Havana Club Cocktail Grand Prix Hits Manchester


The Havana Club Cocktail Grand Prix rolled into Manchester this afternoon as The Liars Club played host to eleven of north England’s best bartenders as they competed to impress and earn a place to the UK final.

Yours truly was sat on the judging panel, alongside Havana Club Global Brand Ambassador Meimi Sanchez, UK Brand Ambassador Mike Foster, and bar consultant Jamie Jones.

With a brief that all bartenders must utilize at least 35 ml of Havana Club 3 year as the base, as well as serving it within a recycled vessel (essentially an item not normally associated with a drinking vessel), the competition threw up some interesting ideas. Lets take a look at some of the highlights from each competitor!

Lee Jones from Smokestack, Leeds was the first to enter the bar, with his serve named Cuban Cradle, as he showed off a blend of Havana Club, Amaro Montenegro and a grapefruit syrup with a touch of sea salt, garnished with an absinthe spray and served within a melted down bottle. Selina Raggett of Hawksmoor, Manchester looked to impress with Havana Club, grapefruit and sherbet syrup, Manzanilla sherry, lime juice and rhubarb bitters; a recipe she named Buena Vista Cocktail Club and served within a shell that sat atop of a Cuban music box.

James of Dandy Longlegs in Sunderland offered the judges El Independiente, a mix of Havana Club, Monin Jasmin, fresh mango and Coco Real, served within a hollowed out mango secured to a drumstick, coming complete with the drum too! Roberto of Bottega in Manchester showed some of his Italian side as he utilized Martini Extra Dry alongside Havana Club, St Germaine and fresh orange juice, all served within a hollowed out, frozen orange that he named the European Daiquiri.

HC3YO-thumb2Georgia Thresh of Tariff and Dale in Manchester was up next, showcasing her idea she called Rhubarb . . . . . and of course Custard. This saw a combination of Havana Club, a rhubarb, fresh and stemmed ginger infusion, egg, vanilla extract and rhubarb bitters within an old candle holder, served with sweets for her garnish. James Cooper of Dusk til Pawn, also in Manchester, came up with an idea that included Havana Club, mango and chilli jam, Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub Cocktail Bitters, lime juice and mint leaves. Naming it Compeñero, he served it within a sandwich container, complete with a Cuban sandwich to match.

Tiger Hornsby of Newcastle were also represented by Steve, who showed off Havana Club, Cazcabel Honey, apricot infused Lillet Blanc, Bob’s Bitters and fresh lemon, served within the bottle neck of a cut Havana 3yr bottle and naming it Primera Dama, or First Lady. Dan from Banyan, one of Manchester’s newest venues, brought to the bar a recipe he named The Old and the New. This saw Havana Club, grapefruit juice, lime, apricot brandy and pineapple and passion-fruit syrup come together within a cut Havana 7yr bottle.

Dan Edwards from No.28 Bar and Bistro in Newcastle showed off his idea named Ambos Mundos, seeing Havana Club, lime, pink grapefruit juice, agave syrup and maraschino come together and served within a Cuban cigar holder. Steve Levanis of Mojo Bar, Manchester went for La Fortunada, a recipe consisting of Havana Club, honey water and citric acid, Lillet and egg white, served from a huge hollowed out lighter with a grapefruit zest.

Amir Javaid of Harvey Nichols 2nd Floor Bar in Manchester was the last to impress the judging panel, utilizing Havana Club, a hay smoked pineapple syrup, lemon, Velvet Falernum and Angostura Bitters. Calling it All Along the Watchtower, he served it within a milk carton and sprayed over a rhubarb, black tea and almond liqueur.

Of course though, despite all eleven impressing in their own way, there was to only be one winner, earning a place in the UK final and going up against the cream of the crop from cities around the UK. Congratulations to Selina Raggett of Hawksmoor, Manchester! With her inspiration of Cuban culture, specifically music, and tying it in with her unique serving vessel, her Buena Vista Cocktail Club will hopefully impress further as she looks to bring the title of Havana Club Grand Prix 2015 home to Manchester!

Buena Vista Cocktail Club, by Selina Raggett, Hawksmoor, Manchester

60 ml Havana Club 3yr
20 ml Grapefruit sherbet syrup
20 ml Lime juice
10 ml Manzanilla sherry
2 dash Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters

Shaken over ice and served within a sea shell.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. 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.


Bartenders Go Loco At Coco Lopez And El Dorado Cocktail Challenge

Mark Main's winning Peanut Butter Jelly Time

Mark Main of MOJO in Manchester has been named the overall winner in this year’s Coco Lopez & El Dorado Cocktail Challenge. The Glaswegian mixologist took home £1,000 and after his El Coco Bru and Peanut Butter Jelly Time cocktails impressed the judges.

The hard-fought contest, compered by Lyndon Higginson at The Liar’s Club in Manchester and organised by Coco Lopez’s UK distributor Bennett Opie and El Dorado Rum in association with Hamilton Beach, also saw runner-up Ami St. Claire of Sohe in Newcastle win a bottle of 21 year-old El Dorado rum. Colette Abel of Be At One in Cardiff won a Hamilton Beach Fury blender for her Threena Colager, judged to be the best twisted piña colada in the competition.

Host and judge James Coston, from Bennett Opie, said: “Mark brought his A-game on the day; the Coco Lopez & El Dorado Cocktail Challenge is judged on the humour and imagination of the presentation as well as the drinks themselves, and he had us all in stitches.

“His El Coco Bru twisted piña colada was topped with Irn Bru – and served in the can – in tribute to his Scottish heritage, and his Peanut Butter Jelly Time cocktail was actually two drinks in one, presented as a throwback to his school packed lunches complete with crisps, a chocolate bar and a tangerine!”

Sam Fish from El Dorado Rums said: “The finalists this year were all brilliant; the sheer creativity of their drinks and presentation makes this competition the most exciting and fun one to judge. The piña colada is one of the most difficult cocktails to master and we tasted some excellent ones on the day; it was great to see so many modern twists on a classic drink.”

As well as Sam Fish from El Dorado and James Coston from Bennett Opie, the judging panel also included the 2014 Coco Lopez & El Dorado Cocktail Challenge Champion, Marco Piroli.

The ten finalists had each submitted two drinks to the competition. One had to be a twisted piña colada containing Coco Lopez and either three-year-old or five-year-old El Dorado Rum, and had to be blended with a Hamilton Beach blender. The other was a cocktail of their choice, though it had to contain at least 20ml Coco Lopez and three or five-year-old El Dorado Rum.

The winning recipes:

Mark Main’s El Coco Bru

Ingredients: 50ml El Dorado 3 year old rum, 50ml Coco Lopez, 12.5ml Monin Blue Curacao liqueur, 12.5ml lime juice, 2 pineapple chunks 

Method: Blend ingredients and top with Irn Bru, then serve in an Irn Bru can.


Mark Main’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time


Peanut Butter:

37.5 El Dorado 5 year old rum, 37.5ml Coco Lopez,12.5ml lime juice, 25ml half and half, 3 bar spoons of peanut butter 


37.5ml El Dorado 3 year old rum, 12.5ml lime juice, 3 bar spoons of strawberry jam, Pinch of salt, Splash of Opies cherry juice

Method: Blend both drinks separately and serve in a lunch box with everything your mum used to put in; i.e. 3 chocolate bars, a bag of crisps and a tangerine.

Coco Lopez is available from good stockists including www.thedrinkshop.com.  For more information, contact the Bennett Opie sales team on 01795 476154 or visit www.b-opie.com.


El Dorado Rums are available from good stockists including www.thedrinkshop.com.  For more information about the product, contact the Love Drinks sales team on info@lovedrinks.co.uk.

We’re Crazy! But We’re Also Crazy About Our Rum

Santa Teresa

An afternoon with Santa Teresa awaited my guest author last week . . 

“After descending the stairs into the darkness of The Liar’s Club, your eyes focus on woven beach matting, colourful posters, bamboo support posts, huge wooden rum barrels, and old, worn brickwork. Reggae tunes are playing, and as we settle down on the comfy leather seats that line the walls, we are greeted with orange Daiquiri’s; an old Santa Teresa favourite. Pleasantly sharp, and pretty strongly boozy for half past three in the afternoon, we sip these while we wait for the rest of the tasting group to arrive, and begin to feel glad that we haven’t made any plans for the evening!

Our hosts for the afternoon are Becky from Mangrove, and Luis, who has worked for Santa Teresa for over eight years now. He’s back in the UK for the first time in three or so years, so straight away we know that this was going to be a pretty special tasting session. Luis introduces himself to everybody individually, chatting away and asking us if we’d ever tried Santa Teresa rum before. I was in the minority in that I haven’t; I’m a Pusser’s Navy Rum girl, myself, generous double with a good wedge of lime if you please; but I’m excited about getting to try this Venezuelan phenomenon.

While we’re enjoying our drinks, Luis gives us a brief history of the company. Santa Teresa is run by two brothers, Henrique and Alberto, and it is a company with a long pedigree. He tells us about the Venezuelan War of Independence in the early 1800s; a story of loss, pride, and the kindness of freed slaves. The central figure in his telling of this story, a little girl called Panchita, was rescued from enemy soldiers by her family’s former slaves, and grew up to fall in love with German man. This man had come to South America to make his fortune, and to find products for his father’s shipping company to export. His father, eager to meet his son’s new bride, sailed for Venezuela – but disaster struck, and his boat sank. The rose-like logo of his shipping company is now emblazoned on bottles of Santa Teresa rum. Luis tells us that Santa Teresa began in a moment of change, and is strongly tied to the ideals of independence, freedom, and family.

As we listen, our first sample of rum is brought round. Anejo is Santa Teresa’s flagship rum, and comes in their highly recognisable ‘squared chest’ bottle. Their use of the ‘squared chest’ is inspired by a popular local saying “to face it with your chest”, which translates roughly as somewhere between “to meet it head-on”, and “to take the bull by the horns”. A fitting inspiration for a brand which is as fiercely independent as Santa Teresa.

Anejo has a light, sweet nose full of the vanilla, toffee aromas which come from ageing in American white oak barrels. It’s not too sweet; there is a dryness present, supporting a peppery spice, and an almost citrus undertone. A blend of younger and slightly more mature rums, between two and five years, averaging out at about four years. Its slightly peppery nature is intended to stand up to being mixed, but this rum is almost smooth enough to sip straight up. Luis’ top tip: Anejo makes a great Mojito.

Despite only being launched for the international market in 2002, Santa Teresa is a surprisingly multi-cultural brand. “Rum is a product typical of the Caribbean,” Luis tells us, “Santa Teresa is made in Venezuela by a German-Venezuelan family, aged in American and French oak barrels – and we play an English sport, rugby.” He is keen to emphasise that rugby is not a widely played sport in Venezuela, and that its popularity at Hacienda Santa Teresa is unusual. Navigate to their website, and you will see photos of burly men in rugby kit heaving barrels around. “We are bordered by the Caribbean sea, there is a desert next to the beach, we have Andean mountains, jungles, table top mountains… This is the land where Santa Teresa comes from. We’re crazy! But we’re also crazy about our rum.”

The second rum we try is Claro. It’s known as the bartender’s favourite, and was developed for bars to use in cocktails. Claro means ‘clear’, which is fitting for this rum; it isn’t white, it isn’t golden, but almost like a white wine in colour. It is a blend of two and three-year old rums aged in American white oak; drier than Anejo, but soft, with hints of lime. There is, of course, an alcoholic tingle on the palate, but the softness carries through, with one of my fellow tasters describing it as ‘like cream soda’. Claro has a significant amount of Santa Teresa’s special Rosetta rum blended into it; a heavy rum with a distinctively smooth yet insistent flavour. Luis’ top tip: Claro is great for Daiquiri’s.

The oldest rum brand in Venezuela, Santa Teresa grow everything on their own lands. The sugar cane used to make their rum, the coffee for their coffee liqueur, and the oranges for their Rhum Orange. They use water from their own wells, and the factory which treats the sugar cane and produces the molasses which Santa Teresa use is only a few kilometres down the road; not just that, but it’s owned by another branch of their family.

The next rum we try is Selecto. It’s darker than Anejo, being a blend of rums aged between three and ten years, averaging out at eight years. The classic oak barrel-aged aromas of vanilla, toffee, and caramel are hugely prominent here, and there is less citrus present than in the Claro. With a big mouthfeel, this rum is particularly smooth, and is intended both for sipping and for use in premium cocktails such as an Old Fashioned. Luis’ top tip: this rum is wonderful showcased in a simple rum and tonic.

Last, we come to the 1796, the jewel in Santa Teresa’s crown. This rum is blended and aged using the Antiguo de Solera method, where blended rums up to 35 years old are slowly and gently matured together through a series of barrels, which are never allowed to empty more than half way before being fed with more rum, balancing and rounding out into an exceptionally smooth and complex final product. The barrels used in this process are French, rather than American, which contributes to the aroma; almost reminiscent of Christmas, reminding me of booze soaked cherries, fat juicy raisins and candied fruit peel. On the palate there is subtle citrus throughout, sweet orange isolated on the tip of the tongue, a balance between sweet and dry, and a rich brown sugar backbone supporting the whole thing. This is a complex rum, with a finish that lingers on and on.

People have attempted to buy Santa Teresa out. Luis tells us what Alberto had to say about that: “We are not for sale. My family has survived civil war, lasted through the change from dictatorship to democracy… Our ancestors survived, and they left this company for us. We will leave this company for our children, and for our great-grandchildren.”

This emphasis on independence and freedom is what keeps Santa Teresa an utterly authentic brand. Not satisfied with keeping their own independence by producing things on their own land and staying committed to the quality of their rum, they also have a full-on social conscience, working to help gang members break away from a life of crime, and gain the freedom to live productive, honest lives. Yes, Santa Teresa rehabilitate criminal gangs. They give them jobs, access to psychological help, a high school education, they train them with useful skills which mean they can build careers, and they also teach them discipline and respect… Through rugby.

Yes, you heard that correctly. Remember when I said that rugby isn’t widely played in Venezuela, but at Hacienda Santa Teresa they’re mad on it? These gang members have to learn the rules of rugby from scratch, and this is a core part of Santa Teresa’s gang rehabilitation project. The name of this ambitious yet wildly successful project? Project Alcatraz! Locals worried about having so many gang members working near to them, but official crime statistics for the area have shown a 76% drop in crime in the last three years. How cool (and possibly insane) are these guys? Like Luis told us earlier, “We’re crazy! But we’re also crazy about our rum.”

I’ll drink to that.”

Article kindly written by guest author Rowan Molyneux-Roberts

Enter The Coco Lopez And El Dorado Cocktail Challenge

A £1,000 cash prize is up for grabs for the winner of this year’s Coco Lopez & El Dorado Cocktail Challenge, in association with Hamilton Beach , to be staged at The Liar’s Club in Manchester on Tuesday, March 18 from 3pm, on the first day of the Northern Restaurant & Bar Show.

Bartenders and mixologists should register as soon as possible for the competition, organised by Bennett Opie, which distributes Coco Lopez, a natural cream of coconut product, in the UK .

Opie’s cocktail expert James Coston said: “Competitors will need to submit two drinks. One must be a Twisted Pina Colada, the mixologist’s own twist on the classic cocktail, containing Coco Lopez and either three-year-old or five-year-old El Dorado Rum.

“The second can be a cocktail invention of their choice, though it must contain at least 20ml Coco Lopez, and again the three or five-year-old El Dorado Rum. Both drinks must be blended with a Hamilton Beach Tempest blender, which will be provided.”

James said the Coco Lopez & El Dorado Cocktail Challenge was a test of all-round skills, imagination and wit.

“Banter and performance will score highly and ingredients, measurements, garnish and vessel are all determined by the bartender and can be as outrageous as you like,” he said. “The use of Bennett Opie cocktail cherries for garnish is highly recommended.”

Entrants should email James with their recipes. Judges will pick their 10 favourites and their creators will be invited to demonstrate them in the final.

“The best cocktail in the top 10 wins its creator the £1,000 prize and a bottle of 21-year-old El Dorado Rum,” said James. “The creator of the best Pina Colada wins a Hamilton Beach Tempest blender.”

Entrants should email James Coston at jcoston@b-opie.com with their recipes by midnight on Saturday, March 1 with the following information:

Name of competitor
Name and location of the bar where you work
Email address
Contact phone number
Ingredients in ml
Method (of second drink)
Cocktail names

The top 10 entrants will be contacted by email at noon on Saturday, March 8 and invited to the March 18 final.

For further information visit the Coco Lopez Cocktail Challenge Facebook page.

Coco Lopez is available from good stockists including http://www.thedrinkshop.com. For more information about the product, contact the Bennett Opie sales team on 01795 476154 or visit http://www.b-opie.com.

Cocktails In The City Review

Cocktails in the city

The biggest cocktail master class came back in full force this year in the form of Cocktails in the City. Located within Manchester Town Hall, 15 of Manchester’s bars teamed up with 15 brands ranging from tequila to rum and vodka to create a cocktail that would wow the consumers and tempt them to part with their tokens. Not only that though, The Liquorists held tasters for all ranging from ‘The Taster’ which involved two cocktails, main stage demonstrations and a cocktail booklet to ‘The Connoisseur‘ which included a champagne cocktail reception, food from Almost Famous, three cocktails and a Liquorists tutored tasting session.

This year, I was lucky enough to be asked to judge, giving me the perfect opportunity to see what the bars and brands came up with.

Starting the night with the bar in the sky, Cloud 23 served up two cocktails in the form of what myself and fellow judge Keeley Watts described as a Starter and Dessert using rum brand Ron Zacapa. The ‘starter’ came with Ron Zacapa, sherry syrup, yuzu juice and whisky aged bitters that were served with bread, chorizo and feta cheese, whilst the ‘dessert’ was created using Ron Zacapa, maraschino, Tip Pepe sherry, sweet vermouth and came with smoked almonds. Pop-up bar specialists Escapade were next with their unusual takes of creation and glassware. The creations being their enthusiasm and team work to create a Blue Lagoon within a closed jam jar (check out the photos, link at the bottom, to see what I’m on about!) plus a Heinz Bloody Mary using Heinz tomato soup, vodka, lemon and spice mix – served in the Heinz soup can. Innovative, and it worked! 31DOVER,the premium online drinks retailer, collaborated with BarChick, the best bar guide on the internet, to come up with a signature cocktail for the evening named The 31 Dover – gin, lemon juice, honey syrup and topped with Champagne.

Harvey's Marmalade Fizz
Harvey’s Marmalade Fizz

One of the new kids on the scene, The Liquor Store, collaborated with well-known tequila brand Jose Cuervo Tradicional to create the Maria Pickford which involved the tequila, lime, maraschino, pomegranate syrup and topped with pineapple foam and cracked pepper. A fantastic blend of flavours, and one that used the worlds first tequila in the best way. Chase Marmalade were partners with Harvey Nichols Second Floor Bar to produce Harvey’s Marmalade Fizz. Using the ever popular marmalade vodka, Campari, lemon and lime juice as well as egg white, sugar, Seville marmalade and topped with soda, the serving of it all in a jam jar complete with a dried orange wheel created one of the more visually stunning cocktails of the evening. A look that complimented its name went to Mojo’s and their cocktail with tequila brand Calle 23. The Pink Chihuahua had the simple ingredients of a healthy dose of Calle 23, pomegranate juice, lime, orgeat and egg white, served in the classic coupette glass.

Visiting one of the bars on the outskirts of the city next in the form of Chorlton’s Proof and their collaboration with Lambs Navy Rum. Two cocktails available from these guys – Any Port in a Storm used Lambs Navy, port, ginger, sugar and lime juice whilst the Mutiny on the Bounty had Lambs Navy, dark chocolate liqueur, crème de cacao and cocoa cream complete with a piece of Bounty for the garnish. Next to them were fellow rum brand Flor de Cana and Sandinista. Going for a ‘rum connoisseurs choice of drink’, they came up with Fat Like Buddha – Flor de Cana 7yr, Antica Formula, Benedictine, Cointreau and maraschino liqueur. Venturing back on to the outskirts soon after, visiting Didsbury’s The Violet Hour and Dutch gin Sloane’s, with their two options –  Summer Picnic (Sloane’s, elderflower, lemon, apple juice, marmalade and vanilla) or a more Traditional Cocktail using Sloane’s, curaçao, sugar, lemon and Angostura Bitters.

Another new kid in Neighbourhood partnered with Absolut Elyx to create a Lavender Cosmopolitan. Using pre-steeped lavender and sugar mix to the Absolut Elyx, Grand Marnier and cranberry juice created what Neighbourhood called ‘a seductive zingy Cosmo twist’. The use of Whitley Neil and The Whim Wham Cafe to create the African Sky caught the attention of many an enthusiast, mainly for the loud toots of owner Alix and his African horn (take that how you will) but also for their creation of a cocktail that looks literally like the African sunset. Created using Whitley Neil gin, Cointreau, marmalade syrup, cranberry juice, lime and Peychaud Bitters. Dry ice bellowed from the next bar as Apotheca teamed with Ketel One and made full use of their copper kettles. Creating the Citizen Kettle, they used a double healthy dose of Ketel One, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, white grape and Peychaud Bitters.

Sandanista and Flor de Cana
Sandanista and Flor de Cana

Northern Quarter guys Dusk til Pawn went with white grain spirit Bootlegger to create the aptly named One Old Boot. Using Bootlegger, whisky barrel bitters, sugar, marmalade and ginger, they created a stirred drink with a nod to the Prohibition styles. Cross back into Europe and Belvedere vodka created a twist on the Bramble with Epernay. Using Belvedere, poppy liquor, sugar and lemon, the short yet powerful drink set us up nicely for the trip across the corridor to the The Lord Mayor’s Parlour and three of Manchester’s tiki bars.

Starting with The Liars Club and El Dorado, they created a Liars Club Party Punch using ingredients such as El Dorado 5yr, Prosecco, apple and grapefruit juice, Yorkshire tea and sugar. It came complete with an El Dorado cake courtesy of rum lover North West Nosh! Keko Moko were up next partnering with Chairman’s Reserve to create The Keko Fizz – both Chairman’s Reserve and their Spiced variety as well as cloudy apple juice, egg white, lime, passion fruit liqueur and ting. Described as ‘definitely tiki’, the next and last bar of the evening, Hula, had its work cut out with Havana Seleccion de Maestros. Creating an El Presidente using Havana Club, sweet vermouth, Cointreau and grenadine, the classic went down way too easily.

The winners haven’t been announced yet, but I can tell you that it was no easy task to narrow it down for best cocktail, best bar and best personality. If you can, try each of the above cocktails at some point in the bars, they’re definitely worth a try and maybe you can decide for yourselves who you think should be the winners. While you at it, you may want to keep your eyes peeled for next year, a fantastic atmosphere is not to be missed!

Check out the rest of the photos via my Facebook page. Also check out MWarrenDesigns and the view through his camera.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. 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.



Appleton Estate

Appleton Joy

Appleton Estate is one of the world’s most well-known rum brands, hailing from Jamaica and offering up expressions used by all, from cocktails to served over ice. I finally get myself out to Jamaica soon to check out their home, but it’s got me taking a sneak peak before i jet over!

The first known documentation of rum production at the Appleton Estate dates back to 1749, however the origins of the Estate date back as far as 1655 when the British captured Jamaica from the Spanish. Frances Dickinson took part in that British conquest and it‘s believed that the Appleton Estate in the Nassau Valley, St. Elizabeth was part of the land grant that Dickinson received as a reward for his services. His grandsons were the earliest known owners of the Appleton Estate. In 1845 the Appleton Estate changed hands from the Dickinson family when it was acquired by William Hill and later changed hands again when it was purchased by one of Jamaica`s most successful merchants, A. McDowell Nathan. He unfortunately died in an earthquake in 1907 and his vast estate, including Appleton, was eventually acquired by J. Wray and Nephew Ltd. who still own it to this day.

Appleton Estate also comes with a rather unique approach to their production.

The Estate grow their own sugar cane and ferment using soft water from a spring that originates through the limestone hills within the estate. A natural culture of yeast in the fermenting process is also used that has been handed down through generations. Small batch copper pot distillation is the preferred method, blending the rum between both copper pot and column stills. Maturation takes place within 40-gallon Number One Select American Oak barrels and when selected by the Master Blender, Joy Spence, incidentally the first woman to be appointed Master Blender in the world, they are then blended to create the Appleton Estate range. After blending, the rums are set to rest, which allows the marrying of the various components and brings the blend together.

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

Appleton Estate V/X – 40%

*NOW DISCONTINUED* A blend of rum of at least 5yrs. Light on the nose with an oak aroma coming through near the end. A slight pepper is also present. Dry spice is immediately apparent on the palate, with a vanilla flavour mixed with the oak creating a long, dry, lingering finish.

Appleton Estate Special Gold – 40%

A blend of rums distilled in pot and column stills. These are matured separately before being hand-blended, then aged in refill Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey barrels.
Plenty of caramel on the nose, although becoming lighter with hints of sweetness following. Very light on the palate, rather thin, with a slight sweetness, blended with butter flavours.

Appleton Estate Reserve Blend – 43%

Launched in 2000 to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the Appleton Estate and uses minimum 8yr old Appletons. Lots of orange on the nose, with hints of hazelnut and soft fudge. Smooth on the palate, developing warmth. Honey, toasted fudge and hits of citrus on the lingering finish.

Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12yr – 43%

A blend of rums between 12 and 18yrs. High notes of vanilla and banana on the nose, which follows onto the palate with a punch, although it mellows with a creamy texture. Creates a long, rich ending.

Appleton Estate 21yr – 43%

Following maturation, this was blended and married in casks for two years and uses minimum of 21yr aged rums. Bouquet of floral aromas and nuts. Cocoa and vanilla swirling around slowly. Plenty of nuts, thick, stewed fruits and hints of rich molasses. Long, fresh with hints of dryness.

Appleton Estate Joy Anniversary Blend 25yr – 45%

This special blend commemorates Joy Spence’s 20th anniversary as master blender. A combination of rums aged for between 25 and 35 years.
Fresh demerara sugar upon the nose, with hints of fresh ripe banana, clove and oak coming through. Ripe notes of red apple, dried cinnamon sticks and coffee, moving to a bold kick of cocoa and toffee. A long, fresh finish, becoming quite moorish.


A cracking range of rum from Jamaica, with versatility to offer cocktails such as;

Applton - Joys Cocktail

Joy’s Cocktail; crafted by the Master herself.

Glass –


Ingredients – 

25 ml Appleton Estate Reserve Blend
75 ml Ginger ale
Slice of orange
5 drops Angostura bitters
Orange peel (garnish)

Method – 

Squeeze the orange slice into a rocks glass and then drop it in the glass and muddle it. Add ice and build in remaining ingredients and stir.

Worth seeking out a couple of the Appleton Estate range for your cocktail evenings, and at least one to sip when the occasion calls for! I’ll be sure to update as and when i experience straight from Jamaica itself!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2018. 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.

Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2012

This year is the 15th anniversary of the Manchester Food and Drink Festival and as you would expect, this year is going with a bang of delights involving many of Manchester’s top restaurants and bars. From September 21st to October 8th, many of my favourite haunts and industry figures are planning on delighting you all with their skills and venues, so below I give to you all the highlights and details that you need!

Manchester Whisky Festival 2012 – Saturday 22nd September

The Manchester Whisky Festival will be taking place at the Palace Hotel on Oxford Street in two sessions, 11am – 3pm and 4pm – 8pm.

The event is run by vibrant and totally independent whisky events company, The Whisky Lounge founded by Whisky Evangelist Eddie Ludlow with the specific aim of demystifying whisky and bringing it back to the people. The festival is the 4th in the city since 2009 and has now developed into one of the largest events in the Whisky Lounge’s portfolio and the biggest whisky event in the UK, outside of London.

Over 20 exhibitors, around 40 distilleries and close to 200 whiskies will be on sample over the course of the day. Whiskies from the large and small, from the traditional areas of Scotland and Ireland, as well as more recently established distilleries from England, India and Japan will all be there and available to taste.

Tickets are available here and include access to demonstrations, all samples in the main hall, a Glencairn nosing glass, a bottle of water and a festival programme all for £25.

Robinsons Pub on the Hub – 27th September to 4th October

The Robinsons Pub on the Hub is back for its third year running to grace Albert Square with its impressive range of beers – all brewed with their brand new Brew House which has the largest Hopnik in the world! The Pub on the Hub will be the city’s very own pop up beer house with a bounty of Robinson’s cask ales, cosy furnishings, pub games and everything you’d expect from your local boozer… Plus a few surprises thrown in.

Robinson’s have revealed that the superstar beers to be served include: Unicorn, Dizzy Blonde, 1892, Double Hop, Cwrw’r Ddraig Aur, Old Tom, XB, Cumbria Way, elbow’s ‘build a rocket boys!’, Green Bullet and even a one-off MFDF Ale!

The Finnieston – September 21st

Glasgow based Bar/Restaurant The Finnieston will be hosting a one night only pop-up bar, sponsored by Caorunn Gin at The Liquorists HQ #22Redbank. Ervin and his talented team will be coming down for one night only to wow you all in their own inimitable style. With drinks by Caorunn Gin and seafood canapes from the chefs in-house this night guarantees to excite and thrill.

£45 a head gets you 5 cocktails and canapés and you can book here.

Trail Blazers and Influencers – 5 Drinks That Changed the World – 27th September and 4th October

Throughout the course of our drinking culture’s creation several developments altered forever how and what we drank. The introduction of ice, the holy trinity of rum, lime and sugar, the advent of better preservatives for fruit, the evolution of the Martini all were crucial watersheds in our getting to where we are now. Come with the Liquorists and taste the best history lesson you have ever been to!

The Liquorists will showcase these drinks and some terribly interesting facts and figures that will surprise and delight the 30 attendees of this evening’s great entertainment. Tickets are £35 a head for which you will receive 5 cocktails that changed forever the style and nature of our alcoholic drinks, and canapé food matches. Click here to book.

The Bon Vivant – 28th September

Fantastic Edinburgh based operator The Bon Vivant comes to Manchester for one night only, sponsored by Grey Goose

Fashion is fleeting, style is timeless… The Bon Vivant is timeless ladies and gents and they will be here for one great night only, serving up drinks by Grey Goose to fall in love to! Classic and stylish with not a little finesse, the Bon Vivant we have you planning a trip north of the border post haste! Book here for £45 to get 5 cocktails, canapés and big style points!

The Thrill of the Chase – September 30th

Come taste some of the sublime liquid brought to you by Chase Distillery in Herefordshire crafted into cocktail heaven and matched with canapes by The Liquorists.

Taste Chase Potato Vodka, Chase Marmalade Vodka, Chase Smoked Vodka and Williams Chase Gin on their own and in a cocktail carefully created by the Liquorists to showcase each expression’s unique flavours matched expertly with delightful canapé food pairings. At only £25 a head this is not an event to let pass you by – book here!

Champagne and Seafood Gastronight Clandestine Cuisine with Dan Borza – 6th October

The Final pop-up Restaurant of The Liquorists calendar is the top of the tree, the king of the hill, the icing on the cake, the best of the best. Luxurious beyond words. Tickets are £75 a head for 8 courses and 7 wines. Book here and gaze over the menu of delights to avoid missing out on this epic epicurean event!

The Liars Club Cocktail Tiki Shack – September 21st to 7th October

Aloha! New for 2012, this is your chance to get tropical and enjoy festival cocktails with our exotic Tiki shack hosted by MFDF Bar of the Year nominee, The Liars Club, Tiki Dive Bar and Caribbean Rum Shop. Famous for serving the best Zombies in town and purveyor of the region’s most extensive collection of rum, the bar is a treasure trove of Tiki heaven with its kitsch Polynesian decor, exotic trinkets and flaming cocktails.

The Liars Club ususal home is just off Deansgate, underneath Mojo where you will find the ultimate fun and relaxed Tiki hideaway, but for this fesitval only check them out in Albert Square.

Oktoberfest – 5th Ocotber to 7th October

Celebrate the changing seasons at MFDF’s tribute to the Munich Oktoberfest with award-winning German beer brand Veltins. This event returns in 2012 with its own dedicated Bier Keller on the Sqaure. Entry is completely free and visitiors will find litre steins of authentic German beer on sale, as well as live entertainment for three fun-filled days. Beer is provided by Veltins, one of Germany’s oldest and most established brauereis, and steins of refreshing pilsner are an absolute must try. This easy-drinking, clean and herbal beer is the perfect illustration of how to balance delicate malt with lots of tangy hops.

The result is a seriously drinkable beer, which has won a number of ‘best pilsner’ awards. Bavarian banqueting sessions are happening for the first time in the Festival Dining Hall across the Square too perfect for a night out with friends or work colleagues. To book a place, including communal banquet, stein of beer, entertainment – and much more – Click here

The Liquorists Return of the Rum Trail

Last night was the first installment of the year in The Liquorists busy calendar, the aptly named ‘Return of the Rum Trail!’. Following the same concept of their previous trails, we were to be enjoying 5 different spirits, 5 different cocktails in 5 different bars accompanied by 5 different light bite appetizers. Always a daunting prospect, but challenge accepted!

Spiced Mojito at The Liars Club

Starting the night in Manchester’s Northern Quarter tiki bar, Keko Moku, we were joined by Barry, of Epernay fame, who would be our host for the evening. With around 15 of us for what The Liquorists call ‘more a gathering than a crowd’, Barry introduced to us the concept of rum, a little history and what this sugar cane drink we had in our hands was all about. No sooner had we nosed and tasted the tot of Bacardi 8yr and a piece of dark chocolate, which for me softened the edges a lil, Barry was handing out the rum classic Daiquiri complete with sugar rim. No sooner had we finished, we were hopping around the corner to our next venue, Hula Bar.

Mai Tai at Hula Bar

Appleton VX was the choice of spirit, and making our way to their underground haven via a wall tank of fish, we were greeted with both a tot of Appleton, and caramalised pineapple chunks. Whilst taking in the surroundings of what literally is a beach hut, another classic rum cocktail in the Mai Tai was being handed round as Barry explained the history of Appleton to the gathering.

Mojo’s was the next port of call, with their Rhum Room, a stunning upstairs bar with a backbar to die for, offering us the Venezuelan Santa Teresa rum to sip while their Venezuelan rum punch were being hand crafted for our pleasure. The rather long and refreshing cocktail was complimented well with dried figs, mango and pistachios.
Venezuelan Rum Punch at Mojo Rhum Room

From Venezuela back to Cuba, Bacardi and their spiced offering of the newly released Oakheart was next to showcase itself at The Liars Club, with an offering of a spiced Mojito being served while we munched on caramalised ginger pieces. All that was missing was the Hawaiin shirts! (still regretting not wearing my rather stylish bright yellow shirt, but there’s always next time).

Our last bar for the night was in one of Manchester’s tapas bars Sandinista. The Cuban Havana 3yr was sipped, while Espresso Martini cocktails were brought over to us amid stuffed peppers with cheese, platters of nachos with melted cheese, patatas bravas, olives, garlic bread and albondigas (meatballs).
A great night was had, with a round of applause given to Barry by all in attendance. And it truly was. Three friends joined me last night, one a veteran of the last two trails, just to experience something that I keep talking about long after.
With a busy year ahead for The Liquorists, you can expect to be hearing a lot more from me regarding this fantastic concept!
Check out The Liquorist’s Facebook page for more information and tickets.

© 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.