Finalists announced for Northern Restaurant & Bar 2019’s national cocktail competition, sponsored by Ms Better’s Bitters, with the chance to win a VIP visit to Canada with guest shifts in Vancouver and Montreal.
Following a series of regional heats, the finalists have been announced for Northern Restaurant & Bar’s annual cocktail competition, sponsored in 2019 by Ms Better’s Bitters.
The winner will join Ms Better’s Bitters on a scenic trans-Canada trip with guest shifts in Vancouver and Montreal! Second place is a majestic treat filled day with Ms Better’s Bitters strolling along the River Thames, with third place being a trip to a London city farm followed by dinner and drinks with Ms Better’s Bitters.
Competitors were asked to submit a unique drink using at least one of the Ms Better’s Bitters range for their Big Beautiful Cocktail Competition! Regional semi-finals were held in February and early March in London, Birmingham, Leeds & Newcastle and the four finalists have been announced as:
1. Raven Ridge by Luke Bensley, Nocturnal Animals, Birmingham
2. Mr Brightside by Erion Bardhoci, Mezemiso at Crowne Plaza Albert Embankment, London
3. Wanderlust by Dan Smithson, Below Stairs, Leeds
4. Dillon Scott / Pleased to Meet you, Newcastle upon Tyne
“We have been exhibited at Northern Restaurant & Bar for the last 5 years and seen many other competitions take place. This year we felt we had a product in Ms Better’s Bitters that would give our entrants the freedom to express themselves and their talents. We set a very loose brief and were very pleased to receive nearly 60 entries. The finalists all showed great brand knowledge, creativity and quality drinks to earn their places and we are now really excited to welcome them to NRB19 in the Drinks Live theatre to see who will win the trip to Canada,” said Jonathan Braham-Everett of JBE Imports, UK distributor of Ms Better’s Bitters
Each finalist is invited to the final of the competition in the Drinks Live theatre at Northern Restaurant & Bar 2019 at Manchester Central on Wednesday 20 March 2019 at 15:15.
Northern Restaurant & Bar is the North’s hospitality show. As well as the Ms Better’s Bitters cocktail competition, the Drinks Live theatre features a line-up of tutored tastings and masterclasses from some of the best names in the business including the Schofield Brothers, Northern Hospitality and the BEAT team from Pernod Ricard. The theatre is surrounded by a curated selection of sprits from across the UK and around the world.
Free trade only tickets are available now at northernrestaurantandbar.co.uk/tickets
Sipping and aged rums, beers brewed 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle and a cocktail seasoning to gee up a Gin & Tonic, these are just some of the top tipples we recommend for gifts for Father’s Day (or any day or relative for that matter!).
Transport Dad to the Caribbean with one sip of El Dorado 12 Year Old Rum, often voted the world’s best rum. Made with sugar cane grown on the banks of the Demerara River in Guyana, South America, El Dorado 12 Year Old is rich amber in colour with a super attractive nose, packed with aromas of sugar, honey, banana, toffee, raisins and sultanas. The ripe, rich and balanced flavours deliver a sweetness after which the finish is delightful, elegant and dry. A real stand-out on the drinks shelf.
El Dorado 12 Year Old can be served on its own, with or without ice, or mixed into luxurious cocktails. Why not use El Dorado in classic cocktails such as the Old Fashioned or the Sazerac for alternative twist.
Where to try: For an El Dorado Old Fashioned, try Mojo Bars in either Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester. For an original drink inspired by a Sazerac and an Old Fashioned, head down to NOLA in London’s Shoreditch to try the VEP Rinse. Created by Katie Darling whilst she was working at Bellocq in New Orleans, the VEP Rinse uses El Dorado 12 Year Old, stirred down with sweet vermouth and bitters before being served on a Chartreuse VEP rinsed ice cubes and finished with a hint of lemon oil. It’s a rich drink with a light sweetness and subtle herbal overtones.
Staying on the rum front but moving up towards Bermuda, the home of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, a family secret has been revealed. Kept under lock and key for over 155 years, Gosling’s deep dark secret is the Family Reserve Old Rum. Crafted to the same exacting standards as Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, a key ingredient in the Dark ‘n Stormy cocktail, the Family Reserve Old Rum is left aging in once-used oak bourbon barrels until it has acquired an extra luscious, nuanced complexity, much like a rare Scotch or Cognac.
The bottle, which houses the Family Reserve Old Rum, pays homage to the champagne bottles that were salvaged from the British officers’ mess when the rum was first available. They were sealed with black sealing wax and soon, people were asking for more of the ‘black seal rum’. Today, each bottle is lovingly hand labelled, numbered, dipped in wax and placed in a straw-filled wooden box, reminiscent of days past.
Where to try: Home to the world’s most premium rum and gin offering assembled under one roof, the Merchant House which is tucked away on Well Court just off Bow Lane, is the place to sample the Gosling’s Family Reserve. Nate, Lewis and their knowledgeable team will be able to recommend the best way to enjoy this excellent rum.
Einstök Icelandic Pale Ale is brewed just 60miles south of the Arctic Circle in Akureyi in Iceland and was created by the first Icelander in fifty years to study on the prestigious brewing program at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh.
Fresh from being awarded two gold medals at the Los Angeles International Beer Competition and the San Diego Beer Competition, Einstök Icelandic Pale Ale is the best of American and Bavarian craft beer traditions joined together with the finest Icelandic water to create this Viking version of the Pale Ale, where robust hoppiness meets smooth malty undertones. Cascade hops give it the American character, while Northern Brewer hops add just enough bitterness to make this ale refreshingly Icelandic.
Where to try: Ever fancied a beer cocktail? Pop down to Oskar’s Bar in Dabbous in Fitzrovia where Oskar Kinberg has created The Drink With No Name combines Woodford Reserve bourbon, greengage ginger ale, lemon and Einstök Pale Ale, all in one delicious drink.
With summer just around the corner, give Dad the tools to make the ultimate gin and tonic or vodka and tonic. Like adding salt and pepper to a meal to enhance food, the equivalent in the drinks world is a dash of cocktail bitters, which are made from aromatic oils, herbs and spices. The Bitter Truth are committed to sourcing the very best ingredients in the world to create these tinctures which add depth of flavour, balance and aroma to drinks.
The Bitter Truth Tonic Bitters are easy to use and are a great and simple way to pep up a drink; just drop two dashes into your drink. It’s especially good if your lime or lemon is looking a bit desperate, as the Tonic Bitters gives the drink a lovely sherbety taste.
Made with natural ingredients, Tonic bitters are made using Grapefruit, Sicilian lemon, lime and Seville oranges These leading flavours are backed up with herbal notes from juniper berries, coriander seeds and spices such as mace creating a grassy-fresh bouquet like that of Japanese green tea.
Another bitter within the Bitter Truth range that is great for the home bar isThe Bitter Truth Orange Bitters. It provides an essential ingredient for classic cocktails such as the Martinez and the Manhattan and is also super with a few dashes dropped into a gin and tonic to bring out the citrus botanicals.
Where to try: Shrub and Shutter in Brixton has just launched its new cocktail menu and uses The Bitter Truth Orange bitters to bring out the fruitiness of the rums in the Citizen Kane cocktail. The cocktail is an old fashioned style drink using St George’s Agricole & Atlantico private cask, smoked sugar and angostura.
De Kuyper is one of the most recognizable range of liqueurs in the world, and since 1695 the brand has been divulging into a wide range of flavours that look to innovate and impress not only bartenders, but the consumers too.
So how did De Kuyper come about, and essentially be a part of many of the bars across the world?
As mentioned above, De Kuyper was founded back in 1695 by Petrus De Kuyper, initially as a manufacturer of barrels and casks used in the transportation of spirits and beer. By 1752, the family bought a distillery in Schiedam, Rotterdam as there was a lot of grain trading and by the 19th century, the company expanded its export business throughout Europe, Great Britain and Canada. In 1911, a new distillery was built in Schiedam, Holland which was then the leading center for the production of Dutch gin or genever, and thereafter the production of liqueur began. The roster of flavors slowly expanded, and partnerships were formed with distillers in Canada (1932) and the United States (1934, strategically at the end of Prohibition). By the 1960’s the production of liqueurs had overtaken the production of genever, and coupled with the promotion of liqueurs for use in cocktails, the sales of the brand grew.
In 1995, on the occasion of its 300th anniversary, the company received the title “Royal” from Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. This led to the company changing its name from Johannes de Kuyper & Zoon to De Kuyper Royal Distillers. In the same year, Erven Warnink – the leading producer of advocaat and cream liqueurs – was taken over by De Kuyper Royal Distillers.
The liqueurs themselves are split into a variety of sub-categories, including –
The Essentials; Apricot Brandy, Blue Curacao, Creme de Cassis, Creme de Menthe Green and Triple Sec
The Traditionals; Including Butterscotch, Creme de Cacao White and Vanilla
The Fruits; Including Dry Orange, Cherry, Mango, Melon and Passionfruit
The Distiller’s Signature; Including Cucumber, Lemongrass and Spicy Chilli
The current Master Distiller, Myriam Hendrickx, has been creating new and innovative flavours, such as the Cucumber expression, to positive reviews, especially with its versatility of serves. So below, I give to you my tasting notes on the De Kuyper range that I have had the privilege of experiencing so far, including some of their premium expressions and bitters that are away from the core range –
De Kuyper Cucumber– 15%
Using baby cucumbers, they are mashed into a pulp, then left to soak in neutral alcohol before being distilled. Then the brew is seasoned with rice vinegar and salt.
Rich, fragrant cucumber on the nose with a fresh offering that follows onto the palate. Thinner texture with a rich, fragrant kick that also offers a slight sharpness upon the finish.
De Kuyper Cherry Brandy XO – 28%
Made with Maraska cherries and almonds, before being blended with Grande Champagne XO Cognac.
Bold, rich notes of stemmed cherry upon the nose, albeit a little dry. Very rich on the palate, with a warmth from the stewed cherry flavours. A thick texture, long, with a mouth-watering finish.
De Kuyper Apricot Brandy XO– 28%
Made from apricots from France and Turkey and blended with Grande Champagne XO Cognac.
Rich honey on the nose, with bold kicks of the apricot and a dry finish. A natural sweetness lines the palate, with a thin yet long flavour of stemmed apricot.
The company also produce a range of bitters too;
De Kuyper Juniper– 64%
Very rich and tart on the nose, with bold kicks of juniper coming through. Rich, sweet and floral notes of the juniper upon the palate.
De Kuyper Orange – 64%
Soft, sweet candied orange on the nose, turning to a sharp hit on the palate. Bitter with a hint of natural sweetness following, then to a rich orange that offers a long, dry finish.
As mentioned, De Kuyper pride themselves in creating versatile expressions, so try your hand at some of these cocktail recipes –
15 ml De Kuyper Passion Fruit
60 ml Vanilla infused Vodka
15 ml Fresh lime juice
15 ml Sugar syrup
60 ml Champagne
1½ fresh passion fruit
Scoop the seeds and flesh of passion fruit into base of shaker. Add next four ingredients (all but Champagne), Shake with ice and fine strain into chilled glass. Separately, pour champagne into chilled shot(s) glass to serve on the side. Garnish by floating half passion fruit.
Blood & Sand
25 ml De Kuyper Cherry Brandy
45 ml Whisky
25 ml Sweet Vermouth
25 ml Fresh orange juice
Shake all ingredients in the shaker & fine strain in a chilled glass. Garnish with orange zest and cherry on a stick.
What do you call an ale that has been brewed from hops grown in the world’s oldest market? That’s the challenge that has been set by Borough Market which is celebrating its 1,000th year in Southwark by creating an as-yet unnamed landmark beer.
Specialist drinks company Utobeer and micro-brewery Tap East are brewing the anniversary beer from hops planted, grown and harvested in Borough’s on-site Market Hall but it is being left to the public to offer up naming suggestions which draw upon the area’s great brewing tradition.
Keith Davis from Borough Market said: “Southwark’s commercial breweries were among the first in Britain to popularise the use of hops and the area was once home to the largest brewery in the world. This prompted us to follow in the footsteps of our brewing forefathers and revive the legacy by creating our own brew.
“Over the past decade there has been a revival in the craft beer market and Southwark is at the heart of this revival, with a number of microbreweries setting up in the area’s railway arches and old industrial buildings. Borough Market’s own brewing operation will offer a welcome addition.”
The #BrandTheBrew competition is open to anyone over the age of 18 and can be entered via Facebook and Twitter. The winning name will be used on labels for the 500ml bottles of Borough Market Bitter and the pump clips for casks of the beer. The winner will receive a crate of their self-named beer and have the honour of pulling the first pint in The Globe pub where it will be on sale to members of the public.
Mike Hill, owner at Borough Market’s craft beer stall, Utobeer, said: “Borough’s hops are quintessentially British and, combined with the history surrounding Borough, led us to brew a style of beer that was traditional, British and had strong links with the Market. The winning name needs to reflect these values.”
A shortlist of 10 names will be selected by a judging panel of experts and representatives from Borough Market and the breweries on Wednesday 5th November 2014. The public will then be invited to vote for their favourites.
The beer consists of four main ingredients: water, malted barley, hops and yeast. The recipe involves a selection of hops and malts including East Kent Goldings which have a spicy, floral almost earthy aroma, as well as Fuggles and Styrian Goldings hops which provide a mild grassy, floral aroma.
Mike Hill of Utobeer gives his top tips for naming the Borough Bitter:
1. Describe the beer, it sounds obvious but really helps customers and staff. The beer type – bitter – will already be printed on the label, so think of a good name to run over the top of that. 2. Use a maximum of three words – too long and it gets confusing. 3. Avoid all the ‘isms’ and profanity – obviously – we are appealing to a broad section of the community. 4. Weak innuendo is another pitfall to avoid, it’s rarely funny. 5. In-jokes can be genius, but should work on a number of levels to have a wide appeal.
Carl Brown, from Dishoom has won the Vintage to Visionary competition, a collaboration between The Bitter Truth ™ – Bitters & Liqueurs and Hayman Distillers, the English gin distiller whose family have been making gin since 1863. The winning recipes are listed below.
The brief laid down by the team at Love Drinks, the UK distributor of the two companies and organiser of the competition, was simple– create two cocktails – one Vintage and one Visionary – using any of the products in the range.
Eight bartenders headed down to the Queen of Hoxton to compete for the £1000 prize but Carl, with his two drinks, the Senior Service Julep and Mother’s Fix, which used a homemade tangerine shrub, which was smoked and then aged, edged the judges’ decisions.
The judges included Alexander Hauck, Co-Founder of The Bitter Truth ™ – Bitters & Liqueurs; James Hayman, Managing Director of Hayman’s and Clinton Cawood from Imbibe.
The competition was extremely close. So much so that the judges’ awarded two joint second places to Gabor Onufer from Claridges and Ami St Claire from Sohe in Newcastle. Both contestants were praised on their drinks making skills and innovative take on the brief. Ami for her homemade cocktail candy floss and gin soaked marshmallows and Gabor for his excellently made Voyager which used Claret and was mixed in a crystal wine decanter.
Speaking about the competition, Carl Brown, whose job title Daru-wallah, literally translates into the ‘drinks guy’, said: “We use both Hayman’s gins and the Bitter Truth in our bars so for me, this was a competition that I wanted to enter and win. Making great drinks was just one element of the competition; I really enjoyed researching the two companies. Hayman’s because of their history and heritage and The Bitter Truth because of their passion and commitment to making cocktail ingredients in order to recreate drinks that might have been lost forever were it not for them. What really shone out for me was the commitment from both companies to using the best quality ingredients which is why I wanted to create excellent drinks for the judging panel to enjoy.”
The other competitors in the competition include; Niall McGloin from Smokestack in Leeds; Michael Mann from City of London Distillery; Tom De Santis from Electrik in Manchester; Amir Javaid from Epernay in Manchester and Lucy Horncastle from NOLA.
The recipes for Carl’s drinks are as follows:
VINTAGE – Senior Service Julep
Glass: Indian Copper Julep Cup
Garnish: Bushel of mint and twist of grapefruit
Method: Churn ingredients with crushed ice, then cap with more ice
40ml Hayman’s Royal Dock Navy Strength Gin
20ml The Bitter Truth Elderflower Liqueur
15ml English honey syrup (1:1)
3 dashes The Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters
VISIONARY – Mother’s Fix
Garnish: Candied orange peel
Method: Tap off shrub from barrel over chipped ice. Add gin, bitters and soda. Stir.
30ml Hayman’s 1850 Reserve Gin
4 dashes The Bitter Truth Tonic Bitters
Dash of soda
Method: Combine ingredients with hickory smoke in barrel and leave for one week.
300ml tangerine juice
150ml lemon juice
25ml fresh ginger juice
100ml Hayman’s 1850 Reserve Gin
The Bitter Truth Range of Bitter and Liqueurs and Hayman’s Gins are distributed in the UK by Love Drinks.
It’s back and it’s better than ever. The cocktail competition that pays homage to the classics, as well as recognising the need to innovate and create drinks that fire the imagination and excite the taste buds. A prize of £1000 will be awarded to the bartender who ticks those boxes in the eyes of the judges.
The Vintage to Visionary competition is the collaboration of two great brands, Hayman’s Gin and The Bitter Truth range of Bitters and Liqueurs. Both are known for their passion for heritage, innovation and, most importantly, quality.
The competition seeks to find two drinks. The first drink should be inspired by the classic styles of drink and should use one gin from the Hayman’s range of five gins and any of the Bitter Truth range of ten Bitters and six Liqueurs.
The second drink is a perfect opportunity to showcase your talent and vision for innovative drinks making. Again, using the range from The Bitter Truth range of Bitters and Liqueurs and Hayman’s gins, the drink should bring forth exciting flavours, ingredients and methods to delight and surprise the judges. You will need to use a different SKU from the one used in your classic-style drink.
Based on last year’s competition, we expect competition to be fierce and with only four regional heats only a few will be successful.
Please send in your two drink recipes to email@example.com by Friday 27th June 2014. Once the regional shortlist has been decided, they will compete against each other and will be judged on the following criteria:
• Name of the cocktail – 10 points • Appearance of the cocktail – 15 points • Taste of the cocktail – 30 points • The aroma of the cocktail – 10 points • The technical ability of the bartender – 10 points • The promotion of the drink in the bar – 10 points • Product knowledge – 15 points
The top two entrants from each heat will go onto compete in the final which will be held in London on Wednesday 20th August 2014. The recipes submitted in the regional should not change. However, the finalists will be expected to theme their presentation with appropriate dress and style.
Heats are booked for the 7th, 8th, 14th and 15th July 2014 with the final being held in London on Wednesday 20th August 2014. The location of the heats will be decided after entries have been collated and competitors will be contacted in advance.
If you have any questions about the competition, please contact Love Drinks PR Manager, Emma Currin via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Entrants can use any of the following in their drinks:
The Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters The Bitter Truth Orange Bitters The Bitter Truth Celery Bitters The Bitter Truth Creole Bitters The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Bitters The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters The Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters The Bitter Truth Chocolate Bitters The Bitter Truth Peach Bitters The Bitter Truth Tonic Bitters The Bitter Truth Apricot Liqueur The Bitter Truth Elderflower Liqueur The Bitter Truth Violet Liqueur The Bitter Truth Pimento Dram The Bitter Truth Golden Falernum The Bitter Truth Elixier Hayman’s London Dry Gin Hayman’s Old Tom Gin Hayman’s Sloe Gin Hayman’s 1850 Reservve Gin Hayman’s Gin Liqueur Hayman’s Royal Dock
Bitters can be a bartenders best friend. Most bars will have a box full of wonderful flavours, all adding a different dimension to your favourite drink. From the most famous to the most extensive, your never short on possibilities, both in a bar or indeed at home. It’s also common these days for collaborations, creating a brand with ties with a big brother. Reyka vodka from Iceland has done such a thing in the last month, releasing their Reyka Bitters to the market.
Created by Reyka’s Master Distiller Lesley Gracie, she used botanicals such as Icelandic moss, angelica leaf and crowberry juice, all sourced from Iceland itself. To keep it exclusive, she has only produced 300 bottles, available in the UK only, and indeed only for the on-trade for the time being.
But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Reyka Bitters – 40%
Light and fragrant angelica on the nose with a slight sweetness of honey coming through. A bold start on the palate, with the honey becoming more dominant, followed by the sweetness of caramel that creates a short mouth-watering effect. Superb.
A really lively tipple, especially compared to other brands of bitters. Reyka recommend it to be served best within one of its signatures too –
50 ml Reyka vodka 2-3 drops of Reyka Bitters
Pour the Reyka vodka over a couple of cubes of ice and add the bitters.
To coincide with the launch of Reyka Bitters back in March, William Grant (the company looking after Reyka Bitters here in the UK) ran a foraging expedition to Iceland with Reyka brand ambassador Joe Petch, for a group of British bartenders. For an expedition like this, and to really see the enthusiasm that Lesley Gracie had to create something a little different within the bitter category, must have been fantastic. To see a brand willing to open its world of not just how to produce, but to an extent how to create, is a rare treat, one that I hope to explore in the future!
In the meantime, join me at the bar with a bottle of Reyka and some of their bitters. It’s time to enjoy.
Have you ever had a really good meal? So good in fact, that as soon as you are asked by your waiter if you would like to see the dessert menu, you contemplate without a moment’s pause and ask for your favourite as you know it will go down a treat? But the horrors of that last bite soon after can lead to unwanted feelings – stomach churning, the inability to stand, the loss of feeling as your head seems to become heavier and heavier. The thing is though, you’re doing all of the above with a smile on your face. And why? Well you know you’ve got a cheeky drink of Underberg.
The small, 20 ml bottle wrapped in brown paper has helped many a man and woman after a good meal. Its secret aromatic herbs from 43 different countries has been proven by the Medical Consult in 2005 that Underberg stimulates the digestive system. It also boasts no added sugar, which rules the spirit from Rheinberg out as an amaro or herbal liqueur, instead it comes under the category of bitters.
But how did Underberg come about? And why does it boast such an after-dinner claim?
The year is 1846, and a gentleman named Hubert Underberg I has been spending time developing the unique herbal product that what we now know as Underberg. He had been using inspiration from his education in the Netherlands and Belgium as he became acquainted with herbal elixir which the landlords diluted with Genever in whatever amount they thought appropriate. Not being a lover of the resulting random composition and fluctuating quality, he worked to create a drink that would combine herbs with modern methods of production (resulting in his motto ‘SEMPER IDEM or ‘always the same quality and effect’). Despite a halt in production with the First and Second World Wars (not the easiest of times to gather ingredients from 43 different countries), Hubert’s grandson Emil decided to reinvent the brand in September of 1949.
The decision to house Underberg in 20 ml bottles only (effectively a single-portion) was unique. Despite many a counterfeit of the original larger bottles being filled with cheap imitations, Emil began the slogan ‘Underberg, the portion of well-being!’ to differentiate between. To this day, the Underberg family are still in control (now into its fourth and firth generation) and are the only ones to know the herbs uses within each bottle. What we do know is, Underberg, after being distilled, is matured in casks made of Slovenian oak.
So how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Underberg – 44%
Sweet honey on the nose, with soft herbal aromas blending nicely for an inviting sip. A developing, fresh herbal flavour of aniseed, honey and fennel on the palate, creating a long finish that shows no hint of dryness. Smooth with a hint of sweetness.
I think you’ll be surprised. Underberg really does the trick, and definitely helps you on your way to enjoying the rest of your night after a good meal! Grab yourself some bottles for Christmas and throw your worries away.
A classic brand that I’m sure everyone has come across at some point is Campari. But what makes this brand so well-known?
Campari was created in 1860 by Gaspare Campari in Novara, Italy. Bitter Uso Olanda, as Campari was initially called, was the result of Gaspare’s experiments concocting new beverages. The real change was having a bitter before lunch, not after. Campari soon became a popular liqueur and on January 7, 1880, the first Campari advertisement appeared in “Corriere della Sera”, Italy’s most important daily newspaper at that time. In 1904, Campari’s first production plant was opened in Sesto San Giovanni, near Milan, Italy and required bars that bought Campari to display the Campari Bitters sign. In the early nineties, Campari launched its first advertising project: a calendar featuring artwork by figurative artist Cesare Tallone. Known for his portraits, he painted a beautiful, alluring woman representing Campari for the calendar. To this day, Campari still produce their now iconic calendars. Advertising through media was also a forerunner, including Dudovich’s famous red poster portraying two lovers passionately kissing in a private room, as well as Leonetto Cappiello creating the famous Spiritello sprite wrapped in an orange peel, an image that people still remember. In the 1930’s, Campari Soda made its debut with a single-serve bottle designed by Depero, becoming the first pre-mixed drink sold worldwide.
So what is Campari?
Campari is the result of the infusion of herbs, aromatic plants and fruit in alcohol and water; these last two being the recipe’s only known ingredients. It was originally coloured with carmine dye, derived from crushed cochineal insects, which gave the drink its distinctive red colour, however in 2006, Gruppo Campari ceased using carmine in its production.
So how does Campari fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Lots of light floral notes on the nose with hints of herbal aromas. A developing bitterness on the palate, but rather fresh with some fruit and herb flavours coming through. Creates a long lingering finish.
Not too bad on its own, but goes well with it’s classic signature serve of a Negroni, perfect for over 100 years –
30 ml Campari
30 ml Gin
30 ml Vermouth Cinzano Rosso
Build in a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with a slice of orange.
Campari Orange Passion
30 ml Campari
2 slices orange
1 teaspoon brown sugar
90 ml light orange juice
Prepare the drink in a tall glass. Place orange and brown sugar in the glass and crush to a pulp. Add crushed ice. Add the Campari and orange juice and gently stir. Garnish with a red cherry.
There are not many rums that hail from Trinidad and Tobago, but the most well-known comes in the form of Angostura. Although you may be more familiar with its range of bitters.
The distinctive slender bottle of the bitters, wrapped in an oversized label, began in Venezuela. In 1820, Dr. J.G.B. Siegert, a decorated, 24-year-old surgeon from the Napoleonic Wars, enlisted in the cause of South American independence under the liberator, General Simon Bolivar. Four years later, as Surgeon General of the military hospital in Venezuela, Dr. Siegert perfected his mixture of tropical herbs, spices, and alcohol to be used as a tonic for the tropical disorders that faced the European armies in the South American jungles. Originally known as Dr. Siegert’s Aromatic Bitters, the secret blend later took the name of the town on the banks of the Orinoco River where Bolivar headquartered his liberation army. Soldiers and ship crews returning home from South America spread the versatile bitters around the world. Inevitably, the demand for the prescription grew and became sought after as a stomach, pick-me-up, and an important ingredient in mixed drinks. By 1850, Dr. Siegert left the military to concentrate his efforts on the manufacture.
The revolutionary atmosphere of Venezuela in 1875 persuaded Dr. Siegert’s sons to move the family business to the British island of Trinidad. In 1936, Robert W. Siegert, the great-grandson of the founder, concentrated on the manufacturing and quality control of Angostura and began making its own rum and alcohol to be used in the famous bitters.
So how does Angostura create such a recognised rum range?
Angostura uses molasses produced in Trinidad, fermented in 24 hours and then distilled. Only distillate from the first and last of the five columns is collected and matured in oak barrels.
But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on the range that I have tried so far –
Angostura 1919– 40%
Named after a chance discovery after a fire in 1932 which destroyed the Government Rum Bond. The master blender of Fernandes Distillers, J.B. Fernandes, bought the charred casks, only to discover they had been filled in the year 1919. This bottle contained blended rums that spent at least eight years in bourbon barrels. A rich mixture of oak, vanilla and caramel on the nose leading to a light palate sweet fudge. Developing spice entwined with vanilla creates a rather short offering.
Angostura 7yr – 40%
Soft bourbon, vanilla and cocoa are present on the nose, with a smooth flavour of fudge on the palate followed by male syrup, smoked dark chocolate and vanilla. Lingers sweetly.
Angostura have also released the first in their ‘The Cask Collection’, the aptly named Angostura N0. 1. This is a blend of rums aged between ten and twelve years, then left to marry for an additional twelve months within Fir Fill Bourbon Casks.
Angostura No. 1 – 40%
Green apple and pine notes on the nose, with good doses of caramel and hints of nuts coming through. Incredibly smooth on the palate, plenty of caramel and nuts blending well. A well-rounded smack of wood finishes on the short, yet moorish finish.
As for its range of bitters –
Angostura Aromatic – 44.7%
Dominating soft herbal, with hints of bitterness sliding in. A developing herbal flavour on the palate stops just short of overly bitter, but lingers for a long finish that slowly dries.
Angostura Orange– 28%
Herbal orange notes on the nose, fresh to begin but mellow quickly. Ripe orange zest on the palate but again soon mellows. Slightly sweet until it burst a hint of herbal orange again at the finish.
As you can imagine, both the rum and the bitters can be found in many a cocktail –
Angostura Jammy Rum Sour
50 ml Angostura Reserva Rum or Angostura 5 Year Old Rum
Two fairly generous teaspoons of Jam Raspberry or Strawberry)
25 ml Lemon juice
Half an egg white (No yolk)
Add ingredients into shaker. Add cubed ice and shake it viciously. Strain through sieve into an ice filled rocks glass.
1 White Sugar Cube
2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
1 dash Angostura orange bitters
Top with Champagne
Drop sugar cube into champagne flute, saturated with the bitters. Top with champagne. Garnish with lemon peel.
The Angostura range also includes a Reserva, 5yr as well as a rare 12yr 1824 and Legacy. A great portfolio, one not to miss in the bars or indeed your own drinks cabinet. And a bottle of bitters is always a handy ingredient to have.