Following the success of its past editions, Florence Cocktail Week (FCW) will make its return from the 6th to the 12th of May. Founded and organized by Paola Mencarelli and Lorenzo Nigro, the weeklong event dedicated to mixology “Made in Florence” serves up a sundry calendar consisting of master classes and night shifts, featuring Italian and international guests, round tables and gatherings aimed at professionals and enthusiasts.
Now in its fourth edition, FCW has established itself as the most anticipated spring event by international and local mixology professionals and cocktail lovers, boasting an always-richer schedule. All of this is made possible thanks to the support of important sponsors and partners, such as Campari, Compagnia dei Caraibi, Diageo, Frescobaldi, Ginarte, Martini, Michter’s, Nardini, and more.
FCW selects the best cocktail bars in Florence and Tuscany, and is backed with the patronage of the Municipality of Florence, which will also act as a partner for the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Negroni, the historic Florentine cocktail renowned worldwide.
During the FCW, every night is a party that brings a vivacious vibe to the city’s establishments, all easily reachable by foot or by bicycle (the Mobike service is available, as always). Thus, everyone can enjoy a completely safe mixology experience – based on personal tastes and preferences – in the unique and evocative surroundings of Florence. All of the events and master classes are free of-charge and open to the public, with the only cost being that of the cocktails.
30 cocktail bars in Florence have been selected to participate in the 2019 FCW – with an increase compared to 2018 – and each establishment will present a cocktail list featuring 4 cocktails crafted for 4 special categories: a Signature Cocktail (a Negroni with a twist), a RiEsco a Bere Italiano, an I Love Bitter and a Green Drink, for which bartenders are given free rein to their creativity to whip up enticing mouth-watering concoctions. Quality drinking and drinking responsibly will be the common thread between all of the moments of this densely packed weeklong event.
New in 2019:
A Round Table on Negroni, with the patronage of the Municipality of Florence
Saturday May 11th, an institutional Round Table will take place, with the patronage of the Municipality of Florence, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Negroni, the historic cocktail from Florence renowned worldwide. Doing the honours will be Luca Picchi, author of the book “Negroni Cocktail, leggenda italiana,” and some of the most prominent experts of mixology and cocktail history, such as Mauro Mahjoub from Münich, known in the trade as the “King of Negroni”, Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller from London, and David Wondrich from New York.
Tuscany Cocktail Week | TCW
For the very first time, FCW will also include a selection of the best cocktail bars in Tuscany, which, starting from the week ahead of the event will each present a craft cocktail list consisting of 3 drinks: a creative Signature Cocktail, with which the bartenders will take part in the Final Contest, a Negroni with a twist (to celebrate the 100th anniversary), and an I Love Bitter (Amari/Bitter).
FCW Awards Ceremony
The yearly Contest starring the best Florentine bartenders will be substituted with the FCW Awards Ceremony. A party will be held on Sunday May 12th, and for the occasion sponsor companies will award the winning bartenders and cocktails for the different categories.
The final day of this edition is Sunday May 12th, which will also feature the second edition of RiEsco a Bere Italiano, the first edition of the Final Contest of the Tuscany Cocktail Week, the notto-be-missed Under 25 Young Talent Contest, and the highly anticipated FCW Awards Ceremony.
It’s Negroni Week this week, so here’s some inspirational ideas for you to enjoy in style!
Bar Termini: Superiore, Rosato & Classico by Tony Conigliaro
Rosato Negroni: Rose Petal Infusion
Superiore Negroni: Pink Peppercorn Infusion
The latest bar from internationally renowned drinks pioneer Tony Conigliaro has an impressive list of house Negronis, including the rose infused Rosato with a hint of floral sweetness, and the pink peppercorn infused Superiore which has an added bitterness and spice. Designed to tide you from day to evening like a true Italian whilst whetting your appetite for dinner, Bar Termini’s Negronis come pre-bottled and are served neat in a chilled glass to prevent dilution as you drink.
Bar Termini, 7 Old Compton Street, London, W1D 5JE
New World Negroni
Balthazar: Rogroni by Regal Rogue
37.5ml Regal Rogue Rosso
Stirred over ice in a tumbler with a large orange wedge
Fearlessly handcrafted and blended, Regal Rogue is a testament to artisanal vermouth production, marrying the quality of new world wines with complimentary native herbs and spices from Australia’s outback. Regal Rogue Rosso is fashioned with native wattleseed and pepperberry, thyme and a hint of orange are made even merrier with the flavours of cocoa nibs, cinnamon, ginger and cloves before marrying a fine Australian Semillon with a hint of Shiraz. Perfect on its own over ice or enjoyed in this variation of a Negroni available at Balthazar, a fresher, lighter update to the traditionally bitter Negroni.
For those who take their bar propping and cocktail ordering seriously Luca Missaglia, the new Bar Manager at aqua kyoto, has created a luxurious and contemporary twist on the classic negroni that packs a serious punch. Full-bodied and decadent, this serve is a combination of Campari, Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Home Made Artichoke Liqueur and Absinthe. Separating the men from the boys, this cocktail is for those who can hold their own.
Devised by drinks masterminds Joe Stokoe and Liam Cotter of consultancy Heads, Hearts & Tails, this is a warming and spicy twist on the classic from new rock ‘n’ roll-inspired Mayfair bar Black Dice. Sip on the exotic serve, garnished with orange peel and punchy ginger candy, as you channel your inner rock star in the lavish surroundings of the bar.
If you’re planning on rustling up a Negroni at home take a lead from Alex Kratena, head bartender at Artesian which has been voted best bar in the world for three years in a row: “Lots of our guests tend to order recipes with mezcal in these days, many asking for variations on the classic Negroni which include it. For a twist try the below, our take on the Rosita.”
15ml Sweet vermouth
15ml Dry vermouth
1dash grapefruit bitters
Stir with ice, pour over ice ball and perfume with grapefruit peel, serve with small beer on the side.
Carrying on with my latest trend of researching vermouths, I turn my attention to a well-known brand which graces nearly every drinking establishment in the world – Martini.
Martini is an icon, and whether you savour it on its own, or utilise within the likes of a Manhattan or Martini, you can’t deny its international appeal. But how does a brand get to enjoy such global appeal? Well lets dive into the minds of the Martini masters, starting in 1863.
The combination of three gentleman became the catalyst for Martini (or Martini, Sola e C.ia as it was then called). Alessandro Martini was a gifted salesman, Teofilo Sola the accountant and Luigi Rossi the wine, herbalist and liqueur expert. Luigi utilised his experience and encouraged the team to locate to Pessione, Italy. Here, the chances of riding on the trend of vermouth were maximised, with the hills being the source of some of the best grapes and herbs around, as well as close to the Turin-Genoa railway (four years later, it negotiated with Northern Italy Railways to build a private railway track inside the plant, connecting them directly to the royal station of Pessione). 1865 saw there efforts rewarded, winning a medal for ‘Excellent Quality of Liqueurs’ at the prestigious Dublin International Expo Awards. Wanting to expand on this, and seeing no reason as to stop with border line of Ireland, they adorned each label with the Dublin medal and diploma iconographies, sharing the success with all consumers and suppliers further afield. With this came many more entries to competitions, signalling their intent to make Martini, Sola e C.ia known to the world.
The Martini, Sola e C.ia expanded to America in 1867, with the three-man team taking a risk by shipping crates of their vermouth to New York on a steamship named Hermann. A year later, the figures returned with confirmation that ‘Martini, Sola e C.ia exported three-quarters of the vermouth sold in the USA’. It was also within this year that they received a royal seal of approval.
A new label came into play, featuring the brands latest Asti medal and accomplishments in Paris and Dublin. The label now featured the Royal House of Savoy (one of the oldest Royal Houses in Europe) and the title ‘By appointment to HRM, King of Italy’ on behalf of King Vittorio Emanuele II, instantly raising the prestige of Martini, Sola e C.ia. By 1873, each label were to be redesigned with ‘By appointment to their royal majesties, the Kings of Italy and Portugal’, again showing off its international following.
In 1871, a letter was received from Shanghai requesting a ‘moscato spumante d’Asti’. Martini, Sola e C.ia were already producing a similar wine called Canelli spumante, but jumped at the challenge and began testing new flavours and techniques. Asti Spumante remains one of the best sellers in the Martini range to this day. Even when it came to transport, the team jumped at the challenge. Milanese agent, Girolamo Zucca, placed an order for three boxes of Fernet, a Martini digestive liqueur created in 1863. It was to be transported to Tehran, Iran. ‘Since the goods will travel on camelback for about two months, the boxes must be sturdy, each bottle will have to be packed in a small box with hay, and then packed with hay again in a large box…’ – Martini, Sola e C.ia duly obliged.
1879 became a sad yet turning year, with the passing of Teofilo Sola. In response, Alessandro Martini and Luigi Rosso, determined to uphold his memory, changed its trading name ‘Martini & Rosso’ in replace of ‘Martini, Sola e C.ia’. In 1882, Martini & Rossi were awarded with the gold medal at the ‘XII General Exhibition, Bordeaux – for wines, liquors and yeasted drinks’. The icon from Bordeaux remains on the label to this day, alongside those of Vienna in 1873, and Philadelphia in 1876.
1883 saw expansion, with Andrea Barberis, the company’s business developer in Argentina, proposing the build of a production site in the country to bypass the mounting customs duties. The Buenos Aires headquarters became the first outside of the Italian borders. Links with Cuba began in 1875 through Martini & Rossi’s connection with exclusive agents, Avignone and Brocchi. In a letter dated 1890, Juan Brocchi suggested the company needed to produce a new ‘dry’ vermouth if it wanted to keep up with the French Noilly Prat, who at the time were racing ahead within the world markets. Martini & Rossi took Brocchi’s advice and immediately began developing a new product of its own, resulting in the creation of Martini Dry in 1899, despite Luigi Rossi’s passing in 1892.
Of course, not everything that a company makes can turn to gold. In 1863, Martini, Sola e C.ia ledgers registered more than 300 products produced and sold by the company. By 1894, ledgers show a reduced product range of 90, but many of them were market leaders, such as Anisette, Champagne de Reims, Cognac fin Champagne, Curacao, English Punch, Rhum Giamaica, Elixir Spay and Chinato Wine. In a way, you’d never get very far without exploring new recipes and testing the market!
In 1903, Luigi Rossi’s brothers, Teofilo and Cesare, welcomed their younger brothers, Enrico and Ernesto, into the Martini & Rosso fold, spreading the family name to branches around the world. Two years later, Alessandro Martini passed away. In 1907, Cardinal of Turin, Agostino Richelmy, confirmed that Martini & Rossi’s wine, Montechiaro d’Asti Passito, ‘can be used to say Holy Mass, since it conforms to canon prescriptions…’. In Italy, religion is at the heart of society, and approval from the Cardinal was an honour.
Martini Bianco was launched in 1910, and eight years later commissioned leading Italian painter, illustrator, and poster designer Marcello Dudovich to design his now best-known work, ‘La Dama Bianca’. In 1925, Martini & Rossi designed its strongest label to date – ‘Martini’ in striking red capital letters. The team also tested out ‘Rossi’ as a solo name, but the bottles didn’t sell. Consumers had long referred to Martini & Rossi as ‘Martini’ and the team accepted the reality of the situation and the Rossi bottle was withdrawn.
1835 saw cousins Metello, Theo, Lando, and Napoleone become the third generation of Martini management and they threw themselves into sport, art, industry and society. Metello and Theo supported international sporting competitions, Lando’s art collection filled the Museum of Oenological History and Napoleone embraced new production techniques and welfare reform. In 1987, Martini had enlisted Bacardi to distribute within America, and six years later joined forces to create a production, commercial and distribution network, now seen as one of the world’s largest premium spirits company.
In 2007, Martini modernised its bottles, bringing in its distinctive curved shape as well as a label overhaul which now includes the world-famous ball and bar logo at the centre. It’s from these bottles that I have been lucky enough to sample, so without further delay, lets see how they fare –
Martini Extra Dry – 15%
Aromas of herbs, floral and spices blending well on the nose. A dry palate, with flavours of fresh fruit dancing to a short finish.
Martini Rosso – 15%
A strong scent of bitterness on the nose, a mix of oranges and caramel. Sweeter on the palate, with a soft texture producing a dry, herbal finish.
A classic range that I’ve tried so far, but I was introduced to the brand through recipes like this –
Combine all ingredients over an ice filled rocks glass and garnish with an orange slice.
The Martini name has stood the test of time, and have been innovators in marketing, distribution and of course the products that they have created. It may be everywhere you look, but there’s a reason behind it – it’s not a bad product at all. Enjoy.
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.
It’s that time of the week to get a little British inside of you via a classic gin cocktail, courtesy of David Coveney aka The Spirit Cellar, the Negroni. Simple and easy to create, using two new and highly talked about spirits.
The Great British Negroni
50 ml Williams Chase Orange Marmalade Gin
35 ml Sacred English Spiced Vermouth
2 Large Dashes of Dr Adam Elmegirab’s Dandelion & Burdock Bitters
Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass and pour into a glass filled with a large orange peel and lots of ice.
Check out previous Cocktail of the Week recipes by David here.
After noticing Blue Gin being promoted in Harrod’s during my last trip to London, I’ve finally been able to add this Austrian spirit to the Drinks Enthusiast gin category.
So how does Blue Gin differ from other brands?
Using the wheat variety ‘Mulan’, grown from fields in upper Austria, it is distilled twice in a copper pot still in small batches (300 litres) and then supplemented with corn alcohol. 27 botanicals are then added to the blend for maceration which lasts for 2 to 3 days. A third distillation takes place soon after to separate the solid components of the botanicals from the alcohol. The third distillation also concentrates the volatile aromas and the grain alcohol to produce the high-proof preliminary stage of Blue Gin.
The 27 botanicals represent a unique gin flavour of fresh, elegant juniper aroma with fragrant lemon and spice notes. Only the freshest juniper berries from the latest harvest are used, and the spices of lemon rind, angelica root, cilantro seeds, turmeric and liquorice amongst others are sourced from more than ten countries including Egypt, China, Spain, Indonesia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Romania, Turkey, the USA and Vietnam. The spring water used in Blue Gin comes from an alpine pasture in the Mühlviertel district in the northern province of Upper Austria. The water has very low calcium and sodium content which makes in particularly mild and soft, and enhances the complex flavours of the gin. Uniquely, the spring water and spirit are mixed very gradually over a period of two months, making sure that the balance and unique structure of the gin form slowly and carefully to 43% abv.
So this small batch, hand crafted premium London gin has a certain uniqueness to it, but how does it taste?
Blue Gin– 43%
Light with citrus aromas swimming well on the nose although a little dry near the end. A smooth texture on the palate with lots of floral flavours mixing well. Slow hits of liquorice creates a rather long aftertaste. Gives a good surprising kick on the whole.
Blue Gin describes itself as ‘the art of luxury gin cocktails’, so below i give to you some classics, and not so classics, to try at home or to ask your bartender.
50ml Blue Gin
20ml fresh lemon juice
Shake and strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with Maraschino cherry
25ml Blue Gin
25ml Carpano Antica Formula
Stir in glass with cubed ice. Garnish with slice of orange and lemon
40ml Blue Gin
1/4 fresh lime
1/2 bar spoon white sugar
3 slices of fresh ginger
Top with Champagne
Build in glass with crushed ice. Garnish with fresh ginger
If you fancy getting your hands on a bottle, you can purchase one here. And check out the rest of the photos from my photo shoot at The Circle 360 via my Facebook page.
Hayman’s. A name etched into the history of gin, but perhaps not your normal ‘go-to’ gin brand when hunting on the shelves of your local supermarket. Hayman’s is seen more as the silent assassin. They don’t shout, but ask any bartender and they will love at least one of the expressions that Hayman’s create, and be happy to pour you a glass.
But why should you deviate away from your past brands of choice?
Well Hayman’s has a rather simple history, and can have its name etched amongst one of the worlds most well-know gin brands – Beefeater. The original company of Hayman Distillers was founded in 1863 by a gentleman named James Burrough, the great Grandfather of the current Chairman, Christopher Hayman. It was Mr Burrough who created the world-renowned Beefeater gin, as well as a range of other gin and cordials such as Ye Olde Chelsey gin, after purchasing the gin rectifying company John Taylor and Sons.
After expanding their name into the US in the early 1900’s, World War 2 hit and Hayman’s gin, like everyone else, were hit hard. Step forward Neville Hayman, an accountant by profession, who joined the board to represent his wife Marjorie, James Burrough’s granddaughter. He helped re-structure the business to ensure it can survive the aftermath of World War 2, and saw the reduction in some of the styles that were making Hayman’s gin famous, including Old Tom Gin and Sloe Gin. 1969 saw James Burrough’s great-grandson Christopher Hayman join the company, who is still at the help today, and appointed Operations Director and responsible for the Distillation and Production of Beefeater gin in 1977.
James Burrough PLC was to Whitbread in 1987, but Christopher Hayman retained the archive of recipes which were used as a spring board to create the new Hayman’s products and continue to distill and blend traditionally both gin and other white spirits. Between 1988 and 1999, Christopher Hayman purchased back James Burrough FAD (Fine Alcohols Division) and renamed it Hayman Distillers, who then became part of a consortium who bought Thames Distillers in Clapham – 1 of 2 Gin distilleries in London at the time.
Entering the new century, James Hayman, Christopher’s son, joined the team in 2004, with Hayman’s 1820 Gin Liqueur also making an appearance on the shelves. A year later, Miranda Hayman, Christopher’s daughter, also joins the team. The Old Tom made a comeback after nearly 60 years of absence, and the brand became exported to over 40 countries, and in 2013, came complete with new packaging and housed spirit from their new dedicated still ‘Marjorie’
So with a rather historical background, what do Hayman’s gin offer to their customers? Well below, I give to you some background information on each, as well as my tasting notes.
Hayman’s London Dry – 40%
A combination of 10 botanicals, including angelica roots from France and liquorice, create Hayman’s London Dry Gin, with the traditional London Dry style being carefully balanced with juniper, coriander, orange and lemon peel, orris root, cinnamon, cassia bark and nutmeg. After 24 hours of being steeped, it is then distilled in the traditional pot still ‘Marjorie’.
Fresh citrus lemon on the nose with a delicate mix of juniper flowing through. A clean flavour on the palate, with a slight tang on entry, however it smooths itself out into a slight dryness.
Hayman’s Old Tom – 40%
A botanically intensive gin from a recipe in the 1870’s, that delivers a more rounded experience than other styles of gin, this was the ‘Gin of Choice’ back in the 19th Century, with its popularity stretching back to the 18th Century.
On the nose, a subtle lavender aroma mixes well with a sweetened fruity nose. A clean smell of ginger, juniper and coriander follow through onto the palate with orange joining the mix. Very drinkable with a slight dryness on the aftertaste.
Hayman’s 1820 Gin Liqueur – 40%
The worlds first gin liqueur distilled to a specific gin recipe in a traditional pot still and then blended into a liqueur.
A smooth, clean and refreshing citrus aroma on the nose with a small hint of herbal essence. The sweetness on the palate brings out flavours of orange.
Hayman’s Sloe – 26%
A traditional English Liqueur made to a long-standing family recipe previously only available for private use. Wild English grown sloe berries are gently steeped for several months with Hayman’s Gin before being blended with natural sugar.
Very fresh and light on the nose with a good dose of sloe berry aroma. Rather light and refreshing on the palate with a bold beginning. Mellows out rather quickly, with cinnamon and citrus the noticeable flavours.
Hayman’s 1850 Reserve – 40%
Distilled to a recipe from the 1850’s, which is then cask rested for 3 to 4 weeks following the tradition of Gin Palace style Gin.
Lots of dry pepper on the nose but becomes smooth with a hint of spice. The smoothness continues onto the palate with a slight creamy offering that comes alive with spice. Very long after-taste.
Hayman’s Royal Dock – 57%
Represents the style of gin supplied by the Hayman family and previous generations under the mark “Senior Service Gin” to both the Royal Navy and the trade from 1863.
Very sharp nose with a slight citrus aroma leaving its mark. Smooth beginning on the palate, with a slight kick but mellow soon after. Rather long and clean that comes with a slight burn at the end, but still mouth-watering.
Hayman’s Family Reserve – 41.3%
Limited edition with each batch only producing 5000 bottles. The Family Reserve reflects the style sold in the ornate ‘Gin Palaces’ in London and other English cities in the 1800’s. It is rested in Scotch whisky barrels for three weeks in keeping with the tradition that gin was sold from the cask rather than the bottle, which was commonplace in England until the 1860’s.
Clean on the nose with delicate and subtle cracked pepper, oak and coriander aromas. Plenty of soft oak on the palate, with the sharp kicks of spice, coriander, fresh pepper and juniper combining well on the long, lively finish.
A fantastic range from England’s longest-serving gin distilling family, but what if you wanted to ask your bartender for a good cocktail?
Hayman’s Gin and Tonic
Highball / Rocks
50 ml Hayman’s London Dry
Slice of lime
Pour into a glass filled with ice and stir. Garnish with a slice of lime.
50 ml Hayman’s Old Tom Gin
25 ml Fresh lemon juice
Top with soda
Pour into a glass filled with ice and stir. Garnish with a wedge of lemon.
50 ml Hayman’s Sloe Gin
5 ml Sweet Italian Vermouth
Dash Orange Bitters
Stir ingredients together in a mixing glass over cubed ice until chilled. Strain and serve into a pre-chilled martini or wine goblet and garnish with orange zest or a twist.
25 ml Hayman’s Family Reserve Gin
25 ml Campari
25 ml Rosso Vermouth
Build in a tumbler glass over ice. Garnish with a curl of orange peel or slice.