After one of the few weeks this time of year that doesn’t have a Bank Holiday (booo), we welcome May with news that Coca Cola is mixing it up, cocktail menus galore, and the realisation that Brits are buying lots and lots (we mean LOTS) of rum – it’s The Nightcap!
It’s hard to know what’s more thrilling: the upcoming long weekend or Star Wars Day. Happily, you can celebrate both with an opportune bit of punning, perhaps with a Whisky and Yoda Soda, or a Dark and Stormy (Trooper). If you’re not a sci-fi fan, or you’re one of the seven people who don’t know what we’re on about, then you can still get your content fix with a delightful helping of booze-based news.
On the MoM Blog this week, we launched a fantastic competition with The Cotswolds Distillery – you could win a VIP trip! If that wasn’t exciting enough, Nate Brown returned to talk poitín, Jess took a look at Kopparberg’s new pink gin, Annie checked out some Swedish ice cider, and Kristy celebrated Scotch whisky’s positive effect on the UK economy. Henry then cast an eye over Islay’s newest distillery, Ardnahoe, chose the fruity and fabulous Clover Club as his Cocktail of the Week, and even found time to enjoy Darnley’s Very Berry Gin, which is our New Arrival of the Week. Plus, we revealed what Dram Club members will discover in their boxes this month.
But there’s still even more news to come, so scroll on for The Nightcap, folks – and May the 4th be with you!
Brits buy 35 million bottles of rum in 12 months!
Got a taste for rum? You are clearly not alone. Stats from the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) released this week show that collectively, we’re becoming a nation of rum fans. And spiced rum alone shifted almost 10 million of those 35 million bottles in the last 12 months! The number of brands available is climbing too; in 2006 just 50 were on the market compared to 200 now! In total, the rum category in the UK is now worth just over £1 billion – hot on the heels of gin. “It’s been another great year for rum sales in the UK,” said WSTA chief exec, Miles Beale. “British drinkers have more choice than ever before when it comes to rum. Craft spirits are ‘of the moment’, and an increasing number of artisanal spirits producers are crafting their own interpretations of the spirit – often alongside their gin range.” Are you loving all things rum? Let us know your tipple of choice!
Coca-Cola launches Signature Mixers with top bartenders
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last couple of years (and no disrespect intended to the vibrant rock-dwelling community, you people rock!), then you will have noticed that the market for mixers has exploded. Now, the biggest beverage of the lot has got in on the action: Coca-Cola. Yes, the soft drinks behemoth has just launched its Signature Mixers range. This consists of four variations on the classic recipe, designed in conjunction with top bartenders: ‘Smoky Notes’ by Max Venning; ‘Spicy Notes’ by Adriana Chía and Pippa Guy; ‘Herbal Notes’ by Antonio Naranjo; and ‘Woody Notes’ by Alex Lawrence. Each new mixer has been designed with specific spirits in mind. For example, Max Venning’s version is meant to go with spiced rums and full-bodied premium whiskies. Ana Amura, senior brand manager at Coca-Cola Great Britain, said: “Coca-Cola has always had a synergy with dark spirits and classic cocktails. With the rise of mixed drinks, we’re excited to announce the launch of Coca-Cola Signature Mixers, a specific range uniquely created to mix with dark spirits.” They should be available later this month. We can’t wait to try them all, and see if any can beat a good old Jack & Coke.
González Byass celebrates ten years of Tio Pepe En Rama
The annual release of a new Tio Pepe En Rama is now such a fixture that it’s hard to imagine that the team at González Byass were very uncertain when it first launched ten years ago. Winemaker Antonio Flores didn’t know whether an unfiltered wine would be stable, so he put ‘drink within three months’ on the label, “like yoghurt,” he joked when the 10th edition was revealed Ibérica restaurant on Great Portland Street, London, this week. “We were nervous about bottling a sherry without any treatment. It seemed very risky,” he said. Furthermore, would anyone buy it? They needn’t have worried. At one wine merchant, the first release sold out in three hours. González Byass president, Mauricio González-Gordon, thanked the UK market for getting behind this innovative wine. Before a special dinner cooked by Asturian chef Nacho Manzano, we drank old En Rama releases. Far from deteriorating in the bottle, some of the older wines had evolved beautifully – though it has to be said the younger wines, particularly the 2018 and the soon-to-arrive 2019 release, were the highlights. En Rama sherries provide a straight-from-the-barrel taste, “Jerez en una botella”, as Antonio Flores put it. They’ve also proved a great way of creating a buzz about sherry, as the packed room demonstrated.
Swift kicks off summer with Spritz Menu
Forget the clocks changing or the astronomical calendar – we all know the only way to declare summer’s arrival is with a Spritz. And Soho bar Swift went all-out this week with a dedicated Aperitivo menu for summer! Not only are the serves delicious, but if you get to the bar from 3-7pm they are an absolute bargain at £5 each. The five-strong menu is light, bright, and seriously easy-sipping: we adored the Solstice, made with Martini Bitter, blood orange vermouth, passionfruit, and, of course, Prosecco. Also on the menu (and highly recommended) is the Green Liming, made with Ford’s Gin, granny smith apple, elderflower and tonic. There’s also a ‘craft’ focus all summer long; stop in and you might be able to try your hand at the likes of posy- or headdress-making. If you’re in London and in need of a refresher, you know what to do!
The Zetter Townhouse announces new bar collaboration
We are excited to report that The Zetter Townhouse is relaunching with a new drinks collaboration for the first time in eight years! It will be partnering with Matt Whiley, aka The Talented Mr. Fox, and Rich Woods, aka The Cocktail Guy, in early June, relaunching its two award-winning cocktail bars in Clerkenwell and Marylebone. Whiley and Woods will collaborate with the Zetter Townhouse team on concept and cocktail creation, as well as ingredient and recipe development. It sounds like the joining of some rather strong drinks forces, as the team will have access to Whiley and Woods’ development lab in Hackney and the Townhouse’s own lab in Clerkenwell. We can’t wait to see what incredible creations will come from this dream team.
The Benevolent raises awareness with colourful campaign
The Benevolent is a dedicated drinks industry charity that offers a range of services to support professionals, from counselling sessions to emergency grants. And this week, it launched a new initiative called #benevolentcolours! The campaign encourages those within the trade to wear red, white or rosé (or a mix of all three) and raise awareness of the ‘It could be me’ message, which asks for members of the drinks industry to sign up online to donate £5 a month. The initiative is the result of a PR collaboration between Dillon Morrall, emma wellings pr, Limm Communications, Phipps Relations and R&R Teamwork, who will donate £1 for every picture posted on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the #benevolentcolours hashtag and mentioning @drinkscharityuk. The Benevolent has also specifically asked drinks folks heading to The London Wine Fair in Olympia on 21 May to show support for the campaign. “We wanted to get the best creative minds round the table to help to raise awareness of all the great work that the Charity is involved with,” said Michael Saunders, The Benevolent chairman, and Chris Porter, CEO, in a joint statement. The wine trade’s very own snappy dresser Jancis Robinson added: “I can’t wait to get rummaging in my wardrobe to find a red, white or pink outfit for 21 May (though white poses challenges for wine tasters…). £5 a month to help fund all the valuable work The Benevolent is doing is surely a no-brainer.” The Benevolent does indeed do great work, so check it out and, if you can, donate!
We take a trip to the Cork World Book Festival
MoM spent an action-packed two days in Cork with Anne Griffin supporting her whiskey-filled novel When all is Said. While we were there, we couldn’t not visit the home of Irish whiskey, Midleton Distillery! Our brilliant guide David Corr showed us around the old distillery where we marvelled at the old 140,000 (no there isn’t an extra zero in there) litre pot stills that were used in the old days (they now only use tiddly 80,000-litre stills). He also gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the Method and Madness micro-distillery where some of Midleton’s more experimental whiskies are made. Best of all, he was very generous with the Barry Crockett Legacy single pot still whiskey. There was just time for a quick nap before our next appointment, putting on a whiskey tasting for visitors to the Cork Book Festival. A few people said they didn’t drink whiskey and asked if we had any wine, but were soon converted by a dram of Bushmills Black Bush. Our bags were much lighter on the flight home. Thank you Midleton, and thank you Cork for making us feel so welcome!
The Three Drinkers head to London Whisky Weekender
Have you been following The Three Drinkers’ exploits on Amazon Prime? If so, you’ll already be familiar with this trio. Colin Hampden-White, Aidy Smith and Helena Nicklin taste their way through the world of drinks, making all kinds of discoveries along the way – and now they will host two master classes during the three-day London Whisky Weekender at London’s Kia Oval from 10-12 May! The wider event, now in its ninth year, will feature more than 150 whiskies, and, alongside the masterclass programme, there will be opportunities to get your bottles valued, and even immerse yourself in the world of gin (yep, it’s not just whisky!). For more info and tickets, check out the London Whisky Weekender Eventbrite page.
Happy 90th birthday, Grosvenor House!
On Tuesday, we hightailed it up to super-fancy-pants hotel JW Marriott Grosvenor House London to join in its 90th-anniversary celebrations! To mark the occasion, the team threw open the doors for a big bash, showing off not only its bulging address book (there was many a celeb) but a gorgeous multi-million-pound renovation, too. On the night, the hotel recreated neighbouring Hyde Park in its forecourt, filling both inside and out to the brim with yellow roses. It was enchanting. Once inside, we were treated to the full food and drink offering, and, naturally, we found our home-from-home in The Red Bar. It’s a cosy, atmospheric nook, filled with mirrors, cosy seats and an air of chicness. From barrel-aged cocktails to signature creations, if you find yourself in West London and in need of a treat, we can highly recommend. Here’s to Grosvenor House deliciousness for the next 90 years!
And finally… Love! Jonathan Van Ness fronts glitziest beer for Seattle Pride
Can you believe?! Jonathan Van Ness, hairdresser, figure skater and Queer Eye phenomenon, has partnered with Elysian Brewing Company to front its GLITTERis Pride Ale! Set to be released in time for Seattle Pride on 30 June, the ale is truly giving us Beyoncé. It’s made using Mandarina hops, weighs in at 4.4% ABV, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Seattle Pride organisation. Can you handle the CON-FI-DONCE?! But there’s more! Not only is our beloved JVN the face of GLITTERis Pride, his partnership with Seattle Brewing and Elysian Brewing includes a very special competition. JVN will officiate a wedding on 4 June, and he’s searching for the magic couple! We are NOT getting basic, basic, basic. Want in? If you’re planning to get married and are part of the LGBT+ community, you simply have to check out Elysian Brewing’s site for more details. Yas queen!