Hendrick’s Unusual Preposterous Proposal Throne

So yesterday was that most unusual day where women had the opportunity to propose to their partners. Over the past month, Hendrick’s have taken advantage of this peculiar time by running the ‘Ladies School of Nuptial Conquest’ and ‘School for Scoundrels’ at bars around  the country, teaching the aspects of how to woo your man, or how to counteract your ladies advances. The school exam culminated to one day – Wednesday 29th February, where on the banks of the River Thames, Hendrick’s throne was set up for the chance to propose, with a Hendrick’s cocktail thrown in for good measure!

By all accounts it was a great success, with couples enjoying the peculiarity of the day, and the odd choice of venue with the back drop of Big Ben. But then again, what did you expect from Hendrick’s?!

Click here for more pictures from the proposal throne!


Hendrick’s Preposterous Proposal Throne

Make a Leap of Faith next Wednesday 29th, on Hendrick’s Preposterous Proposal Throne…


On the 29th of February each leap year, the normal rules of courtship are reversed, and women may freely pursue and propose to gentlemen of their choice.

The number one piece of advice for ladies looking to obtain their desired gent’s hand in 
marriage is to conduct their proposal in public – no self-respecting ROTTER would 
tarnish their reputation by leaving a lady so helplessly adrift.

HENDRICK’S PREPOSTEROUS PROPOSAL THRONE will be popping up in London, inviting ladies across the city to get down on one knee and perform the duly deed of proposal at the following locations throughout London:


Wednesday 29th February

0900 – 1030: Lambeth, Embankment (Corner of Lambeth Bridge / Lambeth Palace Road) Lambeth Bridge SE1 7SG

1245 – 1415: Potters Fields Park (off Tooley St / Potters Field) London Bridge SE1 2


We invite you to share this momentous day and be captured in a most unusual cucumber & rose picture at London’s iconic locations.

Whether you’re a lady who wishes to woo your man to the alter, or a gentleman wishing to retain your liberty, Hendrick’s Gin has also created a series of tips to prepare you for this topsy-turvy time of year – see them here: http://www.youtube.com/user/theunusualtimes


Do remember to follow the adventures & most unusual proposals @hendricksginuk #ProposalThrone

Pitcher and Piano Review

Last night, myself and two friends decided to take advantage of a rare night off together and head into Manchester’s Deansgate Locks for a bite to eat at Pitcher and Piano. Located along a strip of railway arches that carries the Metrolink line above, it incorporates two floors, both with outdoor seating overlooking the canal. On a rainy night though, inside is a lot more inviting, with comfy leather boothed seating dotted around between the two large rooms.

New Yorker Burger

After browsing their menu of homemade burgers, mains and salads, I went for their ultimate burger – The New Yorker (£13.45). Two 4oz beef burgers, one chicken breast, two rashers of dry-cured bacon, Butler’s Secret Mature Cheddar and beef chilli. A BBQ burger (8oz beef burger, dry-cured bacon and Butler’s Secret Mature Cheddar topped with jalapeños and BBQ sauce – £9.95) and Halloumi Salad (Pan-fried halloumi cheese, roasted butternut squash, sun-dried tomatoes, baby spinach, radicchio, sunflower seeds and lemon & caper dressing – £8.95) were also ordered along with a round of drinks involving Brookyln Lager (5.2%) for myself. I’ve tried Brooklyn lager before when I was last at Odder bar, it’s a light malt, soft with a slight dryness. There was a lovely roast malt aroma being released on the aftertaste and was a very easy drinker!

Our burgers arrived, presented stacked high with a small bowl of skinny fries on the side. Toppings of beef chilli dripping over the sides of the burger made this an impossible one to eat without the use of a knife and fork, but the size of the burger would deter the most able person. Piping hot through out, with the fries never once becoming stone cold. For an ultimate burger, it was finished rather quickly, yet it was the right amount to decline a dessert and also to not feel like your craving more. A good sign!

We finished our visit chatting in the surroundings of this rather cosy environment, with some ambient music and the company of a few couples dotted around. It felt relaxed, which after a day in Manchester, is sometimes what you need before the commute home. And if your me, you’d have in your hand a Patron Coffee over ice. Heaven. We didn’t stick around to sample their drink delights this time, but I’ll be back – I noticed a Raspberry Sherbert (Bacardi Superior Rum, Chambord and Disaronno Amaretto shaken with lime and cranberry juice) that has my name all over it!


To check out more from Pitcher and Piano in Manchester, including venue hire and bookings, click here.


© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. 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.

Coco’s Review

Recently, I ventured along the Metrolink line to Altrincham, a reviving town which has added a new addition to its ranks – Coco’s Italian restaurant. Located on Regent Street close to the main high street and the back streets of Belgian and European bars, it houses a small bar and long restaurant that s split into two. I met with my family and were quickly greeted and seated in the front part of the restaurant, close to what looked like a rather fantastic window seat looking out into the bustling back streets of Altrincham.

After browsing the rather extensive food and wine menu, I plumped for a pint of the Italian Birra Moretti and chose the ‘Gamberoni Aurora’ as my starter – king prawns baked in garlic, fresh herbs, cream and Napoli sauce topped with mozzarella and then baked in an oven. The Birra Moretti had an instant dryness to it, but had very little malt flavour which resulted in a rather light offering. Once my starter arrived, a nicely presented fanned casserole dish with 5 large king prawns sat in the middle of the garlic and herb cream sauce, with the lightly baked mozzarella layered on top. A unique idea that I’ve never come across before, I thought it made a change to the usual prawn cocktail. Perfectly cooked, the king prawns were piping hot, with the sauce a great compliment that didn’t look greasy or burnt around the edges.

'Gamberoni Aurora'

Once the starters were finished, my Calzone was on its way – a folded pizza with ham, mushroom, garlic, salsiccia and mozzarella served with a bolognese sauce. Brought out with simplicity being the aim, the calzone was presented in the middle of the plate, with the bolognese drizzled in the middle that let the sauce slowly branch out. Once again piping hot, there were good portions of the fillings, with only a small hint of garlic which didn’t overpower the meal. The mozzarella was light and didn’t ‘clog’ the mouth as I took each bite, which you can sometimes get with regular home-made pizzas.

All dishes were made to order, so there was a little waiting time between courses, however the ambience and feel of the place made it enjoyable. Conversation didn’t have to be on shouting level, the music had authentic Italian artists singing songs you would tend to find in a cafe square and the light colours of the walls mixed well with canvases of night skylines and drawn flowers – all which are available to buy.

Too full for dessert, a good choice on my part as the counter that held the fresh desserts seemed way too appealing, we finished off with another round of drinks and enjoyed the company of the friendly Italian waiters as the restaurant slowly went from full to empty. And this was on a Monday.


This is a fine Italian restaurant which has only recently been opened. They pride themselves in using fresh ingredients, with the meat and cheese sourced directly from Italy, and fish from the local market. Excellent service, fantastic food and a great experience was had, and will hopefully have again when I’m next in the area. Would highly recommend!

For more information on Coco’s, including opening hours and private function availability, click here.


© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. 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.


Belvedere Tasting Notes

I’ve recently been blessed with the chance to add one of the worlds premium vodkas to the sites growing vodka category – Belvedere. I’ve been using Belvedere lately as part of my spirit training sessions, and thought it would be only appropriate to recognise this Polish delight and let you all know a little bit about it. So here goes –

As mentioned, Poland is the home of Belvedere, yet has only been around for the past 19 years. Their distillery however has been in use for over 100 years. Situated in the small town of Zyrardów, west of Warsaw, two brothers – Dawid and Mejer Pines, established the ‘Żyrardów Polmos (Belvedere) distillery in 1910. The distillery was originally home to the production of spirit and vodka and soon after World War 1, the distillery was purchased by the Dauman family who ran the business until the outbreak of World War 2. Once 1932 rolled around, all the equipment was modernised to become one of the most technologically advanced distilleries in Europe at that time. At the end of the war, the new communist regime nationalised Żyrardów along with 24 other vodka distilleries, all renamed ‘Polmos’ followed by the name of the nearest town (i.e. Żyrardów Polmos). During this time, vodka’s including Wyborowa, Zubrowka and Luksusowa were all produced here amongst others.

After the end of communism, Polmos Żyrardów decided to create their own vodka that would distinguish them from the other Polmos distilleries. Belvedere was born. Named after the Belweder Palace in Warsaw, which itself translates as ‘beautiful to see’, it became the acid-etched drawing that embraces each Belvedere bottle. The first bottles of Belvedere vodka were produced in 1993, where it quickly gained a reputation in Poland. Around this time, the USA were in the midst of seeing a boom in premium spirits, and one American, Edward Jay Phillips who was a third generation liquor distributor, travelled to Poland in search for the next premium vodka. After discovering Belvedere, he created the Millennium Import Company in 1994 and acquired the sole US distribution rights where in 1996, Belvedere was launched to growing sales in the US. The distillery was privatised in 2001, where a year later, Louis Vuitton • Moët Hennessy (LVMH) purchased Millennium Imports with a 70% stake, and then fully purchased only 3 years later.

The production of Belvedere is rather a simple affair. Its base grain is a Polish 100% Dankowski Gold Rye, from the Mazovian soil in Zyrardów where it is slow fermented for several days. The raw spirit is distilled at several agricultural distilleries and sent to Polmos Zyrardow for rectification. The spirit then goes through a three column distillation process at the distillery. Belvedere use their own water source, an artesian well, where it is purified and then blended with the spirit of Belvedere until it reaches an ABV of 40%. The vodka is then filtered twice, once through a cellulose filter that will remove microscopic particles and then through an activated carbon filter. After filtration, the vodka is ready to be bottled, where it passes through 33 quality control checkpoints. As the iconic bottles are filled they are individually inspected and hand finished with the application of the famous blue strip stamp.

Belvedere Range

So with a rather localised feel to Belvedere, how does it fare? Below i give you my tasting notes.

Belvedere – 40%

The nose embraces light floral notes with subtle hints of parma violets and vanilla. A full, round, smooth taste of vanilla creates a velvet texture on the palate, with hints of white pepper and spice coming through near the end. A long finish of clotted cream and almonds is rather welcoming.

Belvedere vodka is also an award-winning product, having won two silvers and a gold at the 2010 Annual Vodka Masters. They also have 9 other variations, including five infused flavours (bloody mary, pink grapefruit, orange, black raspberry and citrus), an award-winning 50% ABV version named ‘Intense’, a special edition bottle (BELVEDERE) RED that contributes 50% of the bottles global profits to the (RED) AIDS charity, Belvedere ‘Unfiltered’ which is distilled from Dankowskie Diamond Rye and Belvedere IX which is a maceration of nine natural ingredients and botanicals – guarana, ginger, ginseng, jasmine, cinnamon leaf, sweet almond, eucalyptus, black cherry and acai juice. Hopefully I’ll be able to add all these variations to the site very soon!


Belvedere Black Raspberry – 40%

Lots of fresh, dark raspberries on the nose with a strong, deep aroma. However rather light on the palate, with only subtle hints of the raspberries. Rather short.

Belvedere Grapefruit –  40%

Very fresh and ripe on the nose and doesn’t overpower the senses. Very light on the palate with a long, refreshing flavour of grapefruit.

Belvedere Orange – 40%

An almost perfume fragrance aroma on the nose, which carries on to the palate in much the same way. Very light and short.

Bloody Mary – 40%

Soft spice mixes well with ripe tomatoes on the nose, with a slight harshness at the end. A good balance of tomato and spice, with creamy textures coming through.

Belvedere Unfiltered – 40%

A slight natural alcohol nose, but deepens near the end. Soft and smooth on the palate, with a bold tingle as it finishes.

Belvedere Intense – 50%

Very clean on the nose, with hints of chocolate slowly released. Intense smoothness with an instant mouth-watering effect that creates a long offering.

Belvedere is a fantastic choice if you’re looking for a reasonable priced premium vodka, and can be found in most bars and restaurants and mixing with the cocktail likes of a Martini or Moscow Mule. Below is a simple recipe to create at home, or ask your local bartender to create for you. Enjoy!

Belvedere Masquerade

Belvedere Masquerade

Glass –


Ingredients –

50ml Belvedere Vodka
15ml sugar syrup
20ml lemon juice
6 fresh raspberries or 20ml raspberry puree
Dash egg white

Method –

Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with a splash of soda and garnish with a raspberry.

To see the rest of the photos, taken at The Circle 360, visit my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. 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.

Hendrick’s Unusual Month of Reverse Courtship Review

Last Thursday, Hendrick’s gin rolled its way into Manchester’s Northern Quarter, and to the rather Hendrick’s esq venue of Apotheca. The reason? Hendrick’s were celebrating the unusual month of reverse courtship by holding special classes revolved around the do’s and don’ts on marriage proposal. Enjoying a couple of Hendrick’s and tonic’s whilst we waited for everyone to arrive, we all wondered what the night might entail. It turned out that we would be split into two groups, the girls stayed upstairs for the ‘Ladies School of Nuptial Conquest’, whilst the guys were taken to the downstairs bar area for the ‘School of Scoundrels’. Now I have to admit, this article will be rather bending towards what happened during the ‘School of Scoundrels’ as both classes were played out at the same time.

Mr David Pipers explaining the nights events

After making our way downstairs and enjoying another Hendricks and tonic, Mr Sebastian Fellows, our teacher, introduced us to his right hand women Violett, who would be demonstrating the art of how to avoid the inevitable question that women can ask. Scenarios played out included the various opportunities that women can grasp while enjoying a slow dance (for example, just as the lady is about to pop the question, you spin her away!), the nervous twitch a man can suddenly develop that leaves the woman feeling a tad uncomfortable, ‘the drop’ – where as she’s about to propose, you suddenly drop and catch her and completely change the subject, and the last act of being caught totally unawares – counteracted by asking your own question (the ruder the better) which culminates in a slap. Mr David Pipers, ‘Hendrick’s Commander of Special Operations’ and host for the evening, also gave his own tip on how to counteract your lady – repeat everything she says in a sexual innuendo tone, eye brow raising for effect!

Sebastian had us all interacting and taking part in the scenarios, asking us to come up with various reasons and excuses to counteract this unusual proposal. Once ready, we were then taken upstairs and ‘unleashed’ upon the waiting ladies and their unsuspecting question, complete with a Hendrick’s ‘guys only’ cocktails, the aptly named ‘Last Word’.


Violett and Sebastian going through the scenarios

Last Word

20ml Hendrick’s Gin
20ml Maraschino Liqueur
20ml Green Chartreuse
20ml Fresh Lime Juice
Combine all in shaker and shake hard over ice. Strain into ice filled Rocks glass and garnish with a slice of cucumber.
Adapted from a cult classic cocktail – prohibition era. Created at the Detroit Athletic Club. Not that well documented, but normally served straight up in a martini glass. Shouldn’t work when you look on it on paper, but works a treat – nice balance of spirit, herbal and sweetness. Finish that lasts forever – and hopefully till your lady gives up!

Due to the amount of interaction Hendrick’s had us involved in, I have uploaded all the videos of the ‘lessons’ from both the ‘School of Nuptial Conquest’ and ‘School for Scoundrels’ here.

Check out my Facebook page for more photos of the event here.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. 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.

Hendrick’s Ladies School of Nuptial Conquest & School for Scoundrels

I give to you below, various videos regarding the lessons that were taught to us during Hendrick’s Unusual Month of Reverse Courtship at Apotheca, Manchester. Enjoy!

Hendrick’s Presents the School for Scoundrels, Lesson 1: Thief

Hendrick’s Presents the School for Scoundrels, Lesson 2: Debtsmanship

Hendrick’s Presents the School for Scoundrels, Lesson 3: Slap

Hendrick’s Presents the Ladies School of Nuptial Conquest, Lesson 1: Handkerchief

Hendrick’s Presents the Ladies School of Nuptial Conquest, Lesson 2: Whisper

Hendrick’s Presents the Ladies School of Nuptial Conquest, Lesson 3: Yes

Hard Rock Cafe Bar Review

Yesterday I swung by Manchester’s Printworks where the ever impressive Hard Rock Cafe can be found. A popular place that in the past has always left a lasting impression on me whether its food or drinks, this time though, I went for a couple of cocktails before the commute home.

Rum Runner

Making my way to the large open bar, a rather busy, yet unfazed barman was creating drinks left right and centre, so I scanned the bar menu and looked for any delights that caught my eye. Almost immediately, the Rum Runner was selected. A combination of Bacardi Superior, banana, Chambord, grenadine, orange juice and sweet and sour mix, shaken and poured over ice with a Myers rum floated on top. Fantastic! Despite the bar being a little busy, I was served within minutes and I was enjoying the drink as I took in the rock memorabilia around me. Being a Manchester based venue, there were quotes from Oasis scrolled around the walls, The Beatles equipment, and even Roger Taylor’s (Queen) jacket from a tour. Signed posters, records, drum kits and guitars were all neatly presented so that it didn’t look like your were drinking in someones cluttered basement, but more an open museum. Anthems from Muse, Journey and even Louis Armstrong were played in the background, loud enough for you to hear, but quiet enough for you to actually enjoy a conversation without straining your voice.

The next drink I chose was the Exotic Margarita. A blend of Patron Silver tequila, Cointreau and Monin Pomegranate, shaken into a rather sizeable Margarita glass complete with salt rim. Noticing that Hard Rock stocked one of my favourite tequila’s, i looked over their back bar to see what else they offered. Bourbons Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Makers Mark and Knob Creek mingle with Myers, Bacardi Gold and Superior whilst Grey Goose, Skyy, Absolut and Stolichnaya are available for your vodkas. I even spotted a bottle of Remy Martin XO on the shelf! On tap, only Stella Artois, Becks Vier and Boddingtons are seen, however their bottle collection more than makes up for it including Corona, Budweiser, Magners, Heineken and Leffe Blonde. A simple yet good selection of wine is also on offer, with all bottles less than £20, with the odd bottle of sparkling wine and Champagne thrown in their too.
Back to the cocktail menu, and theirs all your usual finds in Long Island Ice Tea, Cosmopolitan, Daiquiri and Mojito as well as a few variations of the Margarita.  Their ‘Alternative Rock’ section is for the drivers of the day, with a ‘Groupie Grind’ not surprisingly catching my eye! (mango puree, pina colada mix and pineapple juice with a strawberry swirl). The cocktails are between £5.15 and £6.80 which are bargains, especially with the size glassware you can get with some of the cocktails. A selection of the drinks can even be upgrade to have them made into a Hard Rock Cafe branded glass, which you can then take home with you – a collection that is growing steadily at mine!

Exotic Margarita

My time at Hard Rock Cafe flew by as I got caught up in the atmosphere and chatting with Nathan the bartender. A man of many stories, including the time he had to host one of Hard Rock Cafe’s ‘Shake It Up’ events with 12 women, who were determined to drink nothing but straight vodka! He’s also a man of class, naming the Old Fashioned as his favourite drink.

This is an excellent place in the heart of Manchester to come and unwind after work or a day of shopping, with kids allowed to be present too so families are welcome. The restaurant on the upper level never seemed empty, despite it being in the middle of the afternoon, and the comfortable looking bar booths and high tables were filled with business men, chatting women with glasses of wine, or families waiting around for a short while to experience the food menu – a menu that will be explored on my next visit!



Myself and my friend popped in to Hard Rock Cafe for a bite to eat after a long day in Manchester this week, after the promise to myself to explore their extensive menu after my visit above.

Jumbo Combo

Being seated straight away, we were nestled on the outskirts of a relatively full restaurant, with menus handed to us and orders of Margaritas taken. Myself I went for an Exotic Margarita (the same as above, with a combination of  Patron Silver tequila, Cointreau and Monin Pomegranate) whilst my friend enjoyed a rather fancy yet sophisticated looking Tropical Rock (Absolut Raspberri, crème de banana, piña colada mix, pineapple juice and Midori). With big appetites to fill, we opted for the Jumbo Combo to share, which once arrived, wished we’d brought backup! An array of Santa Fe spring rolls, Hickory-smoked chicken wings, onion rings, potato skins and tupelo chicken tenders, all served with ramekins of BBQ, sour, mushroom and blue cheese sauce. Laid out over an oval place, with a sundae bowl in the middle that held the spring rolls amidst lettuce, jalapenos and tomatoes with dollops of cream sauce to mix, the presentation alone was a sight to see. With an atmosphere comprising of a mix of rock and roll and indie tunes, together with families, couples and the odd group of friends, it gave the place a sort of relaxed feel, with no hint of a rush. There were a few customers dotted around in the bar too, with the familiar sound of a cocktail shaker being put to good use on many occasion.

Once we made our way through the platter, our mains arrived, with a good-sized 10oz burger cooked medium rare for myself (you have to applaud a restaurant that asks customers how they would like their burger cooked – a trend that unfortunately doesn’t seem to catch on at others), smothered in Hickory BBQ sauce and caramalised onions and topped with crisp seasoned bacon and melted cheddar cheese. My friend opted for Hard Rock’s Legendary 10oz burger that comprised of two slices of cheddar cheese, onion rings, lettuce, tomato and pickles. With fries on the side of both, and although piping hot throughout, I have to admit we were defeated fair and square. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs this time round! We were given time to ‘attempt’ to finish after a glass of water but it was not to be. And as you can imagine, we laughed with the waiter over his habit of asking if we would like to see the dessert menu.

With no obligation to leave, we finished our drinks and chatted before browsing their Hard Rock store for a memento of the night. A rather snazzy Hard Rock t-shirt bought by myself – well I do already have all the glassware that’s available!

Hickory BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger

We genuinely had a great experience at Hard Rock Cafe. The food was excellent with great portions, cooked to spec and piping hot, the Margaritas were spot on, and the service we received could not have been faulted. The prices are reasonable too, with the sharing combo £15.95 and both burgers at £13.50. Theres more to offer than sharing platters though, with nachos, chicken wings, potato skins and bruchetta to choose from, before you hit the mains that include BBQ ribs or chicken, club sandwiches and a range of salads and burgers. With kids menus available too, families are welcomed, even at the bar where there is a slimmed down menu to enjoy.

I might try that side out soon, but in the meantime, give Hard Rock Cafe a go, and give me a shout if you see me there!

To check out photos from all my Hard Rock Cafe visits so far, click here.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. 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.

Mancunian Matters welcomes new columnist

Thought i’d share with you all the piece that Mancunian Matters wrote to introduce me as their new columnist. Great times ahead!

MM welcomes new columnist – Manchester’s favourite taster and mixologist… ‘Drinks Enthusiast’

Article Image

ENTHUSIAST: Manchester’s finest consultant
Posted Monday, February 13, 2012 – 17:51

By Dean Wilkins

MM will be collaborating with one of Manchester’s best drink consultants to bring you the latest and greatest news and reviews of the city’s finest watering holes.

David Marsland is a respected blogger in the Manchester area and is widely regarded as the man to please when it comes to fresh concoctions whipped up by the city’s daring bartenders. Drinks Enthusiast and Mancunian Matters have teamed up to deliver exciting coverage of the most recent drinks nights, latest tastes and what exactly is causing a stir in home-grown bars and restaurants.

David has uncorked his thoughts on numerous festivals across the city and nationwide, including the National Winter Ale Festival 2012 and Manchester’s Food & Drink Festival 2011. He has also received praise for his work from alcohol heavyweights Malibu, Southern Comfort and Crabbies Ginger Beer.

On working with Mancunian Matters David said: “The chance to work with a local company, with as much passion as MM has, is exciting! It’s a great opportunity to collaborate with a team that is rivalling one of the city’s biggest publications.”

David has worked as a bartender for the past five years and has been noting his thoughts and opinions on beverages since last July. Both parties are aiming to cover the most important events in Greater Manchester, events which David described as ‘plentiful’.

He added: “There’s always something going on in Manchester, with drinks to taste and events to go to. I started doing it in my spare time and now have people asking me to come down and review their nights. It’s sort of spiralled out of control.”

There will be a range of pieces to follow, covering Manchester’s vast range of restaurants and bars. This spring will see the return of numerous drink festivals and watering hole events, MM will be supplying content courtesy of a man with specialist taste, who appropriately chooses his favourite drink as ‘The Godfather’.


To see the article in all its glory, clich here

Kamm & Sons Ginseng Spirit

A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to indulge my senses into a rather diverse new spirit – Kamm & Sons (or as it was previously known, Kammerlings). Hosted at the appropriate venue of Epernay, Manchester, Alex Kammerling showed an air of enthusiasm behind his creation as we delved into his findings, his reasons behind his venture, and of course some cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Kammerlings - as it was previously seen

So to start us off, Alex told us all the history of alcohol and its first uses for medicinal purposes. Alcohol was heavily used as a botanical medicine and created the category vermouth. Vermouth is a combination of fortified wine and dry ingredients such as aromatic herbs, roots and bark. The antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties of all these plants have been used since there was life on this planet, but the consumption of vermouth was widely believed to have begun in ancient Greece around 400 BC, where the extra dry ingredients were added to the wine for two main reasons – one was to mask the foul odors and flavours that wine produced at the time, and the other was to make it a medicinal drink to help treat stomach disorders, internal parasites etc. This coined the expression “Lets drink to health”.

‘The father of Western medicine’ Hippocrates was one of the first people to treat illness as something that was caused naturally and not as a result of superstition, and paved the way for the use of alcohol as an ailment. His legacy still upholds today as each new physician or healthcare professional requires to swear against the Hippocrates Oath. The Chinese invented the art of distillation around 200BC which alchemists then brought over to Western Europe between 1300 and 1700, to experiment on aqua vitae, or the “water of life”. This distillation of a new spirit was seen as a status in society compared to the usual tipple of wine or beer. Angostura bitters, a new version of vermouth, was first compounded in Venezuela in 1824 by a German physician, Dr. Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert, as a cure for sea sickness and stomach problems. The difference between vermouth and bitters is that bitters don’t have the use of fortified wine, and the main ingredients found include cascarilla, cassia, gentian and orange peel. Bitters themselves are not distilled like vermouth, but infused by a process named Tincture which involves putting herbs in a jar and a spirit of 40% pure ethanol is added. The jar is then left to stand for 2–3 weeks, shaken occasionally, in order to maximise the concentration of the solution.

During the prohibition era, bitters were not banned as doctors protested that the alcohol used was strictly for medicinal purposes. The early 1900’s saw the wave of drug companies that killed off the use of bitters as the ailment to natural remedies. They were also keen to dispel herbal medicine as old fashioned or hippie-ish.

So with a brief history lesson, Alex then explained his reasons behind Kamm & Sons, telling us how he first had the idea whilst working for Martin Millers where he helped create their Westbourne Strength gin.  His great-grandfather was also an inspiration. His career was a practitioner in medicine which lends it hand to the medicinal shaped bottle that now houses Kamm & Sons. Alex started off with 100 botanicals, carefully blending, mixing and creating different aromas and flavours for over 5 years until the right recipe was found. He infused them all with alcohol for 3-4 weeks, filtered them, then tested them, adding sugar or watering down to see if it changed the floral, taste or sweetness of the outcome. Eventually, 4 types of ginseng root (Red Korean, White Panax, American and Siberian) were chosen, with 41 other botanicals, including Ginko Biloba, Echinacea, and Goji berries, as well as fresh grapefruit and orange peel.

Alex uses the traditional gin distillation method, where a small pot still houses all of the botanicals. The resulting alcohol vapour is added to an herbal infusion that contains manuka honey, gentian and wormwood, and then blended with annatto seeds to give it its burnt orange colour (Kamm & Sons is sold in a brown bottle as the anatto seed colouring will go clear if in sunlight). Water and a small amount of sugar reduces the ABV to 33%.

Kamm & Sons were offered around, so I give to you below my tasting notes –

Kamm & Sons – 33%

A soft ginseng aroma on the nose creates a sweetness that blends with citrus, floral flowers and fresh bark. The palate enjoys a fruity, fresh, and only a slight bitterness and spice which . Sweetness from the honey is noticeable, and creates a long, slightly dry finish.

Alex creating some Kamm & Sons cocktails

Alex finished off his experience with the creation of some Kamm & Sons cocktails. Below are a selection of cocktails that include Kamm & Sons, all easy to create at home, or ask your local barman to craft together for you. Enjoy!

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The Precurser




50ml Kamm & Sons
35ml Grapefruit juice
15ml Elderflower cordial


Shake and strain, garnish with lemon zest

Adam & Eve




50ml Kamm & Sons
75ml Lychee juice
75ml Grapefruit juice


Build over cubed ice, garnish with lemon wedge and cucumber slice

The Grosvenor


Small cocktail glass


50ml Kamm & Sons
15ml Punt e Mes
5ml Islay whisky

Method –

Stir with cubed ice, garnish with lemon peel

The First Word




50ml Kamm & Sons
25ml Lemon juice
2 bar spoons Maraschino liqueur
2 bar spoons sugar syrup
dash of egg white


Shake and strain, garnish with lemon zest


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