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.

Abelha Organic Cachaça Launches “Abelha Art Awards – Celebrating Bahia”

Abelha - Brasilian Lady

Abelha Organic Cachaça is looking to celebrate summer 2016 with a new-look label inspired by one the most colourful, vibrant and culturally diverse states of Brazil, Bahia, where Abelha is made. In order to find the design for the label, Abelha is launching a global competition, the Abelha Art Awards – Celebrating Bahia.

The competition is open to everyone; whether they are an artist, a designer, an illustrator or a bartender. The winning label design will be on stockists’ shelves and behind bars throughout summer 2016 and the artist whose design will be chosen will also receive a prize of €2000.

The brief is simple; create a piece of artwork, preferably two-dimensional, that can be used on a bottle of Abelha Organic Cachaça. Take inspiration from any shape, form, instrument, food, landscape, people, heart, simplicity or the rural rhythm of Bahia state. To inspire even further, Abelha will be sending out samples of the cachaça to those within the Europe Union so they can experience the lush, green, fresh flavour of the cachaça.

A competition will run until 6th February where a panel of judges will choose the top ten pieces of artwork. The artworks will then be displayed in an exhibition marking the launch of the new label, which takes place in June. The chosen label design will also be unveiled at the event.

To find out more details about the competition, please click here or email artcomp@abelhacachaca.com

The Summer Label 2016 will be the second limited edition label to be produced by Abelha Organic Cachaça. Earlier this year, Abelha collaborated with Brazilian based urban artist Ananda Nahu to create the first limited edition label. Her Abelha label captures all aspects of her more large-scale works; the woman portrayed on the label excites the senses and highlights the rich history of Bahia. Playful honeybees dart amongst flowers in full bloom in a world where cachaça is a feast for both the eyes and the mouth.

Abelha Organic Cachaça is an artisanal organic cachaça hailing from the lush green hills of Bahia´s countryside, a north-eastern state in Brazil. The plantation is located in the small town of Rio de Contas, surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Chapada Diamantina National Park. Abelha has a strong commitment with organic farming practices, traditional distilling methods, fairtrade principles, simplicity and joie de vivre. Bahia is well regarded as one of the most beautiful, artistic, fun-loving and musical regions in Brazil. Launched in the UK in 2009, the brand quickly reached the premium level category due to its quality and taste. Abelha Organic Cachaça is now available at top UK bars, restaurants and retailers including Marks & Spencer and Harvey Nichols. Abelha is sold in 11 different countries

Nick Gentry And Crystal Head Vodka Collaborate For ‘Use Your Head’

Crystal Head vodka

Become a Part of World Famous Art

Crystal Head Vodka invite you to participate in the sensational “Use your Head” project which puts their infamous skull bottle into the hands of the world’s most ground breaking artists.

The artists have been briefed to customise a 3L Jeroboam of Crystal Head Vodka to create a one-of-a-kind collector’s item.

Legendary British artist Nick Gentry is one of the art-world stars chosen to lead the project – his artwork will be for sale and on display exclusively at Selfridges as part of their spectacular Christmas showcase for thousands of pounds!

Gentry’s Crystal Head Vodka sculpture will incorporate hundreds of small personal items that have been contributed by people across the
globe ranging from jewellery, watches, ornaments and handwritten notes. Nick said:

“The Crystal Head Vodka “Use Your Head” project is an iconic concept and I value the fact that it dares to be completely original. For my artwork, the public are invited to contribute personal artefacts and materials. These everyday objects are ingrained with memories and personal experiences, which are unique to each viewer. While these objects physically remain frozen in time, the meanings are constantly changing.”

Everyone’s favourite Ghostbuster and Blues Brother, Dan Aykroyd, who is also co-founder and owner of Crystal Head Vodka, has donated a very personal item to the artwork:

“My maternal grandfather served in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant. Therefore I have included a lead figure depicting an RCMP Constable riding a black stallion.”

The “Use Your Head” project sees Nick Gentry stay true to his mission of creating “social art.” Donated material is an intrinsic necessity in Nick Gentry’s art. It is his ability to turn obsolete media into beautiful portraits that is one of the most recognisable features of his work. He regards the true subjects of his art to be in the materials, rather than the portrait he paints or sculpture he creates.

If you want to get involved in this exciting project, please send your items with a short description of your donation and its meaning to Nick’s studio, along with a return address:

FAO: Nick Gentry
c/o The Mill Co project
Unit 3
Gaunson House
London
N15 4QQ