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Master of Cocktails - Espresso Martini

by Ben Ellefsen     10. February 2014 13:18

Master of Cocktails Espresso Martini

For this week's #MasterofCocktails we're having a go at a modern classic. An Espresso Martini. Now before we begin, we're going to start by getting a few silly preconceptions out of the way...

The biggest one is probably the ingredients. If anyone says that you need a coffee liqueur to make an espresso martini, chances are they're trying to sell you some coffee liqueur. Or have been paid by a Coffee Liqueur Brand.

The thing about coffee liqueur is that it's made of coffee, and alcohol. We're using incredibly fresh coffee for this, which means you're going to get more than enough coffee punch, and won't have to sacrifice any flavour (as larger, more complex flavour molecules tend to degrade over time). We're also using dry ice today. As detailed last week, you can get this by ordering from online stores that ship frozen.

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Highland Park Freya

by Sam Smith     5. February 2014 09:53

Highland Park Valhalla Collection Freya

The sun is starting to peek through the clouds once more and there’s that glorious feeling of love in the air. Is that because Valentine’s Day is creeping closer and closer? It actually has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day at all (but you can still address all heart-shaped boxes of chocolate to Sam Smith, MoM Towers, Tunbridge Wells). No, that lovely feeling is coming from the parcel that has found its way to my desk.

Hidden beneath a shock of shredded black paper sits a fancy looking black box tied up with quite a fancy leather string bow. It's the kind of box that people can only hold really awesome or really scary stuff. You're not going to get a box that looks like this with a stapler or a bike lock or a bank statement in it. It's either amazing or devastating. A gold ring or a ring finger. A puppy or too many scorpions. Cake or death. I'm quite partial to cake, to be perfectly honest.

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Master of Cocktails - Singapore Sling

by Ben Ellefsen     3. February 2014 13:07

Master of Cocktails Singapore Sling

Another classic long drink for this week's #MasterofCocktails – this time around we're making a Singapore Sling to tie in with Chinese New Year. Definitely not a massive coincidence levered into the proceedings. Nope. Not that.

Remember, you can follow along on twitter from 6pm every Sunday before the recipe appears here on the blog the following day for your reference and general delight.

So, a bit about this cocktail - the Singapore Sling is a stalwart at Singapore's Raffles Hotel, dating back to the early 20th century. I've taken a slightly updated twist, however, heavily inspired by the superb book 'The Curious Bartender', by Tristan Stephenson. More on that shortly...

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Dramboree 2014 - Tickets on Sale Tomorrow!

by Jake Mountain     31. January 2014 10:34

Dramboree 2014 Logo

Dramboree 2014: “July 4, 5, 6 – Scotland. Whisky. Fun.”

What more could you possibly need to know?!

Well, Dramboree is a fun and informal annual whisky weekend of the very highest order, now in its second year. Taking inspiration from Maltstock, Whisky Squad’s Jason B. Standing and The Great Whisky Company’s Jonny McMillan found themselves discussing a perfect UK-based whisky weekend a couple of years ago before it dawned on them that they were the exact people to make it happen! Hey presto – Dramboree was born, and after a highly successful first outing, this year promises to be even bigger and better!

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Wizards of Whisky 2014 Winners!

by Sam Smith     29. January 2014 11:03

Wizards of Whisky 2014 Logo

For the longest time, I've had a suspicion about That Boutique-y Whisky Company being full of powerful wizards, what with the lightning-bolt shaped scars on their heads, their ability to talk to snakes (they’re very boring, all they want to do is sing songs about falling asleep) and how they’re very good at conjuring up delicious drinks. Sha-zam and abracadara!

Seeing as a number of their independently bottled marvels have just won Wizards of Whisky 2014 Awards, we think it’s pretty safe to say that they’re definitely sorcerers of the highest order, up there with Dumbledore, Gandalf and Emperor Palpatine (he shoots lightning from his hands, he totally counts as a wizard).

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Glenmorangie Companta

by Michael Orson     28. January 2014 16:09

Glenmorangie Companta

Glenmorangie’s Private Edition range really took the spotlight this year when Jim Murray named the 19 year old, Ealanta, World Whisky of the Year 2014. Jim claimed Ealanta stole the show “because it went out and did something very different: not only did it blow [him] away with its deftness, beauty and elegance, but it gave an aroma and taste profile completely new to [him] in over 30 years of tasting whisky”. High praise indeed.

Soon after, Glenmorangie’s Director of Distilling, Dr Bill Lumsden, faced the unenviable challenge of creating a follow-up. After such a coveted title, any successor malt would surely pale in comparison, or at least one might think. We were expecting intensity of flavour, perhaps a big dose of sherry this time? Well, rather that playing it safe, Bill took the somewhat risky decision of releasing a red wine finish – something we’ve seen a lot of over the years, but very rarely done well. In fact, put bluntly, most of the time red wine ruins whisky. I won’t name names*, but we’ve all had an “experimental” whisky buggered up by overdosing with wine casks that have perhaps unnecessary pedigree (aside from marketing purposes, why anyone feels the need to finish in First Growth casks is beyond my understanding!). So – how would Bill’s latest fare?

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Master of Cocktails - The Highball

by Ben Ellefsen     27. January 2014 13:02

Master of Cocktails The Highball

For this week's #MasterofCocktails, we're making a Highball. Incredibly refreshing, and probably in my all-time top three aperitifs. Well, top 5 anyway... (Martini, Negroni, Campari-Soda...) Yep. Top 5.

Now, whilst this may seem a very straight-forward cocktail (and in many ways is), it's all in the balance and execution. I had one of my favourites a couple of weeks ago at Bincho (a Japanese Restaurant with its own ‘whisky joint’ in the basement), where they paired Hakushu 12 with Fresh Mint.

We're going to use Lemon Peel as the 'garnish' in our drink, but we want it to be very, very subtle. More on that later...

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An Alternative Burns Night with Monkey Shoulder!

by Jake Mountain     22. January 2014 14:08

Montgomery Burns

On Monday night I attended a Burns Supper with a difference, courtesy of the Monkey Shoulder Social Club. There was haggis, of course, and Scotch whisky too, but rather than Scotland’s favourite son taking centre stage, the star of this particular show was one Charles Montgomery Plantagenet Schicklgruber Burns, Sr. Oh, yes.

Monkey Shoulder, as I'm sure many of you will know, is a fantastic blended malt from William Grant that's made with whiskies from their three Dufftown distilleries: Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie.

The theme for the evening had been hiding in plain sight for some time as guests entered to win tickets to ‘A Celebrations of Mr Burns’, accompanied by a picture of Rabbie in a pair of shades that had apparently been enough to throw many off the scent. Upon arrival at The Caledonian Club, everything seemed perfectly above board... although... did I spot Groundskeeper Willy on my way up the street?.. Probably nothing, let’s just enjoy this Monkey Shoulder whisky punch (created by Roman Foltan of the Artesian Bar) in the library and speak to a couple of these nice people from the ‘Dufftown Burns Appreciation Society’.

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How to make clear Ice for cocktails

by Ben Ellefsen     21. January 2014 16:32

Clear Ice

Alternate Title: “If it’s not perfect, what’s the fucking point?”

My name is Ben. I like it when things are done properly*. This post, therefore, has been quite a while in the making.

It turns out making clear ice is hard. Very hard in fact. There’s a very good reason that companies like this exist. In fact, if you’re based in, or near, London – you should probably just stop reading this, man up, buy yourself a chest freezer to house some of their wares, and give them a call.

If like me though, you’re out of their delivery range, you’re going to need to make your own**.

Luckily, every single one of you has the requisite equipment for this, so there really aren’t any excuses. You can make big, clear ice with zero investment. Sounds like I’m trying to get you to buy a timeshare. I’m not. Promise.

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More Boutique-y Whisky. New releases from Kilchoman, Glentauchers, Littlemill and Glen Garioch.

by Ben Ellefsen     21. January 2014 09:00

That Boutique-y Whisky Company Kilchoman, Littlemill, Glentauchers and Glen Garioch

Well that was quite a Christmas.

In fact it’s been so busy that 4 new releases have passed us by with nary a mention. Changing that, now I am here with the writing about things. Yes.

Without further ado, onto the explanations behind the crazy stuff that’s fallen out of my head and onto paper.

First up this time, we’ve got an absolute belter of an Islay Whisky, from Kilchoman.

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