla, lychee and ginger, cucumber and elderflower, almond and cherry – then you are hit with the surprise of smoked barbeque or the refreshing tang of beer. The cocktails in the book follow three categories to reflect Richie’s artistic concepts: area, landmark buildings, and streets. Areas are represented by small batch bottled cocktails, and buildings and streets are individually represented in formats from handmade wooden carved boats, turtles to mini BBQ trays. His collection of six original small batch, bottled cocktails bear labels with illustrations of old Saigon. They are already on sale at the iconic lifestyle shop and bar L’Usine http://lusinespace.com Ho Chi Minh City.

St Lucia Distillers Set to Travel Around the UK

Distillers-Final-LogoThis March and April, UK distributor Emporia Brands have put together a calendar of events involving its award-winning St Lucia Distillers range, after the initial success of last year’s programme.

Brand Ambassador Dave Marsland and the Emporia Brands team will be touring fifteen cities as they bring together the Chairman’s Reserve range, which includes Gold, Spiced, White Label and Forgotten Cask, the Admiral Rodney, and an edition of premium expression 1931, plus a selection of the distillates from which they are blended.

In 1931, the Barnard family founded a distillery at Dennery, St Lucia. Now based on the other side of the island at Roseau, the distillery has been considerably modernized and new technologies and improvements constantly incorporated. The installation of pot stills in 1998 added considerably to the variety of rums being produced in this highly regarded distillery which received the accolade of Individual Distiller of the Year at the International Spirits Challenge, one of six trophies received in six years – a unique achievement.

With the premise of a flavour experience, the tour sees an approach to the range that offers bartenders and key industry figures invited to not only learn about St Lucia, but ideas on how to embrace the versatility of St Lucia Distillers, from the Spiced variety to the rare 1931.

Cities on the tour include Manchester, London, Leeds, Brighton, Liverpool, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester, Newcastle, Cardiff, Reading, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Glasgow, with Emporia Brands looking to strengthen their campaign as they look ahead to the next instalment of the ‘Chairman’s XI’ with their ever-expanding sales team seeking out some of the UK’s best and brightest to follow in the footsteps of some of the industries key figures, including Lyndon Higginson of The Liars Club in Manchester, Danny Murphy of Aloha in Liverpool and Adam Binnersley of the MOJO Group.

Places are limited for each session, due to the rarity of gaining the exclusive 1931 and distillates for the tasting’s. To secure your place, please contact Dave Marsland at dave@emporiabrands.com, stating the session you wish to attend from the list below.

Manchester       Mojo’s, 9th March, 1:30pm

London                 Burlock, 15th March, 2pm

Leeds                    Mojo’s, 15th March, 1:30pm

Brighton              Oki Nami, 21st March, 1pm

Liverpool             Maya, 23rd March, 1:30pm

Birmingham       Island Bar, 4th April, 2pm

Nottingham       Brass Monkey, 5th April, 3pm

Leicester             The Queen of Bradgate, 6th April, 2pm

Newcastle          Alvino’s, 11th April, 1pm

Edinburgh           Reekie Tiki, 16th April, 4pm

Cardiff                  The Dead Canary, 21st April, 2pm

Aberdeen           Bos’n, 23rd April, 3pm

Dundee                 Draffens, 24th April, 4pm

Reading                               Milk, 26th April, 2pm

Glasgow              Distill, 26th April, 4pm

 

Follow Chairman’s Reserve on Twitter @ChairmansUK, Facebook at www.facebook.com/ChairmansReserveUK and Instagram at  www.instagram.com/chairmansreserveuk

Follow Emporia Brands on Twitter @EmporiaBrandsUK, Facebook at www.facebook.com/EmporiaBrands and Instagram at www.instagram.com/emporiabrands

Altos Tequila Launches The Tahona Society Cocktail Competition 2017

TAHONA_2107
Altos Tequila is inviting bartenders across the world to increase their understanding of Tequila, perfect their mixology skills and gain international exposure by entering the Tahona Society Cocktail Competition 2017. Considered the world’s leading Tequila education programme, national heats are set to begin this month ahead of the global finale in Mexico in September.

Founded in 2010 by leading bartenders Dré Masso and the late Henry Besant, the Tahona Society welcomes mixologists to ‘Join the Mexican Evolution’ in its 2017 edition in response to the cultural movement in Mexico towards a renewed focus on craft, mastery and sustainability. These values are at the core of the creation of Altos Tequila and are reflected in the Tahona Society programme, as entrants must craft a cocktail that represents sustainable values, celebrates the flavour of agave and can be paired with a variety of authentic Mexican street food.

Local heats are set to take place from this month until September in a record 28 markets, such as USA (Texas, LA and NYC), London, and Paris. Designed to educate bartenders about the quality and provenance of Tequila, the importance of sustainability in bartending, and feature a comparative Tequila tasting, the heats will culminate with the national Tahona Society Cocktail Competition.

The winner from each country will be invited to Mexico for the week-long global Tahona Society Cocktail Competition in September. During the festivities, competitors will take part in a series of masterclasses – led by global bartending legends such as Dré Masso and Mexican agave spirits expert, Alberto Navarro – receive a tour of the Altos distillery and have the opportunity to explore the Los Altos region in the highlands of Mexico, where Altos Tequila is crafted using traditional production methods.

The second and third place winners will also travel to Mexico for the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the country’s ancient tradition of agave spirit production, as well as to guest bartend in one of Mexico City’s leading bars.

The final contest will be judged by a jury including Dré Masso, a worldwide famous surprise guest bartender and the Tahona Society’s 2016 winner, Kelsey Ramage; and will challenge the finalists to create their cocktails with an added local-flavour twist, sustainable values and lead a short presentation and Q&A explaining the rationale behind their serve. The overall winner of the Tahona Society 2017 is set to become the Tahona Society Global Ambassador for one year and will have the opportunity to choose four countries to deliver a Tahona Society event next year.

Dré Masso, co-creator of Altos Tequila, says: “Our mission with the Tahona Society Cocktail Competition is to spread the love and knowledge of authentic Tequila around the world. It is important that we continue to provide support and education for future bartending generations by encouraging sustainability, which is at the heart of our business and at the future of the industry. We are proud of Altos’ sustainability credentials – in fact the total waste from our distillery would fit into a car boot – and we’re hoping this will inspire our 2017 entrants. Previous winners have completely blown us away with their innovation and skill, and I cannot wait to see what this year’s competition holds!”

The 2016 Tahona Society crown was given to Kelsey Ramage from renowned London bar, Dandelyan. Ramage overcame fierce competition from 20 of the world’s most talented bartenders with her winning creation, Never Die. Chosen by the expert panel of judges for its exceptional taste and ingenious use of local ingredients.

Bartenders from around the world can follow the competition and register their interest on the Tahona Society Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/TahonaSociety and are invited to contact Altos Tequila representatives in their markets for more details.